Ask any marketer or PR agency in Asia about their use or understanding of influencer marketing and you’ll invariably be met with a sigh, a frown or a look of exasperation.
Influencer marketing may be the marketing tactic du jour, but there remains much misunderstanding and misperception about how to truly harness the power of influencers, and dissatisfaction and disillusionment amongst brands and their agencies who have attempted to do so.
All of which leads to bad experiences and poor campaign results—low engagement despite apparent high reach, poor influencer management, mismatched talent and brands, and a lack of meaningful and measureable monitoring.
If utilised properly, influencer marketing can be hugely effective, but there needs to be a shift in our interpretation of the term ‘influencer’ and our understanding of what influencer marketing actually is and the effective role it can play as an element of marketing campaigns.
As social-media usage increases amongst all ages and younger consumers particularly view traditional advertising methods with mistrust and scepticism, it’s easy to see why influencer marketing can seem the failsafe way to truly connect with your target audience.
Peer recommendation and word of mouth are beginning to dominate purchasing decisions and now regularly outperform paid advertising. But as with any marketing method, influencer marketing needs to be approached strategically to be effective. This tends not to happen, with a lot of brands in Asia still relying on ‘celebrity’ influencers to flog their products.
The problem is that your celebrity might have 5 million followers, but how many of them are taking any notice of the bottle she’s carrying or the dress she’s wearing, enough to actually make a purchasing decision on the back of reading the post?
Unfortunately, number of followers does not dictate engagement rate. And too often, no thought is given as to how the brand matches up to the celebrity and that person’s follower demographic. So you’ve just paid a fortune for a handful of Instagram posts and have very little to show for it in terms of ROI.
So what’s the answer?
In Australia we are seeing a shift towards embracing what we call the ‘Power Middle’ influencers—talent which individually may have a smaller reach but when utilised in greater numbers across a campaign can outperform more commonly used celebrity influencers by up to 300 percent in engagement rate.
Brands can also reap credibility points by viewing influencers not as just a pretty product backdrop but as ‘creative freelancers’, individuals who maintain their creative control and only work with products and brands they feel passionately about, so that the content stays authentic and relevant to the talent’s audience.
The result? Better engagement and higher conversion rates. Allowing influencers to create their own content also brings opportunities for brands to adapt this content across their own social, paid and earned-media platforms, which we’ve found results in a higher degree of consumer engagement when compared with brand-generated content, and therefore results in greater campaign ROI.
Influencer marketing is here to stay and is growing ever more relevant and effective, but only when influencer talent is recruited and engaged based on their creativity and brand affinity and not on their number of ‘likes’. Let’s hope the days of ‘influencer as celebrity’ are numbered.
Amy Luca is Singapore managing director and marketing director at Visual Amplifiers (VAMP)