In today’s multi-fragmented world of brands and messages, it’s becoming increasingly challenging to find ways to get our messages and brands across.
One aspect that can help us in this effort is to leverage influencers, people whose strong reputation and values resonate with those of our brand, and who can boost the credibility of our message into the minds and hearts of our target audience.
An influencer’s range of action is immense and can be found in a variety of communication channels and platforms, be it offline (conferences, newspapers, one-to-one meetings) or online (blogs, sites, social media). If their work is addressed to the same target audience that we are trying to reach out to, they become a very powerful ally in boosting our brand messages in a way that increases our engagement and conversion rates.
But equally as important as the influencer’s reputation and outreach is their connection with their audience. An influencer might not be famous, or even well-known, but they may be able to share quality content that is highly appreciated by a wide number of followers. Today’s beauty tips, for instance, are shared online through platforms like YouTube by ordinary people with hundreds of thousands of followers that take their advice to heart. This is when our creativity as comunicators and marketers becomes our greatest asset to spot untapped opportunities that can amplify our brand’s message.
One of the key aspects of the influencers’ work is that their voice feels more “authentic” to the public than that of a brand. Traditional marketing activities carried out by companies have lost credibility in favour of that of third parties and peers. Today’s influencers have a bigger impact in the purchase decisions of consumers, and that’s why more and more brands are leaning on them.
The influencer’s relevance in current marketing strategies has grown in parallel with technological developments and the expansion of social media networks. Today, the ability to design influencer strategies for boosting a brand is within everyone’s reach due to the democratisation of social media tools; in other words, there is no longer a need for large budgets to reach your audience.
One of the tools I find useful to develop effective marketing and communication campaigns is the Influencer Engagement Pyramid created by Augure, a public relations and influencer marketing company. It consists of three levels or categories we should always consider whenever building up our communication strategy and action plan:
1) Celebrities: The first level of the influencer campaign starts by identifying a person who is well known in your field of interest and can benefit your initiative or product by supporting it. Although paying the celebrity to appear in an advertisement is the traditional way of attracting them, you might want to think of alternatives like social causes that may attract them on a more personal level, thereby avoiding costs in your campaign. The more genuine the celebrity is presented alongside your brand, the better the connection will be perceived by your audience. Having the support of a celebrity increases the visibility and outreach of your brand’s message, and you can leverage on this alliance by using channels like television, radio, magazines or social networks.
2) Opinion Leaders: On the second level of the pyramid, think of all the people with strong recognition in your brand’s market who are constantly creating content and trends, and who shape the behaviours of your target audience. Bloggers, techies, journalists and other well-known professionals in the sector can support your brand through their endorsement. A good way of doing it is not just having them talk about your brand, but instead creating their own relevant, market-related content that can be associated with your product. Think of health tips by a nutritionist that can be related to the launch of low-fat butter, for instance, or a fashion expert’s comments linked to a brand’s new summer collection. In this respect, public relations and communications are the main resources you can use for tapping into the work of opinion leaders, carrying out activities like content co-creation, webinars and product testings.
3) Prosumers: The last level of the influencer engagement pyramid is made up of consumers who are also content producers in the digital market. Armed with the tools that shape the social media world, all of us have the potential to produce daily, relevant content that has a direct impact on the reputation and bottom line of the brands that surround us. Facebook, Twitter, You Tube, Instagram, LinkedIn, Vine and Tumblr are only some of these tools.
With regards to your brand, ask yourself the following questions: who is producing content that is likely to be shared, liked or commented on by your target audience? Which channels are they using? Are they talking about your brand? One way of creating engagement is to encourage their participation in contests or competitions and promoting their own voice around your brand so their opinions are recongised by their community.
After your marketing and communication campaign is implemented, it is important that you measure its results in terms of the strategy you initially set up with your chosen influencers. It is also important that the key performance indicators you take into account are related to your campaign’s main objectives. For example, raising awareness/advocacy, media coverage, boosting sales, increasing share of market and so on.
Grasping the future
The choice of your strategy and the type of influencers may vary depending on the context in which you want to promote your brand, as well as the kind of market you are working in. Influencer marketing in its current form is a relatively new concept, and in this sense, disruptive and creative ideas will play a crucial factor in the success of your brand strategy.
The boom of social media and online communities have led to a never-before seen level of market fragmentation. In this context, influencers will become even more specialised by representing niche markets that are harder to reach with traditional marketing campaigns. Leveraging online influencers is not only a great way of getting your brand across: it may be the only way to make it relevant in the hyper-dynamic, hyper-connected world we live in today.