Written by Pulse Co-Founder Christoph Kastenholz
Without a doubt, influencer marketing has become the buzzword of today’s ad generation. And for a long time now, I have opened keynote talks and presentations saying that influencer marketing has come to reshape the advertising arena, eliminating and replacing old and outdated advertising formats.
However, while I continue to believe that the traditional way of advertising is outdated, I have opened my mind to the idea of a new and larger role that influencer marketing plays in the bigger context.
Through consulting and working with industry leading brands and conglomerates, as well as executing literally thousands of campaigns from America across the Middle East to Asia, I have learned that influencer marketing carries a fundamental advantage at its core: the opportunity to revive the old and struggling advertising formats, which we have come to ignore in our day-to-day lives. Influencer marketing has the potential to revive the advertising arena as a whole and counter the negative results many traditional advertising houses such as WPP, who have lost a third of their share value throughout 2017, are announcing these days!
It is true, we have changed the way we consume media, and we have become critical of what brands tell us. That is why we are all fuelling the ad-block phenomenon, banning direct advertising from our daily lives as far as we can. This is the pivotal point, where influencer marketing has an advantage: influencers carry the trust of consumers, and have their undivided attention when it matters. They are the right narrators to share a brand’s story not only on their own accounts, but on a broader scale. Influencer marketing has become today’s and tomorrow’s enabler, and I want to share a summary of my most relevant take-aways with you.
Through thorough research and the many campaigns we have successfully executed, we have created a 360° advertising concept, with influencer marketing at its core. I believe the following take-aways to be the 5 crucial keys to a successful and complete influencer marketing strategy in 2018:
We work with influencers across many social media platforms, ranging from Instagram, to YouTube, WeChat, Weibo, Meipai, Twitter, Blogs, Snapchat, Twitch, Musically and many more. Each platform has its own advantages, usability and purpose. Often times these individual characteristics are not taken into consideration during campaign planning, although a multi-channel strategy carries fundamental advantages.
It is important to prioritise the relevance of a specific platform in regard to your individual marketing and business goals over the popularity of a certain channel. What may work for one brand, product or market, may not work for another.
Macro-Influencers vs. Micro-Influencers
Throughout 2017, many of the discussions on influencer marketing have centered around the question, whether micro-influencers are better than macro-influencers, or the other way around. There are supporters on both sides, and I believe they actually both have a point, but none of them are right. It is not about one or the other, it is about a holistic approach combining the strengths of both macro- and micro-influencers.
Macro-influencers have the power to set and drive trends, pushing brands or specific product categories to new heights. However, with many of the larger influencers, their following is demographically and geographically fragmented, simply by nature of their size. Consequently, they will often address a broader audience. To enable their trend-inducing nature however, they need their size and thus aren’t replaceable! Another limiting characteristic to macro-influencers is that they are restricted in the amount of pieces of content they can share on a brand without losing authenticity.
Micro-influencers by nature, have a smaller following that they impact, limiting their influence to that group. On the flip side, a large group of micro-influencers possess the power to spread the word broadly, creating a mass of content that will push the campaign to visibility within many smaller circles of consumers. As another example, micro-influencers can effectively build a focus group, vetting a product before a broad roll-out both from their own experience, as well as involving their followers feedback.
Content Integration into Brand Owned Channels and Direct Advertising
Build on this trust by integrating these well-known individuals into your owned channels, as well as in customer-facing advertising materials such as an out-of-home ad, or a TV ad. Those of your customers who recognise their influencer idols will be positively impacted and drawn towards your brand and products, and those who are outside of the relevant target group will merely see “models”, just as they have before. Thus, there is always a positive result on the bottom line!
One of the key advantages of influencer marketing is that it generates high quality, relevant content for your brand. A brand should share the content on its own channels, and engage with the influencers on those platforms, too.
Co-branding of Product Lines with Influencers
The peak of a holistic influencer strategy is to involve influencers in your brand DNA, and connect their persona and character fundamentally to your brand. While we have seen outstanding results through previous co-brandings with influencers, it is a subject not to be taken lightly, as in effect you let an outside influencer into your inner brand core.
As with any overall influencer marketing strategy, only take this next step with influencers who have been loyal to your brand over time, and with whom you have built up trust. You should thoroughly understand the relationship they have with their audience, their long-term passion for your brand, and their own goals in life. If the character and results prove a positive potential, don’t miss out on the opportunity and start a co-creation. It doesn’t have to be based on working with one social media influencer, it could be a product bundle created with a few.
The results of letting such strong people into your core and letting them create their own product line is a dream come true for many of them, and the results will thank you for it.
Thorough Campaign Reporting and Market Research
Through its efficiency, influencer marketing today receives substantial budget allocations, and current research shows that this will only increase throughout 2018. It is no longer a question about “if” to invest in influencer marketing, but rather “how much budget should we allocate”. Thus, today more than ever, efficient campaign reporting is just as crucial as thorough research.
Collecting campaign relevant data allows brands and agencies to track results extensively; on top of that we’ve found valuable insights by doing market research amongst the followers of the influencers in selected campaigns. These reporting are particularly useful at the end of a campaign, where they pinpoint challenges and opportunities for future campaign activations, and thus carry high potential within. However, they should also be done mid-way throughout campaigns, to make sure the campaign is on track to fulfil its purpose.
We have been the first influencer marketing agency globally to run traditional approach market studies on influencer marketing campaigns, and are highly motivated by the results we see!
Influencer marketing will continue to revive the ad game throughout 2018. It is not a hype, it has come to stay. I hope these takeaways provide value to you, I would look forward to hearing your thoughts in a quick comment or message!