What do you consider when buying a product or contemplating a service? Was your decision made after suddenly remembering a replay of your favorite Youtuber inside your head or was it the jingle of the hook to an instagram or tik tok video? If you answered, Yes, you are not alone. That is just how our choices are affected by the channels we watch consistently on Youtube or the people we follow eagerly in social media. Influence is the biggest name of the game, in today’s marketplace. Therefore, let’s talk about how to use influence as the secret recipe to your success.  

An Introduction to Influencer Marketing

Social media is driving the market today. Even for large corporations, using social media platforms enables them to reach certain audiences. Although the term only gained traction recently, influencer marketing started in the 1920s while promoting the persona we watch out for every Christmas, Santa Claus. 

In the simplest terms, influencer marketing can be defined as a strategy that uses the emotional aspect of our psyche to persuade consumers to buy a product or sign up for a particular service. Sort of like the domino effect of a recommendation. It is important to take note that not everyone is suited to the role of being an influencer. To be an influencer, he/she/they must have the authority, knowledge and trust within a population – often probably because of specialization in the field of interest. 

As mentioned above, influencer marketing is not an entirely new concept. Rather, it underwent a series of changes because of recent innovative technologies. When television was introduced and celebrities had the greatest hold for popularity, companies persuaded them to endorse their products or services. Gone were the days where made-up characters needed to encourage consumers to pay for anything. 

Today, because everybody has a chance to go “viral,” a more general term, influencers, has become more acceptable. Since popularity is not a product of broadcast media exposure, these influencers are likely to protect their reputation by endorsing a brand that meets their own personal brand’s expectations, with the outcomes to match. Of course, the power of celebrities remains but there is already a variety of what we now call popular. 

The Science Behind Persuasion: Why Influencer Marketing Works?

Unlike affiliate marketing or paid searches, influencer marketing relies on another level. There is a strong relationship between the influencer and the consumers that would actually drive persuasion to follow almost every single bit of detail. Whatever the influencer recommends, the consumer follows because he or she sees the result. There is no longer a trial and error method. Instead, it becomes a proven and tested testimony by the influencer as solid evidence. 

Why is this kind of persuasion effective? The simple truth is that it removes the uncertainties. When you remove the doubt, the room for second thoughts is being replaced with trust. Consequently, it becomes even more difficult for a consumer to switch brands. When you do influencer marketing the right way, you have customer satisfaction and loyalty. 

To quote the author, Tapan Ghosh, he emphasized that “an abstract becomes a masterpiece only when opinionated by influencers.”

The Challenge of Influencer Marketing

Choosing the right partner is not easy. The same goes to influencer marketing. You cannot do it by a simple keyword search or by just picking among the best candidates of known-influencers. If you are new to investing in this type of marketing, take it slow and evaluate which influencers and channels generate the biggest impact. While the influencer marketing model can do a lot to your brand exposure and trust, it only yields the best and most noticeable results with the right strategy. 

Let’s take a trip down the memory lane of influencer marketing gone wrong so that you become mindful of the things to avoid with this marketing strategy. 

In 2016, American television personality and entrepreneur, Scott Disick, accidentally posted the instructions sent by the sponsoring company in his Instagram account; thereby removing the mystique of his endorsement. You can consider this as a personal mistake but whenever you reach out to influencers, don’t give them a script to follow. Give them ideas and let them handle how they should present it to their audience. The same thing happened to Naomi Campbell

Moreover, always be mindful of the images or people that you used in or with a product. You would not want to get called out by the owners or family members associated with any images, like the case of Kendall and Kylie Jenner when they unveiled a rock-themed shirt with the faces of famous rap and rock icons. The Internet may give you free access to a lot of materials but you cannot use most of its content for your own interests; especially if you do not ask permission. Be fully informed about the endorsement guidelines to avoid a lawsuit. 

Perhaps, the most important aspect to consider is dealing with sensitive issues. We all want our brand to be known to millions of social media users but thinking critically about the story you relay, should become your top priority. For example, the makeup brand, ColourPop, marketed their products with racial names which created an outcry from the Instagram community. A single disappointed remark can reach millions of people and this can totally ruin the brand you are building.  I am sure that you do not want such disaster to cripple your efforts. Therefore, it would be a good strategy to always approach your campaigns and influencer choices as if you are one of your own customers or a member of the general public. 

5 Proven Ways to Use Influencer Marketing

Understanding influencer marketing need not take up most of your time. Perhaps, you can even draft a plan within a day. But, applying the strategy is tricky. Here, I present five proven influencer marketing strategies that I have studied, which you can learn from and perhaps, apply to your business goals

Proven and Tested Testimony 1: H&M and the story of utilizing the different types of influencers

The multinational clothing retail company, H&M, applied influencer marketing to reach a wider audience. In 2019, they teamed up with powerful influencers under a year-long journey called #HMLeague. Later that year, a project focused on micro influencers was launched, wherein 15 employees from different stores and offices across the United States became ambassadors. When the company invested in e-commerce platforms rather than promotions alone, there was a reported increase in net sales by 11% during the second quarter of the year. In fact, a study by Social Media Today reported that 94% of marketers believe in the effectiveness of influencer marketing. 

Proven and Tested Testimony 2: Nissan and the successful major event campaign

Even if you are an already established brand, getting creative with your influencer marketing can make a big difference for individual products! Nissan pulled off an effective user-generated content push through a major event: The 4-day Titan Challenge invited influencers and owners that eventually made them Nissan superfans. The senior manager for marketing strategy and integration considers it a successful event that exceeded expectations. “It was a powerful opportunity for us to learn who are the real consumers driving our trucks and a chance for them to learn more about their vehicle and who we are as an organization,” he explained. 

Proven and Tested Testimony 3: Dunkin Donuts used specificity to reach target audience

Although they had a much smaller follower count, Dunkin Donuts paired with nano influencers to increase awareness of their products, coffee and espresso beverages, to millennials. A nano influencer is somebody who has 1,000-10,000 followers. Despite their low number of followers when compared with micro influencers, this strategy worked well for Dunkin Donuts; such that it contributed to 300 million coffee purchases in 2018 and increased the brand loyalty of the fastest growing generation, the millennials. Being specific with the strategy used for influencer marketing can ultimately lead to the desired results and even more than what you might expect. 

Proven and Tested Testimony 4: Fiji Water collaborated with fashion consultant, Danielle Bernstein

A collaboration is often difficult to achieve, especially when you have a lot of competitors. Often, looking outside the box and finding the perfect chemistry can push you forward towards your goals. Fiji water partnered with the fashion consultant, Danielle Bernstein, to create the BodyWoreWhat campaign that showcases an eight-minute workout with Danielle. When people purchased a BodyWoreWhat fitness package, they received a discount on Fiji products. By letting an influencer use his or her take on a campaign, success is within reach. Moreover, the campaign emphasized how Fiji water keeps people hydrated during an exercise routine and in turn, Fiji gathered a good increase in following because of Danielle. 

Proven and Tested Testimony 5: Glossier and the power of referrals

Sometimes, you just need to rely on the powers of your regular customers to fire up your brand. The Manhattan beauty startup, Glossier, uses a referral program wherein it allows their more influential customers, who have social media followers, to offer product discounts and incentives to networks. Sometimes, taking the slow but sure approach is best for you; use of a referral program is worth taking the risk when you know the statistics. 

So, what’s the catch? Integrating influencer marketing into your business requires a ton of creativity. No matter how many success stories you read, you can never achieve your goals if you don’t innovate within your business, in a way that is applicable to your situation. You can always grab ideas from success stories but you need to tweak something from it so that it will reach your target audience and goals. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What’s the difference between a brand ambassador and an influencer?

People often interchange the words ambassador and influencer. While these two are primary drivers of engagement and exposure of your brand to your customers, there is a thin line that separates a brand ambassador from an influencer. The main difference between them is their length of stay working with you and the expertise that they have, when it comes to the product or service they advertise. Ambassadors are usually for the long term but they do not necessarily need a strong background about the topic. Meanwhile, influencers can work with you for a short-term but their influence was built with engagement and expertise. Influencers most likely have a loyal customer base. 

Which platform is the best to use when you engage in influencer marketing?

There is no best platform in general because it depends on where your target audience is the most active. However, it is also not an excuse to eliminate your options in expanding your reach. Perhaps, the best thing to do is to begin exposure with the social media platform that can most organically reach your target audience but you need to share on other platforms as well to establish an online presence. 

How can I look for the right influencer for my brand?

Looking for an influencer is tough but with some tools that are basically free, you can search for the right one. The search box in social media platforms is a powerful tool to find prospective influencers. However, you must take note that this requires intensive research. Aside from the fact that you need to have a definite plan for your business that you will need, as a pitch to your chosen influencer, you can also receive rejection from them, especially if it can harm the reputation that they have been working to build. If you need a helping hand in building your business and online presence, business consultants and social media coaches, like Dr. Cindy Duke can be instrumental in guiding you along on your influencer marketing journey. Plus, their courses and plans are affordable.

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