Influencer marketing has been a secret weapon for large consumer brands to tap into focused targeted audiences. Think of how Yelp secures new markets with localized high profile foodies, how the Barclays Premier League utilized Vine to win 474,000,000 loops, or how Swiss luxury retailer de GRISOGONO generated 19,000,000 impressions from just 14 relevant influencers.
Influencer marketing is a readily available growth channel for startup and enterprise marketers alike. With fears of a 2016 bubble making generous marketing budgets a thing of the past, smart marketing organizations are searching for acquisitions channels that can prove cost-effective and drive faster conversions. This is exactly where influencer marketing, one of the least understood marketing technology vehicles, comes into play.
Here are five Influencer marketing misconceptions holding back marketers from potential explosive growth:
Myth #1 > Forget about relevance, it’s all about reach
You were just scobalized… great work! Engaging influencers that have a massive community of followers is great for getting smiles from management and investors. How many of those community members were truly relevant to you? Many influencers with a fraction of the following maintain active community members that are highly focused in the specific set of interests.
Think of a new B2B SaaS solution benefiting from buzz from Robert Scoble’s 487K Twitter following vs @jasonfalls’s 90,000 Twitter following. The latter, although slimmer in reach, has a dramatically more relevant user base. Go beyond the follower count and build a comprehensive pipeline of niche influencers that offer small but powerful armies of relevant and interested members.
Myth #2 > It’s only for branding
Several relevant influencers just retweeted best practice tweets from your company Twitter account. Your brand is finally getting the impression numbers that it deserves, right? Isn’t there more behind Twitter impressions and Vine loops? The reality is that influencer marketing is an effective and measurable channel for traffic and conversions. Align your content strategy, customer case studies, blog posts, and white papers alongside the topics that interest your relevant influencer base. Work with them to understand what precise topics they want to explore and build your content plan with their feedback. Reach out to them with scheduled blog posts on a consistent basis and watch your traffic grow.
Myth #3 > It’s all pay for play
Paying for a celebrity endorsement can yield a spike in traffic from early adopters at an appropriately spiked price. Awesome traffic, but what happens 30, 60, or 90 days later? Will your budget withstand the test of time? Will the celebrity still be into your brand or paying attention to next big thing, or even your competition? Will their community follow suit?
The output of celebrity endorsements can be very misleading, specifically for consumer brands; according to a recent study, 72 per cent of luxury brands found that homegrown influencer engagement was effective. Invest your time into finding influencers that are organically and naturally gravitated to the topics your brand covers or are themselves activists in solving the same challenges you’re addressing. Position yourself as a credible source of data with use cases, best practices, and even customer stories to build opportunities that help expand your influencer’s topic expertise.
Myth #4 > It’s not scalable
So you succeeded engaging 20 out of the 300 major influencers in the category relevant for your business. Do you really need to capture interest from all 300, or even just 200? Is the time, resource allocation, and effort really worth it? The fundamental rules of marketing focus on finding the lowest input to yield the highest output. It’s 100 per cent true that you can't touch and engage every single soul influencing your business or category… So what?!
Getting to scale is about scaling the impact, not the reach. Successful influencer marketing means that you've built an army of influential advocates who will carry your message further and higher than you ever could to the exact audience you want. Focus your resources on engaging and earning trust with your core A- list first.
Myth #5 > It only adds value to existing campaigns
You succeeded in getting some influencers to retweet a white paper. Nice incremental win on top of the paid media investments you’ve already made for the campaign. Rinse and repeat, right? What would have been the impact on lead generation, social discussions, and Twitter impressions if you had consulted with and wove the influencers feedback in a campaign focused specifically toward their followers?
Influencer marketing isn’t about one-night stands – it’s really about creating partnerships that value the opinions and interests of your valued influencer conciliary. Reach out to your A-list and better understand what really interests them. Use this insight to setup your campaign from the beginning and watch as both their interest in you and the impact that you make with their followers grow time and time again.
Influencers are a tremendous resource for establishing consistent credibility, authenticity, and traffic that can drive lead conversions and sales opportunities further up the pipe. In order to capture the traffic and engagement potential that Influencer marketing offers, you’ll need to map out a healthy pipeline of influencers with precisely relevant communities, carefully time your nudge with influencers, and build a content pipeline that will offer value to communities on a consistent basis.
To put it more simply, the secret to executing a killer Influencer marketing strategy lies in building authentic relationships with relevant influencers. Don’t let the celebrity endorsement confuse you; actively reach out to new influencers and help them to provide an ongoing authentic experience to their user base.
Pierre-Loïc Assayag is CEO at Traackr. Follow him at @pierreloic