By Prof Haritha S, ISME
In the ever-dynamic marketing field, influencer marketing is increasingly being used to promote products. According to Hall (2016), influencer marketing is a non-promotional approach to marketing in which the focus of brands is on opinion leaders as opposed to direct target marketing touch points. Influencer is capable to change behaviours or influence purchase decisions in a certain context. Most of the consumers get confused between celebrity endorsements and influencer marketing, however influencer marketing relies more on Word-of-Mouth communication. In the context of social media marketing, influencers already have a following or engaged audience. Influencer marketing aims to harness influence of key individuals on the social web to meet a business goal by building mutually beneficial relationships. Influencer marketing is the next big marketing channel, according to India Influence Report (2018), 92 per cent of the marketers are expected to adopt influencer marketing strategies.
Why are many organizations adopting influencer marketing?
Influencer marketing is considered more targeted and cost effective as compared to the traditional marketing methods. It is also observed that the conversion rates are high in influencer marketing. The consumers have evolved over the years; the trust they used to have previously on celebrity endorsements has considerably reduced. Many of the consumers are aware of the fact that the traditional marketing generally favoured the organization and its brands while promoting the products. However, in influencer marketing, the product has to prove itself to be endorsed by several influencers. Conventional digital marketing methods are fading out as consumers are figuring different ways to block the constant exposure to ads. According to digital marketing institute (2018), ad-blockage usage in USA is 40% across laptops and 15% across mobiles. Influencer marketing brings in a huge competitive advantage with this perspective, as most of the consumers would have subscribed to their influencers channels across social media and they would prefer inputs and advice from people whom they trust. With increasing trust and credibility, propensity to resist the communication will significantly go down.
The most important objectives for using influencer marketing are to increase reach, engagement with audience and to increase brand awareness. Many of the marketers believe that one of the most effective form of advertising is Word-of-Mouth communication by someone with whom the audience has a close connect. Influencer marketing is also considered more cost effective than traditional marketing methods mainly because of visibility of content across multiple social media platforms; it has a more targeted approach, content on the go as the content remains online one can access it easily on the go. According to the Zefmo influencer report (2018), influencer marketing has proven to be most effective in the following scenarios i.e product launches, content promotion and event promotion.
What are the different types of influencer marketing and influencers?
Influencer marketing can be categorized into different types like affiliate marketing, competitions and giveaways, long term ambassador roles, event activation, influencer takeover, sponsored social media content etc.
Influencers can be celebrities who already have a huge following. Influencers can be bloggers, vloggers, or any person who has gained expertise in his or her particular field and is considered a credible source of information in his social circles. Influencers generally are trusted figures or subject matter experts within a niche community with a fan following. The most common of all the influencer categories are adventurists, photographers, food enthusiasts, beauticians etc. Figure 1 and 2 provides instance of famous non-celeb influencers who are popular on Youtube and Instagram. Influencers can be categorised as micro influencers who have a followers ranging from 1,000- 10,000. The engagement rate for micro influencers is quite high as the main intent of micro influencers is to connect with the audience at a personal level. Micro influencers are real people with a strong voice online. Macro influencers have followers in the range of 10,000 to 100,000. Many a times macro influencers are social media professionals with a penchant for a specific topic. Mega influencers are popular celebrities, social media notables with millions of followers example Selena Gomez, Kim Kardashian etc. and mega influencers like movies , TV , experts etc. Mega influencers played a major role in the 80’s and 90’s to promote products. In India Amitabh Bachchan , Shahrukh khan, Sachin Tendulkar were considered to be the most popular brand ambassadors or mega influencers as we call them now.
Which are the different social media used for influencer marketing?
Facebook with a user base of 2.27 billion active is the most effective medium for influencer marketing, however Facebook already has excessive content being posted on a regular basis. A major concern is content provided by the influencers might be lost in the clutter of information posted on Facebook. Instagram with a user base of 800 million is the next best digital platform, as posting on Instagram with visually appealing images and videos is much easier. Twitter with a user base of 330 million has the potential to provide a good reach to the influencers; however, twitter is more popular as a social media platform that provides breaking news. By tagging along with popular hashtags, the influencers will be able to get the visibility they desire. The Digital Marketing Institute reported that the purchase intent increased by 5.2x times for a influencer tweet as compared to a purchase intent of 2.7x of a brand tweet. YouTube is also a popular medium for influencers with a high viewership rate; it is the second most visited webpage in the world with over 1.5 billion active users. The user base of YouTube is expected to grow to a whopping 1.86 billion by the year 2021. In the figure 3, the changing dynamics of the preferred social media platform is seen; Instagram is soon emerging as the most preferred social media platform.
Which are some of the famous influencer campaigns of India?
Filter copy is a channel of PocketAces, which produces engaging content to cure audience’s boredom. According to Vidooly an independent digital analytics provider, Filtercopy emerged on the top position in India in terms of views as well as followers in the year 2017. Loco was seamlessly collaborated into one of the Filtercopy episodes “Things fathers do”, this was considered as one of the best influencer marketing campaigns. The content of the particular episode beautifully presented the usage of Loco by the father. Another successful attempt at influencer marketing was the usage of Kent atta maker in Hebbar’s kitchen video. Furlenco also collaborated with Filtercopy to reach out to the target audience of millennials, they kick started the campaign with “If Parents Behaved like Us”. Brands like zoom car, epigamia have teamed up with several web series to integrate their brand into content.
With the changing demographics, the traditional ways of advertising is losing relevance, influencer marketing is gaining popularity because the consumers perceive it to be more authentic and have more affinity towards the influencers. One of the biggest concern of influencer marketing is, once the consumer knows that the influencer is not genuinely using the product, there are chances of negative Word-of-Mouth communication, which can prove harmful to the marketing organizations. However, organizations are willing to ignore the same and are currently focusing on spending a big chunk of their budgets on influencer marketing to gain the trust of ever evolving consumers.
Hall, J. 2016. The Influencer Marketing Gold Rush Is Coming: Are You Prepared?. Forbes. URL: http://www.forbes.com/sites/johnhall/2016/04/17/the-influencer-marketinggold-rush-is-coming-are-you-prepared/#5872a3102964.