influencer marketingGuest Post by Taral Patel

Let’s face it. Content is evolving and so are the ways in which people consume it.

What captured their attention decades ago via billboards will not even make them sit up and notice in this digital era, where everyone is glued to their mobile devices.

This is where influencer marketing comes to the rescue.

Loosely defined as a marketing strategy involving influencers to impact buyer decisions and boost a brand’s visibility by using their online personality and popularity, influencer marketing has many takers.

It is one of the most effective ways to spread brand awareness to scores of followers, to reach out and engage with them.

Well then, who are these so-called “influencers?”

Often, marketers equate influencers with celebrities. But as opposed to celebrities, who are often the brand ambassadors or the “face” of a product or service, influencers can be bloggers, consultants, market analysts, critics or just about anyone who is popular online, even if they do not have a massive follower count.

But wait. Does that mean celebrities with hundreds and thousands of fan following are automatically “certified” influencers? The answer is no.

Both influencers and celebrities do have an effect on people, but the level of influence varies greatly.

As opposed to celebrities, influencers are very regular people. This makes them more ”˜relatable’ than celebrities, who often lead extravagant lifestyles. While followers look up to both celebrities and influencers for inspiration, they find it easier to step into the shoes of the latter.

Also, let’s not forget the fact that celebrities are paid for brand endorsements, which may or may not be the case with influencers. This means the reviews for a product or a brand by influencers have more credibility or authenticity as opposed to the ones posted by celebrities. A large number of them are thought leaders, who channel buyers’ views and help them make an informed decision.

When you strategically partner with influencers, they will boost your brand’s awareness by:

  • Spreading the word of your product launch
  • Writing a post about your business or service
  • Asking you to post on their website(s)
  • Promoting various events and webinars
  • Sharing bits of information about your business or service on social media

It’s a no-brainer that businesses are gaining maximum ROIs from influencer marketing, which is slated for growth. According to a survey by Tomoson:

  • Influencer marketing generates as much as $6.50 in revenue per $1 spent
  • 51% of marketers believe they acquire better customers through influencer marketing.
  • 59% of marketers planned to increase their influencer marketing budgets over a period of 12 months

Also, of note:

  • Since April 2013, there’s been a 76% increase in Google searches for “influencer marketing”
  • 81% of professionals who have launched at least one influencer campaign found influencer engagement to be effective

Therefore, it comes as no surprise that many businesses are including influencer marketing in their marketing mix.

So, how do you “bell” an influencer for your brand?

A 2014 Influencer Marketing status report states that the challenges in influencer marketing include:

  • Identifying relevant influencers for a brand and campaign (61%)
  • Getting the attention of and then building interest with influencers through direct interactions (56%)
  • Being able to measure and assess influencer marketing ROIs accurately (44%)

Target these three core challenges and have a focused approach to finding influencers, who’ll be willing to be a part of your marketing strategy.

Here’s a checklist for identifying and selecting an influencer in your niche:

  • Who are the top influencers on various social media platforms?
  • What is their reach? How many active followers do they have?
  • What is their profile like and how will their personality promote your campaign?
  • What are their genres and niches?
  • What sort of content do they post online?

Here’s how you can benefit by connecting with influencers on social media channels:

  • Word-of-mouth marketing by influencers drives more sales
  • Directly and organically engage with your target audience
  • Contests and giveaways hosted by influencers go viral almost immediately and this enhances the visibility of your brand manifold
  • Influencers curate content that caters to the interests of their followers. The content is creative, interesting, serves a purpose and captures their followers’ attention.
  • Top influencers often refer your brand if you have formed a good connection with them. Even a small mention on their personal page or website is quite an achievement.

Here are some examples of how influencer marketing was leveraged by some leading brands:

1. Heineken 100 marketing campaign

The famous brewer Heineken promoted its #100Heineken Campaign by collaborating with top men’s influencers, designers and boutiques such as fashion Instagrammer Eliezer Infante (elisoul01).

2. Kia and #AddPizzazz campaign

Kia used IBM Watson’s Personality Insights API and identified relevant social influencers for its #AddPizzazz campaign, to rev up the excitement factor for an upcoming advertisement featuring Christopher Walken.

3. ALS #IceBucketChallenge

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know about the #IceBucketChallenge or participated in it. The campaign went viral and was promoted by everyone and their brother, including Mark Zuckerberg!

3. Maybelline Malaysia’s #DareToNeon

Maybelline created awareness about their new product in town, Baby Lips Electro Pop, with #DareToNeon. They partnered with Malaysian Instagram influencers and engaged their target audience with a contest.

4. Gap’s

Fashion biggie Gap went all out with influencer marketing with an interactive website that had content created by influencers. The influencer list included bloggers as well as well-known publications.

It is never too early to seize the opportunities provided by influencer marketing.

All you need to do is find out who the top influencers in your niche are, connect with them for visible results and take steps that can effectively boost your brand’s visibility. Carpe diem!

Have an influencer marketing experience to share? Please share in the comments below. We are all ears!

Image: Geoff Livingston via Flickr, CC 2.0

Taral Patel Taral Patel is PR Executive at PRmention, a Digital PR Agency helping businesses grow through their highly-innovative approach to engaging with audiences. Being a certified digital marketer, he understands how modern technology shapes the PR industry. Connect with him on Twitter.