After initial skepticism, Influencer Marketing has finally hit the German market in 2016. Pioneers such as Kapten & Son or Fittea have leveraged early adopter advantages to increasingly compete with larger brands for the most popular Influencer co-operations. Even large companies such as Adidas, Audi and Coca Cola already recognized the potential in Influencer Marketing.
Influencer marketing budgets in the US are increasing rapidly, and investment by many German companies is beginning to catch up.
And for good reason: Influencer Marketing represents the most effective way to establish a relationship between brand and target group. The goal of a good Influencer marketing strategy is to create value for the respective target group together with influential opinion leaders while driving sales for the company. As most successful marketers know, the most sustainable way to increase sales always puts the target group in the foreground.
Dale Carnegie described this in his first book “How to Win Friends & Influence People” as early as 1936. Although, this is obviously not a mystery, (too) many companies still neglect this fact and prefer marketing channels which place the brand in the forefront and only care about instant results in the form of clicks and conversions.
It is important to understand that marketing should place the focus on the target group, and that social media influencers can help build and strengthen customer relationship and show the brand’s understanding of its customers and future customers.
The most important principle for working with influencers
The great strength of Influencer Marketing is trust. A much-cited study by Nielsen shows that consumers trust other people much more than traditional advertising when it comes to purchasing decisions. To ensure that Influencers can produce authentic content, brands should follow these important principles:
Honesty: Mutual honesty is important for a successful cooperation. This honesty should also be reflected to the target group. There is no reason not to let the community of an Influencer know that the content is produced in cooperation and for commercial purposes. Honest Influencer Marketing is successful. Dishonesty fails.
Match: After the limitation of organic reach on Facebook, and now also at Instagram, the reach or amount of followers of an influencer is no longer a reliable selection criteria (if it was). Engagement ratios also may be misleading: Just because an influencer usually has a good engagement rate does not mean that it will be that way forever, or that the followers are real. If a post does not bring any added value and is not interesting, it will not reach the usual engagement ratio. Therefore, it is important that brands select Influencer qualitatively.
Brands should choose influencers whose style and content they like and where they are sure that the Influencer community can benefit from the cooperation. Influencers should cooperate with brands that understand them and their community, that emphasize creative freedom and are anxious to create value in form of thrilling content.
Communication: Brands must place special emphasis on convincing the Influencer of the brand message and its product. Social media has shown that successful brand communication is personal and gives the brand a face and a name. We all feel better when “Max from Nike” and not “Nike Germany” answers on Facebook.
That’s exactly how it should be in Influencer Marketing. Brands should place emphasis on personal and direct communication with Influencers and make them their best and most loyal customers.
Since the great triumph of online advertising, a uniform procedure has prevailed in the evaluation and adaptation of new advertising channels: First, a small test-run is started and when this has proved successful, scaling is carried out. Connected with this is often the pursuit of automation.
So the question remains: How can companies automise Influencer Marketing best?
The answer is: Not at all!
Because Influencer Marketing is not a performance marketing. It is about the content, the creative cooperation with creative personalities and the resulting added value for the target group. None of the most successful influencers in the world became influencers solely to make money. Most influencers saw YouTube, Blogs, Instagram, or Snapchat as platforms where they could share their passion with others and express themselves.
If brands today force influencers to produce content according to strict guidelines, the cooperation usually fails. Do not forget: the followers want to see content of the influencer and not the brand, so the influencer should always lead the creative direction.
Therefore, the direct exchange, the communication, as already described above, is one of the most important components of a successful Influencer marketing strategy. Direct communication not only prevents misunderstandings caused by too many intermediaries, but creates additional identification of the influencer with the brand. It gives influencers the feeling of being important and being respected. Automation and indirect communication, on the other hand, inhibits identification, reduces the value of content, and thus has a negative impact on credibility.
Think about Facebook: Facebook has not automated relationships for us. It has simplified and globalized social interaction. Still, we have to build, care and maintain relationships ourselves.
We at exomatch, strive to provide just this for influencer marketign. We simplify Influencer Marketing on our platform to ensure more efficient and pleasant processes. Companies find matching Influencers faster through our algorithmic matching system. Selection and booking is still conducted by companies themselves. In addition, we provide a clear, direct communication with influencers through our management tool. Therewith, we save advertisers a lot of time, which they can now spend on more cooperations and on personal one-to-one interaction with their influencers to achieve even higher quality content. We do not automate Influencer Marketing, but make it scaleable by letting advertisers increase their efficiency tremendously.
The success and the relevance of Influencer Marketing is now well-known to many. The key to success is not automation.
Influencer Marketing represents the shift from ad-powered marketing to people-powered marketing. Content, which aims to provide actual added value for the target group, must be created in cooperation. The secret of successful advertisers is the direct communication and interaction with their influencers. These advertisers did understand the underlying principle: Influencer marketing is not about brands – it’s about people.
Paulus von den Hoff is co-founder and ceo of exomatch.