Understanding Influencer Marketing

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Influencer marketing is nothing new. We used to call them celebrity endorsements before everyone had a chance to become a celebrity through the rise of reality TV, the Internet and especially social media. These new channels reshaped how people consume media and redefined our idea of what a celebrity is.

Remember back in the day when televisions were actually three dimensional, had bunny ear aerials and needed a good smack on the side to get it into focus? When we all watched the same thing at the same time until we figured out how the VCR timer function worked. Those were the days. There were only a small a handful of brands and celebrities to go around. Whatever your favourite celebrity was promoting, was what you consumed and aspired to. If you were into basketball Michael Jordan was the guy and Nike was your brand. When it came to carbonated sugar you were either team Pepsi or team Coca-Cola.

But suddenly everything changed. We didn’t have to listen to what media companies and ad agencies told us. We began to form our own opinions and consume the content we wanted, when we wanted to consume it. No more broad strokes painting everyone with the same brush. It was now different strokes for different folks. Welcome to the digital age my friends. Amplified by social media, we now operate in mini tribes and silos. No longer can brands simply have one marquee athlete or celebrity. They need to cater to multiple markets that have their own idea as to how your brand resonates with them. This is where Influencer Marketing becomes a powerful tool.

First we need to establish what an influencer is. To kick things off let’s refer to Malcolm Gladwell’s book, “The Tipping Point.” The book sums up how ideas and information travel from the few to become widely known. It’s based on the 80/20 principle, that in any situation 80 percent of the work is done by 20 percent of the participants. These participants consist of Connectors, Mavens and Salesmen. Connectors are the people who seem to know everybody, even beyond their conventional social circle. Mavens are the people we rely on to spread new information. Salesmen are the persuaders, charismatic with strong negotiating skills. Social media influencers tend to be blend of all 3, lesser so the salesmen as their roles are largely to spread awareness and provide a cool factor to brands or services.

Finding success with Influencer marketing isn’t always a straightforward process. There are numerous factors to consider. Firstly, what role do they play in your campaign? Your best option is to collaborate rather than dictate. As a brand you have your way of speaking, but they also have theirs. Find that common ground and build from there. A good example of this is Khuli Chana’s collaboration with Absolut. The ingredients that make up Absolut all come from One Source. Khuli Chana is celebrated Motswako artist and reinterpreted this idea through an African lens to create the One Source EP featuring some of the world’s most talented artists also originating from One Source, Africa. The result was a multi-award winning campaign, thanks largely to the music video and docu-series directed by Sunu Gonera. It was collaboration between brand and artist that worked wonders.

Khuli Chana is a celebrity with real influence so his reach is obviously much greater, but you can still achieve success with so-called smaller names. You just need to identify where their influence lies and how your brand can speak their language. Another tip is to identify potential influencers your brand can grow with. Brand loyalty is important and the best way to build it is through a long-lasting dialogue. This doesn’t just apply to consumers, but to influencers too. The partnership should ideally provide value for both parties.

Remuneration is often a tricky topic when it comes to influencer marketing. It’s smart to keep it performance based, but you also need to take into account how big a name of the influencer is. For example you can’t pay someone like Cassper Nyovest or Bonang per like or view on their social posts. It’s easier to agree on a set fee and include a bonus clause when targets are reached. Smaller and micro-influencers would be more open to do it per like or share. You may be wondering what a micro-influencer is? They may not have a large number of followers but they are followed by all the right people. They are the true Mavens who spread the cool to the Early Adopters. Look at Didi Monsta, he may not be widely known to the masses, but within the Hip Hop community he’s someone people look out for, especially for his unique slang. Cassper Nyovest put him on his album and now his slang has crossed over to a more mainstream market.

So is anyone with a high follower count an influencer? Yes and No. True influencers do have a sizable following on social media but they are content creators first. They have something to offer, something they are known for. Are you a comedian? Are you a musician? Why do people follow you, and how can a brand fit into the conversation you’re have with your audience?

Brands need someone who knows how to engage in conversations and pick up on relevant topics with their followers. It’s also important to be wary of controversy, the saying there is no such thing as bad publicity is a proven myth. In some cases, influencers can make the mistake of taking on too many separate brands at one time. This is commonly referred to as a ‘brand whore’, with branded content just becoming part of the clutter.

These are some of the things to look out for, but are by no means the only ones. Keep following Hellocomputer and we’ll let you know the latest developments and trends with not just influencer marketing, but everything that’s happening in the digital world.