Is Influencer Marketing worth the hype?

By Katerina Mansour - 30 March 2020

Staying relevant and visible in front of your target audience is always a priority for all businesses, especially so in a time of crisis where face to face interactions are rarer. We explore how influencer marketing can provide new solutions to this key issue.

The rise of social media has completely disrupted traditional marketing tactics. With apps like Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter and Snapchat installed on practically everyone’s phones, businesses now have endless opportunities to reach their target audiences. Over the past few years, influencer marketing has been increasingly used by brands of all sizes to promote their goods and services to audiences around the world.

Influence who? Influence you!

Defining what an influencer is comes with some debate and disagreement. How many followers and brand deals do you need to have? Are all influencers equal in the eyes of the consumer? All in all, an influencer is simply someone who is able to encourage (or discourage) viewers to buy a product or service by reviewing and showcasing it on social media. Instagram has been a haven for influencers, but YouTube and Facebook are also highly used for this type of marketing.

The influencer status is coveted by many. After all, who doesn’t want to be paid to promote products online from the comfort of your home? Beyond being the subject of envy, influencers have solidified their position in the business world as being an effective channel for companies to reach a wider audience and increase their sales. This new business model has been put to the test throughout the world and across industries. From VPNs to beauty products to mobile games, the possibilities seem endless.

Influencers are becoming increasingly relevant for B2B businesses too. More and more industry experts are sharing their knowledge through LinkedIn and other platforms, building engaged audiences in a professional setting. In the next few years, turning these experts into brand ambassadors could become a commonly used strategy to the same level as retail influencer marketing is today.

Making influencer marketing as easy as 1,2,3

Image result for hivency

Several startups have recently emerged to help marketers navigate this new field. Among theme is Hivency, which was rated by Early Metrics and made it in the top 20% of all audited startups. The company develops a web platform and mobile app that matches a brand’s marketing campaign to a relevant influencer. It focuses on micro-influencers, who can sign up to the platform for free. Once a campaign has been launched with an influencer, the brand can track its progress and their ROI.

Among the startup’s strengths, we noted the optimal timing of their market entry: influencer marketing is booming right now and providing a solution to help optimise this process for brands is key. Indeed, KBV Research predicts the influencer marketing platform market will be worth $26.4 billion by 2025.

Hivency recently raised €4 million to expand its platform and its team, further illustrating the strong potential of the influencer marketing sector.

So, is influencer marketing really worth all the hype?

Is influencer marketing truly a more powerful tool than traditional advertisement? We spoke with Elise Boukhechem, Hivency’s B2B content manager, to determine whether or not influencers can make marketing strategies more efficient:

“Influencer marketing is a powerful communication channel for brands. Indeed, with digital, consumer behaviour has changed. Consumers want more authenticity. According to Rakuten Advertising, 80% of consumers made a purchase recommended by an influencer. While 47% of consumers also consult blogs for inspiration and to discover trends, 37% of connected French people said they don’t like traditional advertising (source: Kantar Media).”

A few of the advantages linked to influencer marketing that Boukhechem brought up include:

– The ability to communicate on multiple social networks and adapt your communication according to your audience

– A better return on investment: influencer marketing has the ability to generate 11 times the ROI of other forms of advertising

– A strong bond built with consumers, who can be targeted more easily and in a more personable way

This last point is particularly important. Successful influencers are able to form strong relationships with their followers by interacting with them on a regular basis. They share their daily lives with their viewers and establish what almost feels like a friendship between them and the person watching behind their screen. Indeed, there’s something more personal and real about watching content from a social media-native influencer rather than from a typical celebrity such as Hollywood actors or pop singers. Because of this, a sense of trust is built over time and can extend to the brands or products associated with the influencer.

However, this trust can easily be broken. Influencers must be careful to only promote products or services they have vetted and fully believe in. Otherwise, their following can quickly turn on them (as proven by recent influencer scandals).

Mitigating the risks associated with influencer marketing

Indeed, there have been many negative stories coming from the influencer world linked to scams or deceptive campaigns. Many brand deals have also gone wrong, with relations between the brand and the influencer turning sour. When it comes to mitigating these risks, Hivency’s spokesperson emphasised choosing the right influencer as a key step:

“In order to identify the most effective and relevant type of influencer for your influencer marketing strategy, you first need to determine your objectives, the target of your products/services and the actions to be taken. It is also necessary to study the influencers’ communities to ensure that the brand’s audience matches the chosen influencer’s audience.”

In addition to this, the startup also highlighted the importance of open and honest communication with influencers:

“Influencers must be given a concise, clear and precise brief, without taking away their creativity by being too directive. Leaving them a margin of creativity is very important so that they feel free and [stay] original and credible with their community. If you have a relationship of trust with the influencers you work with, then they are unlikely to allow themselves to disparage your product or brand.”

A well-nurtured relationship with a relevant influencer can have a tremendously positive impact on a company. As the influencer’s following grows, so does the brand’s potential client base. So, while we can’t promise influencers are the end-all-be-all of digital marketing, they are certainly a promising channel to add to your marketing mix. Luckily, startups like Hivency are making it easier for brands to leverage this trend.

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