These are exciting times for social media creators, as Influencer Marketing is increasingly front and center with brands and almost every brand has either entered the space or is contemplating doing so. The genuine engagement and authenticity that many influencers generate is too powerful a tool for marketers to ignore. This is all to the good, but with the serious issues surrounding waste, fraud and abuse in digital advertising more broadly, practitioners should take steps now to ensure that influencer marketing stays clear of these problems.
Careful, meticulous research into the audiences, interests, reach and engagement of the influencers that a brand elects to partner with is the key. This work is not insignificant but it will pay off in not just better, more effective campaigns and results, but will also help avoid any potential negative brand outcomes from partnering with low-esteem influencers or being associated with inappropriate content. Conversely, influencers can avoid association with a brand that could alienate their audience.
Fortunately, marketplace solutions such as the Julius Influencer Management Platform are emerging to facilitate this due diligence process, while enabling the ability of brands to connect with and do business with top influencers, including select “micro-influencers”. At the very core, the most important thing is the integrity of the data. Having human researched influencers, with sources, and in depth audience data protects all parties. Manual curation of the influencers on our platform ensures great outcomes for our brand clients.
For marketers active in this field, or about to enter, here are some questions to ask yourself and the vendors in your consideration set:
How do I know this influencer is right for me?
Has this influencer worked with competitive brands?
What is the engagement quality of their content?
How can I engage with the influencer to ensure this partnership is mutually beneficial?
Can an influencer marketing campaign affect my bottom line?
These seem like daunting questions especially if you don’t have the bandwidth or support to do this research or manage every step of the campaign process. Let’s review some of these questions:
Finding the right influencer is step one. Julius uses more than 50 filters such as demographics, interests, topics, blogger to name a few; brands can thus research and create lists of potential, appropriate influencers to work with. Case in point, a website focusing on live video with real time sharing and communications, was trying to identify micro-influencers who would be good to experience, promote and provide feedback on their new App. Using Julius, they were able to scan through research results and identify influencers they were interested in. Some of the filters they used to hone in on these influencers were age, reach, engagement, price and region. This resulted in two lists of potential influencers with 20-30 in each respectively. They chose 4-10 from each list.
For many brands, it is important to know if the influencer has other brand affiliations. This is also important in cause-related marketing efforts. With cause-related campaigns, it is critical to research influencers passionate about relevant causes to see if they are the right fit for a PSA type campaign. You want to ensure a potential influencer partner has not made inappropriate remarks or created inappropriate content about a cause or charity.
Engagement quality is a critical element for both the brand and influencer alike. This is another place where quality far outweighs quantity. From a brand perspective, let’s say you have found your potential influencer partner and they have a 100K+ following on Instagram. So far so good! Now what does their engagement look like? What is the average engagement per post? Is it 100 or 10K? This is critical to know as it can be a sign of the quality of the audience. Next, you want to make sure the audience demographic is the right one for you to ensure quality engagement. If you are looking to appeal to women age 25-34 in the U.S. that love jewelry, but this influencer has a woman 18-24 concentration, half of whom reside in the U.K., this may not be the right fit.
From the influencer perspective, respecting your audience is key, and a win-win for brands. If your followers find your posts about jewelry engaging and insightful and therefore continuously engage with you for fashion advice, is working with a bank to promote their new credit card the right fit? Will you risk alienating your audience? This is why digging deeper is so important. For an influencer, it is just important to ensure the partnership is mutually beneficial.
The other looming question is can influencer marketing actually affect bottom-line. The answer is unequivocally yes! First let’s talk about efficiency (a more indirect ROI). Managing an influencer campaign (let alone multiple ones) requires research and time. With Julius, you can research, contact, activate, manage and report on multiple campaigns without the need of interns or additional resources on staff. Managing influencer campaigns this way has built in efficiencies.
When it comes to hard ROI, Influencer marketing can be incredibly effective. A wholesome food company used Julius to launch a new high-protein pancake and waffle batter. Their goal was to increase online sales by leveraging fitness, health and beauty digital influencers. They utilized Julius to research and contact influencers directly, based on the following highly-specific criteria:
Influencers located in both Boston & NYC
Topics: Food & Drink, Health & Fitness, Fitness & Exercise, Nutrition, Diet & Cooking
Platform Notoriety on YouTube, Instagram & Facebook
Causes/Affiliations with Female Empowerment, Health & Wellness
Interests: Foodie, Nutrition, Pancakes, Organic Food
Instagram Engagement Rate of 300+
The results were outstanding. 72% of influencers contacted agreed to do a post if they liked the product. The ensuring reach and consumer engagement ultimately resulted in a 14x increase in online sales from January to April 2017 and a 204% increase in website traffic during that same time.
Results like these are due to thoughtful strategies, careful research and low-friction engagement and transactions with manually-curated high-quality influencers. Julius is here to make this an efficient and rewarding process for all involved, including both brands and influencers.
If you would like to learn more details about any of the case studies referenced in this article or general inquiry information about Julius, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
So – are you ready to be influential?