In recent years, Influencer Marketing has become the hot new strategy for brands looking to new ways of reaching their target audience. Celebrity Endorsements ranks number 3 among sources of brand discovery among 32.9% of internet users aged between 16 to 64 in Ghana. A study by Jenn Kim, (2020) for Aspire.io showed about 92% of consumers trust recommendations from friends, family and influencers. Influencer marketing therefore earns 11 times ROI of a standard digital campaign. On top of the immense power that influencers hold, Global Web Index found that 40% of internet users use ad-blocking software, meaning a big chunk of consumers don’t even see the ads brands pay for. Influencer-generated content (IGC) is quick and cost-effective to produce. Not to mention, it is authentic, relatable, and diverse.
The concept of influencer marketing has been around for longer than many of us can recall. Before there was social media, people relied on what they saw in print ads, radio, and television for product recommendations. But even the earliest marketers figured out that featuring influential people in their ads could sway the purchasing decisions of consumers. Celebrities and creators had redefined ownership of digital space on social networks. They are able to take brands to their followers using creative content and other organic materials. The advantage they have is not being branded as product owners. Hence, their word is seen as more of a consumer review which makes it more believable than a brand showcasing its products. Compared to fictional characters like Santa and Mikey, celebrities are real people who have real preferences, plus mass followings due to their fame. They have the ability to convince consumers to buy the products that they endorse. Huawei wanted to drive mass awareness, reach and adoption of their new operating system and app store. They also wanted to drive traffic to their online community. An influencer campaign to this effect generated 12.5% engagement rate, 429,828 link clicks with a CPM of $0.84, (Vamp Case Study, 2020). In Ghana, tech brands like Infinix, Tecno and Samsung have all adopted the influencer marketing strategies. Signing celebrities, influencers and creators to remain relevant in the content marketing space. In 2020, Tecno acquired the signature of the biggest dancehall artiste in Ghana (Stonebwoy) as their brand ambassador, while Samsung penned a deal with Afrobeats star (KiDi). Both brands however, engaged micro and macro influencers across different industries to reach a wider audience. With tech bloggers creating hands on reviews, beauty and fashion influencers focusing on the camera and its specifications and many more. Marques Browlee, a globally renowned YouTuber who currently has over 3.2 billion views has transformed how smartphones are launched and received by audiences. Marques currently ha 15.7 million subscribers on YouTube. With unbiased reviews and personal experiences with products both paid and unpaid, he’s had a huge impact on purchase decisions of many smartphone users as he’s built a credible brand in the industry which very much appeals to his audience worldwide.
Brands must use media as a tool to attract, engage, and convert potential customers if they want to remain relevant to their target audience. That implies delivering relevant information to customers that they care about and value. The use of trusted content and collaboration with influencers may help a business get traction in the minds of their target audience. Influencer marketing generates earned media as a by-product of generating interaction.
Impact on Target Audience
Consumer Purchase Decisions – After social media, customers who took an online survey ticked influencer as the next channel for brand discovery. 86% of Women Use social media for Purchasing Advice (Digital Marketing Institute, 2021). As influencers continue to create more content for brands, customers have more options to consider when purchasing products. A consumer like George (a CEO of a Financial Institution) who has the purchasing power for any product of choice will be able to get first-hand reviews and product experiences from influencers via social media before making a purchase decision. The Influencer Marketing Industry is Expected to Hit $13.8bn by 2022 (Digital Marketing Institute, 2021).
Enriched Product Experience – Sharing influencer content helps fill the gap for a brand’s content strategy. On the other hand, it gives the consumer an up-close experience of a product. With influencers and creators forming part of an already-existing feed of content on visual platforms like Instagram for many consumers, it becomes easier to consume the content they create for brands. 67% of brands use Instagram for influencer marketing (Influencer Marketing Hub, 2022). Brands are able to showcase their products to their audience through influencers who most often than not, have better and real connections with their audience.
The Influencer and the Buyer – A Real Connection
The buyer’s journey is now in the hands of the consumer, making it more difficult to contact them via digital advertising. Digital marketing done the old-fashioned way no longer works. Over 66% of customers feel bombarded by internet marketing communications, and 20% of customers say they would avoid a company if it had too many advertisements. Unlike conventional ad campaigns, influencer material alleviates “ad fatigue” and offers authenticity to consumers.
One very common mistake however, is how influencers are mostly picked by brands. As typically, ones with the large following on multiple platforms are shortlisted first, most often than not. Regardless of whether they fit in the brand’s campaign objectives or not. It is very crucial to shortlist influencers based on the touchpoints in the sales funnel. For example, an influencer or creator with 2 million followers on Instagram and 900k on TikTok might be picked for awareness, which is great but might not have as much authority to drive consideration for that particular brand. Take a beauty influencer as an example, creating content for a sophisticated tech brand. Content might be shallow, lacking depth. As compared to a tech YouTuber who could bring out all the features of that gadget and the value it gives to the user but probably has only 10k subscribers. This tech content creator might be able to drive more consideration as compared to the beauty blogger. Notwithstanding, both can be used for a campaign but with different objectives set for them to fulfil needs in the sales funnel.
Written by Eddy Koomson; Eddy is a Certified Digital Marketing Expert by the Digital Marketing Institute, Ireland. He has solid experience working with cross-functional team in different industries including; FMCG, Advertising, Tech and Media.