We have all been influenced by celebrities and those in the entertainment world at some point in our lives. The mega-leading man or woman used acting skills to draw attention to a product or service. If someone successful and personally impressive endorses a product or service, then it has to be good, right?
Mega-brand messages of everything from bath products to insurance, to luxury cars, to reverse mortgages fill the airwaves with product pitches that are as creative and believable as the “Star’s” last movie or television show. To say the mega-influencer has been around forever would almost be true. Still, there was a time when an appearance of a famous person pitching a product often indicated that the fortunes of that pitch-person were on the decline. But in recent decades, sponsorship opportunities for the rich and famous have led many to become even wealthier, more prominent, and more influential.
Trust is at the core of what makes influencer marketing successful. Influencers command much more trust than faceless brands, so the impact they have on a brand’s acceptance by consumers can be a powerful way to increase brand awareness. Consumers are more likely to trust an influencer who only endorses a product they use and like themselves, particularly when the product message fits the public persona of the famous influencer. But in the world of digital social media platforms, the less familiar micro-influencers are staking a claim to dominance in the marketing channel.
Micro-influencers, generally those who have less than 100,000 social media followers, are finding favor with many brands who are discovering that spreading the message across a broader audience is more productive than spending big on a single mega-influencer.
Micro-influencers appear to be attracting a better return on investment (ROI) by attracting more significant numbers of consumers who see them as experts. The smaller, more focused niche of performers connect on a more personal level with followers and achieve a more significant amount of engagements. Eighty-four percent of consumers report that they trust the recommendations of micro-influencers. According to a study by MediaKix, 18% of companies spend between $100,000 and $500,000 per year on influencer campaigns, and 80 percent of brands find influencer marketing effective; 89% say ROI from influencer marketing is equal to or better than alternative marketing channels.
Consumers are reacting favorably to micro-influencer marketing. A recent study by Defy Media found that 60 percent of millennials say they are likely to make a purchase based on favorite YouTube personalities rather than from a famous television or big screen celebrity. Nearly half of consumers report discovering new products through favorite social media personalities every week, and 80 percent admit to making a purchase on the word of a micro-influencer. However, marketers new to the channel may discover some pitfalls when pursuing an influencer marketing campaign.
As the influencer marketing space expands in popularity, identifying and connecting with a suitable influencer partner can prove challenging for many brands just entering the space. Some first-time players discover less-than genuine metrics that measure an influencer’s popularity and the number of reported followers. Bad actors exist in every field of endeavor, so due diligence is recommended. Are your targeted candidates growing followers organically? Does the published content align with your brand’s message and promise, and are followers engaging with the personality? These are questions newcomers should be asking before engaging in a new campaign.
Credibility, authenticity, and transparency are the major factors determining the continued viability of influencers’ future impact on consumers. Long-term relationships with brands, influencers, and audiences will only be achieved when confidence in these principles among all participants is reached. Tweaking and perfecting this critical marketing approach will yield benefits to brands, influencers, and consumers alike and will continue to deliver solutions to consumers more effectively and efficiently.