Influencer marketing is becoming a standard in brand marketing strategies as more brands are beginning to see it as a viable consumer acquisition channel with low costs and strong returns. Brands are also realizing how influencer marketing improves campaign reach by allowing marketers to target niche consumer groups with native ad content that resonates more deeply and drives quicker conversions.
However, with all of the fanfare around influencer marketing, many brands still struggle to measure return and qualify the results in order to justify the ad spend. This will change as the industry building around influencer marketing is becoming more tech driven.
I look at the phenomenon of influencer marketing as a three-wave evolution that began with the birth of the social media influencer. This first wave was sparked by consumers, who first- and perhaps coincidentally- demonstrated the viability of native advertising on social media by sharing new products, trends and brands with their friends and fans, thus introducing these brands to new audiences.
It wasn't too long ago that the consumer in the market for new home exercise equipment would visit her local department or sporting goods store to test out the options and compare the prices. Maybe she would buy a new treadmill on the spot, or perhaps she would first talk to friends for recommendations, or read some reviews in a magazine like Consumer Reports. Once convinced of the right make, model, and price, she would pull out her credit card or checkbook and make a purchase.
Fast-forward to 2015, where the buying landscape couldn't be more different. Thanks to the Internet as a whole, social media, online reviews, the proliferation of online retailers, and the growth of web-based behemoths like Amazon, the same consumer takes a decidedly different approach when buying exercise equipment (or buying anything for that matter). Add laptops, mobile devices, and smartphones to the mix and you create a selling environment that includes everything from bricks-and-mortar sales to website purchases to smart TV shopping.
When we think of social media ROI, we tend to only measure value by numbers. So much attention is given to number of followers, reach, impressions and likes; but while these markers are very important, there's a much broader story that can be told, particularly on social networks like Instagram where photos create an opportunity to paint a much bigger brand picture.
Sure, Instagram has some limitations in what campaign parameters can be measured -- engagement rates act as the major metric -- and this can raise the question of what a brand really gains from influencer marketing. However, Instagram, now one of the top three social networks with over 300 million users, gives brands an opportunity to tap into the influence of Instagram power users and leverage their existing follower relationships in order to reach a broad audience.
Social media transformed classic PR and is offering startups and growing brands endless new possibilities to drive traffic to their digital and physical storefronts. It sounds like the best of all worlds; blending new media with old media, right? Any startup has the ability to set up a Twitter account or Facebook page, yet you still must follow traditional public relations rules on these channels.
Issues may come up as businesses rely too heavily on social media at the expense of proven public relations strategies. All too often, we have seen first-hand during the dawn of social media the horrific (and hilarious) errors which were made as clients jumped in too fast.
Marketing is one of the most important parts of a successful business. In fact, a strong marketing strategy can lead to higher profits, a larger consumer base, and help build overall brand awareness.
Typically, the job of developing a great marketing plan is left to the CMO. However, some startup companies simply do not have the overhead available to hire a high-level marketing executive, especially considering the cost of a salary and benefits.
Let's just come right out upfront and say it; coupon sites do not steal sales from merchants. Oh really, some of you may say? Yes, really. Stick with me as we walk through how coupon sites can actually be of tremendous benefit to a merchant.
Now, in some cases, coupons do have the ability to steal sales but only if the merchant has not identified how to properly handle them in the affiliate channel. Any merchant that has a promo code field in their shopping cart or somewhere else in the purchase process is inviting the consumer to take 30 seconds, open up another tab or window and search for a deal.
And, yes, this happens often... so often there's a well-known term for it; shopping cart abandonment. But, remember, there are many forms of shopping cart abandonment and though, technically, this is one of them, in many cases it isn't and doesn't have to be. And this is one of the reasons coupon sites can be great for merchants.
Instagram is undoubtedly one of the most influential social networks available in today's social landscape. With over 200 million users sharing upwards of 20 billion photos, the mobile platform is fertile ground for brands looking to connect with an exceedingly captive audience.
However, Instagrammers are notoriously resistant to direct advertising on Instagram, and the platform has only recently begun to cautiously implement promoted posts. Overall, users have been fairly receptive to the ads, but with all the marketing potential Instagram holds, there are much more effective means for engaging consumers on the social platform.
In defense of a recent campaign which featured women CEOs in their underwear, Dear Kate CEO Julie Sygiel said, "I think a lot of traditional lingerie photo shoots depict women as simply standing there looking sexy. They're not always in a position of power and control. In our photo shoots it's important to portray women who are active and ambitious. They're not just standing around waiting for things to happen."
What a load of crap. Yea, right, they're "not just standing around waiting for things to happen." No, Julie, they're sitting around in their underwear in a contrived situation waiting for a photographer to take a picture of them. If that's natural then I think I'll stand in front of my apartment and take a shit on the sidewalk.
Welcome to the social era where your brand has officially been Occupied. The relationship between your image and your values is increasingly determined by your brand advocates. The future of your brand is subject to your community and its perceived values.
You once controlled who appears in advertisements, but the rise of social media and user-generated content means that followers and fans often determine your brand¹s image without your consent. When people go onto your social media pages, they see followers that chose you, not the models and celebrities you selected. People also imagine that your social followers reflect the values of your brand.
So who belongs to your brand tribe? How do you guide the values of this community?
I had a crush on a cute redhead named Lettie Roberts in junior high school. But that's not at all relevant to this piece other than the fact Lettie sounds like Lottie. Who's Lottie? Lottie is Kate Moss' 16-year-old younger sister who is currently featured in the latest Calvin Klein campaign, shot by Michael Avedon, grandson to Richard Avedon who shot another very young girl, 15-year-old Brooke Shields, for a 1981 Calvin Klein campaign.