Until a few years ago, influencer marketing— a type of social media marketing using endorsements and product mentions from influencers — was confined to celebrities and a set of bloggers. Its inception happened around the year 2010 when Facebook created a buzz on social media; Twitter, Pininterest, etc. sprouted around the same time. A few years later, Snapchat and Instagram, mushroomed and became an instant hit allowing people to share pictures/videos in a never before avatar.
Initially, influencer marketing bloggers used to primarily share stories and photos. But things changed after 2016, with the rise of internet consumption in India, and the proliferation of smartphones. While more than 400 million Indians already had access to social media before the pandemic, they started spending more time on social media during the lockdown and from an average 150 minutes per day, they started spending about 280 minutes per day on the platforms. This change in user behaviour can be attributed to the rise of social media influencers.
Over the past two years, influencer marketing has really caught up and is proving to be a real game-changer. Even celebrities, today, are taking the influencer route because of partnership with brands, quick money and staying connected with their social media followers.
The credit of this change in the marketing space, however, must also be attributed to Millennials and the GenZ. According to ClickZ, 22% of users in the age group of 18-34 make their buying decisions after watching celebrity/influencer endorsements.
For brands, influencer marketing helps to build authenticity, expand reach, and give better ROI. Also, the recommendations made by an influencer are a social proof for the brand. In fact, according to influencer management platform Traackr, 72% of major brands say they are dedicating a sizable portion of their marketing budgets to influencers.
Choosing Influencers Strategically
Two primary reasons for using influencer marketing are elevating brand awareness and increasing revenue. But, it’s always beneficial to begin the strategy basis the brand’s requirements. For example, if you want to increase a customer base in a younger demographic or want to expand into a new user group, instead of focusing on a range of followers, influencers can help you target a specific group of audience who will be interested in your product.
Influencers are categorised into nano influencers, micro-influencers and mega influencers depending on the reach and engagement the person has on his/her profile. Because brands always try to engage with a set goal, the persona of a brand and an influencer should match in order to attain the best outcome.
But, the foremost reasons why influencer marketing is so sought after by brands, are:
Small Budget, Big Influence: Influencer marketing doesn’t require a huge budget to start with. Brands can associate with micro, macro, and big influencers starting from as low as a couple of thousands. Influencers with smaller fan bases also generate worthy revenue with engaged audiences.
Builds Validity and Trust: Influencers help in developing trust among the audience. Followers are curious to know the perspective of the person they follow on the particular product, basis on that they make their buying decision.
Tracking Influencer Success: Any campaign that is run through influencers gives immediate results because it can be tracked and seen via a URL. The URL can provide you with ongoing updates and the revenue gathered by each influencer.
(Himanshu Arya is Founder & CEO, Grapes Digital. Views expressed here are personal)