Influence: (noun) Effect, impact, control, sway, hold, power, authority, ascendancy, mastery, domination, supremacy, leadership, guidance, direction, pressure, leverage, position, stature, rank, connections, contacts, clout, pull, muscle… (verb) a few of the words above plus govern, regulate, alter, modify, transform, impact or coerce, persuade, convince, induce, entice, tempt, lure, cajole, manipulate, brainwash.
When it comes to hammering home a value proposition, product enjoyment, cultural significance or just becoming popular, Influencers have us convinced they deliver value. However all hammers are not created equal and so it is with Influencers with a US research report by NeoReach, ViralNation and Influencer Marketing Hub, claiming only 11% of Influencers were compliant with CMA and FTC regulatory guidelines.
We shall graciously assume in this discussion that followers are genuine, non-bot generated followers. I say gracious because according to Arkose Labs, 53% of social media account logins are fraudulent. In Q2 of 2019, nearly 19% of a $314 million Instagram Influencer marketing spend reached fake followers.
Sometimes brands and Influencers have difficulty agreeing expectations on deliverables, so for anyone thinking of incorporating Influencers as a marketing tactic, the words in the definition of influencer provide a great array of quantifiable and qualifiable metrics from which to draw performance criteria and measure KPI’s.
The metric of how many followers an Influencer has could represent a big number, but it’s the portion of those people that qualify as genuinely potentially interested in your offering that is really of value. Interestingly micro-influencers achieve an average of 7X more engagement than Influencers with larger followings (celebrities and macro-influencers).
In fact nano and microinfluencers can see a 4% to 7% engagement rate on Instagram and only 1.2-1.4% on Twitter, while it may surprise that celebrities and macro-influencers may only average a 0.7% to 1.1% engagement rate on Instagram and 0.008% to 0.3% on Twitter.
You might like to explore Influencer platforms such as Mavrck (US) and these Australian alternatives that are streamlining the brand-influencer arrangement. As a guide, the cost-per-post can range from $100 to $4,000 depending on the number of followers. The bottom line however is how many people does the Influencer produce the desired affect from as and when required?
Influencers can deliver genuine benefits in ROI, brand awareness and engagement and some Influencers can be recruited to create content for different iterations of the content or story they’re working eg. making and repurposing content for other channels. Certainly they can inspire their followers, be a beacon for popular culture, set trends and cause PR disasters, which is why the choice of Influencer must be measured and the structure of your engagement well considered and documented.
The different social platforms perform differently by gender, men tend to be more influenced to make a purchase by YouTube and Twitter, whereas women are more likely influenced by Pinterest, Instagram and Facebook (The Manifest). Know where your people hang out socially online and set your key objective to ‘add value’ to them through the interaction you drive, that’s true beit by your own posts or those of others such as Influencers.
YouTube has the highest engagement rate of all social platforms with 6% to 7% engagement rates, but over on Instagram people engage more with images. In essence the different platforms perform differently for different audiences which is why knowing the preferred social platforms of your people is an imperative.
The measure of how ‘influential’ the potential Influencers are will come down to how effective they are at creating impact in a desirable, measured form. A simple preliminary audience qualifier question to the followers can establish this upfront eg. ‘Let me know if you’re interested in a new car’.
Brands will be looking to measure how much awareness was achieved with their target people? What level of expression of interest or desire did they demonstrate? How many took action and what action did they take? A click through or a like can demonstrate awareness and interest, sign ups and sales demonstrate influence and action!
For Influencers: As an Influencer your value comes down to your ability to influence your followers to commercial benefit for you and the brands you participate with. It’s your ability to identify or set trends, tap into pop culture, depict an aspirational or considerate lifestyle and do it with your unique creative style responsibly that brands are paying for.
It’s a capital (sunk) cost to get set up to produce and publish content, so unless the campaign decided on by Influencer and brand requires specialist gear, props or facilities to deliver for that specific brand, the production component is at the Influencer’s cost. That said, the Influencer has their own brand to be consistent with so brands should not expect to dictate total creative control. This is where the benefits of an appropriate fit of Influnencer and brand becomes immediately apparent.
In a good fit and a win-win association, the brand might negotiate to get additional content for use in other channels. But if a brand feels the need to totally dictate how the product or brand is presented in the Influencer’s channel, they might want to reconsider using an Influencer and go create their own content with 100% total control.
The Influencer’s ability to produce good content should be reflected in the price they can command for the brand to participate in specific ways, not as a separate line item. Remember if the brand is paying for the production, there could be a strong argument in their favour that they own the content.
Brands have deadlines to perform to, which correspond to product manufacture and shipping, other media campaigns and promotion activity, seasonal considerations and consumer sentiment. Brand and Influencer have to agree when bumping a post or agreed schedule of exposure is a valid decision at the discretion of the creative/Influencer, or an expensive and logistical disaster for the brand (such things should be addressed in the Contract of Engagement with the Influencer).
For Brands: Choose your Influencer carefully and more for their fit, than their number of followers. It’s a personality and values fit first. An organic fit is ideal because then it’s a forum for your offering to be discovered in a manner that’s naturally consistent with your brand values and messaging.
When you engage an Influencer be crystal clear in writing about your brand values, your expectations in respect of what is appropriate and acceptable for your brand to be in the company of and have it acknowledge and accepted by the Influencer.
Qualify why you have chosen this Influencer as a brand champion for you by clearly defining what is expected in terms of value associations, appropriate or inappropriate behaviour. Are you seeking brand awareness, brand perception, engagement or conversions? Have agreed processes, creative control requirements and schedules documented before the go button gets pressed.
Identify the campaign objectives and quantify the measurable criteria by which the Influencer’s performance will be measured. What is the mechanism by which you will measure how much have they managed to sway, cajole, effect, convince, transform the followers?
Clear, recorded communication is the best asset of any campaign and it can rescue many a situation, but remember the best influencer for your brand is the brand itself. A recent study by InfluencerDB indicated the average engagement rate for sponsored Influencer posts in Q1 of 2019 fell to 2.4% from 4% in just three years.
In an era that puts powerful storytelling and content creation in the hands of every brand, your time and money might be better spend building your own channel of influence.
If you would like to know more about how to establish a channel of influence for your brand, contact Wanted Consulting – Reward Offered.