Effective influencer marketing: What it is and why it works

Updated: Oct 29

How many times have you bought a product or service because a friend or someone in your social circle referred you to them?


Word of mouth marketing is never going out of style. With the technological advances throughout the internet and digital age, word of mouth marketing pivoted to influencer marketing - word of mouth marketing but online.


Humans trust recommendations and reviews from their family, friends and networks over messaging that comes directly from brands. This is what contributed to the growth of influencer marketing. A 2020 GeoPoll Influencer marketing survey reported that 69% of online buyers in Kenya make purchase decisions based on recommendations by an influencer that they follow on social media. In fact, according to a global survey by Tomoson, influencer marketing was found to have a 6.5% return on investment.


Who is an influencer?

Simply put, an influencer is an individual with the ability to influence potential buyers by promoting or recommending a brand or product.


Often, it is assumed that influencers must have a massive following. This is not always the case. There are three types of influencers:

  • Macro-influencer is an individual with 500,000 thousand to 1 million followers on social media platforms. They have a diverse and broad audience which is valuable to brands targeting more than one niche market.

  • Micro-influencer is a person with 10,000 to 50,000 thousand followers on social media platforms. They are content creators who build followings around niches like food, travel, politics, media, fashion, and relationships among others.

  • Nano-influencer is an emerging influencer with less than 10,000 followers on social media platforms. They're ideal to very specific groups, sometimes niche sub-categories.

Depending on the marketing goals you are hoping to achieve, you can engage one or more of the different types of influencers.

How does influencer marketing work?

1. Define your goals

What do you hope to achieve at the end of your influencer marketing campaign? Any good marketing campaign should deliver specific results. It is important to define what success will look like in order to determine whether influencer marketing or a specific influencer is worth investing in.

Remember, always make your goals SMART - Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-bound.


2. Define and understand your target audience

To fully exploit the benefits of influencer marketing, you need to target the right audience. This can only be achieved by building and developing your buyer persona.

Understand who your buyer or consumer is. Find out and consolidate information about who they are and what they value. Determine which platforms they are most active on, their level of interest in the product or service you are trying to sell them on, and any other information about them that can help you make a more compelling campaign.

3. Identify the right influencers for your brand and campaign

Selecting the right influencer is very important because great influencer marketing campaigns should not feel like marketing. A good influencer should be able to plug in your product/service in a very natural and authentic way so that you can get the best results for your brand.


Some of the major considerations when selecting your influencer will be:

  • whether their followers closely match your target audience

  • their alignment to your brand and business values

  • your budget

  • their influence history where applicable (insights and analytics from past campaigns they were involved in)

  • their understanding of your products or services

  • the nature of the campaign you want to run

  • the platforms you will run your campaigns on

and any other important factors.


Digital consumer intelligence, their track record and open conversations with your choice influencer should help you get to your decision.


4. Connect with the influencer

Once you have done your due diligence, and signed all the contracts, it's time to get down to business. Before you launch your influencer campaigns, you need to work closely with your influencer to get them up to speed with the benefits of your product or services and what you need them to communicate. This can take the form of them experiencing it for themselves, or you educating them about it.


What are some of the benefits of influencer marketing?

If you do all the pre-work right, there will be lots of fruits to reap from your influencer marketing campaigns.


1. Increased Lead generation

When your target audience trusts the influencer and pays attention to their message, the probability of them responding positively to your campaign and brand are higher. They can spread the word about your product and services in their circles which can generate quality sales leads.


2. Stronger customer trust

People follow influencers because they have shared interests and passions. They trust their recommendations on products they're endorsing and reviewing. If an influencer vouches for your product or service, their audience will likely be more confident about trying it and incorporating it into their routines.


3. Strengthened brand positioning

Working with influencers will increase your credibility with your target audience, strengthening your brand positioning. When your product or service delivers the promise made by your brand and the influencers, chances are, they will continue to use your product or services, strengthening your brand position in the market.

Once you launch your influencer marketing campaign, be sure to keep the communication channels open with the influencer(s) as well as monitor your campaign, tweaking it as necessary.


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