With all the buzz around influencer marketing, there seems to be one question that rarely gets the attention that it needs: “What are the real benefits of influencer marketing?”
Don’t get me wrong, there seems to be plenty of content available on this subject. But this seems to be answered in one predictably flawed way:
Frankly, if your sole goal is reach I wouldn’t bother with influencer marketing and instead look at methods such as PPC or social advertising. Why? Because true influencer marketing gives pretty inconsistent results in reach/impressions. Often you will get much lower results than expected and sometimes they will be significantly higher. PPC and social advertising may vary in costs, but are a lot more predictable in terms of these figures.
With this in mind, if reach is your primary goal, I would recommend reconsidering your strategy altogether. Reach on its own simply does not bring any benefits in terms of sales or brand value, and therefore renders it useless as a measurement of influencer marketing benefits.
In this article, I take a look at the most beneficial aspects of influencer marketing for B2C brands:
Think beyond metrics
My introductory point focuses on the fact that reach on its own in a pointless metric, and it is not the primary benefits of influencer marketing. It is also practically impossible to predict. I have seen actual reach (impression) figures vary from up to 70% of the total audience down too a measly 3%. Along with this, you will read many articles that highlight other factors such as engagement (likes, comments, shares), impressions and sentiment as benefits of influencer marketing.
Let’s make this clear from the outset, these are metrics, not benefits. And these metrics count for nothing if they do not contribute to benefits such as conversions or brand awareness.
This is not to say that these metrics are not useful as indicators of benefits when combined. For example considering reach, engagement and sentiment will tell you a lot about brand awareness. If their follower count is high, but engagement rate and sentiment are poor, you are investing a lot to actually reach a very small percentage of that audience in an effective way.
Need more convincing that good marketing goes beyond reach? Read this recent article by Onalytica which I contributed to.
This is one of the biggest benefits of influencer marketing that is overlooked by B2C brands. This is probably due to the nature of modern marketing being data-driven and the difficulty of measuring this. It is also the least leveraged aspects that seems to get left behind as marketers jump from influencer relationship to relationship trying to get their reach figures up.
Influencers generally build their audiences by creating hyper-relevant and professionally produced content in their niche area. This means that properly selected influencers should be producing the best possible content specific to your brand audience.
It shocks me to see brands working with influencers to create this content and then simply leaving that content to fizzle into the background as they move on to their next marketing tactics. It is very concerning to me that a recent study by Linqia found that 34% of marketers engaging and investing in influencer marketing activity were doing absolutely nothing with that content, let alone leveraging it effectively to benefit of the brand.
Of course, factors such as IP and royalties need to be considered, but if you want to increase your ROI on influencer marketing drastically, capturing and leveraging content is key.
Building your brands bank of awesome content by using influencers not only ensures relevancy but can also be much more cost effective than brand produced content in terms of financial costs and time investment.
Your brand telling your customers that you are the best thing since sliced bread just doesn’t work anymore. Consumers are savvy and they don’t trust brands, this is why ad-blockers are so prolific and why people mute their TV’s and play on their phones when adverts come on. In fact a recent study by McCann highlighted that “Some 42% of Americans find brands and companies less truthful today than 20 years ago”.
Influencers, unlike brands, usually gain their position due to a level of trust that their audience places in them and on their opinions. This is why influencer marketing works well in generating interest in brands, through trusted recommendations. Due to this route to authority, recommendations from influencers are considered even more powerful than those by celebrities.
Admittedly there are a lot of ‘influencers’ out there that are going out of their way to destroy this position of authority, by promoting any widget that pays well to their audience. But again, I stress that consumers are savvy and can often tell the difference between a true recommendation and advocacy of a brand and a paid puppet.
Real influencers have influence.
Lead in partnership
This benefit ties in pretty tightly to brand awareness and content, but certainly deserves a spot of its own. As discussed earlier in this article, influencers often gain their position through being thought leaders, trendsetters and sources of information in their specific niche. This in turn, creates a level of trust that can help brands build brand awareness and value.
This also creates a level of respect as a thought leader in a particular area. This level of respect can be difficult to generate for brands when working autonomously due to the suspicious nature of consumers. Yet working alongside influencers shows alignment of the brand with their target audience, therefore developing a level of respect that is otherwise unobtainable.
The true benefits of influencer marketing
This article goes some of the way to explaining the benefits of influencer marketing in the B2C space. Not only is it not always easy to see the benefits, but they are not all that easy to achieve. When looking to leverage conversion, content, brand awareness and thought leadership it all comes down to working with the best influencers for your brand. Working with a professional to discover, audit and select your influencers goes a long way to boost these benefits as well as mitigate risks of potential harmful effects on your brand.