Guest Post: Love it or loathe it, you can’t avoid influencer marketing

Guest Post: Love it or loathe it, you can’t avoid influencer marketing

Farhad Divecha, managing director and founder of AccuraCast, says while influencers stock may have fallen during lockdown brands have little option but to embrace influencer marketing 

Not so long ago, the idea of marketing was very simple. It usually consisted of print, TV or radio advertising and a healthy dose of PR. Then came social media, and with it, huge change. 

Today, there are 3.6 billion of us actively using social media around the world.

That’s an enormous amount of scrolling, watching videos and even partaking in social media ‘challenges.’ And when platforms evolve, so too must marketing plans. 

Travel brands, in particular, had to pivot their marketing strategies to tap into this new way their existing and potential customers consumed information. But more than that, they also had to realign how their customers were being inspired.  

What used to be an organic addition to a marketing campaign – with the likes of David Beckham and Britney Spears being paid by brands to promote their products and services as a by-product of their popularity – is now a full-time occupation, called ‘influencing’.  

We’re now seeing successful influencers grabbing the social media boom with both hands and running with it.  

Keeping up with the times 

As with most things that seemingly pop up from nowhere and grow at an incredibly fast rate, many established brands have treated influencers with scepticism.

Particularly when people started to use the term “influencer” as an occupation far too freely. 

The general public has also recently grown sceptical, especially of anyone using the term influencer to continue travelling the world while most of us are stuck at home during lockdown. This backlash could mark the fall of influencers. 

The reluctance to partner with influencers is understandable, but in my opinion, if travel brands want to continue appealing to their audience, they must join forces.  

The demise of Thomas Cook is a prime example of what happens when a travel brand is not willing to evolve to keep up with consumer behaviour, lifestyles and desires.  

A strong presence on social media must involve working closely with those who hold power on these platforms. The difficulty comes in choosing the right individuals to work with. 

Valuing Influence 

Traditional media is largely perceived (rightly or wrongly) as relatively risk-free. 

Whereas with influencer collaborations, brands run the risk of getting caughtup in an influencer’s controversy, falling victim to fake followers, and arguably the biggest challenge; value. 

Research we carried out into the value of influencer marketing showed that the cost per truly engaged prospect acquired through influencer marketing depended counter-intuitively on the influencer’s popularity: 

Influencer Type Typical cost per meaningful engagement 
Nano ((500-5K followers) $20.00 
Micro (5-30k followers) $5.73 
Power (30-500k followers) $2.03 
Celebrity (500k+ followers) $8.34 

Compare this to print, TV, radio and outdoor advertising, which can only be measured and selected based on passive viewership, footfall and circulation figures, and you’ll find the cost per meaningful engagement or action is significantly higher. 

The potential reach of influencers and their power to influence booking decisions can be life-changing for businesses. 

Just like traditional media and celebrity endorsement, influencers also be evaluated in several ways, and picking the right influencer is critical to the success of any such endeavour. 

The science of influencer selection  

A good, and easy, practice when shortlisting influencers is to use quantifiable metrics. 

Here are 6 simple steps to follow:  

  1. Create an Excel sheet listing all the influencers you’re interested in working with.
  1. Identify 10 recent posts for each influencer that are relevant to your business, up to five days ago (don’t pick posts from today or yesterday, as their metrics are likely to change). 
  1. Create columns for the number of followers, the total number of likes, and total number of comments for those 10 relevant posts.  
  1. To get a true comparison, divide the above totals of likes and comments by the number of followers. Use this measurement across the board.
  1. You can now shortlist down to 10-20 (or however many) influencers by looking at normalised level of engagement they get when posting content relevant to your business.
  1. Once you’ve compiled your shortlist, one final quality check should be to audit the quality of engagement – comments especially – they generate.

A sure sign of a good influencer is when their followers ask meaningful questions, corroborate their opinions, and converse with the influencer and other followers about the post.

Return on Influence 

 By going through this process, you will be better equipped to select influencers to work with to really capture the attentions of those inspired by what they see online. 

Keep in mind that working with an influencer doesn’t need to be a frightening concept. Yes, you may need to invest to see a return, but we already do that when buying ad space in the nationals or paying for airtime when advertising on TV.  

Influencer collaborations should sit within your existing marketing mix as an enhancement to outreach  not a lone ranger. 

The choice to work with influencers or not is yours. But keep in mind that by choosing and working with the right one, you could appeal to a wider audience, educate them and convince them to buy from you. 

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