Influencer marketing for business is an absolute must, and this isn’t a trend. It’s the way things are going to be for the foreseeable future for several key reasons. I’m going to cover these factors and show you some of the most successful recent influencer marketing campaigns so you can see just how important influencer marketing is for business.
1. Influencer marketing for business leverages word-of-mouth brand building
We already know that word-of-mouth is the way that people learn about brands. Average consumers mention 56 brands during conversation in a typical week, and one in three customers finds a new brand based on a recommendation. Customers that find your brand that way are good for business, because referral customers enjoy a 37 percent higher retention rate.
Recent research shows that the recommendations made by influencers are even more powerful. Wharton School researcher Dr. Jonah Berger along with he Keller Fay Group and Experticity discovered several critically important facts about influencer marketing in their recent study:
- Influencers have conversations about about purchasing recommendations up to 22.2 times more each week than others
- 87 percent of influencer buying recommendations are made face-to-face
- 82 percent of polled consumers are “highly likely” to follow a recommendation made by a micro influencer
- 74 percent of the influencers encouraged someone to “buy it or try it”
- Only 66 percent of the general population encouraged someone to “buy it or try it”
- When it comes to influencers versus average people, influencers are believed to be more believable and credible (94 percent vs. 83 percent), more knowledgeable (94 percent vs. 84 percent) and better at explaining how the product works or could be used (92 percent vs. 83 percent)
The bottom line: influencers can communicate your brand’s message to more people with far more power, and when they do, consumers are far more likely to act on their advice.
2. Business influencer marketing is more effective than traditional ads
Banner ads are ineffective; overall display ad click-through rates are at less than 1 in 1,000. This is not surprising since we’re all sick of ads, right? Here in the US we see about 5,000 ads every day. Most of us tune them out, and we love to stream our media and otherwise enjoy products without ads.
Influencer marketing is not only more effective, but is also a measurable alternative. Recent research has now proven that influencer marketing provides 11 times more ROI than any other kind of digital media. It is costly to create top quality content in the first place, and distributing it is a separate problem that influencer marketing solves in an organic, cost-effective way.
3. Influencer marketing is social
Social media isn’t an extra for your brand now; it is what consumes expect. Potential customers connect with each other using social media and that’s also how they research their purchasing decisions. They share their experiences on social media, good and bad, and learn about products and services there too.
But for brands who want to stay competitive, social media has to be your place to engage with consumers, not just talk at them. Social media is the place to inform, entertain, and draw consumers in; influencers are the undisputed masters at all of these things. Strategic partnership with the right influencers is the best (and in some cases the only) way to get the kind of organic access to followers and engagement that most brands need. It is really the new form of business development!
4. Influencers set trends—and more
Influencers don’t just talk about trends; they create them. These tastemakers decide what products are going to be hot because what they like ultimately sells. If the right business influencers post pictures of themselves using your products, those products become part of the social and cultural fabric of the day.
While it’s possible that a paid ad could have an effect like that, it’s not likely. If Red Lobster hired Beyonce to do a commercial it might be worthwhile to them. But when Beyonce mentions Red Lobster herself in a song, the restaurant’s business spikes and it becomes a social phenomenon—because Beyonce is an influencer and she apparently likes Red Lobster.
5. Influencer marketing is native advertising
Native advertising leaves the consumer experience seamless and uninterrupted, placing brands organically within context in contrast to traditional advertising. 70 percent of online users prefer the native content approach to traditional advertising. Influencers showing how a product is used or offering their own opinions about why something is better offer the ultimate in native advertising.
6. Influencer marketing is good SEO
Influencer marketing naturally works to improve your SEO. For the top 20 brands in the world, user generated social posts make up 25 percent of all search results according to The Social Media Revolution. The more social media users that mention your brand, the more relevant and popular your brand will be on Google.
Great influencer marketing campaigns
Now lets take a look at some of the best influencer marketing campaigns.
1. Citibank – “What’s on your plate?”
The theory: Citibank’s idea was to promote its dining rewards at more than 2,000 restaurants to mobile consumers in India. The goal was for these consumers to pair Citibank with dining in their minds.
The practice: To do this the bank partnered with major food influencers Kunal Vijaykar and Maria Goretti along with Zomato, a restaurant discovery service, to serve as their marketing channel. They shot a video in which Vijaykar and Goretti argue over which foods and restaurants in Delhi and Mumbai are best and then asked people to tweet back with their favorite dishes in both cities and where to find them with the campaign’s hashtags, #WhatsOnYourPlate and #LuvToDine.
The win: Citibank chose the right influencers and a popular topic: food. They generated interest and celebrities along with “typical” consumers got involved, furthering the buzz.
2. Capital One – Instagram takeover
The theory: Capital One wanted to do an influencer twist on it’s “What’s in your wallet” campaign using Instagram, so they handed over their account to three popular Instagram influencers for five weeks. The goal was for the influencers, photographers Zach Rose, Paul Octavious, and Kimberly Genevieve, to take photos of the interesting, less utilitarian things that might be in their wallets to personalize the campaign and generate interest.
The practice: The more than 750,000 total followers of these three influencers saw mementos over the course of the five weeks, usually in personal settings, sometimes while the influencers were traveling. For example, they showed pictures of tickets, photographs, and love letters that they were keeping in their wallets.
The win: Capital One earned a 3 percent gain in overall image perception, and among consumers ages 45 and older they saw a 25 percent rise in ad recall—even though many people see influencer marketing as something that is useful for targeting millennials alone.
3. Buick – “Pinboard to Dashboard”
The theory: Buick wanted to partner with Pinterest influencers to associate its brand with luxury, specifically its Encore luxury model. Using influencer marketing for business, they hop to build their followings.
The practice: Buick worked with nine major Pinterest influencers—none of whom are in automotive spheres—to create mood boards.
The win: The influencers are in design, food, and style, and this partnership with movers and shakers in different spheres lent the project novelty, originality, and creativity—not to mention literally millions of new followers for Buick.
4. Tyson Foods – “Why Should Cookies Have All The Fun?”
The theory: Since 1 in 3 bloggers are moms and more than one-third of moms have bought something online after receiving a recommendation, Tyson wanted to tap into the mommy blogger community.
The practice: Tyson asked mom bloggers for fun holiday ideas for using their chicken nuggets and moms all over the web gave them chicken nugget snowmen, santas, and other creations.
The win: The campaign got 8 million impressions on social media, and Tyson’s sales grew by 42 percent in the few weeks following the campaign.
5. Tata Motors – #GetSetBolt Campaign
The theory: In time for the launch of the new Tata Bolt hatchback, Tata Motors wanted to use the reality show in a digital format starring four popular Twitter influencers to create buzz among its target consumer audience of new age millennials.
The practice: The digital campaign, called ‘Get Set Bolt,’ included four Twitter influencers: Abhishek Asthana (@GabbbarSingh), Apoorv Sood (@Trendulkar), Ashwin Mushran (@AshwinMushran), and Rahul Nanda (@RahulNanda86). The game show worked by the four getting “locked” into glass cubicles; they could win a brand new Bolt by winning the symbolic Bolt key by creating the most digital buzz. Each influencer’s top supporters could also win prizes to foster more participation.
The win: Users all over Twitter loved the gamification and the user generated content created by these heavy hitting influencers. The constant video and text updates about the show were extremely popular and maintained major buzz throughout the contest.
6. Jaguar – “F is my Type”
The theory: Jaguar saw that it had become too exclusive to get the sales it needed, so it used a young, fashionable influencer to refresh its brand image.
The practice: Jaycie Duprie, 29-year-old Instagram star and “Damsel in Dior” fashion blogger posed in white to promote a white F Type coupe. She had more than 265,000 followers at the time who could all see the Jaguar coupe as a fun, youthful ride during her summer campaign.
The win: This was the opposite of what everyone expected from Jaguar and it worked; the campaign was in action during summer of 2015 and September of 2015 saw the best sales ever for the F Type.
7. Ola – “The Prime Time”
The theory: Ola, a cab service, used influencer marketing to create buzz surrounding its revamped business-class offerings; the plan was for celebrities to drive customers certain customers around.
The practice: Ola’s new “Prime” cars are nice, offering free Wifi and highly rated drivers, but during the campaign some customers were picked up by celebrities like actor and supermodel Milind Soman, standup comedian and musician Abish Mathew, and Formula One driver Narain Karthikeyan. This created lots of buzz and some funny footage (like this clip of customers being driven byNarain Karthikeyan and entertained by the host) for sharing, too.
The win: This generated lots of social media buzz and also a huge spike in bookings once the campaign started and people found out they had a chance to meet these celebrities.
8. Oasis Fashion #UpMyStreet
The theory: Oasis Fashion wanted to expand its reach into different markets, so it decided to take direction from influencers on how to engage more American buyers.
The practice: The brand started a Shopping Links/ Instagram collaboration using the hashtag #upmystreet. They asked bloggers from Brooklyn, Los Angeles, Dallas, Miami, and other important markets to Instagram shots of them wearing Oasis outfits at their favorite neighborhood hangouts.
The win: Each campaign post got more then 400 likes on average, and Oasis itself grew its Instagram following to more than 116,000. According to Alexa.com, in the months following the campaign its web traffic in the US grew by 6 percent. This is an excellent example of leveraging a larger group of micro-influencers to great effect.
9. Downy – “The #SoftSide of Life”
The theory: Downy scoured the Internet for soft sculptures to share so that it could basically talk about all things soft and get in on the softness conversation.
The practice: Throughout the campaign, the brand shared the soft sculptures using the #SoftSide hashtag all over the digital space. This brought influencers into the conversation because those making soft sculptures use the hashtag. Downy could then prompt them to discuss what the soft side of life means to them.
The win: This was a fun, creative campaign with appealing visual elements which pulled twice as much social media engagement for Downy compared with pre-campaign numbers. According to Nielsen, the campaign earned 50 million impressions for Downy in industry publications and a 5-point increase in brand favorability.
10. Lululemon – #TheSweatLife
The theory: Lululemon tapped into the influencer culture among yoga enthusiasts and engaged in micro-influencer marketing by engaging with its most active consumers to turn them into customer advocates.
The practice: The company gathered and aggregates inspirational customer photos using its #TheSweatLife hashtag on the Olapic platform ending up with photos from more than 7,000 influential customers. These photos gained more than 40,000 views over the course of only nine months.
The win: 2015 was a great year for Lululemon, with double digit increases in net revenue.
11. Gap – Styld.by
The theory: Influencers who blog are early adopters and tastemakers, and they have more clout with shoppers than many traditional media outlets. Velocity Digital found that 61 percent of consumers have based a decision to buy on a blog.
The practice: Gap decided to create a website to seize this power by including influencer content instead of traditional content: Styld-by.com.en-uk. There shoppers can read content from influencers, bloggers, journalists, social media stars, and others, and they can easily share anything they find.
The win: Styld.by gives consumers lots of information about the Gap brand, but not from the Gap—the sources are credible and influential.
There’s no question that influencer marketing is the way for all brands, big or small, to get more traction in the market. These are the campaigns that are working right now, and this isn’t going to change. Can you think of the most recent time an influencer opinion caused you to make a purchase or add something to your shopping list? Let me know in the comments.