“What’s in it for us? Show me the benefits of influencer marketing compared to everything else in my marketing mix.”
It’s one of the most common challenges I tackle each and every day for marketers exploring social media influencer campaigns or starting up brand ambassador marketing programs. Marketers want transparency into the entire world of hard and soft costs, potential unseen costs in both dollars and time, and return on investment calculations.
Marketers (and probably other readers of this article) want this because budgets aren’t growing, media seems to be getting more and more expensive, and team sizes are staying the same or shrinking. After all, when your operating team is small time is just as important as ad dollars. Let’s look at the opportunities influencer marketing programs present, for there truly are many.
Break out session: What is Brand Ambassador Marketing in 2017?
1. Punch far above your media budget weight
When done right, influencer marketing and brand ambassador programs outweigh any other media type by metrics that count, like engagements, trial, and purchase. Marketers can absolutely measure efficacy of brand ambassador programs, and once rolling I almost always see a growth in program investment over time.
You’ll also gain a ton of efficiency because challenges I covered above like viewability, ad blocking, and poorly executed creative become moot when you are implementing a strong brand ambassador program.
2. Capture and hold the intangible status of “cool”
Most brands want to be something. That something exists as a positioning statement, mission statement, or mantra that is written up and trotted around to employees, press, and investors. But those words don’t mean anything unless customers actually feel emotions when they see your content. Visual weblebrities like Instagram influencers offer the opportunity to connect on a human level, to borrow the brand equity of a person and copy it over to an organization. It’s powerful stuff, especially for new or challenger brands.
3. Launch exciting and engaging products, services, and campaigns
Have something new to introduce? What better way than a network of passionate, reliable, trustworthy sources to make it happen. It’s an old public relations trick: Get your client coverage in the New York Times, and her message will be believed thanks to the brand equity the publication brings to the table. While your intent shouldn’t be to play tricks, you should be very aware of the impact the right social media influencers can have on your profile.
4. License and own rich video and image content
Brands today must create hundreds of high quality pieces of marketing content per year. Status updates, short videos, photos, podcasts, and new formats like vertical video, 360 video, and Canvas ads only add to the pile. Properly setting up licensing means brands are able to take the pressure off production and let an army of vertical-specific creatives contribute a stream of original content.
5. Build relationships with trend setters
As in life, building lasting relationships is a certain way to ensure success. Brand ambassador programs create the shared experiences that lead to long and fruitful friendships between influencers and companies. You can’t get that from a billboard buy! If you’re wondering how to become a social media influencer, we’ve laid some groundwork on that topic as well.
6. Earn press coverage and positive online reviews
The lines between press and public continue to blur. When social media influencers become expert content creators, they are often the source of trend reports, roundups, and other news stories in major media outlets. Your brand can be a part of the media circus (assuming it’s a good circus to be a part of).
7. Boost search placement for high-value terms
Search engine optimization continues to vex marketers as Google adjusts algorithms. While we can’t ever fully know what’s under the hood, we can take hints from top management at Google. The general message? Brands need to get high quality links from reputable and authoritative websites to their content. It’s not easy, and the rules of the game are always changing. The right social media influencer can help you build the right kind of inbound links.
8. Grow your brand social following
One of the asks I almost always hear involves how to capture some of the influencer audience for the brand itself. Emails and contact info are best, but sometimes a brand just needs a boost to follower counts as well. Influencers can help quickly grow email lists and other database marketing resources without the time and money often required through other, less exciting, channels.
9. Drive customers to events and experiences
When the NBA considers shortening games due to Millennial attention spans, you know we’re in trouble. Events and experiences hold the promise of product activations, signups, and promotion engagement. Influencers provide another route to focus attention on your brand and win the day in the events category, quickly extending event sponsorships and activations from the locale to the entire web.
10. Further optimize integrated campaigns
Social media influencers can help craft a best-in-class integrated marketing campaign marketing dollars much farther. From acting as guest creative directors to concepting totally new ways to connect with an audience, influencers can bring a fresh pair of eyes to a campaign before things get moving. Measurement and reporting can also benefit. While brands are increasingly demanding influencer marketing ROI, it only makes sense they look at the big picture to draw conclusions on how sales may have happened.