In today’s digital era, the rise of social media influencers creates a world of opportunities for an intelligent marketer. It opens up a new channel for brands to connect with consumers directly, organically, and at scale. With the focus of Government on “Digital India” and events like “Jio launch”, internet penetration is growing exponentially. Today 28.7% of India’s population have access to Internet as per the report of Telecom Regulatory Authority of India. The implications for marketers is that the internet becomes a meeting place for brands and consumers. Also the world is shifting to social media, where consumers look to fellow consumers for information on their purchase decisions. Instead of looking at the companies, they now look at each other and at famous personalities, with massive followings on social platforms such as Twitter, Instagram, etc. For these reasons, Influencer Marketing is believed to be the next big thing in digital marketing.
But, what is Influencer Marketing, and who exactly is an Influencer?
Consider you are going out on dinner with your family. You want to try out a new restaurant. So what will you do in this case?
You would probably do one or both of the following options:
- Log in to Zomato application and go into the profile of person whom you trust as a foodie, then you would try to read her reviews or her suggestions
- You would ask your friends or relatives if they have been to that restaurant and is it worth going there
If we think, these options are very intuitive. The people that we have considered during our decision making are influencers, as they influence our final decision. This is a very basic form of influencer marketing. We go to those we trust and ask for their advice or recommendation.
We would want recommendations from real people through authentic sites or on social media platforms.
Influencer marketing therefore involves leveraging the influence of real people on digital channels to market their products or services. The number of businesses leveraging this for increasing at a rapid rate and they are utilising influencer marketing to create buzz, increase awareness and enhance brand perception and therefore brand image eventually. Influencer marketing includes several steps to create branded user-generated content that complements other promotion tools on digital platform. These steps include
- identifying right influencers that resonate with the brand as well as the target audiences
- marketing your brand to these influencers
- activating influencers to spread brand’s message through their own networks
- eventually turning these influencers into brand advocates
What classifies someone as a social influencer?
Basically, any person with high level of credibility and respect with the audience is a social influencer. This is the reason their opinions influence others to take actions. A social influencer can be: a loyal customer, a passionate brand advocate, a dedicated fan or any known blogger.
How influencer marketing overcomes certain digital marketing inefficiencies?
Consider this hypothetical case. You are shown an advertisement on social media which showcases quick delivery prowess of an ecommerce company XYZ. Compare it with a person, whom you and two million other people follow, and he tweets about getting the speedy delivery of a product from the same firm. The second case would have higher awareness as the person would have major influence on his followers. His followers would in turn retweet which would further create more awareness. Therefore the brand advertisements that appear on your social media page are not nearly as important as an actual customer or influencer who posts about it.
Influencer marketing acts as a viable antidote to other traditional digital marketing inefficiencies. Some of these are listed below:
- Trust: It builds consumer trust. More than 90% of people trust recommendations from individuals (even if they do not know them) over brands choices. Influencer marketing helps in creating a relevant and reliable information pool that is trusted by the people.
- Digital advertising does work, but if it is targeted to millennials, more often than not they are being blocked by millennials using ad blocker tools. On the other people follow their influential personalities, and therefore there’s no getting blocked in the case of influencer marketing.
- Effective and affordable: Influencer marketing can be easily analysed using web tracking and information such as engagement rates, retweets, comments, clicks and conversions. Email and influencer marketing provide the most cost-effective channels for brands.
- We know that content marketing is important for brands, but even if your content is very good, it will still gain limited views if it is only posted on your own website. Influencers helps in this aspect as they are both content creators as well as publishers.
Indian brands are giving more importance to influencer marketing. Even political parties are roping in a good amount of influencers to propagate their ideologies and gain political traction. Nowadays, almost every day we can see some twitter hashtags on the major political parties such as BJP, INC, etc. These political parties will have their separate influencers or influencer groups who actively spread their message.
Some of the popular influencer marketing campaigns in India that companies have used to engage and leverage the power and reach of influencers are:
- Lenovo Yoga 2 tablet – YoGa2bFree: Lenovo hired four famous twitter celebrities
- Launch of Cadbury Glow: A few mid-range twitter influencers along with Bollywood fashion and lifestyle blogger were roped in to promote the chocolate
- Philips Air Fryer: Philips roped in Sanjay Thumma, a popular chef on YouTube known for his channel Vahchef on YouTube
Social influencer marketing is gaining importance and will evolve over time as it adapts to the latest trends and technology. Smart marketers are already capitalizing on the opportunity to develop their brand with the voice of customers, consumers and brand advocates. The key lies in recruiting passionate and dedicated influencers to participate in the marketing campaigns to increase customer reach through their well-established network and increase brand trust and profitability.
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