Our must-read column, Market Well, explores the key marketing strategies that are essential for the growth of a wellness business.
Every month, Vicky Ellison, who is also the Senior Marketing Manager for Equinox in the UK and Canada, examines how brands can create and maintain a marketing campaign that connects with both their intended audience and potential investors.
Providing valuable insight into the methods, services, and tools needed for both new and established businesses to drive exposure and boost brand value, this month Vicky is focusing on the value of working with influencers to grow your wellness brand…
A lot has been written about working with influencers. There’s no doubt that they are becoming a prevalent part of marketing plans, and a growing number of wellness brands are finding influencer tactics effective in their quest to reach audiences in a meaningful way.
But, if you haven’t embarked on an influencer programme, should you? And, if so, what’s the best way to approach it? If you already have something set up, how are you measuring it, and can the arrangement be improved?
This article explores influencer marketing angles from selection to content collaboration, looking at the key questions that brand managers should ask themselves along the way.
What are your objectives for the programme?
It’s easy to become caught up in looking at influencers; including their following and their ‘cool-factor’ – but take a moment to consider the goal. Is it mass brand awareness? Is it to drive sales? Is it to educate?
Who are you trying to reach and why? Laying out the objectives for your strategy is the first step in creating a filter for your decisions. Have these elements in mind as you embark on your search for the right individuals to partner with.
What do you want to create?
Go a step further and consider what you want to do with the influencers you select in order to reach the end goal.
If you’ve found that long-form content has been successful with your audience, should you be looking at people with a high price tag for a single Instagram image, or someone better suited to deeper content and co-creation within your budget?
Avoid being dazzled by the hottest social stars and ensure you stay focused. Marriott Hotels has an established influencer roster, and its focus is always on well-executed, relevant content. When it launched its new brand Moxy, a hotel chain targeting millennials, it worked with vlogger and comedian Taryn Southern who hosted interviews in a Moxy bed – this gained huge reach in a creative and popular way.
The content was of interest because it was in partnership with someone that resonated with the audience and offered much more than a photo seeking superficial likes.
What is your brand culture?
What does your brand stand for? What’s your tone of voice?
You’re choosing an influencer to be the conduit between your brand and the consumer, so you need to be confident that they can fit into that role appropriately.
You might argue that you’re trying to reach a new audience, but you can still do that using someone that fits with the important parts of your brand DNA. When Beats by Dre wanted to move into rugby, a sport it admittedly knew little about, it recognised that the Beats culture is focused on being the best, and winning. It sought advice to identify the best players and decided to work with Richie McCaw.
To-date, the brand’s film ‘The Game Starts Here’ has amassed over 10 million views on YouTube. When the All Blacks won and McCaw was pictured sporting Beats headphones across various media platforms, it confirmed to the world that Beats was a brand for winners.
How can you listen in order to learn?
You’re choosing to work with an influencer to reach their audience, so it should always be a two-way conversation. To revisit the Beats example, the first thing the company does with the influencers it’s working with, is host dinners – not to create social content but to observe and gain insights.
It’s the start of a relationship where Beats learns what’s important to the influencers and their audiences, and it creates a bond.
By investing time in your chosen people they start to buy into your brand too, which is mutually beneficial. Vlogger Fleur de Force agrees. In an interview with Fashion Monitor she suggests that a conversation is the best way to start with influencers. If you have a content idea, share it, and ask for their feedback and input, ultimately it will lead to something more authentic and better supported.
What’s the engagement?
There are several studies suggesting that you should choose influencers with smaller followings over those with a million plus, but the important part is how engaged their following is.
If your influencer has a million engaged fans built from an audience you want to reach, then the only reason not to work with them is likely to be their price.
Influencer services company Takumi suggests that engagement rates are around 4.5% for 1-4k followers, 2.4% for 4-100k dropping to 1.7% for 100k+. Remember that followers and likes can be bought, so look more closely to see if the engagement is genuine.
To pay or not to pay?
Influencer marketing has become a lucrative business. Many influencers employ agents who charge upwards of £3000 for a single Instagram post from someone with a following of 100k+.
In light of this, it’s important to weigh up your budget for the influencer, and your budget for creating the content, in order to see what makes the most sense for your investment.
Be mindful of advertising rules around sponsored posts. For legal reasons you have to give disclosure if a post is paid for, however numerous studies have shown that audiences, especially millennials, are becoming less responsive if posts are paid for.
If you do decide your chosen influencer is worth the price tag, be sure to include the appropriate hashtags or comment to clearly show it’s a sponsored arrangement.
Will it be authentic?
The Creative Director of British popcorn brand Propercorn has found that focusing on influencers with smaller, engaged followings has been successful for the brand. The startup specifically looks for people who have engaged with their brand naturally in the past so that the relationship is built on an authentic appreciation of their product.
It’s also worth looking at the other partnerships your potential influencer already has in place. If they’re recommending a new product every week their audience might be fatigued by constant promotions.
Look for someone who will really get behind your brand in an authentic way.
How can you co-create for mutual benefit?
Gone are the days of a brand dictating to an influencer what and how they should post. The strongest influencer relationships are usually those that consist of a long-term and collaborative partnership where both parties are bought in to create something that proves mutually beneficial.
Support your influencer in creating great content or experiences that speak to their audience and showcase your brand. Ted Baker launched its Autumn/Winter 2016 collection with a shoppable film created by Guy Ritchie. Combining a relatively underused technology with a credible filmmaker has resulted in earned attention for the brand.
How do you know if it’s effective?
Influencer work should be assessed over a longer period than running a traditional advert. If you’ve set your objectives up ahead of time then you should be able to look at the business metrics. But, it’s also worth comparing the engagement with other posts, content and partnerships the influencer has produced, to see if your partnership is resonating.
Glossybox, which sees 80% of its customer acquisition come through word of mouth on social, looks at a ‘Return on Influence’ measure and takes into account the sphere of influence of its subscribers. It uses the metric that one subscriber speaks to 5 friends, which has led it to focus on user generated content (UGC) and loyalty as its form of influencer programme.
The next stage for influencer work?
As with the Glossybox case, more brands are shifting from working with celebrity or social influencers towards investing in current fans and their circles. Exploring how consumer content can be linked to e-commerce, and connecting UGC with loyalty, this is a similar model to that used by Amazon, where reviewers gain points for reviews marked as helpful.
Leveraging the influencer power of ‘tribes’, Adidas has set up Tango Squads. Using dark social messaging apps like WhatsApp and Facebook messenger, Adidas is creating conversations and personal recommendations in a loyalty programme of sorts.
This type of programme is currently difficult to measure in the traditional sense, but metrics and tactics are growing and changing every day, and many brands agree this is the next step in effective influencer work.
There’s no doubt this topic is an exciting, evolving area of marketing and there will be more to come this year, so watch this space.