Though influencer marketing is a relatively new tool for brands, it is one that has skyrocketed since its inception. In 2016, 86% of marketers utilized influencer marketing, and 48% of those marketers planned on increasing their influencer spend in 2017. ROIs for influencer marketing have been positive for more than 82% of businesses, but—as is often the case in any hot, new digital trend—too many companies are ready to throw their money at the latest fad before understanding how to make it work best for their brand.
Culture Fit Matters
One of the most important and often overlookedcomponents of finding the right influencer is understanding how well they will fit within your brand’s culture. Culture fit is essential when hiring an employee, so why wouldn’t it hold true for influencers acting as extensions of your brand in the public arena? If your company has strong religious values for instance, make sure to vet influencers for using any language or humor that may offend your existing customer base. More so, especially in today's political climate, one off-the-cuff political tweet from an influencer could mean alienating thousands of potential customers. That's why it is so vital to understand the individual you are partnering with and make it clear what you expect from them, in both their work and behavior.
Through this lens, it’s clear that having an influencer who aligns strongly with your company values—and thus the values of your customer base—can help you avoid a costly, and potentially viral, mistake.
Don’t Underestimate the Power of Micro-Influencers
What is the most important stat when it comes to choosing a successful influencer? If you think it is their number of followers think again. As more data surrounding influencer ROIs come in, the results are beginning to show that numbers aren’t everything. A recent study from Contevo found that Instagram influencers with fewer than 1,000 followers achieved 9.7% engagement rates, compared to just 1.7% for users with over 100,000 followers.
The power of micro-influencers lies in the highly niche and cohesive nature of their audiences in conjunction with the close relationships they maintain with those followers. 70% of teenage YouTube subscribers trust influencer opinions over traditional celebrities, and some even say they feel certain bloggers “know them better than their friends,” according to Google.
With micro-influencers, your desired target audience is already segmented to precision and care what your spokesperson has to say. This means higher relevance, higher conversion rates and higher customer retention in the long run. As a bonus, micro-influencers are less expensive overall, which means you can hire more influencers to diversify your program based on individual buyer personas. Even if your brand has the $200,000 to pay Kylie Jenner for a single post about your detox shake, a micro-influencer could provide more long-term value and loyal customers for every dollar you spend.
Don’t Go Where Your Audience Doesn’t
Facebook and Instagram are continually cited as the two most popular and successful brands for influencers. But just because 87% of brands have found success on these platforms, doesn’t necessarily mean they are where your brand needs to be. Understanding who your audience is and where they spend the majority of their time is a much better indicator of the platforms which you should be targeting your influencer dollars. Niche or lifestyle blogs as well as YouTube and SnapChat are frequently overlooked platforms that have tremendous power for certain brands, despite underperforming for others.
The value an influencer can offer your business will vary immensely by platform, so don’t commit to a relationship until you know what you’re looking for and how their followers, engagement, and time are distributed.
What's At Stake For Your Brand?
As technologies change and consumer behaviors follow, brands must steadily reasses their tactics and look for new opportunities to reach their audiences. The most valuable consumers, Millennials and Gen Zs, care less about what brands have to say than any previous generation. That's why influencer marketing is quickly proving itself a reliable method to reach your target audience through the voice of personalities they already know and trust. As traditional advertising becomes less and less powerful, brands who want to stay relevant should embrace the avenues that will be sparking trends and driving sales.
But remember, while the right ambassador for your brand will provide unmatched access to super-niche audiences who are primed to purchase and prepared to remain loyal, the wrong one can cost you both your current and future customers.