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The influence of influencer marketing

MUMBAI: With changing advertising ecosystem, brands are exploring newer avenues to connect with consumers and market themselves. Social media influencer marketing is the new method that brands swear by. Although the trend is fairly new on the block, marketers are optimistic that it is only here to stay.

Influencers, unlike celebrities, can be anywhere and they can be anyone. The key ingredient for being an influencer is to have a large following on the internet and social media (which could be either on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Snapchat). These influencers are easily recognised by their hundreds (if not millions) of followers, and that’s the target audience for brands.

These mini celebrities of their kind help brands grow awareness and consideration while also helping them to drive sales. The best part about influencer marketing is that brands can have customised content for each influencer and it is not a “one product fits all” kind of a deal. Here, brands have control over the influencers they pick.

Influencer marketing is not to be confused with viral celebrities who are paid to sweet talk about products and promote them. Here, the power is in the hands of influencers who use the product and promote it only if it makes sense for them. Having painstakingly amassed a ton of following, they would naturally be protective of their reputation and misguiding their followers.

Twitter is the first option to experiment followed by Facebook, Instagram and bloggers. One tactic is to use their fan bases to grow the brand’s own social media following followed by creating engagement, sales, increase site traffic and drive SEO. A report by Zefmo India Influence Report 2018 says that due to its photo-sharing ability, 80 per cent of social media influencers predict Instagram to top the choice this year. 83 per cent of brands want product reviews, 70 per cent of them look sponsored posts while 48 per cent indulges in contests and giveaways.

The share of influencer marketing budget today is what a typical digital marketing budget was in 2008, i.e., a mere 2-5 per cent. BuzzOne CEO and founder Sanjay Vasudeva notes that influencer marketing is huge in Indonesia, China, US and Europe and it is still in the nascent stage of acceptance in India but it is gaining currency as a lot of brands now want to experiment with it. “Influencer marketing in Indonesia is a part of every brand’s digital budget and is anywhere between 20-30 per cent. It is more than what they spend on Facebook and other social media platforms,” he adds.

Brands are elated at the results these campaigns get them. 92 per cent of brands (as per the Zefmo report) will add influencer marketing to their marketing mix this year and 62 per cent are increasing the budget for it. People’s affinity with these people they choose to follow and their trust helps them in making positive purchase decisions.

According to influencer marketing platform Buzzoka’s Influencer Marketing Outlook 2018, 46 per cent marketers around India attribute reach and engagement as the most important factor for using it, whereas 23 per cent marketers consider it to be a good alternative for traditional media. The report also suggests that 69 per cent marketers consider it to be a good medium to generate engagement, drive word of mouth and create quality content.

Typically, marketers spend anywhere between 10-25 hours managing influencer campaigns which is quite a heavy investment of man hours. But a majority of brands custodians still prefer to manage influencer campaigns on their own instead of outsourcing it to their digital agency.

Vasudeva notes that since advertising on digital is cheaper than television and other traditional mediums, the share of influencer marketing in digital budget will only keep on increasing.

On an average, an influencer makes anywhere between Rs 20,000-30,000 per post. Although there are several pricing models available for brands including pay per post/video, free product or experiences, CPE (cost per engagement), CPC (cost per click), CPA (cost per acquisition), but payment as per performance is the common pricing method in the industry.

The top two challenges for a marketer today while including influencer marketing in the digital budget would be to justify the return on investment and selection of right partner/platform.

Given the tangible benefits of influencer marketing including follower engagement, driving traffic, and creating more authentic content, there is still a lot of space for Indian brands to leverage.

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