Influencer marketing is the buzzword of the decade, with Insta-stars and YouTube vloggers heating up the airways with sponsored messages that are viewed, liked, and shared millions of times. Does this social media frenzy lead to true sales? Many consumer packaged goods (CPG) marketers think it does — and they’re leveraging the power of creators’ massive platforms to introduce new products and services, offer discounts, and drive sales.
According to The State of Influencer Marketing 2018 report from Linqia, a whopping 92% of marketers that used influencer marketing claimed it to be effective. As the pendulum swings towards social marketing and further away from traditional ad buys, now is the time to make a switch — or at the very least, to learn how your competitors are effectively utilizing these social media influencers.
Benefits of Integrating Brand Ambassadors In Your Strategy
Brand ambassadors are born every day, although you may only be aware of a small percentage of them. The reality is that anytime someone recommends your products, they are acting as an ambassador for your brand in the community. Today’s top social media influencers perform the same service on a very macro scale — with hundreds of thousands or millions of daily followers eager to follow in their purchasing footsteps. The difference between brand-created content and that provided by independent content creators is vast. While content created within the brand may be more exact and true to the brand itself, content that comes from influencers offers a deeper level of authenticity with the reader, or at least that’s how it’s perceived.. Whether it is true or not, there is a perception by the audience that the brand ambassador genuinely loves the product, essentially lending your brand some of their equity.
There are several benefits to including social media ambassadors as a part of your marketing strategy:
- 78% of marketers find that influencer content outperforms brand-created content. This more authentic way of generating engagement especially appeals to Millennials, who tend to be disenchanted with traditional marketing ploys.
- Influencers can open your content up to a new market that you may not have otherwise reached. Positive reviews from ambassadors can catapult brand awareness while promoting a positive image.
- Visually rich platforms such as Instagram, YouTube, and Snapchat are ideal for today’s creative influencers. The more interesting the content, the greater the reach of your partnership.
Influencer marketing is still in its infancy in terms of traditional CPG brands. Smaller start-up brands are more likely to utilize brand ambassadors to spread the word about their brand — and are seeing the returns.
Partnering with Influencers
CPG marketers have a long history of working hard for reviews on a variety of shopping platforms, and influencer marketing can dramatically extend the reach of personal reviews. Finding the ideal influencer that meshes well with your brand may be a challenge, as it is important that all of their social media accounts complement your brand identity. Here are three ways CPG brands are already using social media influencers:
- Lifestyle Enrichment. Bloggers and vloggers are able to weave a story around your brand, one that can be uniquely appealing to your core audience. For instance, the partnership between Naked Juice and influencer Kate La Vie turned to Instagram gold, with a single post garnering nearly 4,000 likes and multiple comments. In this case, Kate simply shared an image of her mango-flavored Naked juice with her followers along with a post-workout message. Naked was the ideal tie-in for Kate’s brand, and vice versa — a match made in sponsorship heaven.
- Behind the Scenes at Big Events. With more than 2.4 million likes, 3.4 million retweets and 221,000 comments, the tweet from Ellen DeGeneres backstage at the Oscars is one of the most popular social media posts of all time. While not a sponsored post, it is easy to see how the right influencer can drive unbelievable traffic numbers from behind the scenes at big events by driving pre- and post-event buzz as well as live-posting to Instagram, Twitter, or using Facebook Live. The partnership between fashion influencer Gina Ybarra and Dole was targeted at a decidedly younger demographic than Dole generally reaches: the coveted 18-34 age group.
- Leveraging Groups. If you are having difficulty landing on a single voice that truly speaks to your brand promise, consider working with a group of content creators to form a tribe of influencers for your brand. Influential communities such as mommy bloggers may be a more authentic way to share your message. Quaker recently utilized this tactic to great success with their #GoodIsMade campaign that challenges others to post images around the core value of kindness. Brightly colored fruits and vegetables were paired with simple notes for maximum impact.
However, utilizing influencers requires more than passing along your brand guidelines and defining a hashtag. The difficult work includes measuring success and ensuring that your platform maintains full transparency — with your audience, as well as the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
Best Practices for Engaging Influencers
The influencer with millions of followers may not truly be the voice that you need for your brand. It’s important to be able to suss out the characteristics of your ideal brand ambassador. You may want to select someone with a smaller or more niche market; they are likely to be less expensive as well as have a more engaged audience. Measuring success can be a challenge. While small or new brands may be happy with receiving thousands of likes on a post and consider that a win, many CPG marketers are looking for more concrete ROI. Engagement metrics such as impressions, clicks, and conversions are important to review — but the bottom-line metric that matters is sales.
As a consumer protection agency charged with protecting individuals from false claims, the FTC has an endorsement guide with specific rules for influencers, including the requirement to disclose that particular posts are sponsored if there is a monetary or in-kind transaction that takes place. Sponsorship cannot be hidden, either — it must appear near the top of the post. Finally, each post must include the hashtags #ad or #sponsored before any links.
The rules surrounding influencer marketing are relatively straightforward and there are thousands upon thousands of individuals with a platform that could support your brand. Finding just the right voice and message does take skill and perseverance — and possibly a few flops before you get it just right — but the ultimate payoff can be exceptional.