Over the past few years, traditional marketing methods such as television or print ads have lost their popularity and value. With people spending more time inside and on social media, out of home advertisements have taken the backseat to digital.
In their place, influencer marketing has become a massively effective tool for brands that want to get their messages out, with the value of influencer marketing is set to grow to $13.8 billion this year. With new social platforms gaining popularity in the market, we see new people on these apps such as TikTok and Clubhouse becoming popular overnight, and with popularity comes influence. As with any marketing path, there are some standard strategies people are adopting as they tap people with social followings. But there’s a lot you can do to expand your strategy beyond the defaults.
1. Let analytics be your friend
Even as older marketing methods fade, the use of analytics and metrics is still completely applicable to influencer marketing. Data drives decisions and social media is the place to hone in on all analytic points. Depending on the exact tools you decide to use, you can track not only follower count, likes and engagement rates, but also what their audiences are interested in and all of their demographic data. This information lets you get incredibly specific. You can build a customized, hyper-focused campaign around the ideal influencer with exactly the right followers who are going to pay attention and become persuaded by what they see. Analytics can provide an excellent sense of exactly what will give you the biggest return on your investment, rather than just throwing darts at the advertising wall and hoping a traditional method sticks.
2. Listen first, post second
Even once you’ve got a sense of which people to partner with and audiences to target based on your analytics, you still have to listen to them to make sure you don’t mess up. You have to know your audience beyond the metrics, which is best done when, as a company, you put yourself in their shoes and understand what they like, rather than just posting blind and coming off as tone-deaf.
As an example, take Match.com. In 2016, the dating company put out ads in London of people with a ton of freckles. The problem was that Match.com used the images with the caption “If you don’t like your imperfections, someone else will.” The intention was to get across that people can like us no matter what “flaws” we have. But people didn’t appreciate Match.com deciding what should be considered an “imperfection.” The backlash was so harsh that the company had to issue a public apology and take down every single billboard.
But other groups are doing this the right way. In Europe, for instance, sports leaders announced plans to create a soccer “Super League” that essentially would take ownership rights away from the players. Heineken, the beer brand, has a big market in that area. Within hours of the new league and instant backlash from social media users, Heineken’s social media team was on it. They put out a post on Instagram that trolled the league, saying “Don’t drink and then start a premier league.” They understood that a lot of people in their audience are into soccer and didn’t like the idea of the new league. The post got thousands of likes, and the league ended up imploding within a few days.
So, protect yourself from the bad press and controversy. Talk to people. Get feedback. Get a sense of how your audience could react. Talk with your team, from the marketing department through to PR and even get an outside opinion from other team members. Then post what you’re confident is going to get a great response.
3. Focus on multiple relevant niches, not one big, expensive name
Is there ever a time when it might make sense to hire somebody like Kylie Jenner to do a campaign for you? After all, she has a ton of followers and eyes on what she posts, right? Sure. But for the most part, it’s way more economical to skip the big (pricey) names and break your investment down into different niches.
Let’s use a new, healthy popcorn brand as an example. If you hired Kylie Jenner to promote your popcorn, then you’d have a lot of people seeing your message. But not everybody who follows Kylie Jenner is all that interested in popcorn. You’re paying a lot of money to cast a really wide net that, so to speak, might not reel in many fish.
Now let’s say you took the same amount of money and found 100 microinfluencers who grew smaller organic followings that pertain to different niches, like gluten-free, fitness, health foods, or even a popcorn fan page. While those microinfluencer accounts don’t have as many followers as Kylie Jenner does, a larger percentage of their audience is paying true attention to what they’re doing, when they post and what they’re promoting. You’ve got more people seeing popcorn who actually want popcorn. And they’re way more engaged.
Therefore, you get more people who’ll actually buy the products that are being advertised to them, and you can even persuade people into becoming new lifetime customers, which, in turn, increase your overall return on investment.
So, don’t think that you have to throw money at the biggest names. You don’t. You just have to invest in the right people in relevant areas who have truly engaged and dedicated followers. The more open-minded you are and the more you use analytics well, the easier it will be to identify all your best options and angles.
Influencer marketing isn’t leaving any time soon and smart brands are jumping on it left and right to maximize reach and boost brand awareness. You’ll have the best chance of being successful if you’re actively listening to your audience, using analytics wherever it makes sense, and focusing on more relevant influencers with the right type of following. We’re living in the midst of the Digital Era, start treating social media for exactly what it is: the best, greatest marketing tool we have in the palm of our hands.
Dylan Duke is founder and CEO of The Glew, where brands and influencers collaborate to connect and execute campaigns. His past experience ranges from exports and cryptocurrency trading to securing large brand deals, and it was the latter where he found his passion. Having worked hands-on with a variety of influencers to help them successfully monetize, he became intimately familiar with how the industry works and its challenges for both the influencers and the brands.