How to win friends and influence people in the digital age

4 min read
03 Dec 2017
4 min read
1088 words
Influencer marketing costs far less and is much more effective than traditional advertising models for reaching your target audience

Influencer marketing is a type of digital marketing that requires a public figure to promote products via their personal social media accounts among predetermined target groups. More often than not, a consumer's choice is influenced by the people they look up to or trust, and people are more likely to try out a new product when someone, especially a celebrity, recommends it to them. Therefore, influencer marketing involves planting the idea of a product in consumers' minds (without making it look like an outright advertisement) using social media profiles of well-known personalities with huge follower bases. 

The inception of influencer marketing

Social media has in today's age become one of the most powerful tools for communication. We live in an age where most people possess a Facebook or an Instagram account, as a result of which, not a single update or piece of news flies under the radar. Digital platforms have become the first choice for sharing messages and news, or even for creating some hype for a product. The reach that is possible with social media is extremely large compared to other conventional mediums of marketing. Influencer marketing leverages this very reach, or influence. 

Influencer marketing started to gain traction when marketers of various consumer-markets began exploring ways to provide the ideal platform for pitching their products; they saw particular potential in the idea of influencer marketing. Some of the first successful influencer-marketing campaigns were created around 2009, when small companies like Peerindex, a London-based social media analytics company, started a platform where people with a hobby or passion could sell their services. Over time, Peerindex started to handle these people's social-media accounts and started to market products among their followers. 

Since those early years, influencer marketing has come a long way. Socialbakers, one of the most popular global social media analytics companies, say that they've already used influencer marketing to help more than 40 companies improve market presence. According to TapInfluence, an influencer-marketing software company, influencer marketing garners 11 times more return on investment (ROI) than any other means of advertising. They say that every USD 6.5 spent on traditional marketing techniques creates the same impact as a dollar spent on social-media campaigns.

Because Nepal now has a rather decent number of people who've become comfortable with online ecosystems, companies here too could start opting for influencer-marketing campaigns. Here are a few figures that show how ripe the sector is: eKantipur--one of Nepal's leading digital news platforms, commands a user base of over three lakh users and celebrity profiles together already command upwards of three lakh followers. Some companies in Nepal have already learned to capitalise on this changed digital landscape:  A perfect example of a successful influencer-marketing campaign in Nepal would be Somersby's 2015 campaign, which created quite a buzz among the Nepali populace. Somersby chose well-known, influential people and had them showcase their product, together with brief captions, through the public figures' social media accounts. The huge recognition that the brand enjoys in the market arguably owes a lot to that campaign.  

Influencer marketing's unique selling propositions

Influencer marketing has become a valuable proposition for companies because of the following factors:

Lower cost
It's much cheaper to implement influencer marketing than to spend heavily on large-scale promotional campaigns. It makes sense to, for example, have the appointed influencers take candid pictures with a product and caption it appropriately so as to enhance the value of the product they're endorsing. This saves the hassle of hosting expensive photoshoots and also generates original, 'unstaged' content, provided by the influencers themselves.    

Target reach
Every marketing post that the influencer posts on their social-media profile directly reaches the influencer's many followers. Followers are keen on using products that their idol is endorsing. Moreover, customers also more readily relate to, or have a stronger affinity for, a product used or endorsed by a celebrity--especially when that endorsement happens over social-media platforms. That's because, as of now, the social-media universe is still not viewed as cynically by customers as the traditional advertising platforms are. And lastly, you won't end up wasting valuable airtime because the advertised products usually reach the target audience. For instance, if a make-up company wants to market their product, they can associate with a local make-up artist, most of whose followers will be make-up enthusiasts--meaning, you are making use of the artist's social media sphere to find just the type of buyers you wouldn't be able to isolate and target through traditional campaigns.

Interaction with audience    
Influencer marketing creates a highly effective, two-way communication channel between influencer and audience. The interaction level on social media is obviously much higher than on most other media platforms; on Facebook, Instagram, etc, people are free to comment on the product or make an enquiry. This keeps the communication flowing between the audience and the influencers, and the resulting feedback can be used to further improve the product. Such an interactive environment helps the marketers know what exactly the audience is looking for.

(Monalisha Maharjan is the Influencer Servicing Executive at Uptrendly Media Pvt Ltd. This article is the first in a two-part series on influencer marketing)