Influencer marketing can extend your social reach (or laser-target your message), but only if the influencer you partner with is a good fit for your brand.
Social media is a major disruptor in the business world. It’s changed the way we communicate, it’s changed our relationships with each other and our customers and most importantly, it’s given rise to an entirely new branch of the sales and marketing tree.
An interesting development from social media marketing is the birth of social media influencers.
It’s important to note that being an influencer doesn’t mean you’re a celebrity - however, you can be both a celebrity and and influencer simultaneously. Think Kim Kardashian-West or Rihanna vs. Marcus Sheridan (the Sales Lion). Kim and Rihanna are both celebrities and influencers, however Marcus is a business leader and an influencer based on his authority as a businessman.
So what exactly is a social media influencer?
A social media influencer (or thought leader) is a user who’s demonstrated their authority (knowledge and expertise) and credibility within a certain industry or market. Influencers have acquired a large, dedicated audience (following) who look up to them. Because of this, they’re able to use their influence to persuade their followers based on their perceived authority.
Image source: Izea (example of product placement used in influencer marketing)
Why should your brand pair with influencers?
Building relationships with social media influencers will add value to your marketing efforts in numerous ways. It is important to identify if your brand even needswork with an influencer at all. If it doesn’t make sense to do so, then don’t do it.
A social media influencer will help your brand produce authentic content which leads to organic conversions. Influencers have put countless hours and energy into earning the trust of their audience, and the proof is in the pudding. According to Social Media Explorer, an online social media advice centre, “92% of customers actually trust recommendations from strangers (i.e. influencers) over brands.”
When you partner with an influencer whose audience matches your unique buyer persona, you’ll effectively be reaching a dedicated audience who actively opted-in to following and engaging with that influencer. It’s important to determine what’s best for the brand means knowing what your audience quantitatively and qualitatively. This means researching the data matching your chosen influencer, and ensuring the message the influencer portrays is authentic, so that your audience can engage and relate with your brandin their lives.
When selecting an influencer, it’s important to get the right influencer for your brand. Having an influencer campaign should be treated with the same amount of effort and strategy as marketers have done before with traditional marketing methods. Authenticity is key - while people understand that a good deal of content by influencers is sponsored, but it still needs to look organic and authentic. We worked with YouTuber Sibu Mpanza for our campaign for the new Suzuki Swift, and saw amazing results. This is because the car integrated seamlessly into his life, and the content he produced was relatable for his audience.
You’ll have the opportunity to reach this entire audience in a way that you were never able to before - you’ll have their full, undivided attention. You do, however, need to ensure that the influencer you partner with has the right audience demographics and psychographics for your product. For example, if your company produces healthy snacks, you might want to partner with an athlete like Castor Semenya to reach her audience - however, if your company produces cigarettes, Castor and her audience probably aren’t a good fit for your product.
Social media features, such as tagging and shoppable tags, make it possible for brands to measure social mentions and engagement when an influencer posts about a product on their social media. This means that you’ll have a good idea of whether your strategy is working and quantify the partnership’s ROI.
Influencers dedicate a good eight or so hours per week to content creation and are highly responsive to comments from their followers. Where a brand may not have the resources to be monitoring their social media platforms in real-time, influencers sure do. Forming a partnership with an influencer will tap into this responsiveness. Social Media Explorer writes, “by collaborating with influencers, brands can establish a social presence with less ‘maintenance’, allowing consumers to connect with brands without necessarily communicating directly with them.”
Finally, connecting with an influencer will help your SEO by providing valuable backlinks from a trusted source.
5 examples of South African influencers who show real ROI:
1. Mihlali Ndamase
Beauty and lifestyle content creator, Mihlali Ndamase, is one of the few South African YouTubers to hit 100,000 subscribers, with an impressive number of Instagram follower - 517,000 to be exact. In 2018, she became the first official face of Daniel Wellington South Africa, the famous Swedish watch company. She has been in a number of campaigns for brands such as Bernini SA, essence cosmetics, and Superbalist.
2. Siyabonga Beyile
Founder of The Threaded Man, a leading online portal for the modern African man to stay up to date on fashion and original style, 25-year-old Siyabonga Beyile is a force to be reckoned with. He collaborated with Vaseline Men and rapper Ricky Rick to create an amazing campaign highlighting his heritage, and how it’s made him the entrepreneur he is today.
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Today I get to share a project that I have wanted to do since I started my journey with @thethreadedman. I have always wanted to shoot a documentary that shows that I can do and be the best at what I do because of where I come from and the women who have fought for me in my journey. Today at 7pm I premier part 1 of my documentary titled Umfana Othungiweyo🙏🏽 Watch it live on YouTube at 7pm this evening and I promise you everything will makes sense 👌🏽 Thank you to my incredible team especially @aevisualsza for making sure that the vision in my head could be translated accurately and also @vaselinemen_sa for backing me since day 1 of this project❤ Link is in my bio , see you at 7! #StartStrong
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3. Kefilwe Mabote
A young girl from Soweto has become one of the top influencers with a half a million Instagram following. Kefilwe Mabote is one of the few influencers who has worked with high-end luxury brands, having collaborated with the likes of Prada, Macallan, Lamborghini, and Cartier. She won Glamour’s Digital Influencer of the Year award in 2018, and has more than half a million Instagram followers.
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4. Maps Maponyane
Maps Maponyane is one of South Africa’s favourite personalities and influencers, having worked with brands such as Investec and Mercedes Benz. He is a big influencer in South African men’s fashion, having won an SA Style award, and GQ’s Best Dressed Man in 2011. He currently has over 800 000 Instagram followers.
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5. Suzella DIY
Julia Anastasopoulos a.k.a Suzelle DIY is an artist, illustrator, designer, and actress, whose do-it-yourself YouTube series went viral in May 2014. She has more than 137 000 followers on Facebook, 95 000 followers on Instagram, and 143 000 subscribers on her YouTube channel. She has her own own merchandise line, which includes Christmas cards, and has written a book.
6. Nomzamo Mbatha
Academy-award nominee Nomzamo Mbatha has become more of an activist than an influencer. Although she’s one of the brand ambassadors for both Audi and Puma, with 2 million Instagram followers, she’s been an advocate for mental health, and was one of the many hosts of the Global Citizen concert in December 2018.
The three R’s of influence:
1. Relevance: The influencer is sharing content and developing a following relevant to your business, and the particular market segment you want to target. Focus on the relevance to your brand’s market and audience. Identify where micro-influencers can come in - allowing you to useless money to reach more people, even if it's 10k more, therefore increasing your ROI.
2. Reach: Targeted reach shows more ROI. Identify the number of people you could potentially reach through the influencer’s follower base that would bring value to your business. Having a lot of micro-influencers to tweet about your brand using a certain hashtag actually has more reach than one big celeb tweeting once about your brands.
3. Resonance: The first two Rs play hand-in-hand to create resonance. The potential level of engagement the influencer, as well as how the influencer interacts with the brand, can create with an audience that’s valuable and relevant to your brand.
4. Reputation: Finally, keep in mind that you need to choose an influencer whose reputation is on a similar level to that of your brand - it’s pointless partnering with a celebrity whose influence completely overshadows your brand to the point where their audience doesn’t remember the connection between the two. Partnering with influencers can make your campaign more memorable, soas long as it's for all the right reasons. Be careful to only partner with an influencer who shares the same culture and values as your brand.
In order for the relationship to be mutually beneficial, you should only reach out to influencers who tick off all four of the R’s of influence according to your business goals.
As marketers, it is crucial to prove your business’ ROI. Measurement of your campaigns is the most productive step you can take to increase your marketing impact.