Influencers are the best cyber sales people that businesses can have. They are the relatable peers that customers admire, aspire to be and trust.

In fact, according to Business Wire, 61% of today's sceptical consumers trust the recommendations of influencers more than the content produced by brands on social media.

With influencers on their side, businesses can tap into the solid connections that influencers have forged with their loyal followers. Businesses can also harness an influencer's skills to have content that better appeals to and resonates with the interests and needs of targeted audiences.

But there are still a few nitty gritties that should be considered before forming these alliances.

Discover what they are as Casey Mantle addresses all media update's Lara Smit's questions on this topic here:

1. Influencers sometimes get a bad rep when it comes to marketing for businesses. In your opinion, what do you think are some of the biggest misconceptions that people have about working with influencers?

Influencers only get a bad rep when working with brands that they don't naturally associate with.

The biggest misconception in influencer marketing is that you have to use mega-size influencers (>one million followers) to make an impact. It has been proven that follower count does not directly relate to ROI / ROAS — nor does it equate to real-life influence.

An influencer campaign that we ran at 8909 for an FMCG brand in March saw a 7.1% engagement rate by using influencers with < 10 000 followers. Instead of investing 100% of their influencer budget into one mega-size influencer, we invested in using a mass amount of nano and micro-influencers, which yielded results that exceeded the industry.

Nano and micro-influencers are genuinely thrilled at the opportunity to work with brands as they're so under-utilised in the industry. This motivates them to create their best content and provide the biggest impact possible.

Another major misconception is that you have to use a push-strategy approach with influencers. [This is when you] reach out to the influencers who you want to work with, and who you believe would do justice to your brand.

2. Are there risks that come with working with influencers? If so, what are they?

Absolutely. You are effectively handing over your control to an influencer, who might know little about your brand or how to use the product.

The perception shift is that it can be a controlled risk. And so, the better you can equip your influencer with information, product, background and brand history, the better their content, influence and performance.

3. What challenges might businesses face when working with influencers?

The challenges are vast — just like in any new marketing channel.

Marketers who are trialling the use of influencers all have the same concerns and queries:
  • How do we select the influencer?
  • How do we verify their influencer?
  • How do we guarantee the quality of the content?
  • How do we generate KPIs?
  • How do we know their followers are real?
Possibly the biggest strength of our approach to influencer marketing is that it is built from data analysis. The qualitative and quantitative data derived from influencer marketing is incredibly rich and would provide comfort for most of the challenges up front.

Another benefit of using influencers is that their profiles already exist and, as long as their profiles are public, we can assess them.

4. What are some of the key benefits of businesses participating in influencer marketing?

The benefits are enormous. I often use the analogy that word-of-mouth marketing has effectively become influencer marketing — when it's done correctly. This was supercharged during the pandemic when in-person contact was limited.

The specific benefits of influencer marketing to any brand are dependent on the objective of the influencer campaign itself.

If I had to sum it up, I would say the benefits include:
  • increased brand awareness in targeted audiences
  • increased brand love and engagement in targeted audiences
  • build credibility and trust
  • boost SEO in the case of blogs and long-form content
  • positively influence purchase decisions
  • increased sales, and
  • cost-effective content creation.

5. When hiring an influencer in 2023, what should businesses look out for?

The selection framework that we have created considers both quantitative and qualitative criteria.

At a basic level, you should review:
  • the influencers' brand alignment with yours
  • their profile hygiene
  • the quality of their content
  • their engagement (specifically their involvement with their audiences), and
  • the posting frequency.
One of the most important aspects to assess is their follower data. This needs to have a strong overlap with your target audience in terms of both demographic and interests.

The other critical assessments include their involvement with other brands — particularly any competitive brands.
What other advice would you give businesses looking to participate in influencer marketing in 2023?

Firstly, setting up an influencer campaign needs to be led by a brand or digital strategy. The objectives of the influencer campaign need to be clearly defined, with associated KPIs based on industry standards.

Once the campaign is live, be sure to continuously track, optimise and measure the results throughout the campaign — not on completion of the campaign.

A key trend that you can expect to see in 2023 is long-term relationships with influencers instead of transactional relationships, which have propelled us into a creator economy.

In a study recently done by Humanz, it was identified that the minimum amount of times an influencer should post to convince their followers that their endorsement is genuine is three times over three months.

For this reason, businesses are encouraged to nurture relationships with influencers for a longer term and treat them as creators instead of influencers, who then position your brand and your product in their own view.

In addition, the relationship between paid media and influencer marketing has great strength when amalgamated. I would strongly advise brands and agencies alike to reserve a portion of their budget for paid promotion to amplify the influencer content due to diminishing organic reach numbers across platforms.

Another piece of advice that I have for influencer marketing in 2023 is to stay true to two fundamental principles: authenticity and investment.

Identify, select and trust influencers who are authentic to your brand and invest your time, energy and money into equipping them to know the brand, as well as anyone who works in the company does.

What do you think businesses should take into consideration before partnering with these social media butterflies? Let us know in the comments section below.

Want to stay up to date with the latest news? Subscribe to our newsletter.

Are you a bit unsure about how you should approach the savants of social space? Then be sure to read our article, The etiquette of approaching influencers.
*Image courtesy of Canva