Influencers are the new celebrities on social media channels today and their increasing power and popularity has resulted in influencer marketing becoming an indispensable part of every e-commerce business’s digital marketing strategy.
This contemporary yet effective promotional strategy has shown an upward growth trajectory in the last few years and has emerged to become one of the best approaches to specifically target millennials and GenZ.
However, a successful influencer marketing plan demands thorough research and understanding of the market, content creators and their impact on the audience. This article offers a detailed outlook on the new marketing tool and is an essential point of reference for businesses working on building and strengthening their influencer marketing strategy.
|What is influencer marketing?|
Influencer marketing involves the collaboration of a brand with social media content creators to market and promote its products or services.
The creators or influencers charge a fee to businesses in order to advertise the brand on their channel/page with the intention of increasing its awareness and sales among their list of followers.
Influencers can be defined as those people who have been able to create a significant fan base or following on social media channels because of their content and other offerings.
Usually an influencer restricts themselves to a single category or topic and builds expertise around it. They also share regular updates and posts on their social media handle and impact how people perceive a product which could range from fashion to food and travel to health.
How are influencers different from celebrities?
|The audience is targeted based on their topic expertise||Cater to a wider audience across demographics and|
|Popularity can be attributed to their expertise in a topic as well as content creation/storytelling||Popularity results from their talent across fields like cinema and sports|
|Easily relatable and reachable to followers||Not accessible and rarely approachable by followers|
|Brand partnership costs are relatively less||Brand partnerships can be very expensive|
|Consistently engage and regularly share content with people||May not post updates very often|
|Present on social media||Present across channels like television and radio as well as social media|
|The following is large but limited||Usually have a massive following several times higher than influencers|
Influencers can be further divided into 5 types based on the number of followers
Mega influencers with a following of more than 1 million
Macro influencers with a following ranging between 500K and 1 million
Mid tier Influencers with a following between 50K and 500K
Micro influencers with a following of 10K to 50K
Nano influencers with a following which is less than 10K and more than 1K
For businesses, each category helps understand the value an influencer can bring through their reach, popularity and impact. Additionally, the fees also vary depending on the type of influencer or the number of followers.
|As of 2022, the influencer marketing industry in India was valued at over 12 billion Indian rupees. It was projected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 25 percent over the next five years. |
The industry’s market value was estimated to amount to 28 billion Indian rupees by 2026. Nearly 55 million urban Indians were direct consumers for influencers of various kinds as of 2022.
Factors to look at when selecting the right influencer
Accessibility: Check if the influencer is present on those social media channels where you are certain of reaching your target audience.
Expertise: Analyse if the influencer is well versed with the topic that they hold expertise in and if your product offerings match their interests and content.
Brand fit: Examine the general perception of the influencer and their content, their genuinity, reliability, transparency, values and so on.
Engagement: Check the audience responses and reactions to their content and how well the influencer engages or connects with their followers.
Frequency: Look at how often the content is published and what percentage of it is organic and how much is collaborative.Too many promotions can be off-putting for users. Additionally, you would not want to collaborate with an influencer that has endorsed the competition’s products in the recent past.
Quality: Check if their content quality resonates with your brand image along with its creativity, consistency, style and so on.
Budget: Inspect if the influencer fits within your campaign budget
Reputation: Ensure that the influencer has a clean record and haven’t been involved in any controversies or bad press that can potentially affect your brand.
Alignment: Choose influencers that align with your brand’s values and message. Check their past collaborations to understand their work and the products they endorse.
|80% of marketers say influencer marketing is effective, and 89% say it works just as well (if not better) than other marketing channels.|
Steps to building an influencer marketing campaign
Let’s look at the details of how to go about promoting a brand through influencer marketing.
Start by first determining the social media platforms that are suitable for you based on the demographics and other details of the audience there. For instance, if you sell a gadget that helps professionals stay organised, Linkedin is the place to begin with. We have also listed the platforms and their key characteristics further in this article.
After shortlisting the channels, research the top influencers in your category. One way is to use hashtags to discover them or use tools to filter out the most suitable list.
Create a list of influencers that you want to work with as well as their type (micro mega, nano, etc.). This way you will be able to align your marketing budget as well.
Remember to spend considerable time on their profiles to assess and select them based on the aforementioned factors.
Influencers can be reached by either mailing them directly or approaching an agency that works with influencers relevant to your brand.
These agencies usually take care of the entire lifecycle of the campaign right from finding influencers to tracking the final metrics.
|Popular Instagram Marketing Platforms|
If your business is approaching the content creators directly, it’s a good practice to first introduce your brand and give them a sense of its image, perception and value. Also share why you would be keen to partner with them and the objective that you want to meet through this campaign.
There will be a few follow up conversations depending on the queries raised and interest shown where you will also be able to get an estimate of the campaign cost.
3. Campaign details
Once you have a fair idea on the potential influencers, it’s time to detail out the campaign plan with all its nitty gritties.
Let’s look at the important points to work on before launching a campaign
Campaign budget: Finalise the amount that you wish to allocate for this campaign depending on the type and number of influencers that you plan to partner with.
Appropriate hashtag: Incorporate a unique hashtag so that people are easily able to locate the promotional campaign when they look for the brand and related information.
Content: Work with the influencers to ideate and discuss the content that you would like them to promote along with the right messaging. Also prepare a brand guideline listing the details that need to be considered while promoting the brand.
Publish timeline: Determine the duration of the campaign as well as the frequency at which you expect the influencers to go live with your content.
KPIs: Identify the factors basis which the campaign results will be measured and share the goals with the influencers. The deliverables should be measurable, specific and time-bound. The subsequent point in this section further elaborates on the potential metrics.
Contract: Detail out a contract that covers the legalities, content usage rights and partnership terms along with the fees, timeline and other details.
Resources: Share all the necessary brand information with the influencers. This can include information on brand image as well as design details such as colours, style guides, fonts, taglines and so on.
Measuring the ROI of influencer marketing campaigns may not be straightforward because it can’t be directly linked to transactions.
However, every campaign has a primary goal/ objective – it could be brand awareness, engagement, traffic and so on. To know how well the campaign has worked for your brand and if the goals are met, influencer marketing outcomes can be measured using the following parameters.
Impressions and reach: While impressions will help you with the number of times that the content was viewed, reach will tell the exact number of visitors that have seen your content.
Engagement: This consists of all the likes, shares, comments, retweets and reactions which depict the overall interaction that users have had with a particular post. Subsequently the engagement rate can be calculated as the total engagement divided by total reach, multiplied by 100.
The average engagement rate on popular social platforms
Influencer data: If your influencers agree to share their personal data and analytics, it can help get a deeper understanding about the campaign. They can help you with output comparisons and their inputs on the performance based on their experience of working with multiple brands.
Traffic: Measure the traffic on your website and social media channels before, during and after the campaign. This will offer a fair amount of clarity on how effective the exercise has been in creating awareness and driving users to your business.
Promo codes: By sharing unique promotional codes with influencers which they can offer their followers, you can attribute sale numbers to the campaign by checking how many people applied the code at checkout.
UTM parameters: A UTM tag or code is a customised text that lets you track the campaign traffic through an analytics software. It is added to the URL to determine the user journey or where a particular user is coming from.
Affiliate links: Influencers can also promote your brand on their blog/website through an affiliate program, the leads of which can be tracked back through a specific URL.
|The Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) has released a set of guidelines for influencers with the purpose of identifying and distinguishing paid promotional content. |
The guidelines are aimed at preventing businesses from using influencers for promotions which can be misleading and lead to abuse of trust of consumers.
Influencer marketing: Do’s and Don’ts
1. Forced promotions
Influencer marketing works because its content is real and relatable for the audience. When influencers promote your brand let them organically weave it into their experiences rather than making it look like a forced advertisement. Unnecessary mentions or long product explanations are unappealing for most people.
2. Too many partnerships
Businesses often collaborate with several influencers at the same time and each one of them ends up promoting the same campaign on their channel. It is very likely that a user follows most of them and the content ends up looking like an advertisement rather than something that the influencers are recommending.
For instance, let’s say a cosmetic brand promotes itself through 10 -15 popular influencers in the skincare category. An individual with interest in this domain is likely to follow many of them and will see the same promotion over and over again across pages making the content look transactional and pretentious.
3. Creative control
|70% of all influencers feel that their honesty, openness, and humour are necessary to keep their audience engaged.|
Let the influencers incorporate your brand in their personal style and presentation. It’s an ideal practice to give them precise brand guidelines as well as complete creative freedom so that the branded content resembles their process.
4. Platform selection
Picking the right platform is extremely crucial for the campaign’s success. Even Though most people are present on multiple platforms they are likely to be active on those that most resonate with their personality and interests.
Determining the appropriate channel for influencer marketing is largely dictated by the ideal buyer persona. However, for a broad understanding here’s how the audience vaguely looks like on some popular social media platforms.
Instagram: Highly popular among social media savvy audiences and suitable for people who are impulsive buyers and depend on social media for their buying-decisions.
Facebook: Best for audiences that are slightly older and will invest in a product after evaluating and assessing it.
Youtube: If your content needs detailing, and will appeal to users who focus more on product research, the campaign might find more success on this channel.
Tiktok: If you are targeting GenZ and your brand is more trendy, it is likely to find more takers on TikTok.
Twitter: Great for people who value opinions, ask questions and emphasise on conversations.
Linkedin: If your brand is for professionals and belongs to a niche category, influencer marketing on linkedin can prove to be beneficial for the business.
Twitch: Most suitable for targeting young audiences that are into live streaming video content, a lot of which is focussed on video games.
Discord: Ideal for reaching out to young communities who like to engage in conversations through text and voice channels.
Choosing the right social media platform
|Users||2.9 B||353 M||2.3 B||740 M||1.3 B||689 M|
|Purpose||Building relationships||News and articles||Lifestyle, educational||Networking||Building relationships||Building relationships|
|Best for||Brand loyalty||Public relations||Brand awareness||Business development||Entertainment, brand awareness||Brand loyalty and community|
|Limitation||Limited reach||Limited characters||Resource intensive||Limited interactions||Visually heavy||Specific demographics|
5. Influencer category
Every business is naturally drawn towards influencers that have the highest number of followers. However it may not always translate into higher engagement. Micro influencers for instance may have limited followers but those could be more dedicated and open to recommendations.
The key is to work with varied content creators while analysing which type works best for your brand in terms of reach as well as budget.
Influencer marketing challenges that businesses should be aware of
|Influencer marketing challenges|
|Fake or purchased followers|
|Lack of accountability|
Insider found 20 accounts on Instagram impersonating Marko Zlatic, who goes by WhiteBoardFinance
The above issues can be addressed only by closely following the accounts of the influencers that you wish to work with over a period of time. You may observe inconsistent performances or poor quality content, strange comments, disparity between the number of followers and engagement – all of which are red flags.
Is influencer marketing affordable?
It is certainly affordable when compared to traditional marketing however the costs can significantly vary for each influencer depending upon their popularity.
Is it a long term marketing strategy?
Influencer marketing campaigns usually last for a short duration but they can highly contribute to brand awareness and increase traffic to your website.
Is influencer marketing suitable for small businesses?
Influencer marketing is ideal for every e-commerce business that wants to market itself. You only need to find the right influencers that align with your brand and fit your budget.
Read our knowledge base blogs if you want to create a truly effective digital marketing plan to help your business grow.