Influencer marketing is dividing people a lot like marmite; they either seem to love it – or hate it. Perhaps it’s the approach that has led them there; there have been many tales of successful small, independent businesses that have been approached, essentially for freebies in return for a post or a mention, usually on social media.
However, while of course – this approach increases exposure, it isn’t always aligned with the businesses target audience, and there is little to no return seen on the profit that has been sacrificed in return for said exposure.
It’s widely known, and accepted that word of mouth recommendations influence buying decisions – it’s previously been reported that it influences customers by up to 50%, so is influencer marketing the modern adaptation of word of mouth?
The industry has rapidly grown over the past five years, with 80% of social content contributed by 6% of users, but is still only utilised successfully by a handful of brands. As there are no true definitions used in influencer marketing, how do you decide if someone truly is influencing people?
The term ‘influencer’ is yet to be defined, while some confirm that they have driven traffic that has ended in sales for brands, others are self-proclaimed and have nothing more than high numbers of followers and likes to boast – what does that mean to a brand? Without sales, nothing. Unless the mention is picked up by other authoritative sites who also feature the story and include the name of, or links to the business; in such cases we can argue that this is going to impact SEO and ultimately boost organic.
Brands have been using bloggers to influence for a long time, mainly through product reviews and sometimes through sponsored posts, although it can be argued that product reviews are more likely to have an impact, as they are generally seen as more authentic.
“We have used bloggers to showcase our items before, “, explains Richard LeCount from USB4Photographers, “We carefully selected individuals who had strong site metrics, were in our audience demographic (professional photographers) and whose customers would also be attracted to the items. Sometimes it can be a case of testing the waters to find the right type of blogger that drives sales, but it was a successful venture that we would repeat again. Exposure is good, but especially as a small business, sales are what’s really important”
So, what is the distinction between the two roles? Bloggers are primarily known for their websites and once they have built up an authoritative domain and an engaged following, they have learnt to monetise their blogs through brand projects, advertising and campaigns. Some bloggers have also achieved ‘influencer’ status due to the success of their blogs.
Influencers typically, don’t have their own platforms beyond social media profiles and their worth is embedded in the volume of engagement and followers, and when aligned with their audience large brands are prepared to pay hundreds, if not thousands of dollars for these individuals to features their products. For smaller businesses, this kind of strategy is unlikely to provide a healthy return, unless your demographic is aligned with the followers of the said influencer. Or can they truly offer constitutes as success in your marketing strategy?
For small businesses, I would still recommend bloggers as the most profitable strategy, but there are of course tips on how to find and identify one that will be a successful marketing move. Using social media, you can gain an understanding of how many followers they have and whether they look like they are in your target audience? Also, how engaged are said followers? It’s worth assessing how many likes and comments they get, and as a general rule, always look for a minimum of 5% engagement (sometimes regardless of follower numbers). Then you can move on to technical aspects of their blog. What is their domain authority, how strong are the metrics, and perhaps more importantly, what is the quality of their content? Is it well-written and in-depth posts and product reviews? Is there a consistent theme to their content, or are they accepting anything? Are their blog posts also being commented on and shared? All of these are indications of how much impact this blogger will have on your campaign, and ultimately profits.
If you can speak to other brands that the blogger has worked with, this may provide a far more relevant insight.
Communications consultant, Jerome Foucart shares his thoughts of bloggers providing solid results, “This is a very important point and something not enough bloggers ask about, which is a shame as it’s their main selling point. If a blogger comes to me with a high number of MUUs and some nice ‘static’ metrics, great, but what will get me to sign on the dotted line is if that same blogger can show me that when they worked with brand X, coverage on their blog led to a positive increase in web traffic, web sales etc. for the client.
Providing this information would definitely strengthen their pitch. It’s no longer just about Awareness (coverage, AVE/PRVE etc.). How about Acknowledgement (did people share, like, tweet etc.)? But more importantly, how about Action (in simple terms, did that blog post lead to sales, website traffic…? Whatever the campaign objectives were).”
On this note, perhaps seeking out the bloggers aligned with your brand that can also provide solid statistics on their impact is the best strategy?
But the search starts with some internal questions; Why do you want to collaborate with a blogger – do you want more traffic, more social media followers, more email subscribers or more sales for a particular campaign? Like any business strategy, in order for it to be successful, you must know what you want to achieve.