Today, advertising is ubiquitous. Overloaded consumers fight back by ignoring many, if not most of these marketing messages, causing brands to face the problem of reengaging with customers. One way past the background noise is through influencer marketing. Eventhough influencer marketing is a fenomenal way to past the background noise, it contains some challenges.
Challenge No. 1: Understanding who Is a useful Influencer
Influencers-people upon whom consumers are willing to confer trust, and therefore, field leadership-come in many shapes and guises. Voluble (whether happy or disgruntled) consumers, bloggers, experts, celebrities ‑ not all influencers are created equal. The first challenge facing the brand is thus, “Can this influencer be useful to us?”
Challenge No. 2: Understanding influencer use-cases
A celebrity who directly engages with fans and by doing so actually drives sales, is a celebrity influencer. An influential person with a small or fixed group of acolytes is a micro influencer. So now it should be obvious that the ‘right influencer’ is a person who is both popular and influential, styled in the industry as a macro influencer. Celebrity influencers are automatically macro influencers; other influencers may be micro or macro.
Challenge No. 3: Finding influencers
Automation, i.e. a computer software solution, can be a relatively painless way to reach useful influencers. The easiest automation solution is a Self-Service Tool, which allows brands to log into a platform and perform all aspects their influencer marketing campaigns, from finding, communicating to, reporting on, and analysing the impact of their influencers. Another solution is to employ a Turnkey Influencer Programme Provider. This approach requires very little by way of setup, configuration or management of the programme. A relatively novel approach is offered now by social networks. Traditionally, influencer relationships have been managed by third parties, but recently, networks like Twitter™ are leveraging their ability to run their own influencer programmes.
Challenge No. 4: Utilising influencers
Locating useful influencers is one thing, getting them on board a marketing campaign is quite another. Some may be genuine product or service evangelists, whilst others may be persuaded only by financial reward. Then again, those with a mercenary motive might be too expensive to render their return on investment (ROI) practical. An even worse scenario is to discover that the best influencers are involved with a rival brand already, or are simply too busy to come aboard. Engaging influencers is therefore worth approaching as a marketing exercise in itself, a ‘Phase 1’ of any influencer marketing campaign. Be mindful always that influencers too have their reputation (and by extension their influence) to protect. An often-overlooked application of influencers is to have them help drive brand artefacts. Having had input at the design stage, influencers are likely to be more highly committed to the programme; and if they are genuinely product-savvy, the delivered output should better appeal to the target audience.
Challenge No. 5: Measuring ROI and rewarding influencers
Brands must monitor influencers’ effectiveness in order to calculate the ROI-and thereby, the profitability-of the relationship. At the same time, brands must avoid the trap of developing meaningless metrics. Straightforward sales-for-words would be a wonderful achievement, but is impossible in practice, so brands must rely on other metrics such as mentions, retweets, likes, clicks and so on. The key here is to see positive motion on a real-world target metric. In return, the influencer should receive some form of compensation or emolument. This can be product itself, free or at a substantially reduced price, or it can be fiduciary. If the monetary, it can be prefixed, or index-linked to selected metrics. The vital outcome of remuneration must be to the satisfaction of both parties.