We all need a little reassurance now and then – and that’s never truer than when we’re deciding whether and where to spend money. We turn to friends, both online and off and, increasingly, industry experts or, as they’re sometimes termed, influencers.
According to Linquia, almost nine in ten brands “plan to re-use influencer content across social, website, email & display ads” this year. That’s perhaps not surprising when, by its own metrics, “influencer content outperforms typical branded content by 2.7x on paid channels”.
What can industry experts do for my content and brand?
There’s a good reason why influencers are so-called: from make-up artists on Instagram to keynote speakers at conferences, experts can implant a seed of inspiration in the audience’s mind or, in a best-case scenario, directly influence the profitability of a single brand or a whole industry.
In Britain, the practically instantaneous impact on sales from an endorsement by chef Delia Smith led to the coining of the term the ‘Delia Effect’. The Science and Media Museum explains that during the first episode of her cookery show, a recommendation for a lemon zester created a shortage of the kitchen gadget throughout the country; her 1990s series How to Cook grew the market for eggs by 10% – and a recommendation for using skewers in cake-baking boosted sales of the implements by 35%.
The key to influencers’ appeal is the trust they’ve developed within the audiences. Smith’s no-nonsense presentation style, her reputation for recipes that ‘just work’, and her backing from the BBC was a magical combination that might never be repeated. However, times have changed, and many brands want to foster a more intimate connection with their audience.
As Ismael El Qudsi of Forbes’ Agency Council noted, raw numbers aren’t as important as that link, recommending that brands “connect with influencers who resonate with your audience. Their follower counts don’t matter as much as their authenticity, enthusiasm and engagement.”
How can I incorporate industry experts into my content?
At the simplest level, quote them. Provided you attribute the content fairly, represent them accurately and don’t reproduce them excessively, quotes are fair use. But quotes have little marketing value. To fully realise an expert’s potential you need to develop a closer, possibly ongoing relationship.
As we’ve noted elsewhere, “using influencers with a large and dedicated following to share information and productions has been a highly effective marketing technique for several years. But consumers are starting to realize that influencers aren’t always as trustworthy as they may seem, and influencer marketing is suffering as a result.”
But that’s not to say it’s a busted flush. The key to developing any marketing strategy is to tailor it to keep the audience in mind throughout, and that’s no less true here. Engaging with influencers who themselves engage with an audience, regardless of its size, remains a viable – and potentially profitable – course of action.
TravelMindset highlights Google’s engagement with thesorrygirls to promote its new Pixelbook laptop: “Though their Instagram account has less than 100,000 followers, the Girls’ giveaway post earned an impressive engagement rate of 59.4%. Meanwhile posts by Kim Kardashian — who has 107 million followers — typically yield less engagement than a banner ad.”
It’s a phenomenon we’ve observed ourselves: “identifying micro-influencers, those voices that aren’t celebrities but hold great weight in a community, will be crucial. Their opinions hold extra weight and can help steer your content development. By identifying the leaders of the herd, so to speak, you can pull the rest along.”
How ‘micro’ is micro? According to Hubspot, between 1,000 and 10,000 followers.
A 2019 study from SocialPubli into the state of this micro-influencer market is useful reading for anyone who wants to target more engaged influencers, noting that more than 70% consider whether a brand’s values are aligned with their own – and their audience. Although this might make engaging an influencer sound tough, we see it as a positive benefit, since partnering with an influencer whose audience is unlikely to engage with your content won’t maximise ROI.
It’s important, too, not to try and hide whatever business is going on behind the scenes. If a brand and the chosen influencer are a poor fit, audiences are less likely to believe what they’re being told, and the campaign will fall flat. And, even where they do complement one another, honesty remains the best option. “Any brand paying influencers should require transparency on sponsored posts by having the influencer use hashtags like #ad or #sponsored or state that it is an ad. And while it seems counterproductive, it helps with the ad’s authenticity.”
What can industry experts do for me?
Using industry experts in your marketing immediately increases its shareability. Your association with their personal brand introduces you to their followers, and content that you’ve produced together or they’ve produced on your platform will likely be repurposed on their own and is fodder for your own blogging, retweeting and press-releasing operations. The TED Conference is a prime example, with the symbiotic relationship between the brand and its speakers bringing benefits to both, while helping generate revenues counted in the tens of millions of dollars despite its most-recognised content being distributed for free. It’s the perfect example of a brand that has built itself largely through partnering with experts across a diverse range of fields.
Crucially, you need to make sure that whatever the content, and wherever it’s published – on your own site or feeds, the feeds of the expert you’ve engaged or the places to which it’s been shared – you retain as much control as you can over its creation. Only you fully understand your audience, your business goals, and how your funnel is set up to drive conversions.
As well as helping brands to develop briefs tailored to their unique audiences, Concured’s Content Studio gives them direct access to a network of industry experts, award-winning journalists and passionate content creators. Combined, these have helped brands achieve a three-fold uplift in users over the first two months’ use, and a more-than 40% increase in conversions.
Where engaging experts was once a difficult and time-consuming process, today it’s never been easier – and the result speak for themselves.