Is it a coincidence that a top is sold out within minutes after it’s posted on Instagram? Not if the person posting the picture has several thousands of followers. Influencer marketing has grown rapidly over the last few years; YouTubers, bloggers and social media profiles have become the new quintessential role models for teenagers around the globe. What most people don’t know is how much work that goes into it - from the influencers, the brands and the platforms linking the two together.
In the fashion and beauty sector, 60% of brands are incorporating influencer marketing in their marketing strategies and another 21% are considering doing so over the next 12 months. Marketers are adapting quickly to this new way of segmenting and approaching target groups. But what is it that makes this relatively new strategy so successful? What is the secret?
The LINK has spoken to influencer Tess Montgomery and Fredrik Andersson, co-founder of SCC Member company Tailify in order to find out how to use influencer marketing, who to approach and why. Montgomery is a London-based Swedish blogger who has been working actively with influencer marketing for the past six years. Tailify acts as a marketplace for, and a link between, companies and influencers. By connecting the two, the process of implementing influencer marketing into the companies’ marketing strategies is simplified. They were recently awarded “the company most likely to revolutionise the media industry” by Starcom.
Operating via a platform, such as Tailify, has advantages for both the influencers and the brands. Influencers gain access to a more professional way of showcasing their personal brand and the value of what they can offer, while brands receive intel on how to best utilise this way of marketing. Fintech company and SCC Member Tink has successfully managed to communicate their personal finance service by including influencers in their marketing strategy. Their services have been communicated through Swedish blogs for a few years, contributing to the acquisition of their 400,000 users today.
Why has influencer marketing grown so rapidly?
“Three years ago, nobody knew what influencer marketing was. Initially, you had to dedicate half your pitch to simply describing the phenomenon, how it works and why it is a valuable, powerful and an efficient commercial space,” Fredrik Andersson of Tailify tells The LINK.
Since 2015, consumers spend more time on mobile apps than watching television. Meanwhile, the number of ads that actually reach us has declined since adblocking grew by 41% the same year, resulting in an estimated loss of £17 billion for advertisers.
“Many people are using adblockers and there are many other ways to skip commercials as well, making it difficult for traditional marketing to succeed and give results,” Montgomery tells The LINK.
The increased use of adblockers has paved way for influencer marketing - where commercials are integrated with the usual content in our social media feeds. According to AdWeek, an advertising sector publication, influencer marketing campaigns have a Return of Investment (RoI) of 650%.
“Influencer marketing is becoming a more accepted way of marketing, organically grown through the trust of followers. Brands realise that being associated with the right profile can reach an attractive target group and boost sales,” Montgomery tells the LINK.
How do you apply influencer marketing to your business?
Be it a clothing company, a service or a newly launched food product, the possibilities within influencer marketing seem endless. It can be applied in many different ways, including implicit product placement, explicit offers of discounts, and long-term partnerships with specific ambassadors. Tailify has even managed a campaign for mayonnaise, which ended up being immensely successful on Instagram.
The first step in a successful influencer marketing strategy is to choose the right influencer, with values and core beliefs that are aligned with those of the brand. Influencers are often quite niched in what they write about, whether it is a food blog, a book club vlog on YouTube or a fashion diary on Instagram. When implementing influencer marketing, one must therefore find an influencer with a similar crowd to that which you are trying to attract. The influencer is responsible for the content they produce as their value lies in their personal brand and communicating this, they earn followers. If a brand wants to access these followers, they have to choose an influencer with followers that match the target audience of the brand and trust that the influencer endorses it.
Just as it is important for the companies to find an influencer that convey their values in a fair manner, it is equally important that the influencer carefully select which companies they want to feature in their feed.
“As a blogger, you should be very protective of your brand. You could ruin it by saying yes to a campaign that does not suit you just because it pays, and that could end up damaging your brand”, Montgomery tells The LINK.
Depending on the medium, the information is then fitted into the given format. A tweet is dependant on 140 characters, an Instagram post places more focus on the image while blog posts leave more room for both.
“Companies shouldn’t be afraid to ask to see a draft before the influencer clicks publish, but they should also avoid steering the influencer’s content too much. If it becomes too much of a sales pitch they can lose credibility. Give some guidelines on what you would like to highlight, and then let the influencer develop that in their own words,“ is Montgomery’s advice.
From a consumer’s point of view, a longterm partnership between an influencer and a brand may be the most convincing method, as it increases the marketing credibility.
A continuous collaboration shows that you really like the brand because if you didn’t, you would not choose work with them more than once,” Montgomery tells The LINK.
And if the influencers believe in the brand, the message is likely to be more successfully conveyed to their followers.
What does the future hold for influencer marketing?
The debate over the power of influencer marketing is widespread, however brands are coming to the realisation that it isn’t just another fad. Instead, we could be looking at an almost paradigmal shift in marketing where marketers need to accept this new way of promoting brands and introducing new products and services on the market.
“Today, bloggers are given much more credit for what they do, compared to before. Over recent years, they have started to be taken more seriously and blogging is actually considered a real business,” Montgomery tells The LINK.
“Influencer marketing is based on the economy of trust. If an influencer posts badly sponsored content, readers will immediately unfollow. The expectations on an influencer post are a hundred times higher than a website banner. The high quality of content is also what makes this way of marketing so much more efficient. As a result, all parties must take responsibility for producing content that the social media users approve of. Those that don’t, will lose,” Andersson says.
So, it is definitely not a coincidence that a product sells out immediately after being featured on social media if the person posting the image has thousands of followers. As influencer marketing continues to grow, companies should make it their aim to be familiarised with the concept. According to Tailify, we’ve only seen the beginning.
“As long as the sponsored content continues to be of high quality, influencer marketing will continue to grow with unlimited potential, and both the influencers, the brands and consumers will win,” Andersson tells The LINK.
Tess Montgomery’s best advice for successful influencer marketing for companies:
1. Do your research
Skipping the research and sending email requests to a large number of influencers is not a successful strategy. It is better to personalise the contact to fewer influencers, separately of course, after doing proper research and with a clear thought behind it. Make sure to have all the information about the person before reaching out.
2. Ask for statistics
Receive a confirmation of follower and engagement statistics in order to maintain transparency. These can be presented through Google Analytics or influencer networks such as Tailify.
3. Don't steer the content too much
The influencer is responsible for the content posted in their channels and add their own touch to the content they produce. The personal voice of the influencer is what constitutes the difference between regular advertising and influencer marketing. This is what makes the influencer credible, trustworthy and relatable.
4. Strive for long-term partnerships
Having continuous collaborations is the best way to ensure readers/ followers that you, as an influencer, truly believe in your product. As a company, having an influencer that chooses to remain loyal to you over a longer period of time, inspires purchasing decisions and instils trust with the consumer.