Influencer Marketing: Should You Use it and Should You Care?

10

MARCH 2017

An increasingly popular marketing tactic used for both content creation and distribution is influencer marketing. This tactic basically involves uniting brands with individuals (or other brands) that are recognized and respected thought-leaders in their specific community. By collaborating with partners in target markets you want exposure in and having them discuss your brand with their community is a huge way to boost authenticity and understand what your audience wants in a product or service.

Whether they’re locally focused or an international celebrity, influencers can help you reach important goals. However, the main allure of influencers is that they are content creators in their own right. They are photographers, writers, and trend-setters and serve as subject matter experts already.

When thinking about your content creation and overall content marketing 2017 and 2018 planning, influencer marketing is a solid way to get a great bang for your buck. Since influencer marketing is concerned with people-first content, it is vital to reach people on their terms and think creatively with them front and center. Therefore, the best influencers have built entire communities around being educational, entertaining, and/or inspiring and are highly selective of the brands they choose to partner with.

Should You Use It?

 The short answer is yes. While you still need to strategically use other methods like social media marketing and search engine marketing, influencer marketing holds a special place in most customers’ heart, whether they know it or not. It is also important to understand how it is different from similar forms of user-generated marketing, like word-of-mouth marketing and advocate marketing. 

While some people think of word-of-mouth marketing and influencer marketing interchangeably, there’s a significant distinction between the two. The main disparity is that while influencer marketing uses key individuals to influence and engage their networks, word-of-mouth marketing is the tangible avenue by which this occurs. So, while all influencer marketing includes word-of-mouth marketing activities not all word-of-mouth marketing is driven by influencers. Similarly, advocate marketing isn’t influencer marketing since this focuses on encouraging already-loyal customers to share their positive feelings towards your brand but this isn’t always through influencers. With influencer marketing, you focus on finding influencers to spread your message, which may or may not be current customers.

Should You Care?

 The biggest reason to care about influencer marketing concerns one of the main reasons that makes influencer marketing so powerful. That reason is that this channel is not viewed as conventional marketing and therefore is much more accessible and easily absorbed by audiences. If target audiences believe that an influence marketer is not authentic or trustworthy, then they will not accept their message. For this reason, the most valuable and effective influence marketers are those that maintain a certain level of independence from the brand itself. Since digital culture evolves at the speed of light and those people consider reliable changes all the time, one of the best ways to keep up your influencer marketing is by identifying a diverse group of creators.

Now that we have established how powerful influencer marketing can be, it is also important for brands to identify and choose specific influencers that fit the persona of the brand. It is also important to invest content creation and that content resonates with your audience. Therefore, another question to ask when selecting an influencer is if their followers also fit the brand. For example, it wouldn’t be strategic for a kitchen appliance brand to partner with an influencer who has a huge following of motorcycle enthusiasts with little to no interest in cooking. While many influencers can have a varied population of followers, they still need to fit the brands niche.

So once you have influencers with an appropriate following that fits your target audience, it is also important to have an efficient infrastructure to manage those influencers. There can be issues with content marketing and content creation distribution and much of this can be attributed to the fact that no single department really owns influencer marketing. By brand teams planning ahead and collaborating on the management aspects, they can get real results.

Next Steps

Once a plan is in place and you brand is committed to investing in influencer marketing, choose your influencer marketing partners wisely. For example, take the time to make sure they have a link to your target audience and read several of their posts or articles to get a sense of their writing style and to find out their perspective is.

Remember, this is usually an arrangement of quid-pro-quo with influencers so it is also critical to understand what the influence marketer wants in return for highlighting your brand in their networks. It could be a free product or service or it could be simply to buy advertising on their websites. There is nothing unethical about this arrangement but it needs to be transparent and fair for all parties involved. It also needs to be authentic and acceptable to the followers of the influencer, who are your target.

In 2017, content is key and brands need to have a strong and diverse influencer marketing strategy in place and ready to go. Brands that do not prioritize people-first content creation and content marketing, primarily through influencers and hoping in other ways, will not be able to thrive or even survive in the coming years. Marketing needs to remain innovative and engaged in what audiences want and right now they want influencers.0

Annie Ianko

Chief Content Officer

Annie has 19 years’ experience as an editor and content creator and manager. With work in television and written media, she has dedicated her past 10 years to learning the ropes of online content creation, from writing to editing, from SEO to content management.

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