Under the influence

Farah Souhail, Marketing Manager at Meltwater, talks about how to make influencer marketing work more effectively….

Influencers are people that drive knowledge and opinion, they also have an ‘influence’ over their followers, hence their title. Influencers on social media pop up more and more every day and brands across the GCC as well as the wider MENA region have teamed up with many of them in an attempt to deliver their messages more effectively. However, identifying the right influencers and measuring Return On Investment (ROI) remains an area of struggle for many brands, both regionally and globally.

From a marketer’s perspective, there are a number of ways in which you can master influencer marketing; setting targets and understanding your influencer’s brand rank highly among these. Here are ten of the things that I believe marketers can do to master influencer marketing and ensure that they not only choose the best influencer for their brand, but utilise their skills and knowledge in the optimum way.

Define your goals

Define the objective(s) of your influencer outreach program. Are you looking to:

  • increase brand awareness?
  • generate leads/boost sales?
  • position yourself as a thought leader?
  • reach a new audience?
  • remain relevant among your target audience?

Defining your short term and long term goals will help you select the right influencer, design your campaign’s content, as well as the methods to track and measure the success of your influencer marketing strategy.

Remember – Influencers are brands too!
It is essential for marketers to understand that influencers – those who are on top of their game – are brands too! Influencers have a loud voice, a substantial audience and create high quality content which can inspire people to communicate and engage with them. They understand their follower base, what they are interested in and how to impact with them. Approach your influencer as a partner and brief him/her about your campaign objectives, timing and message delivery to ensure optimal alignment and control.

Authenticity and consistency should be key
As a marketer you have a story (narrative) that you want to communicate with your audience. Influencers are people who can narrate your story. Today’s media is in the control of the consumers and people online are not interested in the brand as much as in the people that they engage with. To attract your influencer’s audience and to achieve the desired behavioural response, your influencer’s content needs to be authentic, consistent and able to create an emotional connection. Immerse your story into the lifestyle of your engager and think of ways to create a meaningful content that has a lasting impact.

Ensure that you team up with the right influencer for the right campaign
Selecting the right influencer is an art that today’s marketers need to master. Don’t just look at numbers when considering an influencer. Go for people that are not only likeable and trustworthy but have a social proof, are able to drive engagement with their followers and are an authority in their field.

While influencer marketing often involves social media engagers, there are other types and categories for you to choose from including:

  • family and friends
  • industry experts
  • bloggers/vloggers and product reviewers
  • journalists and media professionals
  • celebrities

Your message, branding guidelines, tone of voice and campaign goals should be your compass when selecting the right influencer and remember, sometimes the less-obvious influencers can be a better fit for your brand and campaign objectives than those with the highest followings.

Don’t go for quick wins
To be liked and trusted by your influencer’s followers you need to connect your brand with the influencer’s lifestyle and overall brand image. Teaming up with your competitor’s influencer or randomly appearing on the timeline of your influencer’s followers via a tweet or a post will not have much of an impact in todays short memory span. Forge long term relationships with your influencer and help them to think strategically too, in order to help build consistency and trust. Think of ways to launch creative, memorable campaigns that help you engage more effectively with the audience to reap the desired ROI.

It is also important to see things from the perspective of your brand/influencer. As influencer marketing is a lot more personal and targeted than some forms of marketing, this point of view is invaluable when it comes to planning your campaign. A few things to take into consideration from this perspective would be:

Try to identify the right influencer for the right product and the right platform
Brands should not just look at numbers when selecting an influencer. There are other, more important factors that should determine who is the right influencer for your brand. Things to consider include:

  • influencer’s hobbies, interests and lifestyle
  • influencers that believe in your product or service
  • the platform(s) the influencer is active on

An influencer with a massive following on Facebook may not be the right engager if the majority of your audience happens to be on Twitter. Similarly, an influencer who pursues an active lifestyle and is known for his passion for outdoor adventures and technology may not be the right person for promoting a male moisturising product. Such an influencer may very well use a moisturiser in his daily life, yet his brand (lifestyle) and the content he creates may not be the right fit for your product.

Reciprocity should be key
As a marketer you need to help influencers give back to their followers. Think of ways you can add value to the influencer’s audience. Find out about your influencer’s hobbies and interests and those of their followers. Employ these insights to create ‘bespoke’ influencer content that resonates with their audience. Influencer content types that allow for reciprocity include:

  • special offers and discounts
  • access to exclusive events and positive experiences

– these could; include; movie premieres or product launches –

  • competitions and prizes

Work with influencers to create engaging, memorable content
Appearing randomly on an influencer’s timeline will not benefit anyone. Consumers are smart and can see immediately whether a post is organic or is pushed for commercial reasons. Approach your influencer as a partner with whom you can brainstorm and bounce ideas on how you can best deliver your message. Remember, your influencer understands their audience, what inspires them and how to engage with them effectively.

Always allow for creative freedom
Good influencers understand branding and are good at creating engaging content. Tell your influencer about your campaign, message and delivery guidelines and he/she will know how to deliver your message in the right way – the way that resonates with their followers. A highly polished image that doesn’t reflect the influencer’s lifestyle and personality will quickly be seen as an advertorial.

Make sure you define your campaign ROI
Brands are advised to define what they are aiming to achieve from an influencer outreach program before hiring an influencer. Many techniques have been used in influencer marketing to help brands measure their ROI, such as page views, demand generation and lead conversation that result in an increase in sale and impact revenue.

Define your campaign goals and matrix; then communicate that with your influencer so that everyone is aligned. Keep these points in mind and ensure that your influencer marketing campaign stays on-brand.