Your 2018 Guide To Influencer Marketing: Theory & Practice

  • Influencer Marketing | Trendjackers

Influencer Marketing was a big talking point in 2017. And as Google’s search data illustrates, it’s global popularity is at it’s highest level since records began.

As brands continue to look for new ways to grab our attention, it makes sense that Influencer Marketing has taken a front-seat in 2017.

In this article, we’ll take a look at Influencer Marketing from a theoretical perspective, whilst providing guidance on how to apply it to your marketing strategy in practice.

WHAT IS INFLUENCER MARKETING?

Influencer Marketing is a type of marketing that aims to use influential people to amplify a brand’s message and project it to a given audience.

In other words, instead of marketing directly to your audience, you would hire, pay or incentivise a person of social influence to review, name-drop or advocate your brand.

WHY IS INFLUENCER MARKETING EFFECTIVE?

At an elementary level, marketing is all about getting your ideas to spread. Traditionally, mass-media (or advertising) was the favoured method to achieve these ends.

One of the issues with relying on this as a standalone marketing approach is that nowadays, consumers are blessed with an abundance of choice.

So much so, that we’re becoming increasingly resilient to the persuasion of advertising. This is helping to pave the way for a shift of attention towards social influencers.

In the past, the two-step flow of communication (Lazarsfeld, et al. 1944) has attempted to explain how this works.

The Two-Step Flow of Communication Theory | Trendjackers

The Two-Step Flow of Communication Theory (Lazarsfeld, et al. 1944)

The theory asserts that ideas are transmitted through mass media (or advertising) to influencers – and from there, a reinterpreted message is then propagated to the public.

This suggests that the process in which ideas are developed in the public domain primarily rely on the perceptions and attitudes of an influencer.

Whilst the two-step flow theory rightly points out that the general public is swayed by social influencers, I don’t think that it’s fair to say they’re the only source of influence.

Personal experience has led me to believe that the general public, to varying degrees, are influenced by a symbiotic combination of advertising, social influencers, and to a certain extent, each other – through the power of word-of-mouth.

Therefore I think it should look more like this:

Two-step Flow of Communication [Revised] | Trendjackers

Two-step Flow of Communication [Revised] (Trendjackers, 2017)

Having said that, in certain instances, using a social influencer to spread your message is still likely to be more powerful than advertising.

This is because when you use a social influencer directly, your message comes from the mouth of a seemingly trustworthy and authentic source.

Most marketers, therefore, may opt to use advertising in tandem with social influencers in their marketing campaigns to supplement one another.

WHO ARE SOCIAL INFLUENCERS?

When people think about social influencers, they naturally imagine celebrity-type figures. But social influencers don’t necessarily have to be celebrities.

They don’t actually have to be people, either.

They do, however, usually specialise in a particular niche and typically benefit from a large following on social media.

The majority of social influencers come in the form of:

  • Journalists
  • Academics
  • Industry Experts
  • Bloggers/Vloggers

WHAT MAKES THEM DIFFERENT?

Besides being influential to the masses, social influencers are often different to the general public by the way in which they adopt new ideas and innovations.

The Diffusion of Innovations (Rogers, 1944) explains the theory behind how and at what rate ideas and innovations spread through specific groups of people in society.

The Diffusion of Innovations Theory | Trendjackers

The Diffusion of Innovations Theory (Rogers, 1962)

The theory alludes to the notion that the spread of ideas and innovations happens at different rates for different people, rather than simultaneously for everyone.

As illustrated in the diagram above, society is stratified into five subgroups according to the rate in which they are likely to adopt an idea.

Typically, social influencers are likely to reside amongst the Innovator and Early Adopter categories, which combined, make up only 16% of the population.

The categories that follow, which make up the remaining 84%, are likely to be people that reside within the mass market.

This is why social influencers are regarded as ‘trendsetters’ – because they are often the people that adopt new ideas and innovations first.

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APPLICATION

Before you start planning your influencer campaign, you’ll need to outline your objectives. What do you want to achieve? Do you want to garner brand awareness, get more sales, increase event attendance, improve your brand image or simply gain more followers?

This is especially important further along down the line when it comes to delivering your content and measuring ROI of your campaign.

IDENTIFYING AN INFLUENCER

Identifying an influencer is the first step towards planning your influencer campaign – and it’s important to remind yourself who your target market is.

When considering working with an influencer, the first question you should ask yourself is does their audience share an affinity with mine?

Does this influencer specialise in a niche? What are they renowned for in the public eye? And what brands have they worked with in the past?

SIZE MATTERS

Social influencers are usually classified as micro influencers or macro influencers.

Micro influencers tend to have 10k – 250k followers, whilst macro influencers are likely to have millions of followers.

You’d be forgiven for assuming that the bigger the audience, the better. But lots of followers don’t count for much if they aren’t actively engaged.

According to the findings of a recent report, micro influencers often benefit from a more engaged audience than macro influencers.

A survey of 2 million social influencers showed that those with 10k – 100k followers, on average, see a 2.4% engagement rate, compared to 1.7% for those with 1m – 10m followers.

So is less more?

Perhaps. There is a lot of evidence to suggest that micro influencers, despite their audience being smaller, have a more refined, niche fanbase.

This is because a lot of macro influencers tend to have a diverse following, comprised of people who may have disparate demographic traits and interests.

It’s also likely that micro influencers are easier to approach and connect with, plus a smaller audience means a smaller price tag.

MEASURING INFLUENCE

Steve Bartlett of SocialChain developed a ‘scoring system’ for measuring the span of influence a public figure has on social media.

The scoring system gives you an insight as to how cost-effective, in terms of engagement, a social influencer is likely to be.

Here’s an example of the scoring system in practice:

Jack is a social influencer within the niche of Football.

  • His last 50 tweets have 15,550 combined engagements (replies, favourites, retweets)
  • Jack has 185k followers on Twitter.
  • He charges £100 per tweet.

15,550 (combined engagements) ÷ 50 (last 50 tweets) = 311 (avg. engagement per tweet)

311 (avg. engagements per tweet) ÷ £100 (cost per tweet) = £3.11

This gives Jack a Twitter score of 3.11 – which means you’d pay approximately £1 per 3.11 engagements.

CREATING CONTENT

Once you’ve identified an influencer, it’s time to get creative and think about what type of content you’re going to deliver to their audience.

At this point, you should have a planned objective for your Influencer Campaign. This will inevitably influence the type of content you deliver.

Most influencers have the ability to create the content themselves – and this option is popular because they already know what resonates with their audience.

Creating a style of branded content that fits naturally amongst what the social influencer already does on their channels is often the best route to take.

This method will appear to be more authentic and will likely lead to better engagement.

EXAMPLES

JEWSON ft. On The Tools

Today was a wonderful and humbling day. I’m honoured to announce that I am the newest Global Goodwill Ambassador for @unicef. Not only am I one of the youngest ambassadors ever appointed, but I’m also the first ever ambassador from the digital space. Having said that, I feel a responsibility to bring a fresh perspective to this role. I’m excited not just for myself, but for my amazing audience to join me in doing our part to make the world a better place for all children. Many youth around the world don’t have the privileges we do and therefore it’s our job to work for them, fight for them and speak up for them. I’ve got projects stirring in my mind but when it comes to humanity, we’re in this together! So if you have any ideas at all to support children’s needs around the world please comment below and I’ll be sure to engage. Thank you 🙏🏽 #ForEveryChild

A post shared by Lilly Singh (@iisuperwomanii) on

UNICEF ft. Lilly Singh

Benefit Cosmetics ft. Stefanie J Watson, Grettusa & Girl Talk with Laura

Post gym fuel + today’s outfit details! @nakedjuiceuk #ad

A post shared by KATE LA VIE (@kate.lavie) on

Naked Juice ft. Kate La Vie

MEASURING ROI

Measuring ROI on influencer campaigns has been known to be somewhat of a challenge for the majority of brands.

However, there are methods of measuring ROI that can give you a good idea of how effective your influencer campaign is.

Which method you use to measure your influencer campaign will depend on what objectives you’ve set.

At surface level, you can observe engagement metrics such as likes, shares and comments. However, to find out whether you’ve met your objectives, you’ll need to dig deeper into the data.

If you want to track conversations about your brand, you might want to take a look at Mention.

Mention is a useful analytical tool that allows you to track conversations about your brand, in real-time, across a number of platforms.

If you want to monitor website traffic generated from your campaign, you should be sure to use tracking codes that are made available from whatever platform you’re using.

A popular method of tracking sales is the use of specific discount codes. This could be used instead of, or in tandem with conversion tracking.

NEED HELP PLANNING?

There are a number of tools at your disposal that can help you plan, deliver and track your influencer campaign from start to finish – but if you feel that you might need help planning, get in touch with us today.

About the Author:

Jamie follows all things digital marketing, with a primary focus on consumer behaviour, branding and creative content. Jamie also keeps a close eye on new developments in the evolving world of social media.

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