Influencer marketing ad spend is set to reach between $5 billion and $10 billion in 2022. Over the past two years, the search term “influencer marketing” has grown 400%. Put simply, influencer marketing places focus on influential people rather than the target market, usually using social media as its platform. Brands identify the individuals who can influence their target customers, and enlist them to engage and advertise on their behalf.
There’s no denying that the way brands engage is changing but, like many others, you may be wondering, what makes influencers so special?
In the past, brands could only engage with mass media in limited avenues; programmed TV, print, radio — and it was costly. Now, we live in an “always on,” constantly changing digital landscape with exposure to advertising at an all-time high. It’s more difficult than ever to stand out amongst the noise, and consumers are increasingly cynical. Influencers build trust and cut through the clutter. Knowingly or not, they have come to live at the overlap of three important facets of marketing: exposure, trust, and content.
The goal of any marketing is to maximize reach and engagement with the intended audience. Influencer campaigns get on average almost 7 times more engagement than a regular social campaign — not only getting more exposure for your brand, but more targeted exposure, through an avenue that resonates with audiences. This ability to create targeted campaigns that actually work is invaluable, and brands are realizing it and capitalizing on it.
Trust = power when it comes to consumers — and “recommendations from friends or family” are always the number-one trusted source for information. While influencers aren’t necessarily friends or family, they do get one step closer to the inner circle of consumers. Audiences trust in the people they follow and appreciate candor and authenticity more than ever.
This brings us to content. User-generated content is consistently found to be 85% more engaging. Consumers are becoming somewhat desensitized to brand content, whereas user-generated content is viewed as authentic. In order to be successful as an influencer, one needs to creatively challenge themselves to ideate. Influencers become experts in what works for their audience — meaning you’re getting quality content with almost guaranteed engagement included in your spend.
It’s not hard to see why many brands are leading with influencer marketing as their primary strategy, but that doesn’t mean it’s always done right. Here are a couple of brands we think are great examples to take inspiration from.
This niche campaign saw soccer fans worldwide clamoring for the exclusive Glitch boot, and went on to win 5 Cannes Lions.
“Adidas saw the power of micro-influencers when it launched Glitch, an app to promote a new line of soccer cleats. The Glitch app is the only channel where soccer fans can test and buy the shoe, which they can do with an invite to join from an existing app user. Thirty players the brand plucked from football academies across London helped design, name and promote the app and the boot.
Glitch quickly became one of the most sought-after products among football fans as people realized they needed to find a way into the app to own a pair. At the height of the boot’s popularity, codes for the app were being sold on eBay. Without any marketing support for Glitch and a mobile-only approach it was able to build a business around a community.” (1)
Colorado’s favorite vehicle ran an influencer campaign under the hashtag #MeetAnOwner.
“Subaru’s #MeetAnOwner campaign used influencer videos to showcase the new Impreza in various locations, hoping it would attract the attention of millennial buyers. Devin Graham (@devinsupertramp), a YouTube influencer with nearly 5 million subscribers, published a video of him and his friends taking turns on a slip and slide that propelled them (and their parachutes) off a 500-foot cliff.
Influencer content is about emotion, not facts and figures. Despite the importance of selling points like safety features, horsepower and fuel economy, the automobile industry has long embraced the emotional aspect of car buying in TV commercials. Graham’s video shows influencer marketing is a natural evolution of that same premise — at a time when many millennials admit to scrolling social media while ads play on TV.” (2)
Tying hydration to fitness to leverage the huge fitness influencer market was a bold step for this water brand. This campaign included live events and eight short workout videos heavily publicized on Instagram.
“Danielle Bernstein’s fashion blog, We Wore What, recently joined Fiji Water to create Bodyworewhat, an influencer marketing campaign offering eight-minute workout videos with Bernstein and personal trainer Eric Johnson.
This campaign was meant to demonstrate Fiji’s commitment to hydrating those who want to look and feel as fit as Bernstein, while helping her fans get there with all the right motivators.” (3)
“For $35, Bodyworewhat users can access at-home workout videos featuring Danielle Bernstein (@weworewhat) and trainer Eric Johnson. When Bernstein posted about getting in shape with Bodyworewhat, an extension of her own brand, her photos also included FIJI water bottles. In dedicated posts, she promoted FIJI by reminding followers about the importance of staying hydrated with a discount code for home delivery.
Savvy macro-influencers will continue seeking out new ways to monetize their following, so savvy brands should look for unique opportunities to work toward a common goal. Because Bernstein was also promoting her own product, her posts about FIJI water felt less like forced product placements and more like a reflection of what she was working on at the time.” (4)
The Future of Brand Engagement
It’s clear that influencer marketing has become extremely powerful, but how steady is it? Waves of resistance against certain social platforms for ethical reasons have been prevalent in the last year. How might platform volatility affect the bottom line? Are brands relying too heavily on audience data?
We’d love to hear your opinions on influencer marketing. Who do you see doing it right? How does it impact traditional advertising? Are you reconsidering how you engage?