The impact of influencer marketing on consumer behavior is similar to that of the popular kid in school—others want to befriend them, know their interests, and are inclined to follow their lead. Thanks to social media, influencers have a platform where they can communicate their interests directly with their followers, no matter how many. By understanding how the influencer-follower relationship works, brands can learn to use influencer marketing to raise awareness and increase sales.
Understanding the Impact of Influencer Marketing
Influencers are often content creators or bloggers. They have cultivated a reputation for being experts on, or aficionados of, a specific topic. They regularly post, stream, or blog about that topic, generating engagement from followers. There are three types of influencers online: micro-, macro-, and mega-influencers.
- Micro-influencers: Micro influencers may not be big-name celebrities, but they have a lot of trust in their own social circles. These relationships can be beneficial to brands as they don’t require a substantial initial investment, but the results pay ongoing dividends as the influencers share information about the brand with their friends, families, and co-workers.
- Macro-influencers: These influencers may be thought leaders, industry experts, or may work for a notable publication. They can lend an expert’s seal of approval to a brand, for example, having a popular food blogger review your restaurant in efforts to attract more patrons.
- Mega-influencers: Celebrities can be thought to be the original influencers as product endorsement campaigns date back to long before the internet. Celebrities will often have social media followings in the hundreds of thousands, even millions, but their endorsements are expensive, and their followers usually aren’t as engaged as those of the other influencer types.
Brands shouldn’t expect to wave discounts and deals in front of an influencer in hopes of gaining a new marketing channel. Influencers are often protective of the groups they influence, and will not expose them to aggressive marketing material that feels “salesy”. This isn’t meant to frustrate you, but in fact, is the mark of a quality influencer. Brands who partner with a quality influencer will likely gain the trust and loyalty of their followers, as they will have learned that any brand genuine enough to earn their leader’s approval must be worth a try.
Donuts to Dollars: an Influencer Marketing Case Study
Take Dunkin’ Donuts’ word on it; influencer marketing can be pretty sweet. The popular fast-food chain launched a campaign for National Donut Day, which is on the first Friday in June. In 2017, Dunkin’ Donuts opened their Snapchat account up to eight different influencers who posted their own content. This included thought leadership influencer, Juliet A. Boghossian, a behavioral food expert and founder of Food-ology.
Boghossian and the seven other guest influencers created a variety of posts, including a “What’s your Doughnut Personality?” quiz. By allowing these influencers to speak on their platform, Dunkin’ Donuts was able to reach a broader audience. Dunkin’ Donuts’ Snapchat channel gained ten times more followers on 2017’s National Donut Day than they normally gained within a month. In total, the campaign reached 3 million people and had 40,000 engagements.
It wasn’t an expensive television commercial, requiring a production company and the purchase of air time. It wasn’t a product placement, gently suggesting a brand’s presence to the viewer’s subconscious. It was the addition of a large number of potential consumers to Dunkin’ Donuts’ own social media channel, with whom they can now communicate directly, anytime they want. This engagement was driven by the help of eight people who had the right connections and influence.
Tips on Leveraging Influencer Marketing
When should you use influencer marketing? When there’s an audience you’d like to introduce your brand to. It’s like being at a party: There’s someone you want to meet, but you’re too nervous to just walk up and shake their hand. So, you have someone that this person knows and trusts introduce you.
Start by identifying your target audience. Who currently buys your product? How can you reach more people like them? Or, maybe there’s someone else you think your brand would resonate with? Once you know who you want to reach, get to know them.
What are their likes and dislikes? Do they have any shared beliefs or values? What about hobbies? Next, study the media channels they use. There may be social media pages or groups they frequent, YouTube or TV channels they watch, or video games they’re obsessed with. Find these commonalities, then start looking for influencers around those topics.
Remember, influencer marketing is not about getting the widest reach. It’s about generating quality relationships that produce quality leads. So choose an influencer who advocates for your brand in a way that tells your story, and a niche that’s filled with dedicated followers. And don’t just sit by and watch the conversation: get involved.
Brands are starting to rely on influencers and their followers for creative inspiration because influencers and their followers create their own culture. Smart marketers should have two-sided conversations with their audience, adopting and repeating elements of the target audience’s own signifiers.
Another way to leverage influencer marketing is to enhance your campaign with help from a shopping app like Shopkick.
Guiding Consumers Along the Path to Purchase
Another way to leverage influencer marketing is to enhance your campaign with help from a shopping app like Shopkick. By offering incentives and rewards, Shopkick guides the consumer along the path to purchase and encourages them to not only buy a product but to become loyal to the brand as well. After an influencer has helped you build brand awareness, Shopkick helps seal the deal by increasing brand loyalty and driving sales.
Shopkick works with our partners to improve in-store sales by incentivizing consumers with our intuitive app. To use our app as a tool for boosting product engagement, contact us.
Image courtesy of Diego Cervo