Influencer marketing: Better do it right

Recently, I attended the Campaigning Summit Switzerland 2018 (CSCH), which gave me a chance to reacquaint myself with familiar, and not-so-familiar people.

This post is the first one of three posts about this topic:

  1. Influencer marketing: Better do it right #CSCH18
  2. Influencer marketing: Smart metrics are key (by April 2 ! sign-up for Newsletter, get it first)
  3. Influencer marketing: A flash in the pan
P.S. – Download the slides (PDF file – 12.6 MB) – mostly in German – and click on the links to the resources I used for some REALLY interesting research articles.

Of course, we also exchanged our latest ideas, facts, and data about the best in social media marketing. Strategy and latest metrics for engagement, campaign success and influencers were topics as well. In influencer marketing, earned media and word of mouth also play an important role.

Naturally, the ROI (return on investment) matters when I launch, conduct and finish an influencer campaign. And yes we shared our experiences and the Campaigning Summit Switzerland using our hashtag #CSCH18.

In short, great people, great program, and here is my report.

I moderated a small session entitled, Campaigning und Influencer Marketing: Alter Wein in neuen Schläuchen? (Campaigning and influencer marketing: Old wine in new bottles?)

The most interesting small session I joined was the one by Sophie Chiquet: IQ+EQ+LQ=CQ for Corporate Quotient – Intelligence is sexy! Let’s wear fashion. At first, I was confused – I got there late. But Sophie helped us along, and participants did their share. Sustainability, transparency, reflecting personality, customisation, personalisation, link to function and to action, etc.

VAUDE, the leader in ecological outdoor clothing has learned that some are willing to pay for sustainability when they shop. In turn, their willingness makes it feasible to strive for reducing waste and water usage in the production process and supply chain.

But then there are still those that continue to go for the latest Zara or H&M outfit for the best price possible. These are unlikely to consider sustainability much when shopping.

I am convinced that using fewer materials, water, and avoiding chemicals is a good thing. As is having one classic suit for ten years instead of buying one trendy suit every year for the next ten. But not all of us will do as we say, and shop accordingly or drastically reduce our CO2 footprint. Because this would, for instance, mean not taking the plane or car to go on vacation.

What do you think, am I right or wrong?

Below the focus is on Instagram metrics and influencer campaigns – interesting if we consider where fashion might be going.

Send your colleagues the URL below that will get them directly to the section you think they are most interested to read:

  1. Influencer marketing done right is not marketing – wait, what?
  2. How should we measure influencer marketing?
  3. Your opinion counts

1. Influencer marketing done right is not marketing – wait, what?

The way we use influencer marketing disqualifies it from being called marketing.

Marketing focuses on the needs of the clients. Theodore Leavitt put it as follows:

Selling is preoccupied with the seller’s need to convert his product into cash; marketing with the idea of satisfying the needs of the customer by means of the product and the cluster of things associated with creating, delivering, and finally consuming it.” – Theodore Levitt (see https://hbr.org/2004/07/marketing-myopia).

Thus, marketing requires learning what the customer’s needs are and how the company’s current products satisfy them.

In turn, brand strength plays an important role in marketing and has the following three parts, similar to a chest of drawers:

  1. Awareness of the brand, meaning our target audience knows about our brand – or not.
  2. Association and beliefs about the brand (e.g., associating the brand with sustainability).
  3. Attitude towards the brand (i.e. positive, negative or no opinion).

An influential blogger can raise awareness of a label with one’s target audience.

If it works, beliefs about a brand might be shifted or one’s attitude toward the brand may change for the better. To illustrate, they are trying hard to improve sustainability within their supply chain.

Brand beliefs, brand awareness, and brand attitudes make up a brand's strength.
Brand beliefs, brand awareness, and brand attitudes make up a brand’s strength.

2. So what is influencer marketing then?

As the above shows we need to define these things clearly. We want to work with influencers to accomplish our influencer objectives sooner, but what exactly is “influencer marketing”?

Some define it as a grey area between an official testimonial and a subtle product promotion – the latter is done almost in passing.

Others feel that it is a non-promotional approach whereby brands focus their efforts on opinion leaders. This is done instead of reaching out to consumers or industrial buyers directly.

So influencer marketing may be useful for raising brand awareness. However, it is unlikely to be more than a flash in the pan when it comes to increasing sales.

If the objective is to increase sales, then it’s a case of influencer promotions, not influencer marketing.

It makes more sense to use influencers to get closer to the client and find out what he or she needs, and likes about our product or a competitor.

In turn, this intelligence can be used smartly by marketers to deliver a better product. It’s that simple.

Brand-Influencer Fit: There are three types of influencers, we need to choose which category suits the brand best.
Brand-Influencer Fit: There are three types of influencers, we need to choose which category suits the brand best.

2. How should we measure influencer marketing?

I recently read a great opinion piece by Sven Hildebrandt in Horizont (2018-01-25, Issue4, p. Praxis 23), who wrote

Die zugrundeliegende Begriffsdefinition determiniert das Messinstrumentarium. (How we define a term determines what measuring options we can choose from.)

But this is not necessarily accurate. In fact, it seems that the crux of the matter lies elsewhere, namely:

Once we define a term such as influencer marketing, the most critical work begins. How do we operationalise the concept, so we can actually measure it?
Influence is a complex multifaceted concept that we cannot measure with one metric. Thus, we may need several metrics to get a fair approximation of what influence entails.

Only by doing this work properly can we empower ourselves to work with the best or most appropriate metrics to gain insights.

For example, an industry blogger may only have a readership of 5,000, but they are an interested audience that trust her. Or, she may have 5,000 people that read her blog who all have a large budget to spend on her topic (e.g., those for managing risks according to GDPR – are you ready for May 2018).

It is paramount that you select someone who not only has a large audience, but whose audience is comprised of your ideal market.

B2B Influencer Marketing: Sales is not an objective at all

If you are in the B2B (business to business) market, the intention is not to generate sales, but to raise brand awareness. This way, you position your brand to become part of the key decision-makers’ choice set – the set they will choose from when making a purchasing decision.

Here are a few key context elements that your influencer ranking system should be taking into account, and why:

  • Age: Michelle Phan may be an important fashion influencer, but will she be useful to reach out to the 50+ or “bestager” group of professional women?
  • Culture and Language: Where are your influencer’s readers located?. They may be in your local market and far away. In case of a restaurant located in a popular tourist region, getting readers from far away may be useful, since those may frequent the restaurant during their vacation nearby.
  • Time: Is the influencer currently active and playing a key role in the ongoing discussion on the topic? If she has not posted for 12 weeks (I have not posted for about eight weeks here 🙂 ), should we choose somebody else?
P.S. – Download the slides (PDF file – 12.6 MB) – mostly in German – and click on the links to the resources I used for some REALLY interesting research articles.

Stay tuned our next post on this topic by signing up for our Newsletter.

Last speaker, late Friday afternoon: Lucy Quest explains, campaigning means you are taking people on a journey. Remember, successful campaigns are run on the ground.
Last speaker, late Friday afternoon: Lucy Quest explains, campaigning means you are taking people on a journey. Remember, successful campaigns are run on the ground.

3. What is your opinion?

We have pointed out three trends here:

a) Influencer marketing is often done in a way that feels like sales or promotions. But successful influencer marketing focuses on getting a handle on customer needs and ideas to serve them better.
b) Measuring influencer marketing is not easy; in particular we need to define the term, and then find metrics that measure what we want and provide insights (actionable metrics).
c) Finding the right influencer that fits your brand is tough work. Do not let an agency intern do the job for you, stay involved.

But what do you think?

  • What was the last influencer project that you thought was really well done?
  • What measures do you use or recommend for assessing influencer campaigns?
  • What is a successful brand campaign that uses influencers or the CEO to reach out to customers and those that could be swayed?
  • What do you like most about campaigning or Instagram?

The author declares that some of the companies mentioned herein are clients of CyTRAP Labs or subscribers of DrKPI® services.

Interesting reads

By the way, it is not just about a hashtag – #DrKPI #ComMetrics – or spreading the message via social media. It is about getting people involved in the campaign: transform the mindset and achieve more.

Spheres of influence… is where it happens, even for influencers… get the people around you to join you on the journey.

Urs E. Gattiker

Professor Urs E. Gattiker - DrKPI is corporate Europe's leading social media metrics expert (see his books). He continues to work with start-ups. Urs is CEO of CyTRAP Labs GmbH and President of the Marketing Club Lago, a member of the German Marketing Association (DMV).

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