Marketing procurement professionals should consider using social media influencers in their strategy because they can reach specific and passionate audiences.
Oliver Yonchev, director of digital marketing firm Social Chain, said people are “passionate about some strange things” and that influencers not only reached these audiences but brought “knowledge and understanding of how to be authentic in the social space”.
Influencer marketing is a relatively new form of marketing where individuals with large followings on social media, including Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat, are paid to endorse products through their channels.
As a demonstration of how powerful influencer marketing could be, Yonchev said his firm regularly makes topics trend on twitter as a “party trick” for prospective clients and once made a fake news story go viral for a publicity stunt. In 2015 for the SoccerEx football conference, the firm invented a fictitious 16-year-old player called Rex Secco and spread the false rumour that Arsenal had paid £34m to sign him.
Speaking at ProcureCon Marketing in London, Yonchev said: “Good influencer marketing is thinking like a publisher, looking beyond vanity metrics, working with people that represent who you are, your core identity and most importantly you do this frequently and consistently.”
He said working with influencers was “not the same as buying media and it can not be treated in that same way”. “You’re working with a person, you’re buying an endorsement from an influential figure, you’re buying an audience and you’re asking them to produce something creative for you.”
Businesses needed to understand what they wanted to achieve through influencer marketing, he said, and a good influencer brief needed clearly defined business, market and social objectives.
Once a business has its brief, procurement needs to take its time researching what tools are available to engage with influencers, and to ensure an influencer’s following is real. “There’s so much fakery in the social world,” he said, but added: “Determining if something is real isn’t difficult, you just have to be vigilant in doing your due diligence.”
A good measure is the ratio of followers to engagements, he said. “If you see someone with a million followers and 100 likes, it’s fake.”
Yonchev said firms did not need influencers like the Kardashians – who have tens of millions of followers each – to see a return on investment in their marketing, but could use “micro influencers” with between 10,000 and 100,000 followers. He added that influencer engagements was a better predictor of ROI than the number of followers.
Yonchev said they ran a micro influencer campaign for Boohoo, who have a deal with Kourtney Kardashian, that was successful without using her social media sway.
“There was zero correlation between the size of the audience and the ROI generated, but there was a very high correlation between engagement and the revenue generated,” he said.
One of the benefits of influencer advertising, said Yonchev, was it could allow brands to be “more brave” with their advertising, as contracted influencers would not be subject to the same internal restrictions or brand guidelines. But he added that the brand is responsible for compliance with advertising regulations.
“Content cannot mislead or cause offence and you have to declare it. You have to tell people it’s a paid for promotion via either a partnership tag or simply ‘#ad’, ‘#sponsor’,” he said.
Influencer advertising was is just one part of a larger trend towards digital advertising, a market that is being increasingly dominated by the tech companies Google, Facebook and Amazon. Google and Facebook alone accounted for 90% of the growth in digital advertising, delegates were told in another conference session.
Anthony Groves, group commercial director, global clients at Dentsu Aegis Network, said trust was an issue in digital channels. Also speaking at ProcureCon Marketing, he said traditional retailers were “under assault” from the online behemoths, and that Amazon had 44% of the e-commerce market in the US and it accounted for 24% of retail growth.
But the Facebook data scandal and the €2.4bn fine Google received over its shopping results ranking mechanism had led to a loss of consumer trust, he said.
In terms of ad spending Groves said: “There is an offset between highly curated environments and less curated environments like Facebook, where the quality of those environments is harder to control.”
Jane Dormer, group marketing and digital procurement director at Sky, said building relationships was key. “We need to be able to trust our partners,” she said. “Our marketing agencies need to be in front of senior people in the organisation and procurement’s role is to help them get there.”
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