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What is Influencer Marketing and what it means for your business?

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By: Marcia Bent – Chief Executive Officer – Think Premium!

We are now in the day and age where businesses are creating pages on social media platforms to increase their brand exposure and visibility in hopes of increasing their sales. After all, 95% of adults between the ages of 18 – 34 years of age reported that they used and are more likely to follow a brand on social media (MarketSherpa, 2015). ‘Influencer Marketing’ is a recent concept that has been introduced through the advent of Social Media, however, it is an area that still has a bit of ambiguity around it, especially in Jamaica. In this article, we will be defining what Influencer Marketing is, the difference between it, ‘Content Marketing’, ‘Authority Marketing,’ and ‘Celebrity Endorsement,’ important statistics to note about Influencer Marketing on Social Media and what it means for your business.

With Social Media Platforms like Facebook continuing to be the most widely used platform worldwide (Lister, 2017). Who is the voice that is behind a lot of the content that persons follow, share, and engage with on Social Media? Those persons are called ‘Influencers.’

According to Vaynerchuck (2016) “the cheapest form of arbitrage for attention at the lowest possible cost right now is Influencers.” He explained that Influencers are persons who share or create content around the body of topics for discussion that are centered around product or service that you are trying to promote on Social Media Platforms. “Influencers reach a lot of people (often more than you do), and they have the ability to influence people’s opinions” (Enge, 2012). For that reason, Influencer Marketing can be deemed as “the process of developing relationships with influential people that can lead to their assisting you in creating visibility for your product or service. This type of marketing depends on your having something great to offer your potential customers and the audience of the influencer, and it also depends on you building a great relationship with the influencer as well” (Enge, 2012). This could be celebrities or regular persons who gained popularity on those platforms for creating or curating content.

(See Figure 1 in the Slideshow – for a summary photo of the impact of Influencer Marketing)

Content Marketing is the creation of “a significant amount of high-quality written specifically for your target audience and through that content creation forms a legion of fans who are eager to consume what you create” (Witty, 2017). This source eluded that this content can be pictures, snaps, YouTube or Periscope videos, Instagram or Snapchat stories, blog posts, webinars, books or podcasts. The persons that create that legion of fans through their content become the Influencers for that subject matter. “Authority marketing is leveraging your knowledge and experience to gain leadership status in your marketplace” (Personal Branding Blog, 2014). Authorities frequently provide useful information to their audience – “information which solves problems offers solutions and addresses needs” (Personal Branding Blog, 2014). Content Marketing is one of the pillars for Authority Marketing and apart of Authority Marketing is to utilize referrals gained from Influencers (Witty, 2017). Having said that, the difference between Influencer Marketing, Content Marketing, and Authority Marketing is Content Marketing is the predecessor for both Influencer Marketing and Authority Marketing. You need to create that dedicated legion of fans over time through creating meaningful and appreciated content to become an Influencer. Authorities need to create appreciated content and be given referrals by Influencers to be perceived as an Authority in the field.

(See Figure 2 in the Slideshow- The relationship between Content Marketing, Influencer Marketing and Authority Marketing.)

It should not be confused with Celebrity Endorsement either, which is more commonly used in Jamaica. Celebrity Endorsement “attaches the fame of a celebrity to a brand or product” (Geppert, 2016). Here is an example of Celebrity Endorsement: Dutty Berry gets hired by a company or Association to do an advertisement during his vlog or during an advertisement for an upcoming event. Dutty Berry doesn’t have to know about how the event is being set up, what will be serving at the bar during the event, the hassle that persons may experience at the location where they would go to purchase tickets for the event, or work that went into booking the labour to work during and to set up the event. He just has to promote it in the requisite environments and read the script that the company or Association organizing the event gave him to his followers or in the media. As Geppert (2016) explains “it’s a message from the brand to them, using [Dutty Berry] as a messenger.”

Influencer Marketing would have been to use someone who is not a celebrity but has become popular for creating content around a particular area of interest and who is a specialist in that area to promote a product related to that area. For instance, Dutty Berry (who is a Jamaican Vlogger who discusses current events in a funny way) discussing the latest video editing software or smartphone that he uses for creating his vlogs and the benefits that he gained from using it during his vlog would be Influencer Marketing. This is because he actually has experience in using software or phones to create his vlogs, interacts with his fans (whether through vox pop polls, checking his comments, tailoring his content or when they are uploaded to suit his target audience. Dutty Berry can use his own words and experiences to promote that video editing software or smartphone used and its features from start to finish. As Geppert (2016) states “from start to end, the message is considered [his], and . . . [that message is given] a certain credibility and authenticity that celebrity endorsement rarely emulates.”

There is a fine line between Influencer Marketing and Celebrity Endorsement but the difference in the quality of the results are great. Consequently, it is up to the marketer to be deliberate in the way that they want an Influencer to deliver the message and if it matches an area that they are likely to specialize in and use on their own.

Statistics from Duran (2017) and Burgess (2016) illustrates what Influencer Marketing can mean for businesses:

  • Roughly 71% of consumers are more likely to make a purchase based on a Social Media Reference in 2017 (Duran, 2017) while 74% of consumers did that in 2016 (Burgess, 2016). This can be manifested in the hype around the latest iPhone or Samsung Galaxy smartphones. Persons learn so much about those devices through social media that by the time they are ready to make a purchase they have a firm and clear idea about the device that they wish to purchase and in fact purchase that device despite other similar smartphones that may have been promoted in that store or dealer at the time.
  • 57% of beauty and fashion companies use influencers as part of their marketing campaigns in 2016 and Influencers make 86% of the beauty and fashion content on social media which may very well have been consumed by 86% of the women who consult with social media before making a purchase (Duran, 2017). This can be observed when a woman is looking for a new haircut for instance. They check Social Media (whether it is YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, etc.) and check out the images of styles done on actual customers by a particular hairdresser that may have been referred by an Influencer that they follow or images of styles worn by a particular celebrity or Influencer that they admire before getting that hair style.
  • Consequently, companies can potentially gain 650% of each dollar spent on Influencer Marketing if it is done effectively in their company. This is because persons are likely to trust a product or service that they see someone that they know or admire using that product or service. Influencers – by creating content that is appreciated by their legion of followers – gain the admiration of the persons who follow them. Thus making it easier for a brand to reach the persons that they follow by gaining the approval and participation of the Influencer.

(See Figure 3 in the Slideshow – Infographic on the important Influencer Marketing Statistics for 2017 from Duran (2017)and Burgess (2016).

Bringing it all together

Influencer Marketing is the partnership of a business and an Influencer for them to use their product or service produced by that business and refer their followers in their content to consume that product or service. Content Marketing is the foundation for Influencer Marketing because the regular creation of popularly consumed content gains the legion of followers for an Influencer. Influencer Marketing and Content Marketing then acts as some of the pillars for Authority Marketing because the referrals of the Influencer and the content (the images, etc. about the product or service created by the company) help to turn that company into an Authority in the eyes of the legion of followers that the Influencer has. There is a fine line, however, between it and Celebrity Endorsement so Marketers need to be strategic and thorough in how it should be implemented and if it matches the intended results for it to be effective while still maintaining the authenticity of the message and the Influencer in that area.

With that being considered, Influencer Marketing can open doors for a company to reach a target a that they may have had a challenge in reaching on their own. It is a worthwhile investment for a brand to consider in their Marketing Campaigns.

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Marcia Bent is the Chief Executive Officer of Think Premium! Think Premium! is a Marketing company that provides ‘Premium’ Promotional Hostesses, Promotional Hosts and Brand Ambassadors for companies that have or participates in events or field marketing activities. They also offer Mystery Shopping, Guerilla Marketing, Event Planning, Event Support, Brand Positioning, Social Media Marketing, etc. She can be reached at 359-6158 or at thinkpremiumja@gmail.com for further information about these services.

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References

Burgess, E. (2016). 11 Essential Stats for Influencer Marketing in 2016. ION.co. Retrieved from: https://www.ion.co/11-essential-stats-for-influencer-marketing-in-2016.

Duran, HB. (2017). 10 Essential Statistics for Influencer Marketing in 2017.  ION.co. Retrieved from: https://www.ion.co./essential-stats-for-influencer-marketing-in-2017

Enge, E. (2012). Moz Blog – Influencer Marketing – What it is, and why you need to be doing it. Moz.com. Retrieved from: https://moz.com/blog/influencer-marketing-what-it-is-and-why-you-need-to-be-doing-it

Geppert, G. (2016). How Influence Marketing differs from Celebrity Endorsement. Convince and convert: Social Media Consulting and Content Marketing Consulting. Retrieved from: https://www.google.com.jm/amp/www.convinceandconvert.com/digital-marketing/influence-marketing-differs-from-celebrity-endorsement/amp/

Lister, M. (2017). 40 Essential Social Media Marketing Statistics for 2017. Wordstream.com Retrieved from: http://www.wordstream.com/blog/ws/2017/01/05/social-media-marketing-statistics

MarketingSherpa (2015). MarketingSherpa Consumer Purchase Preference Survey: Demographics of customer reasons to follow brands’ social accounts. Retrieved from: https://www.marketingsherpa.com/article/chart/demographics-why-customer-follow-brands-social-media

Personal Branding Blog (2014). How Authority Marketing can fast forward your business? Business 2 Community. Retrieved from: Read more at http://www.business2community.com/marketing/authority-marketing-can-fast-forward-business-01024944#jiHToySIRME7UPmr.99

Vaynerchuk, G. (2016). How to contact Influencers, Music Marketing & preparing to Live Stream| #AskGaryVee Episode 202. Gary Vaynerchuk. Retrieved from: http://youtu.be/huZ2wH0SAKg

Witty, A. (2017). Authority Marketing – What is ‘Authority Marketing’ and how do you achieve it? Entrepreneur.com. Retrieved from: https://www-entrepreneur-com.cdn.ampproject.org/c/s/www.entrepreneur.com/amphtml/289963

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