In it’s most generic form, influencer marketing is simply a form of word of mouth whereby brands partner with personalities trusted by it’s target audience to spread their key messages.
In the earliest days of advertising and even today, celebrity spokespeople were paid by brands to promote their products. That still happens today but, with the emergence of social media giving a voice to everyday people like you and me, modern influencer marketing has emerged. Today, anyone who has amassed a following of some kind online can be considered an influencer. If that person has successfully positioned themselves as a thought leader on a topic or two, brands have likely started turning to them to serve as modern-day spokespeople as well.
It all comes down to TRUST. The rise of social media predicated a shift in trust for traditional advertising messages, including those shared by traditional, celebrity spokespeople. Today, consumers trust their friends, family, and people similar to themselves who they don’t even know, more than brands and celebrities.
Modern day influencer marketing evolved as a result of that shifting trust and social media influencers became the preferred “spokespeople” for carrying brand messages to the many consumers.
As consumer behavior changed and as marketing strategies followed, we’ve seen four clear approaches to influencer marketing emerge.
Made up of every day Joes and Janes who truly have a passion for the brand. They are recruited to respond to challenges, offered free product in exchange for content creation, and highlighted on brand channels. The brand benefits from audiences seeing 3rd party confirmation about the brands’ greatness.
One of the earlier ways modern-day influencer marketing found scale was through marketplaces where “influencers” could opt-in and raise their hand in response to brand briefs. These still exist today and are often troubled with bottom feeders whose social accounts are filled with sponsored posts.
Hand-selected micro and macro social influencers are engaged to craft original, authentic stories featuring the brand. Their content is tested organically to determine performance ability, while the best of the best content is then syndicated via organic and paid mechanism to get it in front of targeted audiences.
Dating back to the early days of marketing, brands find celebrities (or today, social-ebrities) to suggest they have an affinity for the brand. The problem is, consumers have gotten smart to the fact that millionaires aren’t buying $5 bottles of shampoo at their local Target.
Modern-day influencer marketing has generally relied on influencer created content. Often times, the influencer opts in to participate in the program. They create content, publish it, then brands wait to see how it does, doing their best to track organic performance back to business metrics. Sometimes, this even works well.
Carusele campaigns are different. We see influencer audiences as a focus group to help provide guidance on which stories are most impactful. From there, we layer in the power of digital media to put that top performing influencer content in front of the brand’s exact target audience. With a variety of optimization mechanism at our finger tips, we can guarantee that content will drive ad recall, audience engagement, web traffic, or even sales for the brands we serve.
Carusele believes influencer marketing has to do better! Digital marketing is the most powerful and data-rich medium at our fingertips, yet typical digital influencer campaigns end with a hope and prayer that organic audiences will care about the content they’ve seen.