Influencers have become an essential consideration when it comes to planning many digital and social marketing strategies. Collaborating with influencers has led to disruptions in the marketing world regarding creative concepts, campaign management and sales impact measurement.
And while the total number of followers and fans is still of great significance, it’s not the almighty anymore. Engagement is key, and it is deeply rooted in authenticity and credibility, which are vital components of a holistic approach to influencer marketing.
When I look at effective influencer marketing programs across the world with engagement and credibility in mind, I do see four fundamentally different strategies that marketers and agencies apply:
1. Working With Popular Individuals: Online Stars, Celebrities Or Category Experts
These influencers are dancing in the spotlight; hence, they can showcase your product on stage. In the best case, you find a celebrity who shares your brand values, perfectly incorporates your brand personality and, ideally, already uses your brand and products regularly.
If you find this perfect match, your consumers are more likely to appreciate the genuine content that these influencers publish. And if the content is of high quality, it may be worth boosting and amplifying it through paid media. And by leveraging new in-app shopping features introduced on Instagram and YouTube, you may be able to increase the value of these influencer cooperations.
2. Working With Large Groups Of Nano- And Micro-Influencers
Consumers talk to each other every day — often about their highs and lows, everyday struggles and which brands and products they use to overcome them. People, in general, also tend to listen to advice from trusted friends. This is called good old word-of-mouth advertising.
Nano-influencers’ individual reach is not that high (compared to a superstar). But because they honestly care for their loved ones, I find that they tend to give advice based on their knowledge and their own product experiences. Indeed, their lack of mass popularity may be one aspect that makes them truly trustworthy to their followers.
3. Turning Your Own CRM Or Social Media Group Into A Community Of Influence
Many brands have invested millions of dollars into building up Facebook groups, only to realize that the organic reach of their posts has dropped in the last couple of years. While some companies are cutting their losses and shutting down their company accounts, others have realized that their fans and followers might offer a huge potential asset.
I’m seeing companies begin to identify the real brand lovers among their fans and engage with them to turn them into brand advocates. It just takes the right data and concept. Some of them are even turning to their existing customer relationship management (CRM) program to identify influencers among existing customers.
The actual purchase (and usage) of a brand is one of the best indicators of whether a customer might be willing to recommend a product. Hence, companies with existing and sizable CRMs might benefit from leveraging their database to identify and engage with the most influential members (subscription required).
An additional advantage of that approach is that the brand owns all the data and can autonomously create its own platforms and programs without having to abide by the rules and restrictions of Facebook or other social platforms.
4. Turning Employees Into Brand Ambassadors
Another potent source of influence is a company’s own employees, whether you are running a startup with two colleagues or an enterprise with 200,000. Tapping into the expertise and passion of your employees and encouraging them to produce or share content on their social channels can be a hugely powerful marketing tool.
Successful employee ambassador programs (subscription required), however, require more than sending out a newsletter at the launch of a new product. They require the same rules as traditional influencer marketing in terms of identifying the right influencer, engaging with them (ideally over the long term) and providing them the tools and assets to produce great content.
Summing It Up
As always, each of these strategic options offers benefits and risks, pros and cons, with smart marketing leaders selecting the right approach based on the company, brand, budget and priorities. Outstanding programs will succeed in mixing and matching the different strategies to create even more enthusiasm with different types of influencers while maximizing campaign synergies.