Explore the best creative works
Agencies for Growth Festival Banner

Influencer marketing is only effective if the influencer is actually influential

This promoted content is produced by a member of The Drum Network.

The Drum Network is a paid-for membership product which allows agencies to share their news, opinion and insights with The Drum's audience. Find out more on The Drum Network homepage.

Last week I spotted a tweet that had me nodding along in agreement.

Love Island contestants are a prime example of popular social media stars whose attempts at selling products are likely to leave marketers feeling mugged off. You could pay large sums for access to millions of Instagram users, only for a small percentage to go ahead and buy your product or service.

Take Megan Barton Hanson, for example.

Have you considered what percentage of her audience is made up of women with an interest in fashion and beauty versus the percentage of men following for her sexy photos?

Just because someone has lots of followers doesn’t mean that they’ll be able to persuade those followers to buy the stuff they promote.

A social media personality’s audience is just one aspect of an influencer campaign’s success. You also need to take into account how trustworthy the influencer is, how passionate they’ll be about your product, and how likely their audience is to aspire to be like them.

The rise of the micro-influencer

It’s no longer a secret that influencers with more modest followings have the potential to reap far greater results than those with tens of thousands of followers.

The boundaries are blurred, but generally, a micro-influencer tends to have fewer than 10,000 followers and these figures are made up of loyal and devoted fans with a genuine interest in what the person has to say, rather than hate-watchers or those clicking ‘follow’ because they’ve seen the influencer in the news and they’re wondering what all the fuss is about.

Micro-influencers can see 60% higher engagement rates with campaigns that are 6.7 times more efficient per engagement than influencers with larger followings.

Authenticity is crucial

The majority of social media users know an ad when they see it, even if the influencer in question doesn’t disclose that they’ve been paid. As a result, users are beginning to favour influencers with an air of authenticity, honesty and believability about them.

If an influencer’s love for a product feels convincing, their fans are more likely to go ahead and make a purchase. Whereas if it seems like the influencer is only promoting a product because they’ve been paid, the item in question isn’t going to be shown in the most positive light.

Choose influencers with a specialist subject

The marketers at Toilet Duck and Zoflora must have been rubbing their hands together when Instagram cleaning-addict Mrs Hinch hit the big time this year, with many cleaning products flying off the shelves as a result of her influence.

I’ve recently been wondering if this is all part of a new Netflix series or VICE magazine experiment called Making An Influencer in which a group of marketers are tasked with making cleaning products cool. They’ll cherry pick an attractive Essex woman with a charismatic personality, give her an Instagram account, put her on daytime TV, and completely transform the cleaning product market.

Boasting more than 1 million followers having gone viral over the summer, it’s safe to say that Mrs Hinch can no longer be classed as a micro-influencer, but she’s a prime example of someone who has a specialist subject, a cult following, and a real knack for influencing her audience. Her ability to convince people to part with their cash is so strong that some cleaning products are now out of stock.

Tell a compelling story

Straightforward product placement isn’t as effective as it used to be. Getting your influencer to tell a compelling story about your product or service is likely to reap much better results. Play the long game. Lead up to the big reveal. Influencer marketing should be a marathon; not a sprint.

For example, let’s imagine you’re marketing a home decor business and you’re trying to increase the sale of wall art. You could track down a first time buyer who’s built up a modest following on Instagram having used the platform to document the progress of their new build.

Get them to post something along the lines of “This wall is looking very bare! Any ideas of how I could decorate it?”

Send them shopping, whether online or in-store. Get them to document the different options they consider. Lead up to them eventually purchasing a product and showing it in situ for the big reveal.

Don’t be afraid of influencers who charge more and promote less

Don’t automatically be put off if a micro-influencer quotes a price that you’d usually expect from someone with a much larger following.

When your average reality TV star promotes a product in every other Instagram post, this has the potential to evoke suspicion and resentment amongst their followers. Sure, your product might get seen by thousands or even millions of people, but if these people are tired of being advertised to, the results of your campaign may disappoint you.

In contrast, if you can find a small-time influencer who blogs about a specialist subject, has built a strong community, and only promotes products that are highly relevant to their audience, this could have a much greater impact.

Some of these influencers will promote products and services so infrequently that they’ll charge more for access to their audience than you might expect. But if their followers are more likely to trust their sponsored content due to its infrequency, you’re onto a winner.

Jenni Hill, content executive, Run2 Digital

By continuing to use The Drum, I accept the use of cookies as per The Drum's privacy policy