Influencer-marketing is the buzz word that most brand managers seem to be flirting with these days. Most of this kind of influencer marketing is over-hyped, and actually quite a waste of money.
The influencer-consumer relationship is getting democratised. It is no longer about the so-called 'leader' telling their so-called 'followers' what to do. Authentic influencer marketing is where friends 'help' friends, with solutions that they think will make them look good. Their friends, in turn pass on that information. Brands need to find a way to harness this pass-around power of 'everyday' people.
But this is not new information. I highly doubt there is a brand manager reading this who is going “Oh! I never knew genuine word of mouth helps sell brands more than anything else”. I feel brands settle for over-hyped influencer marketing because they are unable to tell the difference between when they are forcing influence and when they are genuinely helping people, help others.
Here are five questions that can help decide if your influencer-marketing program is more HYPE and less help.
Have you chosen your influencer for the right reasons?
If you find yourself selecting an influencer based PURELY on their reach on social media, then chances are you are headed for hyped influencer marketing. Objectives for such a program should ideally be increasing ENGAGEMENT and brand CREDIBILITY. Choose your influencers by their passion for the category, and by their natural affinity towards your brand. 1,000 people telling 10 of their closest friends is far more powerful than 1 influencer telling 10,000 followers.
Is the conversation and content varied?
When something is real, people express it slightly differently. Is the content being created by your influencer ever-evolving and changing? If this is not happening, then maybe your plan is over-hyped. The best thing about genuine and authentic user-generated content is that it varies with every person creating it. Thus, every conversation is not like an ad that’s repeated but an idea, that’s genuinely imbibed and spread.
Is deeper engagement being skipped?
The more someone knows about you, the more time they spend with you, the more authentic the advocacy is likely to be. If your chosen influencer is willing to talk about you with information being emailed to them or being briefed over the phone, then you may want to rethink it. Genuine advocates actively look to understand you better, and thus can create more meaningful buzz.
Is there an idea worth spreading?
With over-hyped influencer marketing, the conversation stops at the influencer themselves. When done authentically however, there is almost always an IDEA that makes people look good, when they tell others about it. This makes the conversation last more than just 1 generation. If you don’t think the people that follow your influencer, will talk about what they hear, then your money is being spent unwisely and you may want to reconsider.
What’s the incentive to talk about you?
Are you having to pay your so-called influencers a pre-agreed amount of money to talk about you? Would they not do so otherwise? If you think Yes, you may want to reconsider your plan. This is a tricky one because even genuine advocates often love an incentive to talk. But that incentive is more of a ‘Thank you’ for their time, shared post the advocacy. Also, as your relationship with the advocate grows, the more easily the advocacy spreads. If your cost-per-conversation with one influencer isn’t going down with time, then your influencers aren’t as authentic as you’d like them to be, and consumers will see through it!
Word of mouth marketing is quite simple. Excite your consumers with something worth talking about, and make it easy for them to have that conversation. Focus on helping your consumers help their friends. That’s all the authenticity you need to stay away from the hype of the over-used phrase ‘Influencer Marketing’.
(Rashi Mittal Nair is the founder and CEO, Woop)