Social media influence marketing has been a hot topic in digital media for a while now. While many brands willingly jumped on board with this concept, some luxury brands dragged their beautifully crafted five-inch heels. After all, isn’t luxury supposed to promote exclusivity and how exclusive can something be if it’s so readily available all over the internet?
The Luxury Sectors
Fortunately, the major players in the luxury sectors have moved with the times and are now looking for new ways to engage with their fans and customers to build up brand awareness. According to BCG Perspectives, almost six out of ten luxury sales are digitally influenced. Considering luxury shoppers own the most powerful smartphones and devices available, it makes sense that these shoppers now insist on interacting with brands digitally and have access to the opinions and endorsements of trusted online influencers.
Social media influencer marketing can be very tricky to navigate and you need to fully understand it before you embark upon a strategy. We’ve outlined a guide to the advantages and pitfalls of social media influence marketing and how it differs from other types of endorsements.
How can social media influence marketing help you, the luxury goods/service providers?
As marketing campaigns are increasingly scrutinised, questions are being asked about whether influencer marketing is worth the investment. Since so much of our everyday interactions have shifted to social media, customers look at fellow consumers to inform their purchasing decisions. Word-of-mouth advertising is unbelievably powerful. Popular personalities are now consolidating huge follower numbers on Youtube, Instagram and other digital platforms.
Unlike celebrity endorsements, which rely on the associated prestige of the celebrity, social influencers can be much less well-known as long as they have authority on a subject. For example, Oprah Winfrey doesn’t have to know anything about computers to endorse Microsoft because she is already so famous it doesn’t matter. However, influencers are specialists and may be relatively unknown away from their areas of expertise. They’ve built communities around themselves in a very niche space; whether that’s by blogging, video tutorials, clever use of Twitter or any other kind of communication with their followers.
When a marine equipment brand sends a diving blogger their newest underwater flashlight as part of an influencer campaign, the goal isn’t notoriety but the generation of true recommendations within the targeted community. Influencers are trusted in certain circles and able to build up your brand’s image in the minds of their followers. This targeted marketing leads to sales and conversions.
In short, social media influencers have:
- Reach – they can help you access the perfect target consumers, a ready-made audience for your product or service.
- Trust and credibility – they already have a circle of followers who respect and trust their opinions.
How best to find social influencers and connect with them?
Firstly, make sure your company has a good presence on all the main social networks and listings so that influencers know that you’re reputable. The top influencers are going to want to know as much about you as possible to help them make the decision about working with you.
There are countless tools available to help you find influencers by location and topic, but how you find a social influencer depends upon the type of influencer you want. For example, Buzzsumo is a great tool for finding influencers who can get your content seen by the right people. By using its influencer search function, you can find people who frequently share content on a given topic and their Domain Authority statistics. LinkedIn is a good way to find social influencers in luxury since it can filter results for people and publishing.
Influencer outreach is another alternative that can begin by engagement on social networks or their blogs. Put yourself on their radar by offering useful and informative comments and suggestions. Sometimes you find an influencer who aligns with your strategy but you don’t have the time to build up a relationship. This calls for a cold outreach with a concise email introducing your objectives for the content and the benefits the influencer will receive by working with you.
The key to getting the influencer on board is research, personalization and showing that you value the influencer’s time. Draft a couple of example posts or demos of what you’d like the influencer to do.
Once the social influencer agrees to work with you
Congratulations if you’ve found a social media influencer who has agreed to work within your budget and scope. Now you need to work with them to get the best return on your investment. This can involve:
- Define the brief with the goals you want to achieve
- Create an abbreviated style guide for tone
- Share audience and company background information
- Provide summaries of any piece of content you are asking influencers to share
- Keep in touch with them to send them occasional companies updates or useful information, not only when you need something from them
Over time, you’ll get used to working with social influencers and they will seem more like team members.
The pitfalls of social media influencer marketing
As much as social media influence marketing can create a powerful message and generate an unrivalled ROI, it can be tricky to navigate. Here are some of the pitfalls you could face:
There is a mistaken belief among some people that social influencer marketing is cheap or free. As with traditional PR or media relations, there is a cost and this can go up significantly for the most well-known influencers. Depending on which influencers you work with, you will need to put a budget aside for building relationships, providing products, running events and possibly remuneration. The distribution and reach of a campaign will always depend on the amount of money that you are willing to spend.
Each country has different rules about social media marketing. Companies need to understand the legalities involved in ‘payment and control’ as well as advertising, consumer protection laws and other related laws, such as defamation, intellectual property, copyright, trademark and bribery, among others.
It’s not unheard of for inexperienced or new influencers to be blissfully unaware of regulations, whereas more unscrupulous ones just ignore the law. For your part, ensure that you are clear and transparent with your influencer marketing and that you understand the related laws in your country.
The ROI hinges on the influencers relationship with the audience
The social influencer relationship with the company is supposed to be mutually beneficial and help both parties grow and refine their branding. However, since influencer marketing is based on trust, it relies on the influencer maintaining a good relationship with their audience. What that means in practice is that followers can just as easily choose to unfollow an influencer for many different reasons.
Maybe they feel like the influencer is advertising too much or working with brands that are perceived as lower quality than expected. However, something completely unrelated to the product could affect influencer reach, such as the controversy that arose when Disney dropped Youtube star PewDiePie earlier this year.
Reach isn’t everything
Just because thousands of people are seeing your product doesn’t mean they are going to purchase your products or services. The content they are posting has to be engaging, relevant and well-presented because you are trying to get the influencer’s followers and potential new followers to buy your products. Even if they don’t buy your products, you should be aiming for their audience to follow you or make a positive association with your brand.
Beware of “fake influencers” who inflate their follower numbers by buying followers. Brands should do their homework and build relationships with those who seem like an ideal brand fit and show interest in the creative process as much as remuneration. Top influencers tend to be picky about who they work with, and though they’re not always easy to win over, the rewards of working with someone who values honesty and integrity will be worth it. It’s more important to match your products with the right people. The power of influencers doesn’t necessarily depend on their follower count, but in their ability to actually influence through authenticity and curation.
Make social media influencer marketing work for you
All of the above factors make social influencer marketing a difficult but worthwhile venture. As people get more fed up with pop-up ads and other intrusive marketing, the impact of influencers will just continue to grow. Influencers are also becoming increasingly creative with their content, which can revitalise your marketing strategy and wow potential new customers.
To make the most of social media influencer marketing, we recommend consulting with a specialist marketing agency. Not only will they keep up to date on the ever-changing regulations involved in influencer marketing, but they also know the best practices to follow in engaging and maintaining relationships with social influencers.
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