The Upwell of the Instagram Influencer

From the Social Media Desk

“Influencer marketing said to become a $10 billion dollar industry this year”

Since 2015, influencer marketing has become more and more utilised in marketing strategies across the board, and the term “influencer” has become something of a buzz word in industry circles today.

According to a study by Mediakix, the number of influencer posts between 2016 and 2017 grew from approximately 5 million to 14.5 million, and this is predicted to rise to a whopping 32 million posts by the end of 2019; and influencer marketing said to become a $10 billion dollar industry this year. Based on these figures, it is safe to say that influencer marketing is more than just a fad.

who is an influencer?

To understand the full impact of this new practice, it is first important to understand what an influencer is. Effectively, influencers are those who can change, or influence, the purchasing decisions of their audience because of their specific knowledge and understanding of a particular niche sector or their association with a particular brand or product; they have an area of expertise, and as such are trusted and held in high regard by their followers. Effective influencers, whether they have celebrity status or expertise in a particular area, are viewed as having integrity and a position of understanding about what it is they are getting behind, and so their opinion has some standing and recognition.

Influencer marketing is more strategic than just getting a person to get behind your business. There are several ways in which influencer campaigns can be structured. Here are three examples:

  1. Cause Marketing – give your target market a cause that resonates with them and with your brand to get behind. Use your influencers to create buzz around the cause.
  2. Event Marketing – any event that is attended by top influencers from your targeted demographic will gain traction and create engagement.
  3. Experience Marketing – new experiences that influencers post about will garner a great deal of attention among their followers, so create original experiences that allow your influencers to post authentic content about.
But before you begin to map out your influencer campaign, it is essential to tick boxes when it comes to actually engaging with your desired audience. It is essential to ensure that you are indeed reaching your audience, and engaging with them. Here are some practical tips to consider when implementing an influencer marketing campaign:
  • Define your criteria – what do you want to achieve using influencers to promote your brand or business?
  • Find the right influencer – number of followers does not always directly correlate to audience engagement, so choose your influencers according to content that resonates with your target market.
  • Build influencer relationships – just as you want your influencer to be passionate and dedicated to your message, you too need to reciprocate this. Building relationships with your influencers is the key to getting their attention – create a symbiotic relationship with your influencer where you advocate for them while they advocate for you.
  • Performance evaluation – the success of a campaign can be determined by its ROI. According to a study by Humanz, “the benefits of influencer marketing over paid media are well documented. In the USA, businesses have been making on average $6.50 for each $1 spent on influencer marketing, with the top 13% earning $20 or more (source: Tomoson). Furthermore, 60% of 18-34 years old in Africa say that their purchase decisions have been swayed by influencers on social media (source: eConsultancy).”

With statistics like that it is not hard to see why more and more businesses in South Africa, and across the continent are turning towards influencers.

There are different levels of influencer, each one determined by numbers of followers. According to the report carried out by Humanz, they can be broken down as follows:
  • Nano influencers 1,000 and 5,000 followers.
  • Micro influencers have between 5,000 and 49,999 followers.
  • B list influencers have between 50,000 and 249,999 followers.
  • A list influencers have between 250,000 and one million followers.
  • Celebrity influencers have more than one million followers.

The majority of influencers in South Africa are nano influencers, and have between 1000 and 5000 followers. According to Humanz, there are over 200,000 of these nano influencers. It would appear that having the largest following does not always make you the best influencer. The success of an influencer is not measured by their number of followers, but by the level at which those followers engage. In many instances, celebrities with huge followings have little to no engagement, while nano influencers who are strategically aligned with certain products/brands have far more engagement with their followers. According to BuzzSumo co-founder Steve Rayson“there’s no relationship between the number of followers and the number of retweets an influencer gets.” Just because an influencer has 100,000 followers doesn’t mean they’ll get 1,000 retweets or shares. In many instances, an influencer with a smaller community may have a follower base which is more engaged.

Influencer marketing is the new kid on the block, but if the statistics and its track record to date are anything to go by, it’s here to stay. There are huge opportunities in this new sector and the possibilities are endless at this early stage in the game. What was once an out the box practice is now here to stay, and when used strategically and in a targeted way, influencer marketing can be a game changer to any digital marketing campaign.

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