Hers was a face that launched a thousand ships. At least that’s what Christopher Marlowe and a lot of Greek historians believe in, about Helen of Troy. Which just goes on to prove that even many centuries ago, influencers had an important role to play in major events.
The human race faithfully carried forward this idea of involving celebrities, and the trend saw some real traction with the advent of print and television media - basically mechanisms that allowed messages to reach millions of people at almost the same time.
And now, fast forward to our current decade, to a hyper-connected, always-on world. Today, celebrities and influencers can launch much more than just ships with just a tweet or an Instagram click.
So how should marketeers go about wielding this weapon of influencer marketing at their ready disposal? By going through this recommended 5 step evaluation process.
1. Persona matching
This is obviously the first gating criteria. The personality of your brand needs to broadly match the personality of the influencer regardless of the objective you are seeking. For example, Nike’s brand personality is that of a conqueror brand (associated with performance, endurance etc.), and Michael Jordan is one of their brand ambassadors as his personality is associated with the same traits.
Sometimes it also helps to look at possible influencers from your overall industry perspective also, though in the present times it is still possible that a celebrity relevant for the Petrochemical industry might also be a good fit for the FMCG industry.
Once you have arrived at this broad set of influencers it’s time to move to the actual marketing objective (such as awareness, leads, brand repositioning etc.) to further narrow down this list.
2. Brand Objective
This is where you need to go a little sharper by combining persona and objective.
For e.g. if you are looking for a rebranding exercise, you need an influencer who not only matches your brand personality, but also is associated with a subtle new aspect of your brand. As an example, when Burberry undertook a rebranding exercise (to detach itself from being associated as gang wear), it pulled in celebrities such as Emma Watson and Kate Moss to drive home the association of Burberry with luxury.
Perhaps your objective is to launch a new product in a certain geography. In which case you would probably be better off by targeting influencers with deeper background or ties with that area. For e.g. this could be athletes who hail from that region or maybe a celebrity with roots in that area (with the caveat that people should be aware of that connection). Even smaller athletes who have more influence locally than nationally are better bets than the A-listers. And of-course they are available at a lower cost – which brings us to the next super-important criteria - budgets.
The million-dollar question (in the case of influencer marketing, literally so) is which celebrity should I select to achieve my objectives at the lowest possible cost?
While an obvious (and probably safer) choice would be to gun for the most sought-after A-listers, a quick reality check would tell you that a single Instagram post by someone like Kim Kardashian could set you back by almost 250000$! For smaller companies this could probably be their entire annual marketing budget. You are much better off doing some research around possible costs and then using that to further prune your target influencer list (which, by now should hopefully be within manageable bounds).
It is interesting to note here that not all celebrities are necessarily the best choice when it comes to digital influencing. If your brand is more targeted towards an audience that spends less time online but perhaps more time watching traditional TV shows, you can actually skip the digital queue and head straight for print or TV - It might yield a much higher ROI.
4. Influencer metrics
If you’ve come this far then the puzzle is probably solving itself by now. And you are just a few data points away from making that selection. And in this step of evaluation use the power of data to get some more clarity.
You can get detailed influencer engagement reports from sites such as www.onspon.com/sponsors which give you very useful data points around the people who are following each of your potential shortlisted influencers. This includes data of gender breakup, audience brand affinity, audience interests, ethnicity, location (by city and country) and related metrics. Use these data points as a yardstick to measure up your potential influencers and then all that’s left is to see who’s available as per your brand’s marketing cycle.
5. Availability and contracting
It’s obvious that not all influencers are available as per your marketing schedules. And some of them might have even taken up assignments with competing brands (and hence signed a non-compete clause as well). So as a final step, you would need to find out which influencers’ schedule matches yours and can be engaged without impinging on any boundaries.
And after that, all that’s left is to go sign up your most relevant influencer and watch them weave up some marketing magic for you! And to help you reach a profitable contract, you could seek help from platforms such as www.onspon.com where you could get assistance from the team in walking this final mile.
Influencers have become an almost essential part of a brand’s marketing kitty, and we certainly have come a long way from Helen of Troy – which means digital marketers today have to keep in mind many parameters as they make this most important and money intensive choice. The use of tried and tested qualitative marketing techniques combined with detailed quantitative data is perhaps the best way to eliminate any guess work and arrive confidently at the right influencer choice.