By Surjodeep Bose
Influencer marketing is quite the buzzword these days, among marketing pundits and honchos. Start-ups to established brands, everyone has been bitten by the bug called influencer marketing.
So, What’s Influencer Marketing?
It’s a marketing technique where companies tie up with influential people, to promote their product, service or brand. Influencers are experts in their field who occupy different spaces on the internet (social media, blogs, vlogs etc) and have a legion of followers that value an influencers’ insight.
Influencer marketing can be best understood as a new age marketing technique that takes the concept of celebrity endorsements and focuses on the endorsement part over the celebrity.
What Influencer Marketing Isn’t
Understand that influencer marketing isn’t the same as celebrity endorsements. A lot of people, including marketers, look at them both as interchangeable terms whereas the truth is that they are two mutually exclusive marketing techniques.
When a celebrity endorses a product, it’s the celebrity’s fame that sells the product & brand. If Tom Cruise appears in an advertisement about Linux OS, it’s not his expertise in the field that will sell the product but his fame and the value, which will sell the OS. Similarly, when Jennifer Aniston and Matthew Perry appeared on an advertisement about Microsoft Windows or Catherine Zeta-Jones endorsed T-Mobile, it wasn’t their expertise in technology that sold consumers on the product.
No sir, it was fame.
Influencer marketing is also not simply about finding someone with an audience and paying them money to talk about product/service. Influencers are those that have worked to carve a niche for themselves in their area of expertise. They’ve cultivated an audience, tailored relevant content and are genuinely concerned about what products/services they endorse. For them, their audience is their greatest asset and they won’t endorse any company willy-nilly for a quick buck, if it doesn’t add value to their content or help their audience.
What Makes Influencer Marketing So Popular Today?
Unlike celebrities, influencers don’t always have fans from all walks of life and with varied interests. Most influencers have an audience that shares the same interest as them. This audience gains insights and engages with influencers to talk about what they love and improve on it. It creates a two-way communication process, where each party gains something from sharing- audience gains knowledge and the influencer gains popularity.
But why should a marketer ask an influencer to endorse a product and not a celebrity?
Because influencer marketing is more lucrative than celebrity endorsements.
When celebrities endorse a product, it’s a one-way communication process where reach is seen as the deciding factor to judge the marketing campaign’s success. The target audience isn’t necessarily segregated when deciding on the message of the campaign.
In the case of influencer marketing, the audience is already segmented and likely to be interested in a relevant product. For example, if a DIY furniture maker was to endorse an IKEA product, he/she would be endorsing to an audience that shares an interest in furniture. Influencers are also more likely to create a positive brand image among their audience, as the relationship between influencer and audience is based on trust, which precedes a brand’s involvement.
An influencer’s ability to interact and engage audience members is what sets them apart. Through comments and forums, influencers inform their audience members and can interact with them in real-time. This ability to interact is where influencers succeed, and celebrities fail.
Lastly, the trust factor previously discussed, also increases the likelihood of audience members paying heed to an influencer’s endorsement. Trust is a valuable commodity and brands can leverage that when they use influencers to market their services.
The Business Advantage Of Using Influencers
- Influencer Marketing is Inexpensive
The cost of hiring influencers to market your product/service is much lower than hiring a celebrity to endorse. Compared to having creatives and advertisements made, hiring celebrities & booking billboards, paying an influencer is incrementally lower and cost-effective.
- Influencer Marketing Targets the Right People
Influencers are in constant touch with relevant audience members. If the product/service that a business offers is related to an influencer’s area of expertise, it gives the business a ready-made audience to market to. For example, if your company makes inexpensive kitchen products, you can find influencers that help people reduce expenses through tips & tricks. When your product is targeted to the right audience, it increases the chance of conversion & sale.
- Influencer Marketing is More Valuable to Brand Image
Reiterating on a point from above, influencers and their followers have a relationship based on trust. When an influencer reviews a company’s products/services and gives it a positive rating, it improves your brand’s image among the consensus and improves the likelihood of audience members showing interest in your company.
- Influencer Marketing Improves SEO
Influencers help in creating backlinks for your company’s website, which improves your DA (Domain Authority) ranking. The higher your DA is, the higher your website features on Google search, thus improving visibility of your brand.
Is Influencer Marketing For You?
Simply put, yes, it is.
Every industry, niche and hobby these days has influencers creating content in some part of the internet. With influencers, you can cut down on advertisement cost and target relevant customers without any hassle. The only research you need to put in would be to find the influencers best suited to your product/service. The advertisement part will be handled by the influencer and you get to sow the benefits.
Surjodeep Bose is a content writer & strategist at Techjockey.com, a Delhi-based software e-commerce platform. He has worked with different startups and helped them develop good content & effective marketing strategies. He writes on various subjects, but his key focus is digital marketing, retail operations and blogging practices. You can find more of his work at www.techjockey.com/blog