HOW TO IDENTIFY INDUSTRY INFLUENCERS AND WHY YOU SHOULD
Influencer marketing has a huge potential to deliver lasting results for many companies, but only if it’s approached carefully and deliberately. The May 2017 SLC|SEM gathering brought in a couple specialists in this area to discuss this topic and talk about how one might identify influencers and why it should be part of your marketing strategy.
Scott Paul, the first speaker, works in the influencer marketing department at Disney and has also developed apps and is in the process of developing a tool that individuals and corporate brands can use to find and identify quality influencers. Calvin Wayman was up next, and is an entrepreneur who has been featured in many major business publications, interviewed on various television networks, and has recently published his first book.
The Rise of the Influencer
Scott discussed the rise of influencer marketing and where he sees it going in the future. He began by saying that the relationship between Michael Jordan and Nike would not have gone anywhere without the use of media. It was the media that broadcasted Jordan’s (influencer) endorsement of Nike.
He then went on to provide two personal examples about the power the right influencer has for a brand. His first example was at a start-up called Armor Active that puts wall-mounted iPads in athletic shoe stores. One day LeBron James came into one of the stores that featured Scott’s iPads and a photo of James with the iPads in the background was taken. From that photo, the sales of Scott’s iPad skyrocketed as athletic shoe companies began ordering the product.
Another example Scott gave was for a photo sharing and liking app he created called Voto. His company paid a girl who had many Instagram followers $20 to get her friends and followers to download the app. With $20, Voto got over 500 new downloads of the app in one day.
Scott mentioned that in the beginning, an influencer was measured by how many followers and fans he or she had. The problem with this was that companies and “influencers” could buy fake followers. Some individuals who made themselves out to be influencers by buying fake followers took advantage of the opportunity by charging too much for their endorsements.
The unreliability of measuring an influencer’s value based on number of followers alone shifted the focus to engagement. Brands began looking for influencers who not only had a large fan base, but also had followers that were actively engaged. Companies shifted their focus of finding influencers on Facebook, YouTube and Instagram.
Companies soon found out that while influencers had many fans and followers who were also engaged, the content the influencer produced wasn’t an appropriate match for what the brand was going for and the loyalty of the influencer couldn’t be counted on.
The content an influencer put out soon became the most important element brands came to look for when hiring an influencer for their products.
With the rise in the use of social networks and smartphones, companies saw the need to shift their marketing from being salesy and only about the company and its products to being all about the audience and consumer.
Companies needed influencers who were loyal to the brand and who encapsulated their ideal audience. This will ensure that the messaging and content produced will be in line with the company’s voice and appropriate to the audience they are trying to reach.
With the loyalty, costs, and the great opportunity for a wrong fit between an influencer and a brand, Scott asked why marketers even bother with influencer marketing and just stick to paid advertising? His answer reiterated the importance of good content.
Today’s online marketing content has to put the needs and interests of the audience and customer first. While paid ads may be cheaper and is less risky than influencer marketing, it’s less powerful and effective. When others see an actual person using and endorsing a product, they are more likely to try the product out for themselves.
What Makes the Perfect Influencer?
The perfect influencer could be defined as someone who has engaged followers, a certain amount of loyalty, and an affinity toward your brand. This person will also produce content that is in alignment with the company’s voice as well as the interests and beliefs of the ideal audience and consumer.
Scott broke down these elements of the perfect influencer into a ven diagram where the ideal influencer is in the middle, encapsulating the following aspects: Audience, Content, Activity, Loyalty, Engagement and Reach.