The Evolution of Influencer Marketing
Influencer marketing has its origins in the gladiatorial era, where men earned glory and fame in the blood-drenched arena of the coliseum in ancient Rome. Through these barbarousness and brutish sport, victors emerged into the limelight and became celebrities and men and women of reckoning.
In time, these celebrities would endorse products by putting their face and images on them, and because people loved these celebrities, they transferred this love to the products being promoted.
Herein lies the power of influencer marketing – the ability to use an individual’s equity and leverage people’s love for them to sell a product or service.
In modern history, Nancy Green is one of the earliest marketing influencers. In 1930, she was hired to be the face of a pancake mix called Aunt Jemima, and she is said to be the first African American model. She is also lauded as having a strong influence on the first generation of consumers of pancake mix. In 1931, Coca-Cola introduced this image of Santa Clause in their adverts. Dressed in a red and white suit with a white beard, Santa-Clause is a friendly and plump grandfather figure and is said to be the greatest marketing influencer of all time. The fifties brought the Malboro Man, who became a symbol of being macho and masculine. He was an icon designed to make smoking look hip and manly. The Marlboro Man was a top influencer of that time and endorsed the cigarette brand Marlboro until 1999.
Another famous example of influencer marketing was the collaboration between Michael Jordan and Nike in 1985. He made the Air Jordan sneakers famous by wearing them on the basketball court the year before. The Air Jordan brand alone has sold over a billion dollars.
There are other big-name celebrity-brand partnerships in this era, such as MJ and Pepsi and Tyson and Nintendo. This trend has continued until this day, with notable partnerships formed such as George Foreman and Foreman Grills, Justin Timberlake with McDonald’s, and Gary Lineker for Walkers crisps.
With social media came an explosion in the growth of influencer marketing. The use of AI and predictive technologies meant that people could see what their friends and family were purchasing and take their cues to follow after them. This has also given rise to people with large followership on social media using their platforms to endorse and promote brands to influence people’s purchase decisions.
Influencer Marketing’s Contribution to Brand Success.
Research shows that 94% of marketers find influencer marketing effective. For them, influencer marketing generates 11 times more returns than traditional advertising and comes second to content marketing in terms of effectiveness. Due to the mistrust most marketing centered communications elicit, the use of word of mouth via an influencer provides more credibility and authenticity for the brand.
Influencer marketing expands the brand’s reach and positioning in the market by leveraging the digital power of social media. Unlike adverts that are viewed as intrusive and have adblockers to forestall them, influencer marketing offers brands an opportunity to interact with audiences in a non-intrusive manner. Influencer marketing allows brands to build leadership and credibility in their industry.
Due to the association with an influential individual who has industry-wide credibility, the use of influencer marketing fosters a perception of trust and credibility for a brand. Again, influencer marketing connects brands to Millennial & Gen Z consumers. These audience segments are very active on social media, and they bring tremendous value to brands in terms of sharing information and engaging voraciously with brands online. These interactions are invaluable to any brand.
Influencer marketing is also an excellent way to generate leads. This is because one of the results of influencer marketing is using social media to provide prompt feedback on if people want to purchase certain brands. This is seen with FB and Instagram, where social media platforms use AI to collect leads and help brands generate both web traffic and social media presence.
Influencer Marketing: The Pros and Cons
Choosing the Wrong Influencer
It has been discovered that 61% of marketers do not choose the right influencer for their campaigns, and when they choose wrong, it usually causes more harm than good for the brand.
The Uncertainty of Results
You can find a good influencer in your industry, but this influencer might fail to produce effective and engaging content for your business. The audience won’t engage, resulting in low traction and wasted efforts and investment.
Results can be challenging to measure. This is because, though the brand can be given exposure and heavy engagement, this does not automatically translate to sales. Also, should immediate sales be an effective way to measure the progress of influencer marketing, or do we use metrics such as exposure, shares and comments?
Influencer Marketing Influences purchase decisions
Influencer marketing has been proven to work. It gives the brand a human element that makes it connect and engage with audiences. This is the same emotiveness that persuades the consumer to buy.
Influencer marketing boosts credibility and authority.
Influencers speak to loyal followers who trust in their opinion. These influencers use sales promotion tactics to intrigue and excite their followers, and this is particularly useful for a new business that needs publicity to thrive and be known. These celebrity endorsements and influences are effective in boosting the brand’s authority and image in the market.
Address the Right Audience
Collaborating with influencers in your industry will lead to increased traction. Many fashion brands choose to work with fashion influencers who have an eye for style and design. In this way, many fashion lovers will be drawn to the fashion lines advertised and engage with them.
Expands Your Reach
Influencer marketing gives your brand exposure as these influencers have a large following. This will help elicit traction and engagement as influencers are mostly followed based on passion, insight and ideas. Also, due to their collective need to be informed and educated, followers will anticipate new posts and they will like, share, and repost.
Is Influencer Marketing for my Brand?
The straightforward answer is yes, influencer marketing is for your brand. As a B2C company, you can post a hair or beauty item online and get an influencer to amplify it and see sales spike within the first 30 days of creating the campaign. B2B brands will take longer and include more decision-makers; therefore, the timeline could be much longer for the results to become evident.
Strategies for effective results in an Influencer Marketing campaign include finding the right influencer who will work with you. This is because influencers and influencer agencies are on the increase. They are grouped based on many variables, such as the industry they trend in and the number of followers. However, the number of followers matter and influencers’ content and engagement rates determine the level of their effectiveness.
Choosing the right influencer to work with, it is best to know whom your customers listen to, follow, watch, and engage. Even if this influencer doesn’t have a huge following, they may be the best influencers for your brand. Partnering with a micro-influencer with 1,500 highly engaged followers is usually more effective than working with a mega-influencer with millions of followers who rarely comment, like, or share.
Also, the brand custodian will have to take a proactive step to get the right influencer for their brand. They could start by identifying prominent voices in the area they want to target. They can also assess each influencer’s posts and the previous campaigns they’ve participated in and ensure it aligns with the brand in question. They can also calculate their traction rates by dividing the number of interactions by the total number of followers. Other criteria include; finding the right platform to focus on, betting on new and emerging platforms, being realistic about your scope of influence and working with micro-influencers.
Influencer marketing has produced some memorable campaigns. One of these is The 67 shades of Dior Campaign, which won gold at the 2020 Influencer Marketing Awards. The campaign celebrated the launch of 67 ranges of Dior’s Forever Foundation and created awareness for them. They also choose to celebrate the product’s diversity by using an ambassador for each shade. The influencers had a combined reach of 2.66M, 1.85M post impressions and 592K engagements.
Dunkin’ Donuts wanted to create an awareness of National Donut Day. They engaged partners to develop a national Snapchat campaign, showcasing visually enticing creative content. They selected lifestyle creators to spread content about the offer, and they chose eight popular influencers to create and distribute teaser content. The influencers used their content to drive footfalls to Dunkin’ Donut Stores to take up a special offer. As a result, the brand increased followership ten times over to their Snapchat channel on National Donut Day. The campaign reached 3 million people, with 40,000 cases of engagement.
Peugeot’s overall marketing theme in 2018 was “Unboring the future.” To amplify this, they used influencers and influencer marketing. They sought to target 18–24-year-olds and change this demographic’s perception of the Peugeot brand. They wanted to be associated with design and technology. Peugeot chose to work with a mix of micro-and macro-influencers with varied audiences to achieve this. They generated quality content their macro-influencers could share, and then they worked with micro-influencers for a give-away contest and storytelling. The campaign reached and engaged with more than 1 million people.
In conclusion, influencer marketing is the future of engagement in marketing because it presents a human face, makes use of influencers and authority figures in their industry and is non-intrusive and very compelling and persuasive.