Product Reviews and testimonials from actual buyers has become an important influencer for online buyers. Now just come to think of it, a professionally savvy expert who is not a reputed celebrity, but who is knowledgeable and experienced advices you on a product online, interacts with you, counsels you and moreover influences you to actually buy the Product with tips tutorials, demos and more.
In this era of digital and social media there is this entire new breed of enthusiastic folks who have natively grown inside Facebook Instagram, You tube and twitter. This breed better referred to as online influencers, has an incredible reach and enjoys millions of Followers. They represent a new era of people who can directly talk to an audience, influence decisions, support brands and products in different categories from consumer goods to telecom. They wield a tremendous amount of reach and power inside the social media ecosystem.
What is this influencer marketing? Is it only a Fad, What do Brands expect to achieve?
Influencer marketing is an emerging concept fast picking up in the digital era. More and More brands are inclined towards Influencer marketing with niche bloggers on Instagram, Facebook and other social media platforms thanks to the budget constraints of hiring a celebrity.
“It is a form of marketing that identifies and targets individuals who have influence over potential buyers.” (Wong 2015).
Influencer marketing is complimentary to
1) Social Media Marketing 2) Content marketing
Influencers are experts in their particular slots and niches and they have the experience and ability to strike a high level of believability, trust and two-way interaction with their immense follower bases. These online influencers have a substantial power as their views, acumen and thoughts are highly regarded by a huge network of online readers, subscribers’ followers, friends and admirers.
It has been observed that a review or content posted by an online blogger and influencer clocks much the same likes and views as a Celebrity blog post. They are a huge sensation among the digital savvy generation. Ms Malini for instance is one of the most popular lifestyle influencers on Twitter and if reports are to be believed she has been able to clock up to 6 million unique views daily – not just from India but also beyond. 10 % of her followers are reportedly global based. Her audience span across 15 to 40 years of age and includes both male and female fans. Celebrity endorsements is about grabbing immediate attention and then trying to strike a rub off between the attractiveness trustworthiness and likeliness of a well -known persona with a particular brand. Since the highlight of the entire campaign is the celebrity, the brand engagement quotient is bare minimum. Moreover it is a huge investment.
Keeping a continuous track of consumers by bombarding them with content on various platforms can at times get maddening so much so that the consumers start losing interest in the communication. Hammering of content almost 24×7 can also lead to some sort of an advertising wear-out and thus fatigue. Influencer marketing can bring about a variation with the ability to overcome this fatigue effectively.
A study of marketers across sectors conducted recently reflects that 94% marketers consider Influencer marketing as an effective communication strategy. Another study reveals that almost 47% of online consumers are in the age group 18-24 years. An active and one of the most receptive TG online.
The Brand Perspective
Push marketing merely through advertisements is a passé trend. Add to it the Traditional media approval process that is so time consuming and hence platforms like Print are gradually losing their sheen. Online media with relevant influencers on the other hand allows creative freedom where the content can be organic. As mentioned by Reardon in Forbes “A brand can connect with a blogger or influencer’s built-in audience directly, offering a built-in endorsement that amplifies a message,” “And when you amplify your voice, you are likely to amplify your revenue.”
This gives a solid reason for Brands to explore influencer marketing. It is an absolute hit especially in the Lifestyle, beauty, health, Fitness, cuisine and travel space. We have brands like Body Shop, Koovs etc. actively using influencers to post their Styling videos or pictures of offline fashion shows on Instagram. The recently held Justin Bieber show in India aggressively utilised on ground events bloggers on specially installed Bieber booths. Upcoming brands like Liva are provisioning 20% Budget for Content marketing through influencers.
The influencers seem Real, genuine, are focussed around creating awareness and promote things that they genuinely use. Besides it is easy to communicate their stories which can then get transpired to the right TG unlike celebrity endorsement. There is a definite consumer traction with an investment that is absolutely reasonable.
Influencer marketing is an extremely potent online marketing tool. It has a tremendous SEO value. With the ever multiplying follower base however influencers are vulnerable to loosing focus online. Also the Clutter online and lack of transparency can be other major threats. Sometimes influencers tend to get carried away and take up brands which do not resonate with them or their TG leading to lack of transparency. Innovation and a consistent search for new engaging content though daunting is the only way influencer marketing can sustain in the future and grow merely beyond creating awareness by actually getting conversions.
-Dr. Tripti Dhote