Social media has moved beyond the point of naicence. Now it is a crowded space where big brands and small businesses alike compete for the attention and engagement of digital audiences. And as social networks adopt a pay-to-play advertising business model, reaching and engaging audiences organically is becoming more of a challenge.
Influencer marketing is quickly earning a place as the best way to cut through the noise on social media and connect with consumers using the voice of someone they know, like and trust. Unlike traditional celebrity, based on enigmatic personae, social media influence is built on a foundation of quality content and authentic connection.
In fact, recommendations are far more effective on social media than an endorsement from a Hollywood celebrity or a branded message. Indeed, influencer marketing turns the consumer trust in word-of-mouth into a strategic marketing opportunity by capitalizing on the intimacy of the social medium.
There are also challenges associated with influencer marketing, among them, identifying the right influencers for a particular campaign and measuring the return on investment. However, the data does validate a strong return for smart influencer marketing campaigns.
According to an eMarketer study, the consumer packaged goods food industry generates the highest return, followed by travel, beauty, alcohol and beverages, and grocery. Overall, brands that used influencer strategies reported an average return of $9.60 for every dollar spent.
In a survey conducted by Tomoson, more than half of the participants reported better quality leads as a result of influencer marketing. 70 percent of those surveyed indicated a 2:1 return for every dollar spent, while 13 percent reported as much as a 20:1 return.
While this data sheds light on the real value of influencer marketing, there is still the question of quantifying the results in a tangible way. There are a few keys to remember:
Use specific business goals as the basis for developing campaign strategy
Identify the right creative talent based on your target audience
Track key social metrics such as reach, impressions and engagement to measure success
For instance, the Harold Robinson Foundation, decided to implement an on-the-ground influencer strategy to raise awareness for its Pedal on the Pier fundraiser. As a result of the buzz generated by the influencer campaign, the Harold Robinson Foundation gained more than 500 new followers between Instagram and Snapchat and Pedal on the Pier was the featured LA Snapchat story on the day of the event. The foundation also exceeded its fundraising goal by $200,000, and even landed the title sponsor for the 2016 event.
The Italian fashion brand, Calzedonia, launched a web friendly campaign for its 2015 Summer swimwear collection using the #CLZ hashtag. The goal was to reach at least 15 million social media users with 23 posts on Instagram. Not only did the brand exceed the reach goal on Instagram, it gained more than 70,000 new followers and the campaign reached 25,880,770. Even beyond the campaign, there were more than 30,000 posts from Instagramers using the campaign hashtag.
Both the Harold Robinson Foundation and Calzedonia benefited from the expertise of influencer marketing agency, Instabrand, to manage their campaigns. While it’s certainly possible to run your own campaign, an agency takes on the responsibility of talent management, creative execution and campaign analysis.
The bottom line: Influencer marketing is the most effective way to reach and engage online audiences and working with an agency is the best way to ensure strategic and successful execution of your influencer marketing campaigns.