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Influencer marketing. Or are you marketing to influencers?!

Sebastian Jespersen, CEO and founder of Vertic, believes that influencer marketing is one facet of digital strategy that is helping to bridge the gap between reach and resonance

  • 24 October 2016
  • Author: Novus Asia
  • Number of views: 5241
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Influencer marketing. Or are you marketing to influencers?!
As customers continue to be inundated with ads, brands are finding it increasingly difficult to efficiently and effectively reach their target audience with a message that is perceived as relevant. Companies are attempting to cut through the noise, and address this challenge by adopting influencer marketing strategies as an alternative approach to successfully reach and resonate with their audience.  

Forbes has identified influencer marketing as the latest buzzword in marketing and defined it as, ‘a non-promotional approach to marketing in which brands focus their efforts on opinion leaders, as opposed to direct target market touchpoints.’

Reach, resonance and subject

Within social media, reach is an appropriate indicator of how often a brand’s name appears within a customer’s social newsfeeds. However, brands have been known to “buy” followers and likes in order to spike reach figures. High reach does not necessarily equate to higher brand recall, purchase intent, or showcase a direct mutually rewarding relationship with the brand and the audience its seeking to target.

A 2015 study conducted by Nielsen reveals that 75% of consumers fail to match the correct brands with the ads viewed, and although brands may be reaching their audience, the majority of these customers would incorrectly attribute the intended brand ads to a competitor brand. Success does not simply lie in increasing visibility, it is imperative that brands are visible and use impactful storytelling to resonate with the target audience they do manage to reach.

Influencer marketing is one facet of digital strategy that is helping to bridge the gap between reach and resonance. Customers today mistrust brands more than they do politicians, and within their buying decision they will often seek validation from experts and other customers. One effective way for brands to gain the trust of their consumers is to align with those that have a prominent and trusted voice, share values, lifestyle, and have credibility within the social space.

The question still remains: how do brands get influencers to share strategic, selected branded content and enable them to speak favorably about a brand, its product or offerings in just the right way to impact customer perception, consideration and purchase? There are two key factors that play into the success of digital marketing leveraging influencers.

The first is to identify and target influencers who are interested in your brand, product or service offerings, based on what they have typically discussed and how they self-identify as a subject matter expert. The second factor is for brands and influencers to (co-) create content they will use to engage with their audience.

This two-pronged approach requires acceptance from the brand to create curated customized, compelling, and highly relevant content with minimal or no branding at all. As well as accurate targeting that takes into consideration the insights from the market sentiment.

Vertic has created a proprietary approach using leading software solutions such as Traackr, and a number of other digital reporting tools to target these influencers, with the end goal focused on making a tangible business impact. This begins by creating an advanced Boolean search query to scrape platform bios to search for influencers who have self-identified interests that correlate with the brand values or product offerings.

In addition, our partnership with Traackr has enabled us to search for conversations occurring on platforms that are mentioning topics or products similar to what the brand is interested in. Once identified, the influencers’ discussion will begin to update a ‘content hub’ based on the conversation and topics from the data acquired, creating specifically relevant curated content based on individual influencer interests. To assist with creating a symbiotic relationship between the influencers and the content hub, brands should conduct a sentiment analysis of both influencers and their target audience that will help to determine the subject and style of writing.

Consistency across touch points

The influx of marketing dollars into influencer marketing strategies has led to an even greater expectation of accurately measuring its impact, to ensure improvement for future campaigns. Traackr works with companies that are shaping the practice of influencer marketing, and in its recent article, Measuring Influencer Marketing Success, Traackr shares a detailed framework for measurement based on best practices from their customers.

 

The framework indicates that, when brands initially started introducing influencer marketing, they took a very campaign-centric approach, focused on identifying influencers that could help promote a new product launch or upcoming campaign. Influencers were not as responsive to this approach and the impact was not sustainable.

Brands have learnt that it is important to build entangling relationships with influencers over time, to convert them to natural brand advocates. Rather than being used as a means to initiate engagement with influencers, campaigns should be used as a strategic way to further develop relationships.

Measuring success should be based on the impact on influencers, how often they mention the brand or product, share content, and how target influencers interact with and position the brand. Furthermore, brands should evaluate the impact on the target audience, using measuring tools to analyze conversions across other digital properties such as the website. It is therefore paramount that consistency across digital touchpoints is incorporated into any influencer marketing strategy.

Word-of-mouth has always been a powerful tool and for this reason it is no surprise that influencer marketing has garnered great success. Customers expect brands to talk with them and not at them. Brands that focus on identifying the right influencers to help initiate organic conversations will witness shortened sales cycles, lower acquisition costs, and a stark increase in share of life with customers.

You can read more from Sebastian here.
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