For many businesses in the Gulf region, 2016 was a slow year with winning new business difficult as budgets were slashed. When cash is tight within a company, the easiest budget to reduce is marketing, and as counter-productive as it seems (as the marketing budget is what drives sales), it is usually the first to go.
The social media agencies, however, paint a very different story; “business is great” they tell me. Sure, we all know that social media marketing has been on the rise over the past five years, but how are they defying gravity when marketing budgets have been cut? Well, more and more companies are now allocating more money to influencer marketing and by aligning with personalities that have a large social media audience, they are finding higher Return on Investment (ROI) than traditional advertising.
A study by TapInfluence found that influencer marketing content delivers 11 times higher ROI than traditional forms of digital marketing. Due to the higher levels of trust consumers have with personalities over brands, the effectiveness of these campaigns has been good in many cases.
As a business owner, I understand how exposure translated into dirhams and ROI. On the other side, as someone with a large social media audience who has received numerous influencer marketing proposals, I see what large brands are paying for this kind of exposure and it worries me.
The online world has finally convinced the slow adopters of internet advertising that a more data-driven form of advertising will be more measurable than traditional media. Now we are looking to go backwards because by investing into influencers it becomes much harder to track the conversion and directly related sales from these campaigns.
Having seen some shockingly absurd rates for social influencer campaigns I foresee brands getting stung. But as with any form of marketing that has proven success cases, whether it works for you or not depends on your strategy. So here are some tips to ensure you get the most from influencer marketing campaigns
Firstly, take time to choose influencers that suit your brand ethos and are aligned with your values. The most damaging thing to your brand could be the association to something your customers don’t respect. Once you have found an influencer that matches this, look at forming ongoing brand ambassadorship rather than one-off endorsements. I have found that posted media depletes very rapidly and the attention span of the people viewing it is often nothing more than flicking down their newsfeed on their phone with one eye open before they wake up and start the day. Having a more continuous collaboration will allow for the message to be more firmly registered. You may also be able to work out discounted packages like this.
One of the most important things to determine whether an influencer is right for your brand is to understand more of who their audience is, so ask influencers before the campaign for their audience insights. Those that have business accounts on Instagram will have access to these stats, although most other platforms give some breakdown of the audience demographics. The next thing is to make sure you are selecting influencers with audiences that match your target market in terms of geographic location and demographic. Also be aware that a lot of people with large followings may have used certain paid programmes or apps that assign followers to their account to inflate their follower number. However, these followers are inactive accounts and won’t interact with the media and certainly won’t buy your product, so learn how to identify accounts with an artificially enhanced audience. Use a tool such as www.followercheck.co, which will give you a calculation of someone’s fake audience.
Lastly, when choosing influencers don’t think that bigger is better. Research has found that engagement and ROI is higher for smaller influencers, so it will work better for you to work with many small influencers than one large one. Look beyond Instagram influencers and see who has audiences on other platforms. Depending on the product or service you are promoting, each platform will have its merits and each has its different influencers.
Don’t be fooled by statistics that show how many impressions or likes were achieved. Look at your sales to see if it’s working for you.
Paris Norriss is an entrepreneur and partner in Coba Education, which provides educators to schools and institutes
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