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Does Influencer Marketing really work?

Social media has very much forced us to re-evaluate how we look at fame. It used to be that famous people were generally those on TV, movies, and at the top of the pop charts. Nowadays, though, the lines have become a little more blurred. The rise in popularity of reality TV has made regular people famous overnight, but it is social media that is the real game changer when it comes to measuring fame. Instagram and YouTube are where stars are being born, with some people able to create accounts that pull in millions of followers.

Influencers have followers that tend to want to wear what they wear or eat and drink what they do — essentially they attempt to influence the lives of their followers. Online influencers have become the celebrity spokespeople of the modern generation, which has made big companies sit up and take notice. Most of those big brands will gladly tell you that influencer marketing is part of their overall advertising strategy, but is it money well spent?

Like most internet trends, there is the belief that influencer market will eventually be a bubble that bursts, but there are other strategies — article marketing, SEO, email marketing — that have had the same “flash in the pan” label attached, but are still thriving and proving to be effective marketing strategies today.

While there are many folks willing to declare that influencer marketing is dead, the data would appear to put that notion to bed. The reality here is that businesses still believe influencer marketing is an extremely effective way to quickly reach a massive audience, with the reported return on investment of the majority of these campaigns proving to be very strong. There are, of course, failures to be found within this form of marketing, but that is true of any type of ad campaign. While the influencer plays a role in selling a product, businesses still need to get creative in how they use the talent available to them. Simply asking an influencer to endorse a product isn’t always enough.

Here are some things to consider before jumping into influencer marketing:

  • Be smart in selecting an influencer — Bigger numbers do not necessarily mean an automatic bigger return on your investment. The fact of the matter here is that someone with 100,000 Instagram followers may deliver better results than someone with 1 million. The larger the number of followers, the more likely it is that the influencer is going to have several different products and services to peddle, which may mean less time devoted to yours. You also need to consider the followers of the influencer that you might be looking at to talk about your products. If they have a mainly younger following, there are going to be some items that are not a good fit, and vice versa.
  • Know what you want — Marketing success is dependent upon results, so you really need to know from the outset what it is that you hope to get when partnering with an influencer. For some, it’s all about building a brand, which may mean that sales are not immediately a major concern. For example, if a business has undergone a re-branding in search of a younger audience, they might turn to an influencer to show that their products are cool or edgy in a fun way. For some, it’s all about the sales, so while your brand may suddenly be seen as cooler when you deal with an influencer, that may not necessarily lead to a major spike in sales. You need to establish what it is that you hope to get out of this type of marketing and then you need to pay serious attention to the metrics.  If the data is not delivering the results you want, you either need to pull the plug, or perhaps shift focus. All of that brings us nicely to the third and final point.

While influencer marketing is still very much alive and well, it is something that does have a bit of an uncertain future. Like any other form of marketing, it’s something that should be used as just a single element in a larger, more varied campaign. You don’t see big name companies hiring a celebrity endorser and then sitting back and doing nothing else. Paying attention to trends is important. The tried and true methods of marketing, including creating video content, which is very hot right now, should still remain a part of all of your future campaigns. Diversity rules, all the way.

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