The takeaway: Influencers provide exponential value ESPECIALLY when programs are strategic, thoughtful, and integrated with other marketing tactics. At the moment, influencers hold a lot of power and are being evaluated under a microscope, which is why we’ll continue to see scrutiny around the industry. Keep an eye on the trends and adapt your strategies where it makes sense.
Within the last five or so years, a new title has taken the world by storm: influencer. Formerly known as “the blogger,” influencers share their lives and expertise on the internet all while gaining zillions of followers (if you’re lucky) and working with brands to promote their favorite products, services, destinations and more.
Influencer marketing had explosive growth in 2020 due to lockdowns and more time at home, however, influencers have been on the rise for years. According to the annual Influencer Marketing Benchmark Report, since 2016 there has been a yearly increase of at least 50% to the overall estimated market size of the industry. Another study showed that 63% of consumers entirely trust the opinions of social media influencers and listen to them like a friend, leading us to believe that content creators will continue to be an extremely valuable part of marketing.
At Maxwell, we’ve found great success with influencers both pre-pandemic and during, and continue to exceed our KPIs. That’s why when we recently caught the Adweek article titled, “Why Brands Might Want to Reconsider Upcoming Influencer Campaigns,” we were taken aback and ready to defend our programs. But after further investigation we realized that these folks just might, maybe, potentially… have a point.
Long story short, the article describes the basis of a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences by Gabriel Rossman and co-author Jacob Fisher. The duo argues that almost anyone can spread the word about an advertising message, influencer or not, and say that an influencer’s value is totally dependent on the marketing scenario.
There’s a lot of thought that needs to go into an influencer campaign before taking flight, and Rossman and Fisher have it spot on that an integrated marketing approach is the route to take. Influencers certainly have a time and place and are most effective when paired with other advertising methods. This means that prior to initiating a campaign you should do your research and plan to promote your brand on multiple levels (digital and print advertising, influencer marketing, utilizing promo codes, planning virtual/in-person events as applicable, leveraging social media content, etc.) to see the most stellar results.
Here are a few things to consider before launching your next (or very first!) influencer campaign:
Your Influencer Partners Don’t Need a Million Followers
There are plenty of creators out there who may not have a massive audience, but they do align with your budget while having a niche, loyal, and highly-engaged community. Hello, micro and nano influencers! Just check out their engagement rates to make sure you’re getting the most bang for your buck. For example, on behalf of our client Bob’s Red Mill, we partnered with micro influencer Stacie of @navajodarling to promote the brand’s wholesome ingredients for cozy winter meals. The post reached over 6K people and almost 10% of those who saw it engaged with the post. That’s organic reach, not boosted. Industry average is 1-5%, so this is pretty great in our book.
Dedicate Time Upfront to Finding a Fit for Your Brand
It may seem simple to just choose a few creators for your campaign and call it a day, but you’ll want to make sure your partners hold values and interests that align with your brand while having a dedicated community to share with. In addition to searching relevant hashtags and key words directly on Instagram, we also love using proprietary, paid tools to help find influencers by niche, region and more. These platforms can also show key metrics like average reach and engagement rate, which is super helpful when determining what sort of ROI you can expect to see.
Know Your Goals for the Campaign and Be Clear with Your Partners
The more organized and confident you are building an influencer campaign, the more of a success it will be! Put the time and energy in to creating concise KPIs and key messages and be sure to relay that info to your partners. Remember, they are eager to help and want their content to perform well as much as you do! At Maxwell, we build thorough creative briefs using Adobe Spark that house all necessary campaign information. This includes key messages, a timeline, posting instructions, required hashtags, example imagery and more. Find a method that works for your team and seek feedback about the process from your influencer partners when possible.
In the meantime, let us do the heavy lifting and reach out if you want to kick off an influencer campaign for your brand. Also, sign up for our FLAG THIS newsletter where we monitor and share research, trends, and noteworthy marketing news.