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Success in Influencer Marketing

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 an influencer. As the influencer marketing space expands in popularity among marketers and consumers alike, identifying and connecting with a suitable influencer partner can prove challenging for many brands. Some exceptionally large and notable players are discovering just how focusing on numbers alone can lead to catastrophic results for once iconic brands. Before choosing an influencer, marketers need to perform critical due diligence to determine who makes up the vast number of influencers’ followers.

Influencer marketing campaigns are partnerships between brands and creative talent that seek to promote the sale of a brand’s products or services and build brand awareness among a targeted audience. Surveys reveal that influencers can help a brand reach new audiences, boost engagement and help enhance brand trust and authenticity. More than 80 percent of business marketers will employ influencer strategies in the coming year, but influencer players must identify creators who represent the brand’s reputation and attract the brand’s specifically targeted listeners on channels where the targeted consumer resides. In addition, the type of influencer campaigns matters if marketers are to optimize results.

According to a recent survey by Sprout Social, most successful campaign strategies focus on giveaways, product collaborations and influencer-led advertisements. The Pulse survey indicated that 65 percent of marketers utilized giveaways of free products, services, or significant discounts to help increase engagement and promote brand value. Product collaborations leverage a creator’s creativity and influence by inviting them to design or produce specialized content, event activities, product reviews and new product introductions.

Affiliate influencer programs are where influencers promote a brand’s products or services and receive a commission on the resulting sales. Affiliate campaigns represent more than 57 percent of influencer-led advertisements and collaborations and are often used in conjunction with ecommerce businesses. Regardless of the type of campaign, brands must not only focus on performance metrics when selecting an influencer, but look at the influencer’s social platform, number of followers, and level of reputation for honesty, authenticity, and trust with followers.

Micro-influencers, 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. The smaller, more focused niche of performers connect on a more personal level with followers and achieve a more significant number of engagements. When selecting a creative influencer, do not fear stepping outside your brand’s comfort zone. “Brands often times get stuck in their own playbooks — returning to the same influencers, platforms, and types of content that they (and their competitors) have been doing for years. To reach today’s consumer you have to be brave enough to experiment and embrace updated content and channels,” says Brad Farrell, CMO of Beekman 1802.

When Dunkin’ Donuts teamed together with TikTok phenom Charli D’Amelio, it was a partnership that paid off handsomely for Dunkin’, which sought to expand its customer base. Charli D’Amelio is the most well-known TikTok celebrity with over 140 million followers. Dunkin created a drink named after her called “The Charli.” They also held a ‘Charli x Dunkin’ contest, which required participants to post images or videos of themselves re-enacting famous Charli and Dunkin’ incidents. After the campaign, Dunkin reaped a 57 percent increase in downloads of the Dunkin’ Donuts app and a record increase in the use of the app.

The Flock Freight, Steve Burns “Define Your Load” campaign went viral when the influencer’s “Message from Steve” video was released. Celebrating the 25th anniversary of Blue’s Clues. The “Define Your Load” campaign won a Cannes Lion for B2B Creative in the Challenger Brand category in June 2023. The partnership highlighted the importance of good timing, matching the campaign’s release with the popular creator’s resurgence into the limelight.

How can a brand run a successful influencer marketing campaign? Develop a strategic influencer marketing campaign around clear goals, objectives, and budget. Select relevant influencers who mirror the brand’s values and reputation and target a specific audience. Utilize the best social media platforms where the targeted consumer is listening. Establish well-defined expectations and implement processes to measure the campaign’s performance.

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. Credibility, authenticity, and transparency are the major factors determining the continued viability of influencers’ future impact on consumers.