Influencer marketing is a hot term right now – and for good reason. Many brands around the world and in South Africa have used influencers – people on social media who have the power to affect others’ purchase decisions, to grow their reach, connect with customers, and drive sales.
However, with all the chatter surrounding influencer marketing, not many South African small business owners are sure what the term really means and whether influencer marketing is a good fit for their businesses. Keep reading to find reasons you might benefit from investing in influencer marketing.
Working with influencers expands your reach and engagement
One of the toughest aspects of running digital marketing campaigns is finding the most effective and efficient way to reach your target audience. You can buy Facebook ads and play around with pay-per-click advertising until you’re blue in the face. How do you know your campaign is truly reaching the most appropriate audience?
Unfortunately, you don’t always know. That’s where influencer marketing can be helpful. Influencers on social media have built and maintained highly targeted audiences. Some of them have massive reach, but what really matters is how successful they are in engaging their audience and speaking to its passions.
You can create brand authenticity
The most substantial benefit of running an influencer campaign is building authenticity for your brand. The influencer’s relationship with their audience is based on trust.
When a trusted third-party endorses your product, it activates word-of-mouth marketing, one of the most effective forms of marketing available.
By implementing a successful influencer campaign, your business can leverage the relationship and trust they have with their audience to build a relationship and trust for your brand in the most authentic way possible.
Tap into diverse campaigns
Many people are under the impression that an influencer marketing campaign is used purely for increasing brand awareness by tapping into the influencer’s audience. While brand awareness campaigns are how influencer marketing came to fruition (in the early days of Vine, Snapchat and Instagram), they’ve evolved and been moulded to fit a variety of marketing initiatives.
Many businesses are working with influencers to either bring a highly targeted demographic into their sales funnel (through likes, follows and newsletter signups) or even go for direct sales by using an influencer-specific coupon code (which helps track the effectiveness of the campaign).
Influencer marketing examples
To help you get a better grasp on influencer marketing, you’ll find three well-executed campaigns below. In addition to showing how working with influencers can help your business grow, these examples also show the diversity of influencer campaigns you can run.
In 2015, Balvenie teamed up with the late Anthony Bourdain to create mini documentaries that chronicled the day-to-day routines of craftsmen and women around the United States. All these videos are available for free on their YouTube page.
Many of them have racked up millions of views, which continue to climb daily. Although Balvenie might have paid Anthony a pretty penny to star in these sponsored videos, the content produced is timeless and will continue to pay dividends for years to come.
The video content distinguishes Balvenie from its competitors by making it seem like the “sophisticated drink of choice” for craftspeople everywhere.
Beats By Dre
If there is one brand that has taken influencer marketing to the extreme, it’s Beats By Dre. The initial marketing strategy relied on using influencers to boost the authenticity of the products.
This worked so well because the two founders, Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine, were able to use their personal connections in the music business to become their first influencers.
When they launched in 2008, musicians and DJs used Beats at their shows and in music videos as a result of their campaign. Their popularity trickled down to other entertainers and athletes, which fuelled their growth even more. Working with influencers took a relatively uninteresting tech product and made it a fashion trend.
Closer to home, smartphone and telecom brands have made great use of influencers to drive their growth. One successful campaign from Vodacom used student influencers to drive sales and engagement with the youth package, NXT LVL. This approach enabled Vodacom to bring an authentic touch to its youth marketing, with its influencers taking the brand to social events, showcasing it on campus, and boosting the offering on their social media platforms.
Small businesses are working with influencers
These examples are all big businesses, which prompts the question of whether influencer marketing is affordable and accessible to small South African businesses. After all, some of the top influencers on Instagram can earn between R500 and R10,000 for a single post.
Working with influencers does not mean you need to stretch yourself to a Kylie Jenner budget. It’s more beneficial to work with a smaller niche influencer that is highly related to your brand rather than an influencer with broader appeal.
The best part about retaining these micro-influencers is that they can be much less expensive than the more well-known influencers out there. Let’s say you own a coffee shop that has a loyal local following for its red velvet cake and macaroons. You might think running an influencer marketing campaign would be pointless and prohibitively expensive.
Yet, if you keep your eyes open, you will find micro-influencers who are heavily active on your neighbourhood Facebook group or who love snapping their morning cuppa and pastry for their Instagram audience. Ideally, you want to partner with someone who is already a fan of what you do.
The trick to finding the right influencers for your business isn’t to focus on the size of their audience. Rather, it’s about their engagement and how well they relate to your brand. Whether you’re looking for a specific group of bloggers or visual influencers, there are plenty of options out there for your business.
Editors note: using products like GoDaddy’s Search Engine Optimisation tool, you can boost the chatter by your influencers about your brand.
This article has been adapted from an original piece by Dan Scalco.