Most industries have been forced to rethink their approaches during the pandemic – marketing is no exception, and the influencers’ marketing strategy is taking centre stage.
Sudden restrictions on travel and working together forced entire marketing campaigns and events to be pulled. Sales strategies were thrown into chaos and marketing plans were hastily reshuffled.
But marketers are nothing if not adaptable. While grand photoshoots and events may have been off the agenda, the rise in digital consumption bought new opportunities. For many, this came in the shape of developing an influencer marketing strategy.
The growth of influencers in marketing strategies
In 2020, our global online content consumption doubled to nearly seven hours a day as we relocated to our homes. And nowhere was this more prevalent than social media. Active social media users rose by 12.3%, with the average person spending nearly two and a half hours a day on social media.
Marketers could see the appetite for influencer content was growing too, especially among younger audiences. A third of 18-to 34-year-olds said they were watching more influencer content during the pandemic. And, TikTok has already seen a 45% increase in influencers in 2021 according to Influencer Marketing Hub.
If you are a brand or business without an influencer marketing strategy, this is the time to put one in place.
What is influencer marketing and why did it boom during the pandemic?
Influencer marketing is all about working with social media users who have an engaged and loyal following. The trick is to partner with influencers aligned with your business to reach a wider audience through their following.
In many ways, influencer marketing is the perfect type of content to create in lockdown. It’s ‘homemade’, often created on phones, can be done anywhere, and requires little input from additional staff. Branded content can quickly and easily be created and shared at a relatively low cost.
But the growth of the social media influencer is about more than practicalities.
Social media influencers are real people doing real things – their content is relatable. This concept of stepping into someone else’s life provided relief and distraction from the monotony of lockdown.
Influencer content has filled the gap where physical connections haven’t been possible. The retail industry is a perfect example. Devastated by the fact that customers were unable to visit stores to see, touch, and try on products, brands needed a new offering.
Brands know that audiences trust the opinions of their favourite social media influencers. Watching them try and review products became the next best thing to being in the fitting room with a friend.
How B2B companies can leverage influencer content
B2B companies have been slower to embrace social media influencers, but this is changing now, too.
- Don’t expect immediate results. Influencer campaigns for B2C brands often see immediate results in sales and reach. B2B can be a slower burn as the purchase is bigger and involves more decision-makers.
- Do your research. Influencers are less likely to approach B2B brands, so you’ll need to seek them out. Pick wisely. An influencer with a smaller number of followers in a specialised industry could be more powerful than one with thousands of less targeted followers.
- Create content that counts. Find out what your influencer is known for and how you can harness this in your content. Think about live streams, Q&As, and ‘how to’ guides – the kind of content that your target audience will benefit from. Cisco did this well with its Cisco Champions campaign. It invited top IT experts to feature in the podcasts and videos and also gave them new products to test out.
- Set your goals and expectations. Is your goal to increase leads or reach new audiences? How many clicks, impressions or conversions do you expect to achieve, and how will these be measured? Be clear from the outset so you can gauge the ROI on your investment when it comes to reporting.
Influencers marketing strategy trends for 2021
How are influencer marketing strategies evolving as we emerge from the pandemic? Here are some of this year’s strongest trends:
- The rise of the ‘gigfluencer’. Months of being in lockdown have left people with more time on their hands. Gigfluencers are influencers who have another job but create content with brands as a sideline. Expect to see more of these popping up on your feed.
- More live streams. Live streams boomed during the pandemic, with Facebook and Instagram lives reporting a 50% increase in views. This format allows users to connect directly with influencers as they film and is set to grow even more in the coming year.
- Micro and nano influencers and niche specialisms. Micro-influencers are those with fewer than 25,000 followers and nano influencers typically have a few thousand. These can be gold dust to B2B companies as they create highly targeted content on niche subjects that appeals to a specific audience.
- Always-on activity. This is about involving the influencer in your long-term strategy, from conception and planning through to delivery. As IBM has proved, this can overlap neatly with employee advocacy. They trained and enabled staff to talk about their products in a meaningful way online. This approach means there are always knowledgeable and ‘on-brand’ influencers discussing their products on social channels.
If you’re interested to find out more about how to get results from B2B influencer marketing, contact us today to arrange an influencer marketing strategy call with us.