What is ‘influencer marketing’? ‘Influencer marketing’ is a range of promotional and marketing activities aimed at influencing a target consumer group and encouraging them to buy a good or service, performed by individuals -nowadays mostly individuals with large numbers of social media followers- that have the power to sway a specific group. In recent years, people with a large number of followers on social media platforms such as Twitter, YouTube, Snapchat, Instagram and Facebook have been promoting products of various brands on their own social media networks, sharing their experiences about these products or services with their followers. Since consumers perceive these promotions made by influencers on social media as suggestions, this strategy is much more effective than traditional advertising methods. Due to campaign measurability and a higher return of investment compared to traditional advertising channels, a lot of international brands, especially in fashion, fast moving consumer goods, technology and game industries, have been gravitating towards influencer marketing campaigns.
‘Influencer’ or ‘opinion leader’ are not novel concepts. In the past, they have been used for artists, politicians or renowned journalists who had influence over society, while today they refer to people broadcasting on YouTube, sharing photos on Instagram, making instant posts on Snapchat or bloggers followed by other internet users for sharing related content on social networks. In other words, nowadays a YouTube page with a thousand followers is defined as an ‘influencer’, as much as a social media account followed by five million people. Their promotion of goods and services is categorized under the definition of ‘influencer marketing’. The emergence of influencer marketing as a concept dates back to the 1940s, to a marketing strategy based on celebrities or opinion leaders. Numerous theories on communication introduced in those years asserted that opinion leaders’ power to influence other individuals in a society was much more effective than the messages of traditional media. These theories are still relevant and talked about in today’s world.
WHY INFLUENCE MARKETING?
As in the previous year, in 2017 a lot of brands started to research influencer marketing and realizing this strategy’s greater effectiveness compared to traditional advertising channels, included it in their campaigns. This is due to several reasons: The Power of Suggestion The basis of influencer marketing is a messenger’s recommendation of a good or service to its followers. As in word-of-mouth marketing, a product recommendation by others is much more influential than promotional ads. According to studies conducted by Nielsen, 90% of consumers trust recommendations
from friends and family. Another study by Nielsen shows that 70% of consumers consider consumer opinions posted online and develop buyer behavior accordingly. The Impact of Celebrities & Sensations A message conveyed by a person with the power to influence a group is deemed trustworthy and easily accepted by others. In particular, product promotions made by internet celebrities or ‘sensations’ have a higher rate of success compared to other advertising methods, because the message is delivered by a trusted and familiar face, rather than a brand. The message can have a much higher impact in direct proportion to the followed name’s confidence index. The Rise of Native Ads and Adblocks Another reason for influencer marketing’s popularity is the declining effectiveness of conventional banner ads due to a rise in ad block usage. According to PageFair’s 2016 Mobile Adblocking Report, 419 million people are using ad blocking software on their smartphones.
According to a 2015 ad blocking survey by Adobe, the number of people using ad blocking software grows by 41% every year. The estimated loss of global revenue due to blocked advertising during 2015 was $21.8 billion. The global cost of ad blocking is expected to be $41.4 billion in 2016. Influence marketing is categorized as native advertising due to its content; therefore it cannot be distinguished from non-promotional content if employed properly.
Measurability and Monitoring Influencer marketing campaigns are measurable and their results are easily monitored. The data on views, shares, comments and redirects generated by campaign content, and their impact on the target audience are measured with ‘engagement level’ rates. To achieve a high engagement level, the content should prompt users to comment and share.
Even though successful influencer marketing campaigns’ return of investment rates are more cost efficient compared to other channels, these campaigns are more effective. According to a recent study conducted by Adweek, influencer marketing campaigns bring in $6.85 in earned media value for every $1.00 of paid media. Moreover, according to Forbes,- influencer marketing-inspired word-of-mouth generates a 37% higher customer retention rate compared to paid advertising channels.