Steal These Secrets To Influencer Marketing Success



What are the keys to a successful influencer marketing campaign? We asked two experts to share their best practices for driving earned media at scale.

Influencer marketing has moved from experiential tactic to the mainstream, with brands upping their budgets to reach large, relevant groups of consumers in authentic ways. At Social Media Week Chicago, two execs from influencer software platform Julius broke down the core tenets of a successful campaign and shared how brands can share in the success.

Here are some of the learnings offered by Julius’s VP of Sales and Customer Success Bryn Caruso and VP of Marketing Gloria Stitt.

Understanding the democratization of influence

In some ways, influencer marketing has always existed. In the TV era, “influence” came in the form of celebrity endorsements that were used to sell cigarettes and other products. Today, that model has evolved. Social platforms have enabled anyone to share their experiences with brands and gain followings. This means that everyday influencers can carry just as much, if not more, weight than traditional celebrities. For example, a friend’s Yelp review can carry more weight than a television ad featuring a prominent personality.

The rise of digital media has helped consumers become savvier. People know how the marketing game works, and they know when they’re being sold something. Because of this shift, Caruso and Stitt argue that people want to explore brands via the vantage points of their friends and trusted networks. The authentic opinions of these trusted sources can impact purchase decisions more than messaging coming from the brand itself.

Reaching relevant niche audiences

Of important note is that an influencer’s audience differs from a brand’s social media channel in the way they attract followers. A brand attracts those who like its product. Conversely, an influencer gains followers by creating content people want to see and that feels authentic. This content is most often curated around a specific niche topic, within which that particular individual has established credibility and trust. For this reason, brand messages in the context of this ecosystem can carry far more weight.

Bryn Caruso (VP Sales & Customer Success, Julius) & Gloria Stitt (VP of Marketing, Julius)

Pairing brands with the right niche influencers is both an art and a science, and this one of the core offerings provided by Julius’ software solution. Per Caruso and Stitt, partnerships need to make sense for both parties (not just the brand!) and should feel like a natural fit to the influencer’s audience. A common example of this type of partnership is a beauty brand providing product to a beauty influencer for use in creating tutorial or review content.

A critical point shared by Caruso and Stitt: Brands need to know when to trust the influencer’s editorial process, providing enough context and guidelines without overstepping by way of creative direction. The product should feel natural within the context of the content and the influencer’s overall editorial style. Giving up some creative freedom will allow for more authentic content that is more effective at driving your business or marketing goals.

Case studies to emulate

Caruso and Stitt shared some success stories from Klean Plate and NYX to help illustrate how an effective influencer program comes to life. Boston-based Klean Plate wanted to raise awareness among health-conscious consumers. With this directive, Julius helped the brand pair with 650 niche influencers in the health category, leading to content and endorsements within a targeted group of relevant consumers. As a result, Klean Plate saw a 14X increase in online sales and increased website traffic by 204 percent—and did so with no paid media behind the effort. Similarly, NYX distributed its products to relevant beauty influencers and earned 50 million dollars of earned media value (EMV) and 925K engagements in every month between February 2016 and February 2017.

The results demonstrate the power of influencer marketing to drive mass earned media awareness via partnerships with niche experts in relevant categories. When vetting potential influencers, brands should evaluate influencers’ engagement quality, how they approach partnerships, and what kind of creative they produce. Ask yourself: does this influencer’s voice align with my brand’s values in an authentic way? Tools like Julius exist to streamline these decisions, saving brands time and money.

Influencer marketing statistics to know

Julius also shared the following statistics, which underscore the growing prominence of these types of efforts in the overall marketing mix.

  • Per one study, 84 percent of marketing professionals worldwide were using some form of influencer marketing in 2015.
  • In 2016, 94 of Forbes 100 World’s Most Valuable brands worked with influencers.
  • Influencer marketing spend is expected to increase from $1 billion dollars in 2015 to between 5 billion and 10 billion in 2021.
  • Defy Media reported that 62 percent of 18 to 24-year-olds would buy a YouTuber-endorsed product.
  • 92 percent of consumers trust an influencers endorsement more than traditional advertising (Nielsen).
  • 9 out of 10 social media influencers have been asked to create sponsored content, and 60 percent of these influencers work with six or more brands in a year.
  • Nearly 83 percent of influencers will work with a brand again if they feel the partnership was collaborative while allowing creativity.

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