Influencer-FactorsLeveraging the power of influencers in marketing campaigns is not new. In traditional marketing, influencers were usually media celebrities – actors, sports figures, and musical artists. Marketers hired these celebrities as spokespeople to hawk their brands and products, using them in broadcast and print media or engaging them for public appearances, talk shows, and media tours.

Celebrity influencers could be very effective unless the celebrity oversold himself/herself across too many brands or became caught up in criminal or moral transgressions.

While celebrities continue to be used by brands, today’s influencers are more likely to be digitally based and operating on popular social platforms.   They usually have their own blogs and can have huge followings. Their impact on consumer brand affinity and purchase decisions can be significant.

My first personal experience using digital influencers came when I launched the Galaxy brand for Samsung in 2010. Our engagement of online influencers to spread the word about the new Galaxy S handset resulted in millions of consumer impressions and was an important part of our integrated market launch campaign.

Today, brands of all types and sizes use influencers for new product launches or ongoing marketing campaigns. However, recent revelations by blogger Essena O’Neill, a young Australian fashion blogger, that her seemingly random lifestyle posts were in fact contrived, intensively choreographed, and that she was paid for product placement have cast a shadow on the future of influencer marketing for brands. Feeling remorseful, Ms. O’Neill took the seemingly drastic step of abandoning social media altogether. Patricio Robles, in his well-done article, Has Essena O’Neill Signaled The End Of Influencer Marketing? opines that there are no easy answers to the issues that Ms. O’Neill’s raises but that influencer marketing needs to change.

So, should marketers continue to use influencers as a tool in their marketing toolkits? My answer is yes. Digital influencers work, and in fact work better than the traditional celebrity influencers because consumers believe that digital influencers are authentic. They trust the authors.

If you’re considering leveraging the power of digital influencers, here are some important points to keep in mind:

  1. Take the time to find the right influencer. Find those that are genuinely interested in your category and your product or service. They will have the authenticity your brand or product will need.
  2. Think of your relationship with the influencer as an ongoing partnership, not a one and done product placement or endorsement.
  3. Recognize what influencers want. According to a Crowdtap survey quoted in eMarketer, the primary factor that makes them likely to work with a brand more than once is creative freedom.   Influencers want to be treated like the publications that they are.
  4. Essena O’Neill’s revelations aside, most influencers expect to get paid.   In Group High’s Influencer Marketing Report, 85% of the influencers surveyed said they accept monetary compensation for posts. On average, Group High found that a mid level influencer charges a brand $200-$500 per post. Most influencers prefer cash compensation to free product or other forms of compensation.
  5. When done transparently, most influencers report that content labeled paid orsponsored does not affect how much a consumer trusts their brand recommendations.
  6. Over half of influencers will send a media kit to justify the price they charge for sponsored content if you’re interested in understanding the rationale behind their pricing.
Influencers can be a very effective marketing tool when consumers view them as authentic and transparent. A little homework on your part can insure that influencer marketing will work well for you.
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