THE GAME-CHANGING ERA OF INFLUENCER MARKETING

THE GAME-CHANGING ERA OF INFLUENCER MARKETING

July 2, 2019

By Nafisa Nawal Khan

 

In this age of digital, the world of marketing has seen several strategies bloom and do wonders. When it comes to digital marketing, for more than a decade, affiliate marketing was the go-to strategy to reach consumers online. Affiliate marketing is the marketing process which brands use to promote their products and services in websites other than their own. Brands would build partnerships with companies and publishers so that those companies and publishers would display the brands’ content on their websites or blogs. If any customer, visiting the site, purchased the products or services of the brands by clicking on the provided link, the affiliate would get a percentage of the sales.

As social media started to become increasingly popular and shopper-friendly, users started to change their old routines. Bloggers began dropping their websites for social media fame and viewers started to spend their time more on social media platforms. With this shift, influencers started to emerge in such social media platforms. These influencers were celebrities, bloggers, media personalities, industry leaders or popular social media users. Influencers started to gain fame on platforms like Instagram, Facebook and YouTube. Brands then sought new ways to take advantage of the situation and thus influencer marketing was born.

Influencer marketing is the process where brands partner up with social media influencers in their niche to use their influence to promote products and services. This marketing tactic focuses on the personal influence that popular figures online have on their followers and how such influence over their target audiences could raise brand awareness and bring great exposure. Influencer marketing became so powerful that it was recognized as one of the fastest ways to reach to a target audience in a very short span of time. Now, many influencers are represented by talent agencies such as Lunar Talent, who offer event appearances for business looking to hire their clients.

Although influencer marketing had become a rising star in the field of brand awareness and exposure, affiliate marketing was still required by brands as it fulfilled different needs. Marketers today use both strategies depending on their marketing goals and budget. However, influencer marketing is seen as a more powerful way to reach to the target audience online.

 

CHANGE IN PERCEPTION

Influencer marketing had completely changed the game for affiliate marketing. Affiliate marketing strategy had to update its tracking and measuring methods and adapt to a diverse range of channels to protect itself from becoming obsolete. But as time passed, brands wanted to look beyond clicks and get to the heart of understanding consumer behavior. They wanted to cultivate brand loyalists more than one-time purchasers and for that, they invested in forming long-term relationships with the consumers. The best way to achieve this strong relationship was through using influencers as intermediaries, that is through influencer marketing.

On top of this, it was seen that customers trusted word of mouth more than any banner ad, even if the word of mouth came from a stranger. According to a study, 92% of customers trusted individuals over brands. So, to connect with the customers, brands had to rely on influencers to establish the relationship and build trust.

EXAMPLES OF INFLUENCER MARKETING

In one example, Primarily Pure, a beauty brand, used influencers to gain success for their brand. After the foundation of quality products were laid, Primarily Pure did its own research, found like-minded influencers, worked with each influencer to create contests, exclusive discounts for their readers and affiliate deals to share in a cut of the revenue. As a result of all this, Primarily Pure experienced a drive in its sales that ultimately helped the brand stand firmly in the market.

In another example, there is the optical products company of Canon. Canon had been working with influencers for years and with a managed portfolio of professional photographers, Canon promoted their latest innovations. After embracing the Instagram generation, Canon appointed 40 social media photographers with highly-engaged audiences to promote their products.

In a more Bangladeshi context, we can look at Uber Bangladesh. The ride-sharing company was seen to promote its services in the very beginning by collaborating with Bangladesh’s all-rounder cricket player, Shakib Al Hasan. Since Bangladeshis are more active on Facebook, Uber Bangladesh took advantage of the cricketer’s Facebook followers to initiate its journey. The company did the same when introducing Uber MOTO by collaborating with the beloved captain of Bangladesh international cricket team, Mashrafe Bin Mortaza.

 

HOW INFLUENCER MARKETING IS SHAPING DIGITAL MARKETING

It is true that change in perception of marketers as well as consumers have brought forward influencer marketing. It is also true that influencer marketing has changed the way digital marketing is consumed.

Consumers now prefer shorter forms of content. They have lessened their consumption of in-depth blogs. On top of this, consumers nowadays prefer to shop within their social media feeds. That is exactly what companies are providing them with. Brands are now collaborating with social media platforms to create a seamless digital shopping experience that integrates both browsing and purchasing. This has brought in the innovation of features in those social media platforms. Instagram, Facebook and YouTube now have the ‘Story’ feature that enables influencers a stage for the short video content that consumers want to see. Brands like Marks & Spencer, Macy’s, Kate Spade, J. Crew and Nordstrom Rack used Instagram stories of their selected influencer to impact visibility and sales. The swipe-up function in Instagram stories was found to be particularly powerful. Influencer marketing went to the extent of collaborating with affiliate marketing to take advantage of the swipe-up feature.

In terms of Instagram posts, in 2017, eMarketer reported that marketers spent $570 million on influencer marketing globally and in 2018, $1.6 billion was funneled into sponsored posts on Instagram alone. With Instagram posts, Instagram stories and IG Live, Instagram has officially become THE influencer marketing platform. According to research conducted on social media marketing, it was seen that 93% of the influencer marketing campaigns now use Instagram.

While other social media sites still play their own roles, Instagram has become the most dominant in terms of influencer marketing. Thus, we can see how influencer marketing has become a vital part of digital marketing.

 

FUTURE OF INFLUENCER MARKETING

At the end of 2018, all predictions of influencer marketing were blown out of the water and the marketing strategy continues to impress by the day. It is estimated that by 2020, influencer marketing will become a $10 billion industry. From nano-influencers to celebrities, it cannot be denied that each type of influencer provides innumerable opportunities for brands to take advantage of the better. As more and more marketers opt for this marvelous strategy, it can be undoubtedly said that the future is promising.

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