Across all verticals and all geographies, we often see campaigns in the market with one voice: the company’s. It’s an important voice to be sure, but not necessarily the one that’s going to engage and drive an audience to action. Let’s take a look at the ascent of influencer marketing and emerging best practices.
Influencers are in demand
Influencers aren’t a new concept. For as long as humans have walked the earth, there has been an individual or group influencing the decision of others. And, certainly, influencers as a marketing channel weren’t born with social media. Print columnists, opinion writers, radio show hosts and the like have been used as influencers by brands to communicate a message for decades. That said, Both B2C and B2B brands have been increasingly extending and amplifying their voices through influencers.
The 2022 version of the “influencer” we’re talking about is the individual (or company) who – with a post, reel, stream, or snap – can communicate and advocate for a message to hundreds of thousands and, increasingly, millions of consumers around the world. The power of the influencer is less about the number of followers and more about the type of followers. Worthwhile influencers, at their core, have a loyal following. Those are followers who not only read; they react.
The rules and ROI of influencer marketing
Transparency is a key attribute to any influencer campaign. Audiences are smart. They know Kim Kardashian doesn’t know your company. Also, The FTC has provided an “endorsement guide” to companies and influencers to disclose brand relationships to the public. The guides consider an endorsement to be:
Any advertising message (including verbal statements, demonstrations, or depictions of the name, signature, likeness or other identifying personal characteristics of an individual or the name or seal of an organization) that consumers are likely to believe reflects the opinions, beliefs, findings, or experiences of a party other than the sponsoring advertiser, even if the views expressed by that party are identical to the sponsoring advertiser.”
Influencer marketing isn’t going away. Especially when you consider businesses earn $5.20 – $6.30 for every dollar spent on influencer marketing campaigns. It will evolve as it already has from face-to-face, word of mouth, to radio and print to social media. And it has evolved considerably for B2B marketing.
Influencer marketing impact in B2B and SEO
According to a recent Forrester survey, an average B2B buyer performs more than half of his or her research online. That means that he/she will have seen many different items of content, including a range of material presented by your influencers. Considering that it takes more “touches” than ever before to drive action, for sure influencer marketing should be a strongly considered channel for any campaign. Gartner has reported that it now takes 18-20 touches to drive action; just think how many touches multiple influencers can cover for your campaign.
And, let’s not forget about the SEO advantage of influencers. Influencers have an impact on this too. A major determinate of Google’s search engine ranking is linking (the quality and quantity of inbound links to your website). The greater volume of high-quality links your influencers can generate back to your site the greater the likelihood that content (and therefore your website) will appear more highly in search engine rankings.
Our perspectives on influencers
Influencers (particularly those with quality social media followers) shouldn’t be a “nice-to-have” or an “additional consideration” in your go-to-market plans. Marketers need to think of this channel as a core channel – one with real ROI impact. Using Coke’s rule of marketing innovation where 70% of spend funds current proven programs, 20% goes to new and promising trends, and 10% to test completely new ideas – we believe that influencers have moved to the 70%.
That’s why the Park & Battery team has been increasingly active in helping brands connect with the right influencers. We look for individuals who have quality followers as evidenced by the engagement rate on their posts. We look at who follows them and the geographic concentration of their audiences. And we believe/recommend that:
- Influencer marketing is for B2C and B2B
- An individual with a large number of followers doesn’t mean they can influence
- Influencer personality matters and it has to align with your brand
- You need to balance guidance and flexibility – provide information to help an influencer create the best content they can, but allow them room to talk in their own voice and give the content their own personality
- Tracking is important – often we will go back to influencers for another campaign based on their prior performance. Utilize unique registration codes, UTM tracking codes, etc. to determine the true value of that influencer
Finally, when you think about the goals of your marketing program/campaign and the results you are looking to achieve, be able to answer the question “Who said that?” with the answer “Numerous and legitimate voices from our audience community.” Which sounds more professional than saying a “shit-ton,” but that answer might work, too.