On an average, 1 out of 3 or 4 posts on my Instagram timeline is an influencer plug these days. I did a quick check on if I am following influencers more? No, these are pretty much my own contacts who are doing brand plugs now. Looks like brands have become quite active with influencer marketing especially on Instagram and there are many brands that are opting for influencers as against ads on Instagram.
Influencer marketing works well for many reasons but if I have to quote one reason, it has to be the following blink from the book — Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert B. Cialdini:
Observing people similar to us can greatly influence our choice. We comply with people we like and it is easy for some people to make us like them.
So damn true, it’s just so easy for some people to make us like them and once we like someone, we get influenced by their behavior and choices. While many bloggers and social media personalities are open to do brand collaborations but how many are actually capable of influencing your users with authenticity? And no, it’s not a number game only. Influencer marketing is as much an art as it’s about science and numbers.
There are many resources available for you to check in case you are starting with Influencer Marketing on Instagram but for those who are already doing it, here are 4 quick suggestions from my side that are based on my own experiences of running campaigns and practical observations of some other live campaigns on Instagram these days.
- It is about numbers but not only that one number: The rule that most are following is to look at the number of followers and there is nothing wrong in that. There are also enough free tools in the market that calculate the authority of the influencers but most of these free tools are quite ambiguous about the algorithm used for calculation and the scores are heavily skewed towards the number of followers. Followers matter but it’s not the only number that can decide the popularity or commercials of any influencer especially when it’s so easy and cheap to buy likes and followers. A quick check that I try often is the engagement per post, especially the posts where I can see a brand plug. Many a times you will be surprised that the influencers with huge following have an average per post engagement of 1% whereas the ones with lesser followers have it in the range of 8–10%. If you convert it in absolute numbers, 10% engagement on a post with 5k followers will be same as 1% of the influencer with 50k following. Give a quick check on other aspects of your influencers beyond the number of followers, it will definitely help you in creating a more effective campaign.
- Influencer persona matters, a lot: There are niche accounts that stick to only one type of content whereas there are accounts that speak about different types of content — either of it is fine but you definitely need to evaluate the correlation of your brand with the influencer and it’s persona. For e.g., a beauty blogger also promoting healthy cooking oil is still understandable, healthy oil can be correlated to skin beauty etc but the same blogger suddenly promoting a printer in one of the posts is a bit bizzare, no? You can yourself imagine the quality of engagement for such posts by her followers. It’s not only about your target audience, it’s also a lot more about who our target audience can relate to.
- Awareness or affinity, choose your marketing objectives first: As is the case with any marketing campaign, if you are not clear about what you want to achieve, your campaign results get lost in between. In above example of beauty blogger, if the printer brand objective was just to create one time awareness, then still it would have achieved some result but like most influencer marketing campaigns, if the objective was to increase the affinity or create user engagement that can lead to some actions, then I wonder how much the brand would have been able to achieve.
- Free is nice but not necessarily good: In today’s crowded digital age, almost everyone is a blogger, philosopher, writer, instagrammer, youtuber etc and many of them are trying to be the influencer in social space. To get some brand gigs, most of them end up offering free promotions but are they right fit for you? Do give it a thought. With 400 million daily active users and 95 million photos and videos shared per day on Instagram, it’s all the more important that you choose the right influencers to get noticed by your target audience. Free deals are nice but not necessarily effective. If you engage with the right influencers who know the art of user engagement and spend time in creating their own unique content, your paid association with them over a longer period may give you better ROI than one time free association with just another instgrammer. I know of brands who have ended up getting such beautiful pictures and videos from some influencers that they are using those in their ads instead of their own content. Smart influencers come at a price, be open to exploring them.
While I was completing this post, I just saw a new wedding blogger doing a brand plug for casual shoes without even mentioning it’s a sponsored collaboration. Amidst all the lehnga and jewelry pictures, suddenly a pair of casual shoes pops out. If the idea was to make the brides-to-be aware about these shoes, the least that could have been done is change the copy given by the brand or agency to match with the page. I am not even going into cases where celebrities were found promoting an android phone in posts that were done using iphone :-).
So, what are your views on the new craze of Influencer Marketing at Instagram? Do you also think it’s more of an Influencer-gram now? Any suggestions that you would like to pass on to the brands that are just getting into it? Would love to hear your views in the comment section below.
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