Let’s talk Influencer Marketing: the new darling of marketing buzzwords. The reach of those considered influential to a market has long been a tool in marketer’s pocket but has recently stepped into the spotlight. As the focus of marketing has shifted from interrupting the conversation to becoming part of it, influencers have offered brands a way to earn an invitation to a community and develop the relationships that deliver brand engagement and loyalty. The key in effective influencer marketing is maintaining authenticity. Influencers are valuable not only because of their reach, but because of the connection that they have built with their audience. Their audience and reputation were developed over many months or years and influencers often carefully plan each post or share. For that reason, they are generally picky about which brands they work with, if they work with any at all. They will choose brands that match their tone and regular content as well as align with their overall message. Sponsored posts should be designed to deliver the same kind of value to their audience that one of their regular posts would. An out of place post, especially a branded one, will be seen as an intrusion as opposed to a valuable part of the conversation. Smart influencers also limit the number of sponsored posts. If their blog or feed turns into ad after ad and promotion after promotion, their audience will no longer place value on the content and will tune out.
So how do you decide if influencer marketing is for you? B2C brands have quickly hopped on the wagon, spending big bucks to partner with the influencers they believe will deliver the best reach and messaging. The results have been promising. A 2015 study by Tomoson indicated that businesses using influencers generate $6.50 in revenue for every $1 spent. Influencers help add a human element to brands because they are real people talking to other real people. They can also offer a trusted voice or opinion of a brand or product. With consumers demanding more transparency from brands, influencers help peel back the curtain before a consumer decides to purchase or engage with a brand. B2C companies are not the only ones who can benefit. While B2B is reaching a different audience, that does not eliminate them from the use of influencer marketing. Industry experts, up and comers in the field, or even your past clients are valuable resources that can have an impact on how your brand is viewed and presented to your target market. Professional expertise and experience provide the connection and validation that many prospective buyers look for when searching for vendors.
Whether you are B2C or B2B, before you initiate an influencer marketing strategy it is important to identify what you hope to accomplish and how it fits with the rest of your marketing mix. Like all marketing tools, the fact that something is popular or even proven in the industry does not mean you should execute it without first making a plan.
Are you using influencers in your marketing efforts? Let us know!