Influencer marketing is nothing new. From Sprint poaching Verizon’s “Can you hear me now?” actor, to Fyre Festival’s uninformed influencers, influencer strategies have helped catapult brands into the public eye (for better and for worse) in the past few years. But as we head into a new decade, it’s time to take a look at how to freshen up your influencer campaigns.
As social media users continue to become desensitized to the ads of mega-influencers, more and more brands are turning to micro-influencers to get in front of the right audience. Micro-influencers are social media users with anywhere from 1,000 to 1,000,000 followers, and often serve a specific subpopulation that your brand wants to reach.
Micro-influencer marketing has seen success thanks to the trustworthiness and relatability these smaller accounts have built with their followers. These aren’t celebrities who lead overly-glamorous lives, they’re closer to peers for most of us—and that often makes their endorsements feel more genuine and believable. A smaller following also means a lower cost compared to their superstar counterparts, which may help maximize your ROI and make your dollars work a bit harder.
Room 214's Director of Content Marketing, Maya Shaff, emphasized the importance of authenticity with your influencers, "Working on building a great relationship with your audience, as well as the influencers you work with, is key to this strategy paying off for your brand. Micro-influencers garner fans and attention because they have a real, authentic connection with the people that follow them. Your job as the brand is to continue and further that relationship while naturally integrating your brand or products."
Not sure where to start? Look internally for staff members who are already doing a great job promoting your brand and values, small and large businesses alike should look for community leaders who live your brand’s identity and can reach a highly local audience, or consider a tool like Octoly or Heartbeat to identify and engage with potential ambassadors. When you’re choosing your micro-influencers, be sure to think about ways you’ll be able to activate them in an authentic way that thinks outside of the boilerplate #sponsoredpost we’ve all come to know (and scroll right past) on Instagram.
The primary goal of working with influencers should be to foster a positive relationship with them and create enthusiastic, knowledgeable, and eager brand ambassadors whose endorsements will continue after the official partnership ends.
Identifying influencers who fit with your brand and the message you want to communicate is essential. An artfully-selected ambassador will resonate with the right audience (looking at you, 2019 Pepsi). Whereas a public icon with no real tie to the brand or cause you’re working towards will fall flat and feel disingenuous (looking at you, 2017 Pepsi).
Once you’ve selected your influencers, be sure to shift your influencer campaigns from one-off requests to an ongoing dialogue that’s mutually beneficial. Your influencers will be much more prone to spread positive messages about your brand when they feel valued and are equipped with the knowledge to speak about your mission and products. Nobody likes to feel used, so sending an email every once in a while with posting instructions and some product or money attached may put off your network of influencers or leave them feeling uninspired. Treat your influencers like your coworkers and friends, and you’ll see their value grow and grow as they buy into your brand.
Ah yes, the age-old adage continues to ring true. Especially for the world of influencer marketing in 2020—as Instagram plans to do away with visible likes. With the massive influx of influencer marketing in the past few years, many social media users have quickly grown tired of their favorite accounts ‘selling out’ with sponsored posts. Your brand should work consciously against this burnout by partnering with content creators, not just influencers, and providing content that will capture the attention of your target audience. Conducting research, and hosting custom interviews and focus groups to listen to your audience will help make sure your ideas are backed by evidence—leaving you free to get creative.
In her experience working with brands and their influencers, Maya Shaff has noticed that, "Getting creative, having fun, and ultimately letting influencers execute upon your program in a way that is natural to them can help build a solid connection that can help you not only bring in more fans (and, ultimately, purchasers), but can help you build a long-term mutually beneficial relationship with an influencer."
Look to Chipotle’s Lid Flip Challenge with David Dobrik on TikTok, Hulu unabashedly acknowledging the sell-out with their Live Sports campaign, and Colorado’s own Topo Designs using Spotify Playlists curated by well-known musical artists for inspiration in your brainstorming.
One of the first documented examples of influencer marketing dates back to the 1760’s in England, when Josiah Wedgewood used the Queen’s endorsement to help sell his pottery. Given that this marketing strategy has been around for about three centuries now, it’s doubtful to disappear along with Instagram’s likes—but it will undoubtedly continue to change alongside the social media landscape. As always, keeping a close eye on trends and a close ear to what consumers are thinking and feeling will help your influencer program stay at the forefront of your industry.
Thanks for reading along, and best of luck with your influencer strategy in 2020 and beyond. For more great info, be sure to hit the links below and follow along with Room 214.
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