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 At One Roof Social, Influencer Marketing is our bread and butter: over the years we’ve helped brands run their first campaigns, develop ongoing ambassador programmes, lead consultancy workshops for in-house divisions and host our own industry summit. As more and more brands seek to invest in Influencer Marketing and the numbers of both Influencers and social media users rise – Instagram reported one billion users on the app last month – though no longer new, the strategy has proved to hold its ground. 

84% of marketers declared that Influencer Marketing was in their brand strategy for 2018, but we’ve seen time and time again that this concept of Influencer Marketing for many draws on surface analysis to dictate their strategy. Now that the novelty has worn off, quite simply these vanity metrics won’t cut it. 

However what it really boils down to is the objective of your campaign. Whether that be launching into new markets or looking to drive sales of a seasonal product drop, this principal goal should drive your influencer search, tapping into multi-segmented audience demographics and performance rate to locate the talent that will deliver exactly what you want to achieve. We’ve set out five ways your brand can use Influencer Marketing, as well as the type of influencer search you need to be conducting to refine your talent and ultimately choose the right people for the job. 

1. To Boost Brand Engagement with Existing Audiences

Say you’re a brand with a well-established audience and a strong content plan, but your engagement rate has peaked a while back and you’re no longer seeing the fruits of your labour. Why? Because though you can repeat your brand story to your consumers, it’s still only ever coming from one single voice. Cue Influencer Marketing: by diversifying your brand voice through influencers, you can segment your audience and address each section individually, making your consumers feel closer to the brand and ultimately engaging with it more strongly, whilst reinforcing and complementing the story that you are telling through your own channel. We all know that if we are made to feel like the only person in the room it gives us a sense of importance. What Influencer Marketing has made possible is this sense of one-to-one connection for consumers, evoked through a close identification through interests and behaviour. Align your brand with the right talent and you can better humanise it than any voice coming from its corporate centre can. 

Influencer search strategy: Firstly understand your existing audience and segment accordingly to be able to match up your influencers with this. Consider your audience interests as well as their standard age, location and gender and make sure that the influencers you select also command authority in this interest space. Conduct your search to focus on those with high engagement rather than visibility – little and focused is much more effective than high volume -– and your audience need to feel that the brand message is being told directly to them in that moment. What’s more, you’ll need to consider the style of content that can tell your brand story effectively and make sure that the influencers you bring onboard fit this naturally. Though you may have full control over the end result, Influencer Marketing should be a collaborative process and not one where you are solely calling the shots. Ill-fitting content, both in theme and style will achieve the opposite effect and most likely devalue your presence, reputation and engagement.

2. To Reach New Audiences and Acquire New Customers

If you’re a brand looking to launch in a new market or tap into an alternative audience, such as a new range suited to a younger demographic, Influencer Marketing can be key in getting the word out and initially igniting the exploration. Influencers carry authority because people listen to people, so who better to spread awareness amongst a new crowd than a bunch of highly-respected, influential individuals talking about how great your brand is? 

 Influencer search strategy: we’re never ones to state the obvious, but do your research into audience location demographics first and foremost. It’s key here that the talent you engage with has a substantial enough target audience for you to tap into, otherwise any results you see will be negligible. Within this search, also consider how your brand aligns culturally and contextualise this in the new market. If you’re a British swimwear brand looking to branch into APAC, consider that the whole notion of beachwear is completely different there. Whereas previously you may have engaged the likes of travel Influencers or honing in on holiday opportunities, you could now consider semi-pro surfers and general lifestyle Influencers whose daily activities include beach time. 

3. To Drive Sales

Driving immediate sales often comes hand in hand with a strong brand awareness and chances are if you haven’t done the groundwork first, unless you’ve got a stand out product that’s trumping its competitors or a time-conscious activation, you’ll have to invest big for any chances of return. That said, Influencer Marketing has been known to break servers when used for new product launches or limited edition concepts, pushing immediate buy-before-it’s-gone/buy-to-be-the-first messages. The key here is to be clever on timings. Where we have seen it work exceptionally well is using influencers to showcase new season lookbooks, encouraging their audience to anticipate the drop date and sowing the seed of purchase before it’s physically possible. It’s a more subtle call to buy which uses the advantage of time to percolate and toy with the audience’s patience. Whilst this doesn’t present immediate ROI, when the collection actually drops, audiences are at the ready and prepared to purchase. The result? Noticeable uplift and extremely positive figures. Where Influencer Marketing also drives sales is through brand repetition, investing in substantial content to keep your brand at the forefront of your consumers minds. 

 Influencer search strategy: We often refer to the Influencer landscape like a newsstand, different types of influencer represented by magazines serving different purposes. If you’re looking to drive immediate sales, you need to consider your “dailies and weeklies”, the ones that give must-know knowledge to influence action post engagement; they’re chatty, lively and often putting out substantial content weekly if not daily. However, if you’re looking for a softer push on sales and looking to both acquire new customers and retain these, you’ll tend to go for your heritage bloggers – “the monthlies/quarterlies” – who produce much more editorial, aspirational content but on a longer term basis with the brand. They’re the likes of the #BashMuse or #GanniGirls who serve as a reference point for your brand when a customer comes looking. Though they may not drive immediate sales, they will help to increase brand loyalty and the transactions will trickle through consistently over time. 

4. To Add Credibility

Credibility is one of the strongest marketing tools out there; ultimately if people can trust your brand, they will buy it over a competitor. Influencer Marketing done correctly is a key way to validate and increase this for your brand – it’s the essence of word-of-mouth but with access to bigger communities and faster diffusion. We’re now seeing that an influencer’s validation of your product can speak louder than an accolade or industry prize and though these are not to be disregarded, Influencer Marketing serves to complement these when possible but also substitute when not applicable. 

Influencer search strategy: With credibility there are two things to bear in mind when working with influencers. 

A)    Account credibility - though we’re sure you know this by now, make sure that you can authenticate the Influencer’s own organic follower growth. From the perspective of ROI, falsely grown audiences simply do not produce effective results because put simply, there will be a certain percentage of ghost accounts that aren’t capable of engagement or purchase. 

B)    Thematic credibility - Influencers hold an authoritative voice on their chosen topics and it’s important to make sure that you’re aligning your brand with the relevant authorities that will help to build credibility. Locate the interests of an Influencer’s audience to see how connected they are with particular themes. This together with engagement rate should show you how well their audience interact with what the influencer is saying on the topic. 

Neither side, Brand or Influencer, should follow through with a campaign that doesn’t fit their identity; an ill-fitting partnership will have the reverse effect, denting credibility for both the brand and the talent involved.  

5. To Create New Product

This part of Influencer Marketing should be the result of a well-developed relationship and continuous success seen from a partnership. Collaborating with an Influencer on a product can be an extremely effective refresh of a brand and help to acquire new interest, with dual amplification through both the brand’s and Influencer’s channels. It also in turn helps to further validate the Influencer’s own credibility for the brand and vice versa, and a clever collaboration of this kind can produce best-selling collections that tap into both brand and Influencer loyalty. Here Influencer Marketing goes far beyond the concept of an ad and acts as a real collaborative process, where content shared is as much about the journey as the end result. 

Influencer search strategy: very similar to the above theme of credibility, it’s important that any eventual product collaborations make sense to the brand, Influencer and both their audiences. These collaborations should come from existing partnerships, one where audiences are already attune to the relationship and see it themselves as a logical progression. 

Influencer Marketing has come under fire over the past few years, questioned to be a mere fad with poor practice and total lack of transparency somewhat denting the strategy’s own credibility. However, note that 3 years on, it’s still going strong and only set to feature more heavily in brands’ own plans this year and in future budgets. How? Because it’s one of the most reactive landscapes in the field. With audiences able to immediately comment and question, such is the nature of social media, the Influencer Marketing industry has had no choice but to adapt (and fast) in order to regain and maintain the trust it once initially presented to brands and audiences. Consequently, it’s one of the most transparent forms of advertising out there (when implemented correctly) and should, along with authenticity, be a core part of an overall brand marketing strategy.