The Complete Guide To Influencer Marketing in 2019

Complete-Guide-to-Influencer-Marketing

What is Influencer Marketing?

In simpler terms, influencer marketing focuses on using key leaders to drive a brand’s message to a specific audience in a broader market. Influencers are inspired, hired or paid to get the word out for you. Influencer marketing also shares a symbiotic relationship with content and social media marketing.

The average influencer campaign has a social media component with influencers spreading your word through their social channels. Several influencer campaigns also have the content element wherein specific content is created for influencers, or they themselves create such content.

In other words, influencer marketing involves marketing those services or products to a targeted audience which has a powerful influence over things others buy. This particular market influence stems typically from a person’s popularity, expertise or reputation. Such influence may emanate from multiple sources because any brand, group or place could be a potential influencer.

Guide To Influencer Marketing

For instance, celebrities often are deployed to market certain brands or products because of their high respectability and/or visibility. When a celebrity uses the product or endorses the brand, the product manufacturer or brand owner gets not only substantial exposure but also the respect that comes from such celebrity endorsement.

Influencer marketing may also be done through bloggers, who are often respected because of their authenticity and because they command loyal followings. Blogger recommendations are often deemed more trustworthy and through the effective use of influencers, companies are can avoid the usual scepticisms and cynicism usually associated with straight marketing messages.

Conventional outbound marketing is beginning to take a backseat nowadays because modern consumers no longer see billboards or view commercials. The consumer today is self-sufficient enough to research a brand on his own or hear about it from someone trustworthy. This is where influencers step into inbound marketing. They generate content about the brand, recommending it to their loyal followers and insert themselves into conversations that surround the brand niche. Thus, an effective influencer can make a marked difference in your competitive advantage.

Importance of Influencer Marketing:

According to a recent study by Tomoson, influencer marketing enhances customer inflow by 51% on an average. This implies more customer spending and enhanced customer loyalty and advocacy for a brand when they receive the approval of their influencers. Moreover, influencer marketing ensures a stronger ROI: The average return is $6.50 for every single dollar the business spends.

However, influencer marketing’s only notable drawback is that you can’t control it like traditional marketing. This is primarily because even though influencers may add to the product’s positive image, those whose reputation and popularity have been tarnished due to legal hassles, for example, are most likely to impact that same product’s image negatively. Thus every marketer who resorts to influencer marketing must also be prepared to deal with any negative fallout if an influencer used by him rejects or even misrepresents his brand, product or service.

Setting Up Influencer Marketing Goals for your Business

Steps to formulate a typical and effective plan for influencer marketing:

1. Goal setting for your campaign:
Before embarking on any influencer marketing program, it is of vital importance to know first that setting up your ultimate business goals matters most.

This is because it’s only when you identify such goals that you will be able to work on your influencer strategy subsequently. Moreover, it’s also mandatory to understand how you will define your marketing outcomes that are related directly to your business goals.

And finally, how to use that particular information to work out your ultimate influencer strategy. In a typical situation, influencer marketing goals focus less on enhancing sales and more on increasing public awareness and buzz.

2. Identification of appropriate influencers:
After your goals have been established, you need to identify the apt influencers by way of extensive demographic and target market research. Even Facebook and Google searches reveal who all influence consumers.

You may even appoint a professional market research firm to do the job for you. Finally, you need to take a call on the number of influencers you wish to target and ultimately select those that meet the goals of your campaign best.

3. Analysis is the key:
This would be followed by analyzing where your influencers gather, and their audience and the messages they are currently spreading. If you carefully study your target influencer’s preferences, it will be easier to communicate with him later, preferably through social media.

Remember, the final goal is to form an organic relationship with the influencer, based not entirely on endorsing and/or selling but to make them your most genuine and vocal advocates.

4. Revisit goals:
Make it a point to revisit your goals periodically to measure the success or failure rates of your influencer marketing program. If your plan doesn’t yield the desired results, start looking for new influencers. However, effective influencers need perpetual wooing for continued support to your company on their websites and blogs.

5. Determine targetable social networks:
For certain brands, a hefty marketing push on 1 or 2 specific social networks works for those campaigns targeting specific demographics. Take Snapchat users for instance.

Since most Snapchat users are below 25 years of age, creating an influencer campaign for Snapchat automatically implies that it will reach out to young people only on its platform.

6. Outline measurable objectives of brand awareness:
An influencer campaign is one of the best tools for improving brand awareness. Thus, the goals for such enhanced brand awareness include: hitting a specific number of impressions on social media; brand mentions (posting a website URL or tagging the authentic brand page); and giveaway with tagging and content sharing enterable in a draw.

7. Set impressions:
Impressions are a record of the number of times your content gets delivered to a feed. This number helps a marketer work out the campaign’s effectiveness and also illustrates if such content has been viewed by the influencer’s audience. Impressions are used best for measuring brand awareness.

8. Boosting SEO:
Influencer marketing keeps working to the benefit of brands even after the campaign ends because sharing on social media helps build their off-page SEO.

Key influencers, who have large social followings aid in boosting your brand to the very top of the results generated by search engines. It also needs to be borne in mind that all your influencers are aware of SEO basics which include site optimization, keywords, and top quality content as also tagging.

How To Find Effective Influencers For Your Brand?

Before starting the hunt for influencers, one needs to know first why they are required. A consumer often trusts third-party recommendations more than what the brand tells about itself.

It’s just like a reliable doctor being recommended by a close and trustworthy friend rather than the doctor telling you that he’s the best. Similarly, the influencer connects your brand to your target audience.

The influencer not only brings his audience but its network, too. The audience’s loyalty to the influencer increases your exposure on social media, drives traffic to your site and finally, gets your product sold by their story or recommendation.

Find Right Influencers For Your Brand

How and where then do you go looking for influencers?

The answer in all probability would be Google. Try searching on Google and you’ll end up with thousands of posts on companies promising access to influencers with the most massive following. But the moot question that arises now is: What specific type of influencer should post about a brand?

That’s why those content creators need to be tapped who will create and circulate authentic and, more importantly, convincing messages about your brand and campaign. In other words, they will be the right match for your brand. Thus, you need to carefully examine what defines your brand’s influencer first and look at the following items:

Context:
Influencers differ from brand to brand because they fit contextually. This is undoubtedly the prime characteristic when you target the appropriate influencer for your product/brand. For instance, Justin Bieber, who has a following over 101.8m million, may not work for your new software because the pre-teen crowd is usually uninterested in software. So, define the context first.

Reach:
Once the contextual fit for the brand has been established, its reach becomes important. This is because they can share some great content or some very positive recommendations that will be heard. Thus for a clothes business that focuses on “tweens,” Justin Bieber may prove successful.

Actionability:
This happens to be the ability of the influencer to get some positive action out of his audience. This characteristic shows naturally when individuals who are contextually aligned with the brand have a more extended reach.

Posting Styles:
If you choose an influencer who usually posts pictures in a consistent style, you can stretch the sophisticated advertisements for your brand. You can even provide some great content for marketing efforts in the future.

It is always prudent to identify those influencers whose posts on social media reflect your brand’s look and feel, no matter if it’s in black and white or colour or airy and light. Their content is bound to blend seamlessly with your feed when shared.

Interest categories and also subcategories:
Categories like fitness gurus, beauty bloggers, and tech enthusiasts are defined clearly. However, they can be refined further with specific subcategories. For instance, if running is taken into account, it will be seen that there is a notable difference between those posting map graphics of their daily runs and sneakers users sharing photos of the latest sneakers for running.

Social Presence:
You have first to consider where your target audiences lie and choose your social media platform accordingly. Middle-aged women don’t usually prefer Snapchat while pre-teens tend to shy away from Facebook. Also, you need to think about what other uses the content may serve. Is it only your exposure that you are looking at? Or, will you be collecting the re-share on your content on the brand’s social channels?

Types of Influencer Marketing

The ways in which a brand can base and create its campaign for influencer marketing are limitless. However, generally speaking, a campaign usually falls within one of the following ten subcategories:

1. Product Placements:
A most popular way by which a brand partners with social media influencers. This involves incorporation of the company’s logo, services or product with the content of a digital influencer in a flattering, engaging or creative manner.

As stars of the social media earn the trust and faith of their followers, product placement is an excellent opportunity for a brand to gain valuable exposure to millions of consumers who are not only engaged but most likely to buy something that is endorsed by their preferred Instagrammer, YouTuber, Snapchatter or Viner.

Some examples would be Instagrammers skillfully including products from Chevrolet, Dunkin’ Donuts and Nike in their Instagram posts.

2. Hashtag / Theme-based Campaigns:
When your marketing campaign focuses on a hashtag or central theme, your brand creates and enhances the campaign momentum. Moreover, it becomes cohesive with other facets of the campaign that are running on multiple platforms on social media.

It also encourages consumers to get involved by using the brand hashtag in content that’s user-generated. When you base, develop and implement your influencer marketing campaign on an attractive branded hashtag, you make way for your brand to initiate an original social conversation. This is more so if the hashtag goes viral.

3. Creative Influencer Campaigns:
Creative campaigns give ample freedom to stars of the social media to create targeted content falling within a specific idea or concept. This campaign type gives a digital influencer the liberty of interpreting themes for creating unique content that’s brand-sponsored basically.

Typical creative campaigns are well-integrated and organic and lead to enhanced engagement levels in the forms of comments, likes as also social sharing from the social media influencer’s subscribers and/or followers.

4. Contests, Sweepstakes, Giveaways:
By hosting events on social media like sweepstakes, giveaways, and contests, it is also possible to create an audible buzz about your brand.

You also foster goodwill among your existing and prospective consumers. It is through these events that you successfully inspire social media users to take specific actions such as brand channel following or increase your company’s exposure by way of branded hashtags.

When you align with social media influencers to promote a contest, you are actually leveraging your company with a social media star’s large follower base and also ensuring that your consumers participate in your campaign. Influencers present your product to their target audience with an incentive for the best performer to win a prize which can be anything from a free sample of the product, a luxury trip or even monetary compensation. It’s also a relatively easier way of identifying potential brand ambassadors and engaging with your influencers.

5. Campaign for Building Social Followers:
To build the follower base on its own social media brand channels, a company often collaborates with social media influencers with a view to exposing a new audience to the social media accounts of a brand.

For instance, in the case of Snapchat Takeovers, a Snapchatter “takes over” a Snapchat account held by a brand for a pre-defined period. This has proved to be a most effective way for businesses to reach out to millions of new followers, who grow their own Snapchat follower base organically.

6. Testing:
Your product gets reviewed and tested in details. In the best cases, there is usually a recommendation from the influencer to buy when the test proves successful.

7. Tutorials:
The influencer demonstrates how to use a specific product. This is a highly popular YouTube method and provides some precious and convincing product information to viewers and enhances sales.

8. Testimonials:
A typical and conventional type of marketing whereby the influencer becomes the official and accepted brand ambassador. This type of influencer marketing campaign is usually long-term cooperation, and even products get designed around their influencer.

9. Events:
In this type of campaign, the influencer is made to visit a company, brand event or store. He shares his viewpoint through videos, photographs or even live streams with his target community making them a part of the exercise, too.

It’s a most effective way of tracking brand growth and hashtags before, during and after an event. In most cases, a unique hashtag is also created for such events.

10. Discount codes:
Discount Codes/Coupons are placed directly on an influencer’s description, image or video. This type of influencer marketing campaign works quite effectively and one can also easily track how often a specific individual code that is used breaks down to each influencer.

The crux of the matter is that influencer marketing and plain plump placement of a product is not the same thing. An influencer is usable in multiple authentic and very creative ways. The ten influencer marketing types mentioned above have so far proved to be the most effective in creating the right strategies for a product or brand.

Getting Started with your 1st Influencer Marketing Campaign
It always needs to be borne in mind that working with influencers for the first time can be nuanced and intricate and need specialized knowledge for its success. First timers, therefore, would do well to engage the services of an experienced and knowledgeable agency for influencer marketing or even a YouTube influencer agency.

Setting Up Your 1st Influencer Marketing Campaign
However, should they wish to do it on their own, they need to consider the following basic aspects when they embark on their maiden influencer marketing campaign:

Do they have an apparent understanding of their campaign goals or what they hope to achieve? How feasible are their goals on every social media channel?
They also need to identify those social media influencers who align best with their brand’s identity; have engaged an audience that will willingly respond to their services or products with high engagement levels among followers.
The first timer also needs to clearly understand how to measure each campaign correctly and how a campaign is measured differently on multiple social media platforms like Instagram, YouTube or Snapchat. Campaign metrics also need to be measured against established KPIs or key performance indicators and optimized accordingly.
Avoid controlling the creative direction, don’t make unreasonable requests or distrust the influencer when developing the campaign’s content and while implementing the campaign.
Research is the Key:
Influencer marketing is also referred to as brand representation. Influencers are the business’ faces. Thus, it is of vital importance that a first timer finds out everything about them before engaging them. Any red flags like controversial opinions and views need to be reconsidered immediately. Additionally, you also need to know on which channels your influencers will be most effective. This may require channel alignment if you wish to get the most of out of the influencer who dominates that platform. The idea is to remember that if your influencer isn’t supporting your objectives, the fault lies with you because you work with your influencer and not vice versa.

Create Great Stories:
Effective storytelling is an inextricable part of any successful marketing campaign because people understand and relate to messages better when thoughts and ideas are woven into a cohesive, comprehensive and comprehensible narrative. Target audiences trust influencers more when they tell a story that’s authentic and humane and which elicit emotions when they address the audience’s interests, wants and needs.

Encourage Creative Freedom:
You have to give your influencers the freedom to address their community in their way, especially when they know the community better than you do. Ask them first how they wish to handle specific campaigns because unnecessary restrictions imposed on them only restrict the campaign’s creative potential. Just brief him about the campaign and conduct periodic reviews to ensure that things are on track.

Involving Influencers:
Transparency always works wonders with influencers. So always keep them in the loop when you make campaign-related decisions. Keep an open mind to suggestions they make because specific influencers who’ve been associated with multiple brands know actually what works. Thus, their involvement in the planning process is important and useful because they offer unique perspectives which make the campaign more effective.

Look Beyond Followers:
It’s always important to look beyond the influencer’s follower population. Here the vital thing is the healthy relationship an influencer has with his audience and which develops through meaningful mutual engagement, debate, and support. Moreover, the engagement rates and types the influencer is getting need to be considered. More importantly, quality plays a vital role because the context of his influence dictates whether or not the campaign can or will convert.

Mind Your Budget:
Influencer prices need to be negotiated because they do affect a campaign’s cost significantly. That’s why finding the perfect balance between collateral materials and monetary compensation to convert your influencers into effective brand advocates is mandatory.

Try Micro-Influencers:
Proper allocation of the marketing budget is essential. It is often seen that micro-influencers with relatively smaller followings yield better results than pseudo-celebrities. Since popular influencers are perpetually in high demand, approaching them could be finally useless whereas a single micro-influencer or group of micro-influencers could yield the desired results of enhanced interaction and higher engagement rates. Here is a very informative guide on micro influencer marketing.

Campaign Monitoring Is A Must:
Isolating the effects of a maiden influencer marketing campaign is of vital importance. That’s why you need to set up tracking codes as also channel reports to know what the ROI is exactly. Using tools such as the Google Analytics Suite helps track your influencer marketing efforts. However, don’t bother with unimportant metrics. Instead, focus on your key objectives.

5 Important Sections of Influencer Marketing
Certain essential aspects need to be considered when an influencer marketing strategy is being developed. These range from the appropriate platforms for each brand to what content it develops. Both agencies and brands need to approach their influencer strategies with an attitude that the most effective influencers add a genuine voice to your brand story, having the greatest overall impact finally. The following are the key components of any successful strategy for influencer marketing:

1. The Objective Comes First:
A brand needs to approach its influencer with a defined set of objectives in order to correctly leverage that influencer’s audience and brand. It needs to be seen first if your goal is to promote sales or to amplify reach or to drive engagement. Since influencers can be categorized into several segments, setting the right KPIs is vital to select the right partner. According to Scrunch blog defining goals for influencer marketing is very important.

Influencers are primarily of four types: Power Influencers who have incredibly high engagement and reach; reaches with moderate engagement and follow that focuses on a specific topic; Engagers with limited reach but with high engagement; and Micro-Influencers or cost-effective thought leaders with relatively smaller followings and who have an engaged, connected and interested audience. Thus, you need to know which influencer type is most suitable for your brand and work out a clear KPI set before starting your influencer campaign.

2. Is the Influencer’s Brand Understood:
Influencers brand themselves with distinct styles and opinions. Therefore, any brand strategy that ignores this will be forced and unauthentic. Influencer marketing is a more involved process than traditional advertising. Thus, marketing organizations need to first learn about the influencer’s brand, interests and character outside of their categories because pros and cons exist in all of them. This due diligence helps better align the brand with the influencer’s and ultimately creates a stronger collaboration. An authentic message combined with the influencers’ convincing endorsement goes a long way in making potential customers opt for a purchase finally. A detailed guide by Forbes about how to grow your personal brand.

3. The Right Content Is Essential:
The influencer space is already a complex one. Thus, it may be more difficult navigating it when you don’t have a concise and clear content strategy. Content types vary, and one content does not fit all brands. It, therefore, becomes important to collaborate with influencers from different segments to create the appropriate and most engaging content while learning what really doesn’t work.

The balance between creating campaigns using influencers and becoming forced or unauthentic is indeed a delicate one. The secret to creating engaging content, therefore, lies in working with influencers on their inherent strengths and letting them create in their respective styles. We have found an article written on thenextweb about how to find the right influencers for your business.

4. Scout Long-Term Partnerships:
Influencer partners who are long-term brand ambassadors usually are better value adders than one-off endorsements. Moreover, if those celebrities who have been endorsing products for a long time, keep switching categories and touting several products simultaneously, usually end up tarnishing their credibility.

If an influencer post conflicting messages, their followers are most likely not to be taken seriously when making a purchase decision. This holds particularly true for Gen Z and Millennial consumers who put authenticity above everything else. The savvy marketer, therefore, looks out for those influencers with strong audiences and who are careful about how they use their influence over their audience.

5. Authenticity is the Buzzword:
The success of an influencer ultimately lies in his authenticity. According to a recent report by eMarketer, 59% of consumers say that advertisements that are out of line with their influencer’s feed sound hollow or look fake. Moreover, ad blocking research shows that consumers are uninterested in digital ads.

This is the main reason why influencer marketing works because audiences believe in influencer opinions. However, on the contrary, if they feel that the influencer’s post is a sham, then the brand’s value is bound to get eroded. In fact, authenticity is actually determining why influencers are becoming choosy about the brands they promote. Some are even refusing to promote brands if they feel that they lack that authentic connection.

The above mentioned key components may be used for identifying key product or brand influencers, either through professional platforms or even manually.

Top 4 Influencer Marketing Strategies that Works
With the unstoppable march of social media, influencer marketing is slowly but steadily gaining importance and has become an indispensable and inextricable part of any marketing strategy. Numerous studies were done recently only to show that brands are increasing investments in influencer marketing. However, it needs to be clearly understood what the right strategies that guarantee the influencer marketing campaign’s success are. The following are some of the most tried and effective ones:

1. Ambassador Programs:
Ambassador programs genuinely help brands amplify their reach and finally boost conversions. When you collaborate with a well-known influencer, you are making him your brand’s face and he will make use of social media for your brand’s promotion. Thus, the audience’s trust in him gets automatically transferred to your brand. It is ideal for long-term returns.

2. Brand Mentions:
The working pattern of brand mentions is somewhat similar to that of ambassador programs. Once you collaborate with your chosen influencer, he starts mentioning your brand in his posts on social media. Your brand’s reach gets greatly enhanced because it’s constantly featured in the influencer’s posts. Brand mentions also increase social engagements substantially. Neil Patel shared a detailed guide on increase ranking by building brand mentions.

3. Discount Codes:
By making use of special discount codes, you not only increase brand awareness but also boost your conversion rates. By offering discount codes to your influencers who in turn pass them to their followers, you’re pushing the influencer’s followers to buy your products. This not only increases sales but ensures brand loyalty also.

4. Guest Posts:
Guest posts help in magnifying the brand’s reach on a much wider scale. These may be utilized in 2 ways: either the influencer writes posts on your website or may post all your brand-related content on his social media pages and blogs. Such posts also increase visibility because they include informative content.

Apart from the four most effective strategies mentioned above, it also pays to identify your most relevant influencers through digital tools like Appinions and SocMetrics. These would make it easier for you to analyze the entire social media landscape for some of the most influential profiles that are based on category, geography and other assorted demographic data.

It would also pay to identify influencers’ preferences by delivering content to your influencers in formats that are more convenient to them, be it video, print or audio. Building cordial relationships with prospective influencers before taking them on officially also adds to their long-term loyalty towards you.

Moreover, you should be able to make it easier for your influencers to access your content so that they can integrate it easily with their Facebook pages and blogs. Using SocialChorus, an online tool would make it easier for you to distribute your content. Finally, it also pays to use relatively minor social networking platforms like Instagram and going by FTC regulations that stipulate that all material connections should be disclosed.

According to e2msolutions guest posting doesn’t work without influencer outreach.

Evergreen 10 Examples of successful influencer marketing campaigns:
The growing popularity of influencer marketing and its adoption by some of the leading brands has created some very successful case studies. The following ten examples will illustrate that.

1. Nikon:
A strategic partnership between Nikon and the Warner Music Group led the former to become the title sponsor of the latter’s SXSW Music Festival. The platform was used to showcase the famous Nikon camera capabilities and quality. Nikon HD-SLR cameras captured live performances, streamed over three nights. Photographers and stations allowed spectators to use these cameras and share pictures on their Facebook accounts later. All performing artists shot photos with Nikon cameras, capturing and sharing their experiences, which got their fans hugely excited about the show. #NikonWarnerSound, a hashtag was created and became a genuinely top trending topic on Twitter.

nikon-warner-music-group-sxsw-partnershipNikon and Warner Music Group Partnership
Result:
Media impressions (46 million); social impressions (166 million); live stream views (500,000 people); photos captured (1,100+); and social posts featuring the #NikonWarnerSound hashtag (over 15,000).

2. Microsoft:
Microsoft used National Geographic’s vast social media audience to start a marketing campaign on Instagram called Make What’s Next. The campaign aimed at encouraging young girls to take up work in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.

Microsoft’s Make What’s Next campaign in collaboration with National Geographic
30 pictures shot by well-known photographers were posted on 5 National Geographic Instagram channels. Each shot featured a story of a famous female adventurer or scientist. Real stories on the human experience were also displayed as sponsored posts, helping the company build long-term brand awareness among its followers.

Result:
Microsoft got over 3.5 million likes on the 30 displayed photos; 1,000 + fan posts on Instagram with the hashtag #MakeWhatsNext.

3. British Airways:
The airlines’ campaign UnGround Innovation Lab is truly a trendsetter. A British Airways flight carrying a group of 100 influencers, thought leaders and noted thinkers from RocketSpace, Google, and the Silicon Valley Bank flew from Silicon Valley. The objective was to test their brainstorming skills and to show how some great ideas could be generated when great minds worked together.

British Airways’ trendsetting midair campaign, UnGround Innovation Lab
Result:
22 concepts geared towards helping Science Technology Engineering Math (STEM)-driven people to use their skills effectively developed. It brought considerable media attention as big names were involved and created a very positive and powerful brand image of British Airways.

4. Glossier:
This New York-based cosmetic and beauty startup has achieved cult status overnight among its super fans group and micro-influencers. It hasn’t used stars and celebrities. On the contrary, “regular and average women” are spreading the brand awareness. In fact, 90% of the company’s revenue is generated by its high engagement fans.

beauty brand Glossier is ripping up the marketing playbookWhy direct-to-consumer beauty brand Glossier is ripping up the marketing playbook
They just follow all product announcements, event invitations and posts on social media and subsequently forward such brand messages to all their followers via social media and by word-of-mouth. Here, every woman is an influencer.

5. Buick:
Collaborated with prominent Pinfluencers in the spheres of style and design for creating a new brand image for Encore, its new luxury model. The campaign, Pinboard to Dashboard featured outsiders instead of influencers operating in the automobile segment industry to showcase Encore from different perspectives. Pinfluencers shared views on how the car’s interior and exterior look on their personal Pinterest boards.

The Buick Pinboard to Dashboard Campaign
Result:
17 million+ unique followers and visitors generated across Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

6. Boxed Water:
This company is a packaged water seller but also values environmental conservation highly. They joined up with the National Forest Foundation, creating a campaign called Retree Project. The campaign is about Boxed Water planting two trees for every Instagram photo posted using the unique hashtag #Retree. Noted Instagram influencers were requested to post and subsequently encourage their followers to repost.

The Boxed Water Retree Project
Result:
Over 500,000 trees planted in the Sierra National, Uinta-Wasatch-Cache and Stanislaus National Forests.

7. Sephora:
A France-based cosmetic store chain, Sephora started Beauty Talk, an insider community which writes frank reviews on its products, helping people to buy according to their individual needs. Free samples are also sent to noted beauty bloggers in return for authentic reviews, which are much appreciated by Sephora’s customers.

8. Mercedes:
Joined hands with Loki, a wolf made famous by Instagram and used VR technology for creating its marketing campaign titled #MCPhotoPass. Video content was created for YouTube Channel and professional photographers were employed to shoot photos for the Mercedes Instagram account. These would capture the glamour of the Mercedez-Benz brand.

The Mercedes #MCPhotoPass campaign featuring Loki the wolf and a Mercedes vehicle on snowy terrain
The dog and its owner were invited to drive a Mercedes GLS through Colorado’s snowy Crested Butte mountains. The #MBPhotoPass campaign aimed to collate multiple influencers and to give out fresh perspectives on Mercedes cars to different segments of customers.

Result:
173 million impressions on its Instagram account; likes/comments — 2.3 million; earned media — $4 million

9. Zara:
Apparel retailer Zara teamed up with leading Instagrammers who focus on fashion on a design campaign, #iamdenim to showcase their latest line of clothing. It used Teesh Rosa, a leading Instagram fashion influencer, to convey the message that its products are more reasonably priced as compared to other high-end fashion brands. The campaign aimed at producing clothes for real people and to project that the brand worked with real people, too. Moreover, the brand’s full creative control was handed over to the influencers.

Zara’s #iamdenim campaign that featured real brands for real people
Result:
4.6 million new followers in the Instagram account in just 8 months!

10. Skype:
The campaign that Skype ran was called Your City, Your Passion. It aimed at boosting the Skype brand and principal mission to “bring people together whenever apart.” 10 influencers were chosen from all over the world and told to share stories on why their home cities make them proud.

Skype created a competition for these 10 influencers, inviting them to create content on its behalf and also offered participants the chance to win a one-on-one Skype session with a noted expert in a particular field.

Result:
Downloads of Skype for mobile phones increased by 250%.

Top 10 successful influencer marketing campaigns examples of 2018
The year 2018 too, has seen its share of some very successful influencer marketing campaigns already. The top 10 are summarized below:

1. Sony Xperia Z5:
Sony Mobile in France wanted to promote its Sony Xperia Z5, known for its powerful 5X zoom lens. The mobile’s camera was used to shoot a highly detailed photograph, following which it was cut it into several smaller shots and organized into five layers.

Campaign for the Sony Xperia Z5
Subsequently, more than 100 Instagram accounts were created and the tag joined together. Viewers could use these tags to zoom on parts of the original photo to see more than fifty hidden surprises. Thirty influencers worked simultaneously to spread the word about the competition. The aim was to create a campaign that the audience could interact with and drive higher engagement levels.

Result: 17 million potential contacts generated.

2. Youfoodz:
Australia-based fresh meal manufacturer, Youfoodz wanted to promote its new winter menu through Instagram influencers. It chose influencers working in the food, health and fitness niches. 81 influencers were chosen, 167 content pieces were created and 162 + Instagram stories were created. The campaign’s aim was to use influencers relevant to YouFoodz’s niche and to reach out to a highly relevant audience to maximize ROI.

Result: 70,000 direct engagements on campaign content which also yielded 507,909 total impressions; Almost 1.5 million people reached across Instagram and Facebook.

3. Time Warner Business Class:
A classic example of a B2B organization working with influencers to promote its businesses. The campaign created video testimonials featuring some existing SMB customers including Spectrum Enterprises and Green Dot Public Schools. Each video highlighted the importance of Time Warner’s services that ensure business success where existing customers talked about how Time Warner Cable helped them achieve their goals. Moreover, each video ended with a CTA or call-to-action encouraging viewers to download an e-book titled, Mighty Mid-Market for more information about Time Warner Business Class’ connectivity solutions.

Result: A 78% increase in sales of connectivity solutions.

4. Lenovo:
With a view to increasing awareness about its new YOGA 3 Pro as also YOGA Tablet 2 Pro, Lenovo used trendsetting millennial showcasing their “Day with YOGA” through authentic blog posts and videos. The products were featured as go-to tools to help influencers in their creative endeavours with each influencer also promoting a giveaway contest for his readers. The campaign’s aim was to get influencers to showcase as many Lenovo products in use as possible.

Lenovo Day with YOGA influencer marketingLenovo Day with YOGA influencer marketing
Result: 51 million social impressions generated; Ranked 8th on Twitter as the most trending national topic; 61,000+ entries received from the giveaway.

5. Choice Hotels:
Choice Hotels wanted its positive perception, consumer awareness and consumer consideration to spiral for its brands, Comfort Inn and Cambria. It was decided to deploy authentic influencer content and influencers were chosen across various categories including mothers and business travellers. They were invited to select properties belonging to Choice Hotels throughout the country and subsequently shared their firsthand experiences with their respective audiences by way of blog posts, photos and videos. It was devised to create unique experiences that influencers could share with their audiences. Give them the freedom to use their own voice to maintain authenticity.

Choice Hotels influencer marketingChoice Hotels Influencer Marketing
Result: More than 250 content pieces created; Combined reach of 40 million plus achieved; 7,000 engagements generated on Instagram from 40 posts only.

6. Pedigree Dog Food:
Pedigree engaged influencers, showing their support for a cause to humanize the Pedigree Dog Foods brand. A campaign titled, Buy a Bag, Give a Bowl was started with appropriate influencers amplifying it. The word spread through the blog and social media posts as also video content. Touching stories about dogs were told with influencers encouraging pet owners to buy a bag of Pedigree. This they said, would give a bowl of food to a dog in need for every bag purchased from a particular store. An excellent example of how to appeal to the emotions of your target audience by supporting a good cause and also encouraging influencers to share stories that strike a chord.

The Pedigree campaign strikes an emotional chord
Result: Pedigree recorded a 1.3 times increase in total media value; More than 43 million impressions generated; 62,800+ content views and 9,300 blog post engagements achieved.

7. ThredUP:
The biggest store online for consignment and thrift, ThredUp wanted to improve acquisitions and increase awareness through influencers. The objective was to start the campaign after the holidays gave over because, during this period, people often struggle financially. ThredUP hooked up with Reelio and high-quality influencer videos were created for target audiences during this timeframe. Fifteen influencer videos were created and proved that video-based influencer marketing is the most effective way of engaging audiences and reaching out to them.

Result: Videos were viewed more than 364,000 times; 2 million anticipated impressions generated.

8. Paul Mitchell:
Paul Mitchell appointed influencers to promote its support for a worthy cause. A campaign titled GivingismyStyle was started. This pledged to donate $1 to 1 of 5 charities every time the hashtag, #GivingismyStyle was used. The influencers were asked to host Twitter chats as also to create content for social media that featured Paul Mitchell products. Subsequently, all influencers created posts with CTAs asking their followers how they use the #GivingismyStyle hashtag. The campaign encouraged its target audience to engage with it by offering them an opportunity to win free products if they supported the cause.

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Result: 42 blog posts created generated more than 16,000 posts on social media and 152 million impressions.

9. Bigelow Tea:
Bigelow Tea has used influencers to promote healthy living. Its aim was to mix emotional occasions with its healthy tea brands to address its target audience. Influencers were accordingly instructed to showcase tea drinking’s emotional appeal as also its health value. This campaign proves that when influencers are allowed creative freedom, they usually come up with some very unique ideas that appeal instantly to target customers.

Bigelow Tea’s efforts to showcase tea drinking’s emotional appeal and health value
Result: A 18.5% increase in sales; 32,000+ blog post engagements; 44 million impressions; and a 3.5% increment in overall media value.

10. Baxter of California:
A men’s skincare and grooming products manufacturer, Baxter of California wanted to raise its brand awareness through a Father’s Day sale. Its influencers created more than 250 blog and social media posts as also original photos. The campaign’s aim was to ensure success by giving its audience something in return for their involvement. This it did by way of discount code promotion and limited time offers that drove higher engagement rates and sales.

Father’s Day campaign by Baxter of California
Result: 8.3 million people reached; Engagement rate was 648% higher than actually projected.

Top 10 Influencer Marketing Trends for 2018
As 2018 gallops ahead, we now need to take a look at the top trends that are likely to dominate influencer marketing during the course of the year.

The following trends are expected:

1. Influencer Marketing Will Touch More Brands:
With businesses getting some great returns from their influencer marketing initiatives – an average of $7.65 on every $1 spent — marketers are going to allocate higher budgets for their brands when it comes to both content and influencer marketing this year.

According to Business2community an average ROI of $7.65 on every $1 spent using influencer marketing.

2. Brands To Engage More Intimately With Influencers:
The space for influencer marketing will get more crowded. Thus, it will be imperative for brands to have clear policies in place in terms of their engagement with influencers. One-off campaigns with influencers are unlikely to happen and long-term relationships with brand influencers are called for. Moreover, those influencers, who are also brand ambassadors, are expected to increase brand value because they are simultaneously present on multiple social media platforms, which makes showcasing a brand easier across such platforms. Influencer demand will also rise and experienced influencers will have a competitive edge.

3. The Micro-Influencer Will Rule:
It is predicted that despite having limited followings, the micro-influencer will often have a higher engagement rate than a mega influencer. Moreover, they are more trustworthy and authentic. Thus greater engagement with them is expected and brands partnering with them shall gain. However, choosing the right micro-influencer is important.

4. There Will Be More Videos:
New platforms are emerging for influencer marketing. This trend will continue in 2018. High quality and genuinely creative content will garner more engagement and attention. Since video-based marketing is still popular, videos will be integrated more in marketing campaigns to increase digital reach. This is also because 90% of social media users are greatly influenced to buy products after they get to see what it’s about. Since live-streaming, looping and video apps ensure higher visibility, they are going to be used more.

5. Influencer Content To Be Preferred More:
Authenticity makes or breaks any campaign. This year, influencers will take more content control. The right influencer understands your brand and, more importantly, the market. They will share their ideas about your campaign and its engagement with their followers. Take note of their valuable insights and develop long-term relationships with them by communicating more and better with them. Avoid over restrictive guidelines and involve them more with the content.

6. Influencer Marketing To Work More For Retail:
With more and more fashion brands using influencers to connect with their target audiences, the power of influencers on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest is surely going to grow. Influencers on social media will have more say on buying trends in 2018 as compared to celebrities because studies reveal that 92% of consumers trust influencers more than celebrity endorsements.

7. Instagram Will Shine:
Statistics show that 95 million videos and photos are posted on Instagram daily and 4.2 billion likes on posts are recorded every day. Thus, brands will increase their spending on social influencers working with Instagram, and who will achieve higher engagement rates than Twitter. With 25 million businesses already having Instagram profiles, this figure is also sure to grow in 2018.

8. ESports To Attract More Investments:
Although a new domain, Esports will deploy influencer marketing extensively and is expected to grow to a $1.5 billion industry by 2020. This is more so because competitive gaming is a growing and successful alignment of the passion points of gaming enthusiasts with the right brands is something to watch during 2018. So players, sports writers, commentators and broadcasters could be major influencers in this space and who have some fabulous engagement rates with their followers.

9. ROI Measurement To Be Vital:
In influencer marketing, measurability is still a major challenge. This is what makes companies hesitant to work this space because they can’t track returns. However, brands track results through comments on posts, likes, coupon code usage, hashtags use, clickthroughs and retweets. 2018 should see marketers using more efficient programs and tools to track a campaign’s success.

10. B2B Influencer Marketing Will Rise:
So far, influencer marketing has grown mainly in the B2C segment. However, with multiple B2B brands also experimenting with influencer marketing, the trend will shift to such companies appointing their own employees as effective influencers. A significant increase is expected in programs based on employee advocacy.

Conclusion
The final question that now comes to mind is: What does the future hold for influencer marketing? Experts feel that brands which resort to influencer marketing should know a few things before getting into it. First, as thousands of products get launched, the digital noise is going to increase exponentially. So brands need to create the right and most effective advocate networks, influencers and communities to stay above the noise and make themselves heard.

Numerous studies show that 67% of marketing firms will increase their budgets for influencer marketing. The influencer marketing agency and platforms population too is set to double in the foreseeable future. This has been revealed in a study conducted by the Influencer Marketing Hub last year.

In sum, the future will be marked by brands viewing influencer marketing with due importance. Even though locating the right influencers is a major challenge, efforts for the same will be perpetually on. Authenticity will be the order of the day and influencers will be the main controllers and custodians of such authenticity. Moreover, with their steadily growing demand, marketers too, need to work out adequate compensation packages for them.

Measurement of ROI and true influence has been somewhat grey areas in marketing but hopefully should record some streamlining and growth in the foreseeable future. The key deliverable final message is: Influencer marketing has arrived and is here to stay.

The Complete Guide To Influencer Marketing in 2019
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