Customers today mistrust brands more than they do politicians, and within their buying decisions they will often seek validation from experts and other customers. One effective way for brands to gain the trust of their consumers is to align with influencers -- those that have a prominent and trusted voice, share values, lifestyle, and have credibility within the social space.
Here are three tips on how you can have success with your influencer marketing strategy:
1. Pick the right subject matter that will resonate with your target audience. Within social media, reach is an appropriate indicator of how often a brand's name appears within a customer's social newsfeeds. However, brands have been known to "buy" followers and likes in order to spike reach figures. High reach does not necessarily equate to higher brand recall, purchase intent or showcase a direct mutually rewarding relationship with the brand and the audience it's seeking to target.
A 2015 study conducted by Nielsen reveals that 75% of consumers fail to match the correct brands with the ads viewed, and although brands may be reaching their audience, the majority of these customers would incorrectly attribute the brand's ads to a competitor's brand. Success does not simply lie in increasing visibility; it is imperative that brands are visible and use impactful storytelling to resonate with the target audience they do manage to reach. Influencer marketing is one facet of digital strategy that is helping to bridge the gap between reach and resonance.
2. Use the right tools to correctly identify influencers and create content. There are two key factors that play into the success of digital marketing leveraging influencers. The first is to identify and target influencers who are interested in your brand, product or service offerings, based on what they have typically discussed and how they self-identify as a subject matter expert.
The second factor is for brands and influencers to co-create content they will use to engage with their audience. This two-pronged approach requires acceptance from the brand to create curated customized, compelling and highly relevant content with minimal or no branding at all, as well as accurate targeting that takes into consideration the insights from the market sentiment.
3. Ensure consistency across all digital touch points, and accurately measure and evaluate the performance of influencer marketing strategies to ensure truly rewarding and lasting brand and influencer relationships are formed. Brands have learned that it is important to build relationships with influencers over time to convert them to natural brand advocates. Rather than being used as a means to initiate engagement with influencers, campaigns should be used as a strategic way to further develop relationships.
Measuring success should be based on the impact on influencers, how often they mention the brand or product, share content, and how target influencers interact with and position the brand. Furthermore, brands should evaluate the impact on the target audience, using measuring tools to analyze conversions across other digital properties such as their websites. It is therefore paramount that consistency across digital touchpoints is incorporated into any influencer marketing strategy.
Trust is a great indicator of the impact of an influencer marketing strategy and can be measured using metrics such as how often a consumer repurchases a service or offering. The vast majority of conversations regarding a brand happen on social media platforms, and sentiment analysis as a part of social media monitoring is another key indicator of the success of an influencer marketing strategy. Sentiment analysis is a quick way of understanding customers' attitudes and allows brands to react accordingly. Brands must, however, take into consideration what terms their brand is being associated with, as the terms may have positive sentiments but may not necessarily be the right association.
Curating user-generated content is a great way to target customers in a marketing landscape in which peer-to-peer advocacy and influencer marketing are the most compelling ways to market to most new customers. Commitment is also an important metric for measuring the success of influencer marketing efforts. Dwell time, the actual length of time a visitor spends on a page before leaving, demonstrates how committed and engaged they are with the content.
Word-of-mouth has always been a powerful tool, and for this reason it is no surprise that influencer marketing has garnered great success. Customers and influencers expect brands to talk with them and not at them. Brands that adopt influencer marketing strategies should ask themselves whether they're doing influencer marketing or marketing to influencers. Following these tips should help with focusing on identifying the right influencers to spark organic conversations that will ultimately lead to shortened sales cycles and lower acquisition costs.