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Start Influencer Marketing the Right Way in 2024

From 2019 to 2021, businesses faced challenges due to the pandemic. However, one increasing trend that almost doubled over the past two years was influence marketing (See figure 1.) Business leaders and marketers are not ignorant to this trend, but also have the question in mind: What really is influencer marketing? How different is it than working with celebrities? Should influencer marketing be your top priority? In this guide, we will answer these questions and also give you a step by step guide to start with influencer marketing.

Figure: 1. Source: Statista

1. What is influencer marketing?

Influencer marketing is the practice of partnering with an individual user who has a significant number of followers or audience to promote your brand. It is different than rest of the digital marketing where your ads are inserted in the ad break of a video or paying directly the social media companies to show your ads to a certain audience. It is an actual individual creating original content while using your product or sharing their opinion about your product with their followers and aiming to influence their audience to use your product as well.

2. How is influencer marketing different than working with celebrities?

You may think that working with celebrities is not a new concept in marketing, but the definitions of celebrity and influencer started to be differentiated from each other. Traditional celebrities often gain fame through entertainment and media sector, such as acting or singing. Influencers typically build a fan base from scratch by creating content that attract people’s attention on social media. They don’t necessarily have to be in media or entertainment but gain public attention with their life style, a niche hobby or expertise.

3. What is an example of influencer marketing?

Let’s imagine you launched a new technology product and need to introduce it to potential buyers. A YouTube user, Marques Brownlee, creates original content only about reviewing technology products and has more than 15 million followers. Figure 2 is a part of one of his sponsored videos where a brand spokesperson is about to appear and introduce their product. Brownlee does not appear in a Hollywood movie, so you may not know him at all, but some people who are into using the newest technology products may even recognize him on the street. This is a typical example of influencer marketing, that could be applied for almost all types of products.

Figure:2. Source: YouTube

4. Should influencer marketing be your top priority?

Word of mouth or asking for a trusted friend’s opinion for our purchasing decisions has been always there. Especially for B2C products, new brands or launches, influencer marketing is critical to build a sustainable relationship with consumers. According to a 2021 report by Digital Marketing Institute, 49% of consumers trust in influencer recommendations and 70% of teenagers trust in influencers more than traditional celebrities.

If you have a mixed presence of offline and online channels, or a wider range of consumers, you may consider influencer marketing as a part of your overall marketing strategy, and compare the success of different channels over time. If your main channel is online and your audience is younger, influencer marketing can be the go-to solution for a limited marketing budget or the top priority in your overall marketing strategy.

5. What are the best practices to start with influencer marketing?

If you are a big company, you may be working with a media agency for your marketing campaigns. However, if you follow these steps, you can also do it in-house. Even if you have an agency controlling your campaigns, knowing these aspects are important for a marketer to manage a successful influencer marketing strategy.

  1. Define your goal: When you create your own digital ad content, you decide which message to give and set expectations such as views for awareness or clicks for engagement. When it is someone else creating content for your product, it is crucial to communicate the goal of the campaign and your values to the influencer. Do you need a product review with a promotion code? Being a preferred partner by the influencer if they are happy with using your brand? You should respect the originality and objectivity of the content, but also define the fundamentals of your campaign.
  2. Set your budget: Set up a budget for your campaign and discuss the cost with the influencer upfront. If you do not have a big marketing budget, you may work with influencers who accept complimentary products rather than payment for compensation.
  3. Select the right influencer for your audience: Finding the right audience is fundamental for a successful influencer marketing campaign and it is only possible if you find the right influencer for it. According to Influencer Marketing Hub, 78% of marketers claim that finding the right influencer is fairly or very difficult. For example, the influencer with the biggest number of followers in your product category may have a public image that doesn’t align with your brand’s values, so you need to do more research. As a data-driven approach, scraping the web for words that are connected to your product can reveal which influencers you can work with. Alternatively, web scraping tools enable businesses check whether a specific influencer is associated with any value that your brand may not align with.
  1. Make sure the content is sponsored: Many countries have regulations around sponsored content to be clearly communicated to the consumer. In other words, an influencer can not promote your product without explicitly saying that they received incentive for it. Make sure that the influencer labels the content about your product as sponsored or mentions this in their statements.
  2. Measure the success of your campaign: Social media platforms enable both you and the influencer to see how many impressions, clicks or comments their content received. Set up targets for your campaign and make sure that the influencer transparently shares the results with you as part of your agreement. You can also leverage SEO monitoring techniques to analyze the results of the influencer campaign.

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This article was drafted by former AIMultiple industry analyst Bengüsu Özcan.

Access Cem's 2 decades of B2B tech experience as a tech consultant, enterprise leader, startup entrepreneur & industry analyst. Leverage insights informing top Fortune 500 every month.
Cem Dilmegani
Principal Analyst
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Cem Dilmegani
Principal Analyst

Cem has been the principal analyst at AIMultiple since 2017. AIMultiple informs hundreds of thousands of businesses (as per similarWeb) including 60% of Fortune 500 every month.

Cem's work has been cited by leading global publications including Business Insider, Forbes, Washington Post, global firms like Deloitte, HPE, NGOs like World Economic Forum and supranational organizations like European Commission. You can see more reputable companies and media that referenced AIMultiple.

Throughout his career, Cem served as a tech consultant, tech buyer and tech entrepreneur. He advised businesses on their enterprise software, automation, cloud, AI / ML and other technology related decisions at McKinsey & Company and Altman Solon for more than a decade. He also published a McKinsey report on digitalization.

He led technology strategy and procurement of a telco while reporting to the CEO. He has also led commercial growth of deep tech company Hypatos that reached a 7 digit annual recurring revenue and a 9 digit valuation from 0 within 2 years. Cem's work in Hypatos was covered by leading technology publications like TechCrunch and Business Insider.

Cem regularly speaks at international technology conferences. He graduated from Bogazici University as a computer engineer and holds an MBA from Columbia Business School.

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