By Victor Amadala
Influencer marketing; where brands focus on using social leaders to drive their products and image is quickly out spacing traditional advertising in Kenya, thanks to its efficiency and high returns on investment.
The marketing gimmick described in 2016 as a marketing ‘hot cake’ by Adweek’s Social Times is likely to earn a brand at least six times for every penny spent on influencer, this according to a recent survey by Tomoson. Another study by Collective Bias show that consumers view content from influencers for an average of 2 minutes, 8 seconds — 7 times longer than the digital display ad average of just 19.2 seconds.
Fred Kithinzi, a senior marketer and the head of communication at the Belva, a Kenyan based Pan African digital marketing agency while supporting the effectiveness of this mode of marketing said that, consumers turn to people they know and trust for referrals above any other source.
He explained that through Influencer marketing, brands find an opportunity to leverage the power of word-of-mouth at scale through personalities that consumers already follow and admire. The marketer said that this marketing strategy has grown tremendously in Kenya in recent times with even consumer brands joining the bandwagon. Compared to other forms of marketing, the use of influencers is a bit cheaper,’’ he added.
Kithinzi attributed the growth of this marketing strategy to the emergency of social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram which are more precise and give feedback in real-time.
He however cautioned that while selecting influencers to market their products, brands must look for people with clean public image and resonate well with the target audience besides huge following. He warned that poor choice of an influencer leads to negative feedback
Various global studies tend to support Kithinzi’s sentiments about this form of marketing. According to Mckinsey, influencer marketing is an amplified word of mouth which generates two times the sales of paid advertising.
Another one by Tapinfluence, a US based global marketing automation agency show that 92 percent of consumers turn to people they know for referrals. While a recent study by Deloitte shows that consumers acquired through word of mouth have 37 percent higher retention rate compared to other forms of marketing.
Among global brands that have recorded impressive results using this marketing includes Downy, a fabric softer.
According to Nielsen, the brand used soft, fabric-like sculptures to capture everyday situations. They brought influencers in by using the hashtag #SoftSide to talk about what the brand meant to them. The campaign resulted in a five-point increase in brand favorability and social media engagement doubled to 50 million impressions.
Gap, an American worldwide clothing and accessories retailer wanted to take the concept of a fashion blog that lives on the company site. To achieve this, Gap created a website full of outfits and inspiration created by influencers.
By partnering with bloggers and fashion influencers, the company managed to increase its reach exponentially. For instance, one of the bloggers, Refinary29, has managed to earn it over 900,000 Instagram followers in just one year.
Even with these success stories, marketers warn that a simple mistake when using this form of marketing can sink the brand’s image. According to Convince &Convert, an online marketing firm, picking the right influencer to work with your brand is about more than just the number of followers they have.
It’s about common interests, demographics, market segments, and more abstract variables such as attitudes, self-image and expertise. Those influencers also need assistance and regular monitoring by professional marketers to avoid mistakes.
In 2012, Microsoft for instance reaped negative publicity and ridicule when it hired Oprah Winfrey to post a tweet about its new Surface tablet.
The media mogul and former talk-show queen went head to tweet her 14.8 million followers saying ‘love that SURFACE!’ using an iPad. This hugely impacted the product take off, and has since become a case study of negative impacts of influencer marketing.
Even so, marketers across the globe are still rushing to embrace this marketing strategy. According to a late last year’s study by Schlesinger Associates, 84 percent of marketers are expected to launch at least one influencer marketing campaign in the next 12 months.
The study further indicates that 81 percent of companies already working with digital influencers were pleased with the results – and companies that fail to incorporate this dynamic form of advertising risk being ignored, blocked or passed over.