Influencer marketing and why you should get on it

We live in such a fast paced world that sometimes we are unaware of what is happening around us and how to get in touch with our customers. Hearing what business message we send out to our clients might sound strange when narrated back to us. Would you like to hear your brand message from another person? Influencer marketing is the perfect digital marketing strategy for you.

What is influencer marketing?

I am sure you have heard of influencer marketing and probably wondering what it entails or even what it means? Worry no more. Influencer marketing is the practice of working with influential people online in order to spread a positive word about your products and services through social media and blogs.

But be careful: running a successful influencer program involves more than just asking influential people to write positive reviews for your product or brand.

Influencer marketing involves commissioning key knowledgeable individuals with the task of spreading your company vision, products and brand to prospective clients. You must ensure that the individuals you commission are influencers. This means that they should be able to influence a mass audience into taking an action about your product/ service. As such, they should have real social media followers and their words should be seen as credible. Your company’s target audience must perceive the influencers as knowledgeable, trustworthy and sincere so that they can take their verdict. This is the basis of influencer marketing. If the followers do not believe in the influencer, then they are likely to take no action on their message, which results to failure.

Influencer marketing differs from most of the other forms of advertising in that the influencer is given the freedom and flexibility to endorse and promote the brand/product in the way that best suits his/her lifestyle and image. This means that you will lose control over marketing once you let the influencer take over. This is because the influencer knows his/her followers and knows the best way to approach and convince them to use your product. You do not have to give ideas for you do not know what the influencer followers like and what is of influence to them.

If you were to hire various influencers, let’s say four, then it is likely that each will adopt his/her personal style depending on the interests of the followers and his/her style of handling things. As such, it is important that you leave the work to your influencers to decide what to do and how to do it.

Does influencer marketing operates in a vacuum? The best answer is no. Influencer marketing goes hand-in-hand with two other forms of marketing. These are social media marketing and content marketing. Most of the influencer campaigns incorporate social media to spread your brand message through personal social channels. Influencer marketing campaigns require you to create content based on the perceived needs of your target audience or let the influencer create the content according to the perceived needs of followers.  It is worth to note that although social media marketing and content marketing go hand-in-hand, influencer marketing is more of the two combined.

Who is an influencer?

At this point, you may be asking who an influencer is. Right? I got you. If you thought that an effective influencer is one who has a large social media following only, then you were wrong but you will get it right shortly.

An effective influencer has the ability to reach out and engage online. An influencer must also be able to connect with other users on a range of platforms while promoting their own work on channels that best suit their followers. This implies that it is not only getting the word on any channel, but that which is accessible to the targeted followers. It is worth to note that effective influencers are not one-dimensional: you should be interested in those that are active across a range of platforms such as two to three social media platforms.

An effective influencer also has the ability to lead the followers into the desired action. An influencer usually considered to have a high level of understanding in a given area such as beauty, gaming, baking, sports and so on. So, you must go for that person who has this high level understanding. This is because he/she is likely to win the trust of all the people interested in that area.

Would you follow someone you don’t trust? Obviously NO. Therefore, trustworthiness is the other characteristic of an effective influencer. Remember that people will always follow a person they trust. Thus, this would require you to know whether your target audience trusts the influencer you are intending to use to promote your products/services. If an influencer is deemed trustworthy, then the followers can trust him/her as a source of information, which will be advantageous to the growth of your business.

What are some of the companies using influencer marketing?

Of late, Kenyan brands have been partnering with influencers in order to push their message to their target audience. I am sure you do not want to be left behind. Among the companies successfully using influencer marketing is Safaricom, specifically Blaze. In order to customize the way youth spend on airtime, SMS, and data, Safaricom has been using artists, celebrities, and successful entrepreneurs to share Blaze-related content on personal social media platforms. Among the preferred influencers are Nick Mutuma, Michelle Ntalami, and King Kaka.

Kenya Tourism Board has also embraced influencer marketing. Through the TembeaKenya hashtag campaign, the board is encouraging Kenyans to travel in their own country. To influence Kenyans, the board has partnered with bloggers, media personalities, and photographers. For example, Maina Kageni was involved in one of the recent roadshows, which travelled throughout the country for a period of 52 weekends.

Guiness has also successfully used the influencer marketing strategy. The brand generates content around sports, specifically their English Premier League and collaborated with Andrew Amonde, who is a captain of the Kenya sevens rugby team. This encourages sports fanatics to take the drink as they watch their games.

Grace Msalame has also collaborated with Vivo Activewear in promoting and boosting sales for the company brands. The influencer is a former TV presenter and regularly posts her images in Vivo outfit to drive sales.

You are not alone. Do not be too hard on yourself. It is time to get started with since influencer marketing is the next big thing in brand promotion.

How to get started with Influencer marketing

There is evidence that influencer marketing works but you may be asking yourself how it works. Well, here is what to keep in mind about influencer marketing when getting started.

  • The very first step is to establish what you want to accomplish. This includes defining your goals. Some critical questions would serve you in defining your goals. For example, are you trying to generate buzz around a new product? Are you trying to increase your reputation and trustworthiness? Are you reminding your market of a certain product/service? Are you boosting sales? Perhaps this is your key aim. Just make sure you define your goals and keep them in mind even as you seek for influencers to hire and throughout the influencer marketing endeavor.
  • Having defined your goals, the second step is to identify and reach out to the most effective influencers that could help achieve the set goals. It is worth to note that you should reach out to those influencers that are knowledgeable in the industry/brand. If you are active on social media, you may already have a clue of the possible influencers. If you are not active, well, you do not have to worry. There are several digital tools that can help you search for influencers including Traackr, Kred, and followerwonk among others. Here, it is worth to note that you need to make sure that the influencer you choose aligns to the characteristics of you target audience. For example, you would not choose a young influencer to advertise a brand to be used by the elderly. You also need to consider how active they are, the level of engagement their posts attract, and their records of previous collaborations.
  • Having identified the most appropriate influencers, you should work at developing a long-lasting relationship with the influencer. Here, you should seek to develop a personal relationship with the possible influencers before even letting them know the plan you have in mind. You may achieve this by maybe inviting them to an event, commenting on their blogs or posts, and sharing their posts. Be sure to explore any opening that might connect you to the identified influencer.
  • After developing ties with the possible influencers for your brand promotion, it is time to shortlist ways in which you can collaborate. You need to identify luring ways/products that would entice the influencer to collaborate with you. Please note that you will need a compelling reason for the influencer to collaborate with you. I would advise you have a list of propositions and suggestions in order to optimize the possibility of the influencer working with you.

Even as you bank on influencer marketing, please be sure to keep in mind and use other forms of marketing. Marketing has to be a multidisciplinary action and you must combine various strategies for your brands to compete effectively with those of your competitors.

How can one become a social media influencer?

After reading through the post, perhaps you are wondering how you can become a social media influencer. Here are six steps that can make a social media influencer out of you.

  1. Find your niche. This should be something you really have interest in and have confidence to tell people about it including something new/fresh or extraordinary about it. You should not struggle to communicate anything about it if you are really passionate. This means you have to be an expert in this area.
  2. Pick two, three or a maximum of four social media platforms that you will use to spread the word. Here you should consider what you’re good at: if you are good at videos, then you can opt channels as YouTube while you may prioritize Twitter if you are good in written content. Please note that you should also think about the content you want and are able to create and publish.
  3. Create your content strategy. You must come up with something of value that will make people follow you. Here you can consider your constant information priorities that will keep people waiting for your next post.
  4. Take enough time to plan, about two to three months, after which you can prepare your content and start publishing.
  5. You must be constant at publishing your content. You must also be consistent in ensuring that your content is always attracting people. This will create a desire in them to always want to read your posts. Because you already know the message you want to pass along, you must stick to it all the time but you can also look for something new in order to retain the attention of your followers.
  6. Contact other people and brands in your niche. Your main aim should be to generate new ideas. You can start by liking competitor’s posts and commenting on them so that they can notice you. Make sure you comment in a way that demonstrates you have an understanding in the industry. This will attract them into sharing and exchanging ideas with you.

One thing to keep in mind, “when you say you’re modest, you stop being.” This means that you should not go around bragging that you are an influencer. Just stay calm and people will notice you.

Thanks for going through this post, kindly leave a comment if you feel there are some points you don’t agree to or if you have other strategies to add on.

Influencer Marketing in Africa

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