26 Oct 2016 18:45 IST

Demystifying influencer marketing

Word-of-mouth advertising is a powerful marketing tool. Influencer marketing is WOM advertising 2.0

Word-of-mouth (WOM) advertising has always been the most powerful marketing tool. And influencer marketing is WOM advertising 2.0.

In simple terms, it means shaping the opinions of your brand using digital influencers amidst potential customers. For a brand, a digital influencer is someone who can help increase the business and help an organic word-of-mouth spread in the influencer’s circle. This is in exchange for monetary benefits or for providing free products/services, after which they will talk about your brand and recommend you to their followers (the brand’s potential customers).

Given that influencer marketing is now the hottest new trend in the marketing space, all top brands are using this method to reach out to their potential audience. However, just like any new trend, brands too have plenty of questions about how it works and how to go about creating an influencer campaign.

Why use influencer marketing?

Given that WOM marketing generates more sales than paid advertising, more brands are beginning to think about influencer marketing as part of their branding strategy. In the last 12-16 months, we have seen many interesting influencer marketing campaigns in India run by the likes of Cadbury, Allen Solly, Ford and others. This also helps tackle the issues of ad blockers, which are expanding in reach.

How do I identify the right influencer?

Influencers are broadly divided into three categories:

~ Key / celebrity influencers - These include celebrities, industry and thought leaders, and leading bloggers.

~ Social influencers - Individuals who have significant online influence; simply put, social media celebrities.

~ Peer influencers - Closest to the consumer circle, like family, friends and colleagues. This is a very relevant circle and closest to the conversion funnel.

The influencers typically focus on a particular area like food, parenting, fitness, fashion, e-commerce or technology . Relevant influencers are usually shortlisted based on the brand, its business and the marketing objective. Depending on the target audience, geography and demographics, the right set of influencers are then chosen.

For example, a new restaurant looking to launch an influencer campaign will engage with food bloggers, who can cover the brand on their blogs and social media channels. Social and peer influencers work best for contests based on twitter or Facebook, that will help create a buzz about the brand.

How are influencers shortlisted?

For any campaign, selecting the right influencer and partnering with them is crucial. Checking the influencer’s reach is the first thing you need to do. Depending on her channels and reach, rate the influencer based on the following metrics-

1) MOZ domain authority: It reflects the popularity of the blog, and represents the importance of the web page on the internet.

2) Quality of content: This is very crucial. Right content quality can inspire the audience to take action.

3) Unique visitors: In addition to the page views and traffic that bloggers draw to their website, unique visitors help spread the brand’s story to the target audience. Size and quality of followers is an important metric to consider while shortlisting.

4) Relevance to the brand: Possibly the most important factor is picking the most relevant blogger for the campaign. The right candidate will help push the brand message to his/her target audience.

5) Previous work: This gives you a sense of the blogger’s work. Previous performance data, such as social media engagement and the number of likes and shares on their blogs can help you narrow your choice.

Return on investment

“What is the ROI I can expect through influencer marketing?” is the most-asked question by brands. Influencer marketing helps in brand building, loyalty, social media engagement and in the mid to long term, even helps sales and revenue grow . But in the short term, brands should not expect a large spike in the transactions. What they can, and should, expect is authentic word of mouth marketing with their target audience.

Apart from creating amazing content, influencer marketing also helps drive traffic to the website/app, increases social media engagement in terms of shares, likes, and clicks on links to the article, total impressions, higher ranking through quality backlinks (SEO), growth in organic traffic and eventually, sales.

Brand examples

Influencer marketing can be used by varied brands in multiple ways. For example, a start-up or a new product/service launch can be enabled via influencer marketing — for examples, On1y Spices Launch .

An existing brand can leverage it to promote a new product line or category — Gehna launched its new line of jewellery through influencers . Influencers are a great way to amplify an existing social media or integrated campaign. For instance, we are currently running a campaign for Craftsvilla to amplify their TV and digital campaign.

Here is a list of top influencer campaigns that ran in India in 2015 to give you a better idea. If you are ready to get started, here are 5 tips for your first influencer campaign .