What do we want influencers for?

14-05-2018 | Redacción CEU

The accelerated growth of social networks has disrupted many of the current paradigms of our society. In the advertising sector, the changes in patterns and models are evident. Marketing has been forced to make a 180º turn and to reformulate its strategies to reach a more demanding public whose natural habitat is the digital world. "Youtubers", "instagrammers" and "influencers" are part of the new online culture and present a more and more prominent role in the relationship of brands with customers. Is their potential being used appropriately? Is Influencer Marketing a profitable strategy? Can it become counterproductive for the brand? What are the keys when choosing an ideal influencer?

 

What do we want influencers for? This is neither a rhetorical question, nor trivial. When it comes to addressing an Influencer Marketing strategy, it is important that brands know how to respond clearly to this question. Although the use of influencers or celebrities is a growing trend from large companies and brands, it is not always a guarantee of success. Before hiring them, it is very important to be clear about what they want to achieve with their help and how these characters fit into their marketing strategy. This is one of the key points that the Head of Digital Go To Market of Hijos de Rivera S.A.U, Francesc Pumarola, wanted to highlight in the event "Marketing de Influencia. Cómo utilizarlo de forma efectiva para llegar a tu audiencia" organized by The CEU IAM Business School.

How we have changed!

The traditional advertising model was marked, in large part, by the budget limit. The communication was unidirectional. The more money was spent on advertising, the more able we were to reach a greater number of people. With the arrival of social networks, audience now has an active role. The communication is bidirectional and messages can become viral (with a positive or negative result).

The behavior patterns of potential consumers are not the same either. People consume videos through the Internet, their relationship with cellphones is intimate and close, social networks influence their purchase decision and the product recommendations have moved from a near and close to a digital level. All this has had an impact on brands losing their power in favor of the public that is now able to amplify or mitigate the reach of the brands. Like Pumarola explains: <<Brands are no longer in power of companies, they are in the power of customers>>.

This new paradigm also requires new strategies. The loss of brand power has made more difficult to impact and reach the consumer through conventional advertising. The public is more demanding and does not respond to the ads as before. For that reason, many brands have abandoned the old formulas and now seek to reach the audience in "the most organic possible way". Some firms have found in the figure of these new inhabitants of the online civilization, the influencers, an ideal tool to launch their messages and achieve to get along naturally with their dreamed public.

What do we want influencers for?

Where and how do influencers fit?

<<The best improvisation is a good script>> Pumarola emphasizes. The Influencers Marketing expert stands up the importance of approaching this strategy with very clear ideas and well-defined goals and "not letting oneself go by the trend". Because, well used, this figure can be very interesting, but we cannot forget that there are also cases of fraud in this practice in vogue: <<At the beginning, when you start doing these things, you take advantage of influencers who want to charge for the number of followers that they have, for the reach. When you really start using their services, and then analyze them, you realize that there is a lot of difference between the followers and the real reach (that they have). We know that there is a high percentage of people who buy followers>>.

Pumarola remembers that a digital strategy is not an exact science. The experience of the company is key in this sense, above all, taking into account that the marketing world is constantly evolving. For example, a new trend in the US is that influencers now include the hashtag "#ad" when they are advertising. However, this expert in Influencer Marketing explains that one of the keys when considering the possibility of hiring influencers is to know where to place this character's help into the conversion funnel:

  • Awareness: get to be known
  • Consideration: increasing the number of fans and subscribers, that consider them
  • Engagement: interaction with the brand, clients, consumption
  • Conversion: loyalty
  • Recommendation: advocacy, brand ambassadors

Pumarola defends the importance of knowing how to fit influencers into the brand goals, within the strategy that the companies have and according to the axes of their action plans. These opinion leaders cannot be far from their territory or attributes because their attitude and behavior can also have an impact on the image and reputation of their brands. Influencers help firms in two aspects: notoriety (reaching a lot of people) and positioning (how they present themselves, what they represent). Brands have to be very careful when associating with them: <<The difficult thing is to associate with someone who helps you to build your territories {...}. You have to take great care about how you reach and how are the messages you give>>.

Another fundamental requirement for the success of a strategy of this type is that the target of the influencer fits with the one of the brand. If a firm needs to impact an adult audience and the followers of the hired celebrity fit with a teen profile, they will miss an opportunity and they will probably be wasting the investment. There is a tendency to hire influencers "by weight", meaning, by the number of followers that they have, but the public of these online characters is composed by different typologies: inactive (motivated by inertia), spectators, active and engaged. <<The goal, both as a brand and as if we use influencers, is to increase the reach and the interaction, not to accumulate fans. The number of followers has nothing to do with the real reach or with that they reach the target that interests them>> Pumarola points out.

The expert in digital strategy is clear about the answer to the question asked in this article: What do we want influencers for? To contribute to the goals of the company or the brand and to reach qualified audiences with effective influence. With these clear premises, Pumarola wanted to close this event by pointing out what for him are the five keys that guide the choice of the influencers with who he works:

  • Affinity with the public,
  • Contribution of value
  • Co-creation
  • Enthusiasm
  • Connection

At the CEU IAM Business School, we teach an Executive Master's Degree in Digital Marketing (Online) that has been designed with the aim that the professionals can specialize in the different and newest digital strategies in social networks, SEM, SEO, Inbound Marketing, Affiliation and Display campaigns.