As the online marketing space for businesses, brands and companies evolves and gets more nuanced, marketers must develop strategies that de-emphasize loud branding and sales comms. The global audience is now desensitized to branded content. Put simply, people are more interested in conversations with people, and not with logos. Brands must then humanize themselves and their messages, to be able to sustain the connection to their target and keep them engaged more organically.
Marketers need to lean in on initiatives that are more human. People don’t like to be sold to. Instead of leading with brand-heavy media and promoting it to the target audience, brands need to be less direct, but more relatable. They can do this through influencers.
Simply put, influencer marketing is a process where individuals who have built a strong and engaged community on a social media platform recommend a brand to that hyper niche community. The common result is that the members of that community then engage with that brand and possibly purchase the brand’s products based on the referral of the individual. That individual is called an influencer. It is a form of word of mouth marketing, but with many more people being referred at once.
A survey by MediaMix revealed that 89% of marketers voted that the ROI on influencer marketing is comparable to or better than other marketing forms. This shows how valuable influencer marketing is to brands and why an influencer marketing strategy is indispensable.
Like any strategy, you need to be clear, deliberate and intentional to be able to achieve the desired results.
Almost every marketing initiative needs to start with research to enable you to fully understand what is actually involved and the best way to go about it. You will need to go deep into the platform you have determined that your target audience is on, and find the influencers on that platform who create content that aligns with your niche. If you’re an investment or fintech company, for instance, your niche influencers would be people with very engaged communities who make content around personal finance, money management, global finance news breakdowns, and so forth. Decide if you will work with macro-influencers (influencers who have really huge communities) or micro-influencers (who have smaller but generally much more engaged communities). Identify as many of these as possible and draw up a list.
Next, set a budget based on the allowances of your marketing spend. It is important to set this figure and a specific number of influencers you want to work with ahead of contacting them so that you can determine how much income is budgeted for each person ahead of the actual negotiations.
Every business wants growth, whether that be growth in the awareness it enjoys or growth in its conversions. But it helps your strategy if you distill what your business needs very specifically, rather than just aiming for more followers. When you set a specific goal (such as to reach out to a younger demographic with one of your products designed specifically for them), your decisions regarding which and what kind of influencers you work with will get much more specific. A very specific goal also means that you are able to clearly measure how much your campaign has moved the needle.
In terms of brand messaging, your work is not done just because you have contacted and engage the best influencers for your campaign. While you do not want to stifle their creativity and how they announce you to their audiences, you also want to work with them to carve a broad message that they can create within, so that they do not put out confusing or unclear messages about your brand. Your messaging will flow out of your goals.
For micro-influencers, you can send them a private message on the platform where they are most active, and ideally where you also want to collaborate with them. Larger influencers usually have a listing of contact information in their bio, which may include a phone number and an email address.
Before a campaign starts (and also in the middle of an active campaign), check your target goals against how the campaign is doing, to be able to adapt and make changes and correct the direction toward the main goal. You need to do this regularly to be able to also determine whether the campaign is hitting the goal or is totally off course.
You should also regularly review the list of influencers you are working with and cross-check that with your goal and the demographic target you have. This review will help you to either identify new influencers to be added to your list and remove old influencers who are no longer relevant.
As marketers, regardless of the industry or niche, a good influencer marketing strategy is an investment that is valuable immediately and in the long run. Take the time and do the upfront work of setting up a strong strategy for this, or work with influencer marketing agencies and networks whose expertise you can draw on.
Over time, Pulse has built a strong and vast influencer marketing network in Africa through extensive collaborations on projects and our interest in engaging and strengthening the media landscape in our operative countries. This network has further increased our online marketing capabilities, allowing us to reach even more niche audiences for our partners, while almost exponentially increasing the strength of the Pulse amplification pipeline.