Unless you have been living off the grid for the past three years, I'm sure you are familiar with the concept of influencer marketing and its rise in popularity. So let's skip the introductions and dive into how brands can success in the influencer space.
The idea of influencer marketing seems simple: Pay famous people to promote your brand. But you should also consider the following:
How do you plan to identify potential influencers and select the best ones to be ambassadors for your brand?
How will their audience respond to your paid placement?
How do you plan to script your message in a way that relates to their audience while still maintaining the core values of your own brand?
These are important questions you need to ask yourself before engaging in influencer marketing. Influencer selection and strategy is very important. A post from Kylie Jenner will not positively impact every brand, just as a post from Donald Trump will not negatively impact every brand. You need to find the right fit.
Success for DIFF Eyewear
Like most people, I have been exposed to influencer marketing -- most commonly on Instagram. I am a reality TV junky, and Bravo is my drug of choice.
I follow a multitude of Bravo personalities on social media, and a few months ago I noticed a growing trend of posts featuring sunglasses by a company named DIFF Eyewear. The posts all had similar messaging promoting the company’s commitment to low prices, designer frames, and charitable donations for every purchase:
Famous people promoting sunglasses. This seems like a no-brainer, right? Wrong. This is actually a fairly sophisticated campaign based on audience data, calculated risks, and a clear, cohesive message. Let’s discuss.
Audience data: Who do you want to influence?
You may not be familiar with Bravo, but you have probably heard about the "Real Housewives" series. The franchise is Bravo’s crown jewel … and yet not one of the pictures in the collage at the top of this article features a "Real Housewife" influencer. No jailbirds, no former child actors, no countesses. Why? Because DIFF didn’t just want famous influencers, they wanted the right famous influencers who would connect with their target demographic.
DIFF promotes designer frames at affordable prices. A pair of trendy DIFF sunglasses typically costs between $75 and $85. So ask yourself, who has disposable income and wants to stay on trend? Millennials, primarily those without children.
Take a look at Bravo’s viewer demographics. The channel's viewers are females between the ages of 25 and 44, primarily childless, with a college degree, who on average earn $100,000 per year or more. This sounds like a perfect match for DIFF.
So, to answer my above question, why don’t you see any Real Housewives promoting DIFF? Because they do not personify DIFF’s key demographic. Bravo’s viewers may want to watch middle aged, upper-class society women, but they do not identify with them nor do they believe these women would ever be caught dead in "affordable" sunglasses.
The images above feature personalities from "Vanderpump Rules," a show about 30-something restaurant servers/bartenders, and "Million Dollar Listing," a show about 30-something real estate brokers in New York and LA. The influencers are primarily female, childless, and claim to always be "hustling" to make their careers happen. These are people DIFF’s key buying audience are likely to find relatable.
It’s also worth noting that DIFF has chosen the perfect platform to promote their brand. Instagram is image-based. People from around the world can view the same post with no language or cultural barriers. According to a recent study by Mediakix, the average person spends 15 minutes per day on Instagram. 15 minutes is a large amount of time to do nothing other than scroll through pictures, so it seems likely that your paid placement will be seen by a large audience.
Instagram is also a place where reality stars shine. It gives them the ability to allow their audience into their lives and therefore create a bond and sense of trust.
Why selecting the right influencer is important
DIFF is successful not only because the company targets a specific audience and places its product where potential buyers can learn about it organically, but also because they select influencers who personify a trendy, young, jet set lifestyle that appeals to the DIFF audience. This is where brands like 310Shake miss the mark.
310Shake is a meal replacement plan that promotes weight loss and a fit lifestyle. 310Shake chose to engage "Real Housewife of Atlanta" star Kim Zolciak-Beirmann, who has a following of more than 2 million on Instagram alone, to be an influencer for their brand. The problem? She doesn’t embody the core values of the brand.
Kim Zolciak-Beirmann, age 38, was most recently in the news when she suffered a mini-stroke while competing on "Dancing with the Stars" as a result of increased physical activity. This does not scream peak physical health. Bravo viewers can also attest to the fact that Kim proudly talks about her unwillingness to diet and exercise, instead relying on plastic surgery to stay young and fit.
Here is the final problem: She supports more than one fitness drink. As you can see with a quick scroll through her Instagram account, she is also an influencer for Flat Tummy Tea. So which product is keeping her in peak physical condition? Is it the 310Shake or the Flat Tummy Tea?
There's always room for improvement
I only have one suggestion for DIFF -- diversity! As you can see in the image below, the majority of DIFF influencers are white females. The company may be missing a large market. Bravo viewers are likely more diverse than that, and I think it makes sense that by increasing the amount of influencers their buying public can identify with, they would subsequently increase their buying audience.
310Shake should reevaluate their influencers and how their actions reflect on the brand. If an influencer goes on a politically charged Twitter rant, you can reason that no press is bad press and their actions are not a direct reflection on your product. If an influencer has a serious health scare while using your healthy living product, that’s a problem.
310Shake should also try to work with influencers who are not already affiliated with competing products. You may find DIFF influencers wearing non-DIFF sunglasses, but you certainly won’t find them promoting a different brand of sunglasses.
Tips for a successful influencer marketing strategy
In summary, here are some of points for brands should keep in mind about influencer marketing:
Influencer marketing is about promoting your brand, so make sure to stay true to your core values.
Ask to review all articles, images, videos and captions prior to posting. The influencer may have the audience, but you are paying for their service and like any other business you should be satisfied with the result.
Keep a close eye on how your content is performing, as well as how influencers are presenting themselves. If a post was not as successful as you had hoped, or if an influencer has suddenly taken a stand on an issue that is opposite your brand, move on.
Have fun! Influencer marketing can be more relaxed and more personal.
Katie Schieder is the inbound marketing manager at Arc Intermedia, a digital marketing agency based in the Philadelphia area.