If Samuel L. Jackson and Jennifer Garner recommend Capital One, are people more likely to consider it? Or if George Clooney tells you to drink Nespresso, will you? It's very possible.
Advertising that uses celebrities to endorse their products or services are part of what's called influencer marketing – and it's quite effective. In fact, influencer marketing is currently the fastest growing consumer acquisition strategy.
What is Influencer Marketing?
This approach isn't all about celebrities – it can involve anyone who has clout, expertise, or popularity in a particular industry or on a specific channel. For example, if there's a prominent food blogger with thousands of followers on Instagram, you might consider leveraging them to promote your restaurant. (Bloggers are actually a powerful way to reach your audience, as they are seen as more authentic and often have loyal followers.) Influencer marketing helps get your brand in front of new audiences and helps spread awareness of your company quickly.
Does Influencer Marketing Really Work?
It really seems to. According to a Mediakix survey:
89% of marketers say influencer marketing ROI is as good or better than other marketing channels.
The survey also found that 71% of respondents feel the quality of the traffic and customers from their influencer marketing is better than from other sources. Forbes noted that influencer marketing has come a long way even recently – referencing a study that found that 39% of marketers plan to increase their budget for this strategy this year. In fact, they found that "marketers will spend anywhere from $25,000 to $100,000 on influencer marketing."
Are There Any Risks to Influencer Marketing?
This strategy is a little bit of a gamble. It's not as controlled as traditional marketing in that you never know how your influencers might act in the future. What if your influencer makes a mistake and receives bad publicity? What if they even run into legal trouble? While this isn't a big enough reason not to try influencer marketing, you should be prepared to handle the aftermath of such a situation.
How Do I Leverage Influencer Marketing?
There are a few steps you can take to get started on the right path:
- Do your research. First, decide which audiences you want to target. What are their demographics? Where do they spend most of their online time? From there, do some sleuthing to find people who might be good influencers for that audience. This means figuring out if you want to go after a more popular celebrity or a micro influencer on a specific channel or in a certain industry.
- Set goals. Just like any other marketing strategy, it's important to know what specifically you hope to achieve. With influencer marketing, you likely want to increase brand awareness and sales. But beyond that, are you looking to reach a new demographic? Attract new customers for a specific product or service? Whatever your goals are, make sure your strategy and influencer will help you get there.
- Be transparent. Authenticity is vital with marketing in general, but especially with influencer marketing. People get that brands pay for celebrity endorsements, so there's no sense in hiding it. Consider subtle says of cluing people in, such as using #sponsored so that your audience won't become wary. In addition, you want to make sure the ads/posts from your influencers don't sound like blatant advertisements. It's important that they're in the true voice of the influencer.
Once you've crafted your strategy and done your research, it's time to start making partnerships with influencers. Once their endorsements are public, make sure to track your results to see if your ROI increases. Use these metrics to help you get even more strategic in the future.