Under the Influence

What’s influencer marketing anyway?

In a world where we’re inundated with subjective messaging and endless choice, our demand for authenticity is greater than ever. As consumers, we’ve become weary of the traditional advertising narrative. Welcome to the age of Influencer Marketing. Our decision-making is already predisposed to the content we consume digitally and the social setters we follow on social media. As a result, brands can no longer afford to ignore this trend. In 2017 alone the term ‘influencer marketing’ grew by 325% in google search, with 70% of marketing departments already looking to increase their influencer budget over the coming year.

Surprised? You shouldn’t be. The basic psychology of buying involves finding someone we believe to be an expert and relying on their advice. Social Media has simply allowed us yet another access point to find these ‘authorities’; every day, likeminded people who share our passions and interests and to whom we develop a trusting connection with.

NOT ALL INFLUENCERS ARE CREATED EQUAL 

One of the biggest misconceptions about influencers is that they are someone with a large social media following. Popularity and influence are not one and the same.

A successful influencer must have the trifecta of credibility, salesmanship and reach. Think of an influencer as the mutual friend connecting your brand with your target consumers. You are the company you keep.

On the Kenyan scene, the influencer-marketing trend is in full steam. Whether it’s new whiskey kid-on-the-block Tullamore D.E.W activating it’s launch with a stream of millennial bloggers to African fashion labels clamouring to dress #100DaysofAfricanFashion pioneer Diana Opoti.

HOW TO NAVIGATE THIS SPACE?

The simplest way to work with influencers is to pay them. But this does not generate authentic, personal endorsement. Collaborations should instead be centred on building relationships where your brand values and company ethos aligns with those of the influencer.

An influencer should speak about your product not because they are being paid to do so, but because they find your company interesting and the information useful to their readers.

According to Mike Makori, KTN presenter and influencer it’s not just about the cheque. Companies wanting to work with him need to align with his own personal brand and equally he needs to feel passionate about the campaign for it to work.

Here’s our three-step checklist for any brand wanting to engage in an influencer marketing campaign:

Start with the influencer, not the communication. Ask yourself which influencers do you admire? Whose content resonates with your brand? Does their audience match your demographic? It becomes much easier to develop a value proposition based on mutual interests, motivations and needs instead of trying to force a campaign into a shoe that does not fit.

Co-creation is key. Involve your proposed influencer in the planning stage. You want their input after all they know just what works. Remember authenticity is the name of the game. Beyond that you’re also putting more of the onus on them to deliver a successful campaign. Susan Wong, local digital editor and influencer collaborated with EABL recently on their World Cocktail Day activation. Based on her follower insights, she encouraged the client to focus on commemoration and awareness instead of pushing a direct sales strategy. This had a greater impact by generating a multiplier buzz effect than had they gone their original route.

Communicate expectations. Influencer marketing can be a grey area when it comes to measuring success. You need to be clear what you want your influencer to deliver. Is it just increased awareness? A conversion to direct sales? Or to drive more followers to your channels? Spell it out so all parties know exactly what to do.

Ultimately there are no shortcuts to influencer engagement. If you’re going to use it as a marketing tool invest the time to do your homework. And remember the aim is advocacy, not mass promotion.

Catch our full article for the Business Daily right here.