During our TrustED Conf 2021 VR World Tour, all the way from the Philippines, we heard from Ania Cerezo, an Account Manager who’s been in the advertising industry for 7 years with a background in Digital Marketing, Influencer Marketing, Strategy Dev, and Sales, to tackle why influencer marketing works despite the pandemic.
What is Influencer Marketing and how does it work?
Essentially, Influencer Marketing is a type of marketing that focuses on using key leaders to drive a brand’s message to the larger market. Rather than marketing directly to a large group of consumers, brands instead inspire/hire/pay influencers to get out the word for you.
Sprout Social defines it as a type of social media marketing that uses endorsements and product mentions from influencers–individuals who have a dedicated social following and are viewed as experts within their niche.
What are ‘Influencers’?
An influencer is a person who is paid by a company to show and describe its products and services on social media, encouraging other people to buy them. Influencers have the power to affect the purchasing decisions of others because of his or her authority, knowledge, position, or relationship with his or her audience.
Image Source: Getcarro
What happened to brands and Influencer Marketing when the pandemic struck?
Covid-19 changed the way brands think and interact with their consumers; they had to think outside the box and adjust marketing plans to navigate the restrictions.
In an article by Forbes, global ad spend declined 4.2% in 2020, while digital spend grew by 8%. According to Ad Exchanger, digital media accounted for 59% of all global ad spend in 2020. The numbers suggest that many turned to social media influencers and digital content during the pandemic.
Covid-19 increased the use of influencer marketing:
Increasing content consumption
- Online consumption increased to nearly 7 hours daily; it doubled in 2020.
- Active social media users rose by 12.3% in 2020.
Reallocating advertising and media budget
- With everyone spending more time online, brands had to adjust their marketing strategies and budgets to reach consumers.
- In a report by Advertisers Perception, throughout the second half of 2020, 32% increased spending on branded content and 25% spent more to back influencers.
Image Source: Advertiser Perceptions
Given the sensitivity of the situation everyone is in, the brand and marketers use and see influencer marketing as a way to humanise a brand. Branded content and influencer marketing are flexible in terms of the use and strategies they can implement – they can generate awareness, drive traffic, sales/conversions, and usage.
Filling the content void
- With the restrictions brought about by the pandemic, brands had to cancel or at least postpone their traditional campaigns. They had to look for other ways to produce content which led them to influencer marketing. Influencers can safely create and produce content at home.
- It is cost-efficient because (1) they don’t need an agency and production team to produce the content and (2) Influencers can create and produce content safely at home.
- Strategic – using influencers according to their campaign objectives.
Finding alternative paths to purchasing
- In an article by CNBC, foot traffic decreased by 82.6% in the US last April. Meanwhile over two-thirds of shoppers in the US said that they shopped online more than they did pre-Covid-19.
- Influencers played a role in promoting online shopping and services.
- 88.9% of influencers actively seek ways to help small businesses.
Creating authentic content in an abnormal time
- Influencers and brands had to re-think the content they produce to be sensitive, relatable, and provide a sense of normalcy to the consumers.
- Brands tapped Influencers for their authenticity and the relationship they have with their followers. (Apart from humanising the brand, it builds trust amongst the audience.)
- Going back to our influencer tiering, brands partnered with influencers according to their niche or interest and audience. In that manner, it is easier for the brand to produce content because they know it will be relevant to the target audience. They rely on influencers’ knowledge on how they can best relate to their followers.
- In partnering with influencers, brands also humanise themselves as it builds trust among the audience.
Giving rise to micro-influencers
- Micro-influencers having a niche and targeted audience are ideal for sales-focused KPIs.
- Research shows that 90% of consumers trust micro-influencers more than traditional ads and celebrity endorsements.
Introducing TikTok to the mainstream
- A new platform emerged during the pandemic, TikTok. It was the second most downloaded app in 2020, and brands were quick to jump on this new platform as it can generate awareness, loyalty, increase sales, drive revenue, and lead generation.
How to utilise Influencer Marketing
Use influencer videos as social media ads
When setting up influencer marketing, make sure you have the right to show your videos as ads on social media. These videos often have fantastic view-through and click-through rates because they don’t feel like ads and because people trust them. In terms of ROI, these types of ads will usually outperform even some of the very best creatives.
Generate/increase visits, referrals, registration and downloads
- Custom tracking links
It’s crucial to create custom tracking links for each influencer you’ll work with — this way, your company will be able to analyse the performance of every single influencer involved in a campaign and calculate metrics such as CPC (cost-per-click).
- Use UTM tags
If you’re providing any type of website link for your influencer to promote, make sure to add UTM tags to the link. That way, you can track page visits and conversions in Google Analytics or any marketing automation software that you use.
- Create a specific landing page
Whether it’s for a particular product or piece of content, provide your influencer with a link to a landing page created for the sole purpose of tracking their campaign.
Influencer Marketing is constantly changing. Brands and marketers need to be agile in responding to these changes and the changes in consumers’ behaviour. In being agile, they also need to be strategic and smart in knowing what to do, how to integrate it into the total marketing plan, how to measure success, and most importantly, they need to put the consumers not just at the heart of everything, but bring them on the journey.