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Think Big, Go Small: Why influencer marketing isn't about reach

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Despite what many marketers and PR agencies still believe, influencer marketing is not a popularity contest. Whilst it’s clear that the use of influencer campaigns continues to rise, with 87% of marketers using them in their strategies, there is still a degree of misunderstanding of how to best utilise the power of these influencers.

The assumption that an influencer with hundreds of thousands, or even millions, of ‘likes’ and a global following is going to be more beneficial to getting your message out is not only false, but it fails to take into consideration the needs and desires of the local consumer in specific markets.

Not understanding how to harness the local influencer effectively can lead to poor engagement results, conflicting brands and talent, and a waste of your marketing spend.

Brands that deliver goods and services to a single market are faced with challenges in connecting with an increasingly global audience, who look beyond borders for inspiration and explore brands which aren’t available in their home market. This is especially prevalent in the UK, US and Asia where seamless regional shipping of products has become a customer expectation. And as more consumer options become available, share of voice in these highly fragmented markets will continue to become more challenging.

Social media is increasingly impacting the awareness and adoption of brands, with social influencers offering them the chance to directly reach and influence their target market. Just as in any offline social group, a brand can be made or broken by consumer experiences.

For local brands, or brands that focus on a single market, finding the most relevant influencer is becoming harder and harder. The main challenge is sourcing creative influencer talent who have a relevant local audience. This is especially important in sectors such as fashion and beauty, where there are particular geographical preferences. To communicate truly global trends, it can be hard for brands to select an influencer that is able to communicate these to their local followers.

The first key to success is in the talent you recruit. For local brands, it’s important to focus on the market of origin, or where the influencers started growing their audience, and who they currently cater for. That’s where talent agencies and influencer content marketing firms become invaluable. In order to really get a feel for an influencer’s share of voice and the the market of origin for their audience, it’s important to delve into their previous material to understand the foundations of their influence. Why did their audience follow them in the first place? What are their fans saying about their products? And most importantly, do they create the type of content that aligns with your brand?

The second key to success is clearly understanding what the brand’s objective is and having realistic goals for what influencer marketing can provide. The first mistake most brands make is treating influencers as a direct marketing sales channel, not understanding ultimately what they are there to do for your brand. With 94% of global brands working with influencers, there is obviously a clear understanding that they are here to help build awareness within a brand’s target market, ultimately generating content to drive strong ROI levels.

For local brands looking to leverage social influencers, these three key points must be followed to prosper and further establish the brand within that market:

1. Recruit locally relevant influencers: Get to know the content in their feed, not just what they tell you in your profile or how many people follow them. What type of content do they post? What’s their aggregated engagement rate across all posts? Where are their followers from? What languages are they communicating in?

2. Establish clear and achievable goals: Influencers are best used to quickly and efficiently create authentic and relevant content. The best brands value content over the influencer’s reach, and leverage that content in owned and paid media channels in addition to the influencer’s channel.

3. Craft a clear brief: This can’t be stressed enough. When brands are disappointed with the outcome of their social media efforts, it’s usually because they recruited the wrong influencer, but it’s also because they didn’t provide a crystal clear brief. The brief must clearly articulate the key brand elements required, while also allowing enough creative flexibility so the brand or product is creatively interpreted by the influencer. It’s a tricky balancing act but it’s key to enabling the talent to create something authentic and relevant to the intended audience.

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