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Influencer Marketing

Think back to high school. Remember seeing one of the cool kids in a new pair of shoes and wanting them for yourself? Influencer marketing brings that principle to the age of social media – and it is just as effective.

A recent study showed that 84% of marketers are planning to launch at least one influencer marketing campaign in the coming year. But outside of the marketing industry few know what influencer marketing is, leaving many business owners playing catch up.

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What is influencer marketing?

Influencer marketing is the latest ‘big thing’ in online marketing, but the core concept is not inherently digital. Essentially, influencer marketing identifies individuals who have influence over a certain group, and uses that influence to drive consumer behaviour.

Influencers can be anyone with a large online following, including ‘traditional’ celebrities and sports stars, reality TV stars, and even ‘Internet famous’ people who have built their own large online following. In this way, influencer marketing isn’t much different from the traditional sponsorship and endorsement deals that we’re used to seeing.

However, rather than providing explicit endorsements, influencers provide subtle and informal testimonials (appearing with the product, mentioning the product, sending out a link, or even sharing a discount). When it is obvious that they are providing a paid endorsement, influencers should be candid about their role, tagging their post as an ad.

The idea is to influence, not to deceive.

Kylie Jenner, in an Instagram post captioned a photo of herself wearing Fashion Nova jeans. The post said “Obsessed with my new @fashionnova jeans Get them at FashionNova.com #ad.” The post received over 2.7 million likes.  The impact though goes beyond just the number of views and likes; it creates an association between the influencer (their success, their looks, and their ‘coolness’) and the product.

However, not all influencers are explicit about their marketing role with the brands they are supporting. Another Kardashian associate, Scott Disick, represents the flip side of Jenner’s success. He made a copy and paste error and posted a photo of himself with the caption “Here you go, at 4pm est, write the below. Caption: Keeping up with the summer workout routine with my morning @booteauk protein shake!” The mistake cost Disick and the brand credibility, and was made worse by the fact that he didn’t disclose that the post was an ad.

How and why does influencer marketing work?

Consumers are cynical when it comes to traditional ads, but remain highly loyal to the influencers that they follow. According to Twitter, “nearly 40% of Twitter users say they’ve made a purchase as a direct result of a Tweet from an influencer.” Combine this with the fact that “47% of online consumers use ad blockers” and you understand why influencer marketing is so popular and successful.

Influencer marketing was the “fastest growing online customer-acquisition channel, beating organic search, paid search and email marketing” according to the influencer marketing software company Tomoson, which also revealed that “51% of marketers believe they acquire better customers through influencer marketing” as a result of the aforementioned influencer loyalty.

Is influencer marketing right for your business?

There is no doubt that some businesses, products, and services are better suited to influencer marketing than others. According to eConsultancy, almost 60% of fashion and beauty brands have an influencer marketing strategy and 21% will invest in one within the next year. Regardless of your industry, influencer marketing is a new strategy that is worth investigating.

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