By Alexa Hershy
The importance of influencer marketing is nothing new, but its staying power is. At the beginning of the pandemic, there was a lot of chatter about what would happen to the influencer space. Is there influencer fatigue? Are audiences still finding what influencers share relatable? For those not taking a stance on social issues, is their content landing flat amongst the incredibly important global topics at hand? Will influencer marketing survive?
While there were certainly some bumps in the road (cue influencers sharing content from their lockdown yachts or mansions – not relatable), it has become undeniably clear that when done right, influencers have a very important role to play in today’s marketing mix.
Unsurprisingly, according to research by Edge Retail Insight, online sales in the UK are now expected to grow 19 percent year-on-year – a significant increase from the pre-pandemic estimates of 11 percent. And now more than ever, consumers are looking to influencers for inspiration – on what to like and what to buy. A report published by Influencer and GlobalWebIndex found that two-thirds of consumers who follow influencers say they’re likely to continue using social media to the same extent once restrictions are lifted – hence the importance of smart programming. Influencers, with their savvy content, can play a critical a role in driving sales through their content with attributable ROI.
So how should a marketer strategically approach an influencer marketing campaign today? Here are a few helpful tips:
- Know your goals & set clear KPIs – While this might seem obvious, it is perhaps the most important part of pulling together a smart campaign. What are the key barriers to purchase for your audience and what will be the most effective messages to address them? Influencer marketing is evolving from something that was once quite simple to a rather sophisticated part of the marketing mix that can be leveraged at each stage of the funnel. Knowing exactly what you hope to achieve at the onset will help you work to identify the most strategic use cases for your influencer partnerships and how they can be positioned to drive tangible business growth.
- Adopt an agile model & be prepared to take calculated risks – The social landscape changes quickly and is constantly evolving. What is popular today, might not be tomorrow. In fact, what exists today, might not tomorrow – both in terms of changes to current platforms (i.e. what’s happening with TikTok in the U.S.) or the emergence of new platforms on a daily basis. When pulling together an influencer programme, marketers need to think creatively and take risks with contracting influencers on new platforms. Investing in premium content across a variety of platforms ensures stability and that you reach the widest audience. You do not want to put all of your eggs in one basket. Instead, consider earmarking a test and learn budget to pilot new platforms, placements and offerings.
- Invest in impactful partners – And invest the time to find the most strategic partners. Influencer content is no longer standalone – it can be so much more than a one-and-done post. Collaborating with the right influencer partners for meaningful contracts pays dividends, especially when they provide a unique pathway to engaging your target audience both online and off. The right influencers can help you communicate effectively – especially during tough news cycles that are difficult to break through. Sometimes social media is the only place you can have soft news conversations sensitively and appropriately. Influencers who become genuine, loyal ambassadors can participate in speaking and thought leadership opportunities. It takes influence and the relationship to a much deeper level. Influencers know their audiences better than anyone else, allowing you the opportunity to glean direct feedback from them about the campaigns and programme elements that will or will not resonate.
- Diversify experiences – Marketers need to think creatively and digitally as COVID-19 continues to impact in-person events. Influencer isn’t slowing down in this environment, it’s getting creative. Invite influencers for 1:1 trips or work with them to create digital event opportunities (i.e. speaking engagements or panels). As virtual experiences thrive, continue to find opportunities to not only bring your brand and product to influencers, but ways to seamlessly integrate into passion projects spearheaded by aspirational partners.
- Commit to championing diversity – Influencers are now looking to partner with brands who are making bold commitments to champion diversity, as well as taking actions that follow through with these commitments. In fact, some influencers will not work with brands who are not vocal on this important issue. Marketers that commit to integrating proactive diversity measures at every level of their business will see big results.
At the end of the day, authenticity and relevancy still reign king – and these two attributes have become increasingly more important as people look to connect on a deeper level. We are living in a unique environment where people are paying careful attention to brands and their purpose and also rapidly purchasing at a higher frequency online than ever before. Creating human connection, digitally, is where brands can really shine alongside strategic partners.