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Is Influencer Marketing still a thing?


Marketers like us are constantly peppered with requests from clients around

influencer marketing. They like to think celebrity endorsement of their product or

service will change their brand and drive their bottom line. The number of events we

have attended with influencers lurking around with cameras ready is startling

and has made it hard to engage in conversation about a brand purpose, when

everyone is standing by for the next thing to photograph and post to their preferred

social media portal.


In a post COVID world, is influencer marketing still a thing?

But let us take a step back to pre-pandemic days – which seem almost prehistoric

now – and examine the rise of the influencer. We know more than 50% of

the world’s population use social media and the world has 5.2 billion mobile phone

users, equating to more than two thirds of the global population. In Australia, we

have 20.5 million social media users – or about 80% of the population. In the last

year, global active social media users increased by 450 million, around 12%. This all

tells us there is a growing audience for brands and organisations to try and promote

what they do.


It also means there is a great deal of noise, with people trying to carve an influencer

niche for themselves, while other brands and businesses are furiously trying to be

heard in a cacophony of 'look at me'! Enter the influencer! Many businesses turn to

social media as a way of growing brand presence and reputation, often not doing it

well.


What is an influencer, first of all?

An influencer is someone who has the power to affect the purchasing decisions of

others because of their authority, knowledge, position, or relationship with their

audience. Celebrity endorsement is a shining example of influence. They generally

have a following in a particular niche area, with whom they actively engage. The

group buying power of their following depends on the size of the topic or niche. Their

function as an influencer is based on the social relationship assets with which brands

can collaborate to achieve marketing results.


Before you think about engaging a person who believes they have the skill or

following to influence buyer behaviour of your goods or service, it is worth putting

some considerable research and thought into the outcomes. It’s great to have a

sponsored post from a person of note with which might have people lining up around

the block to buy your new ice cream flavour, but how long does the influence last? Is

it until the next post they are being paid to make? Some posts have a very short time

line, stories even less.


Research their audience, try and understand the level of engagement the person has

from their audience, and be confident they are the right fit for you. Anyone with a

camera on their phone, an internet connection and opposable thumbs can be a

person of influence, but the weight of the influence, the cost per conversion and the

ongoing value to your bottom line is well worth some time and energy invested on

your behalf.


Finally, when you review the amount of money some influencers ask for, know

exactly what you are getting and demand some stats from them to demonstrate the

level of engagement they have in your sector and ask them to provide outcomes

from previous posts. They might have 100,000 followers, but if they have anything

less than 1-2% engagement, perhaps it’s worth looking at someone with 5000 really

engaged followers and a broader remit in your geographical area. It’s also worth

noting whether they personally do their own posts or if they are done by a third party.

The newest influencer-type in the market is the nano-influencer. They are eclipsing

even the micro influencer and have a small number of followers, but tend to have

incredible expertise or knowledge in an obscure or highly specialised field. Nano-

influencers are the epitome of the big fish in a small pond. In many cases, they have

fewer than 1,000 followers – but they will be loyal, engaged and interested followers,

willing to connect with the nano-influencer, and listen to their opinion.


It’s easy to be hoodwinked when you are not quite sure what all of it means.

Agencies and influencer brokers may help to get you in front of the right people, at a

cost of course.


Like everything in marketing, it's nowhere near as simple as it looks. Sure, influencer

marketing is still a thing, but it’s a world becoming more and more challenged with

every passing day of the global pandemic. It seems only the most engaged will

survive.

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