WHY ‘COLLABORATION’ IS THE NEED OF THE HOUR?
HOW TO ACE THE INFLUENCER MARKETING GAME?
Back in 2010, the term ‘Influencer’ meant someone mildly famous on the Internet, who either blogged, clicked pictures, or made videos on what they liked. The card-carrying influencer may have had a strong following online, but would go largely unnoticed offline.
2010 is now history.
Fast-forward to 2022, and the whole wide world (& www) is their oyster.
- The pandemic has drastically changed how people work and live globally. A rise in digital was inevitable.
- The new, major target group Gen Z incorporates storytelling, innovation, sustainable practices, etc in their buying decision.
- Video creation is all the rage, and Group M’s latest Advertisement Report forecasts Digital to grab 45% media share this year.
All of which gives the creators of today more bargaining power than ever. And that makes influencer marketing strategy for any brand collaboration highly lucrative. Today’s marketers are understanding that the need to be clinical genuinely trumps old-school advertising on every front. And while Digital is set to take the biggest piece of the AdEx pie, other mainstream mediums like Print are expected to see a healthy growth (unlike previous years) in amplifying the reach of influencer campaigns and helping support credibility for all demographics.
A word of caution though. All data points to the potential of influencer marketing in India being huugee. If…you know the “whys”, “hows”, and “whos” of the game. That’s where Socialkyte steps in.
WHY ‘COLLABORATION’ IS VITAL?
Influencer Collaborations are here to stay in the marketing mix of every major brand and SME. But not just advertisers; other creators are also exploring potential collabs with popular influencers. Major reasons and lessons to learn range from expanding their audience reach, upskilling content quality, to learning to engage better and cultivate a loyal fanbase within that niche.
So why are influencer marketing services the hottest topic on every marketer’s mind, and why other creators should take note too.
Short answer? Consumer perception has been shifting; old-school doesn’t work as great on new kids. Famous can equal sell-out, and nano influencers are considered great for their lack of fame, and their approachability in one-on-one interactions.
A few numbers here before we let the words do the talking:
- Back in 2018, popular Twitch streamer Tyler “Ninja” Blevins was earning $500,000 per month to play Fortnite. In the same year, 8 year old Ryan Kaji got earnings of $26 million from making YouTube videos.
- Expected Ad expenditures in India may cross ₹1,07,987 CR, with growth projected at 22% for 2022. India is set to be the fastest-growing market in this category among the top 10 global markets.
- Globally, more than 75% of brand marketers are expected to set aside a dedicated budget for influencer marketing services in 2022.
- Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, around 400 million people in India were active on social media platforms. That number has only kept climbing, with technology seeping into the grassroots and innovation driving radical change.
- As of January 2022, the updated figure stands at 467 million.
Basically, we see the new realm of digital possibilities for brands and creators at a glance. Advertisers are moving towards sharper influencer marketing strategy and execution with the right brand advocates. The target demographic has completely changed since the last decade and they’re having to reshape their messaging the same way. Creators are trying to carve out their niche audience.
When before, collaborations meant partnering with a celebrity, big or small, the creator economy has taken centre stage now. People all over the world are able to connect with influencers at a closer level than they ever had with celebrities. The reasons are many, but the core remains the same: influencers have spent ample time, effort, and more to establish a genuine follower base online.
The increased competition and saturation of products could lead to confusion about best buying behaviour in the market. But for the younger generation, that go-to person helping finalise between the latest products or services is often an influencer. Their expertise coupled with their unique narratives engage the masses much better than any actor advertising something with a sales pitch written by some bloke in a marketing agency.
Think for yourself, which one would you choose?
The movie stars in an over-the-top production video, promoting the latest gaming gear, or the Twitch streamer who is an expert at First Person Shooters, streaming often for 12+ hours, with a much smaller but loyal fanbase.
The reason we know a thing or two about it is because of the continuous, innovative partnership we have with them.
Socialkyte has been helping Advertisers amplify their digital presence with the right influencers since 2019. Our network boasts of more than 100,000 passionate creators, each chasing their ambition and being able to monetise social media following, while getting discovered with the right influencer marketing services.
With the not-so-evident self-promotion done, back to the collaborations.
It’s not just the easygoing tone, or the care they take to engage with their audience. A real creator would say the same thing: they genuinely love what they do, and are very happy to share it with the world (Important point to remember, which we will get back to). That is why they are considered experts in whatever category their content comes in.
So when thinking about opportunities in influencer marketing India has to offer, we can understand the appeal (and you should too): it is the most genuine and authentic way for local and global brands to promote their services. And the environment is set to attract more creators to monetise social media following. Not herculean effort, but reaching that level would take time, care and determination.
There is a broad, accepted metric for the types of influencers brands can mobilise for their social media strategy. Depending on their follower count across popular social media platforms, they are differentiated into:
Celebrity influencers are already known pretty well. And when collaboration is done well, some brands have managed to improve their recall and awareness rapidly.
A nice, simple picture of Emma Watson sporting a scarf from a local British knitwear brand drove her admirers to the brand too. It reported a 62% increase in scarf sales within three weeks: a massive rise. Not because of a celebrity endorsement; people liked her picture, trusted her taste and wanted to mimic that feel-good factor in their life.
While they are all considered thought-leaders in their respective fields, macro influencers are the big fish who have already made their name and command a huge following. Werner Geyser of the influencer marketing hub states it very well in their ‘Definitive Guide to Influencer Marketing’, “…you would receive more ‘bang for your buck’ working with one of these content marketing rock stars than a famous celebrity”.
Many of them are industry experts and professionals in their field, ranging from top-shot advisors to tech journalists the biggest brands try and court. Unlike top celebrities, macro influencers don’t have global popularity. But their ardent admirers are dotted all over the world.
Don’t let the smaller numbers fool you; (smaller) micro influencers hold a lot of weight too. According to The Keller Fay Group/Expercity research, when compared with the average shopper, micro influencers talk about a product or service at least 22.2 times more, driving Gen Z among others to their channels.
They can get paid for promoting brands (little less than their follower-heavy peers) but are happy with barter collaboration too, as long as their followers gain value from it. Exactly the same is seen in nano-influencers too as they keep building up their base. This strong relationship with their fans and word of mouth helps carve out their name in that niche.
The ecosystem can have a massive impact on creators everywhere, giving them flexibility to monetise social media following and reach global audiences. And the scope for rapid growth is limitless for the marketers poring over their budgets.
But for influencer marketing strategy to jumpstart any campaign, brands have to take great care in how they go about it and their choice of creator.
HOW TO GO ABOUT A ‘COLLABORATION’?
There is a certain simplicity in the reasoning of how influencer marketing is able to give 7x Return on Investment (ROI) to brands.
- Trustworthiness in their communication (being experts)
- Laser-focused in targeting their niche customers
- The irreverence unique to each creator
- Shifting of ad budgets as per effectiveness
- Greater appeal to younger demographics suspicious of traditional advertising
Even the influencer marketing India has witnessed to date is still in its nascent stages. Compared to the influencer collaborations and activations seen in other countries, content creators will keep pushing the boundary of organic influencer marketing in India.
A word of caution to marketers who may act with haste. While creators actively search for brand collaborations themselves, they’ve had to work extremely hard to build up their following, putting the work in every day after starting from nothing.
Just because your business might be renowned globally, that wouldn’t be convincing enough for creators to want to collaborate with you. I quote Mr. Geyser again, not just because he’s the founder of influencer marketing hub — one of the world’s leading sources in this field. But because he nails the point perfectly in two sentences.
“Just because you believe your offer is excellent and will give people incredible value, does not mean that an influencer, or his audience, will agree. The reality is that they probably couldn’t care less about your brand.”
Quite blunt there, but a point that’s hard to ignore. We know why influencer marketing services are important to drive sales and awareness for businesses, but the ‘hows’ and the ‘whos’ are even more important.
You could try and contact the top 10 most popular creators on a platform, push them to monetise social media following by partnering with your brand, only to have the door closed on you.
This is also helpful advice for upcoming creators. Genuine Content Creators value their audiences more than any marketer will ever know. If the product or service would benefit their online fans, they’d be quite glad to partner with you, giving their name and voice to it. If not, better try someone else.
The many ways creators can boost brands’ social media strategy through influencer marketing include (but are not limited to) :
- Making Creative posts, short reels, or videos about your product
- Promoting mentions on social media; resharing positive responses
- Holding contests, giveaways with their product
- Product reviews, guest blogs about their service
Marketers could try and connect with the creators directly. That’s usually the long and hard way to start planning influencer marketing.
With influencers giving up to 20x their value in sales and earned media, many influencer marketing companies have cropped up; broadly categorised into:
- An influencer marketing platform: software systems specifically designed to ease influencer discovery. They also help brands track campaigns metrics like reach, impressions, engagement, etc using an integrated social media analytics tool.
- An influencer marketing agency: an organisation that helps businesses with end-to-end support in their influencer marketing strategy: from discovering, selecting creators to executing and managing campaigns.
If you’re a marketer and you’re wondering which one’s the best fit for you, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. The answer is subjective, and the right path may depend on:
- The industry you belong to; scale of your operations
- Objective of your marketing campaign
- Your target audience and their preferred platforms
- Overarching, long-term goal
The innovations driving the digital environment ensure that trusted social media analytics tools free of cost are available for everyone. That implies higher cost and time savings can be realised without trying to woo your choice of creators on mails and DMs. Better to take this route as you garner the creator’s interest in your brand organically, instead of approaching them directly.
If a brand has prior experience in influencer campaigns, with a specific and tangible goal, platforms would do the job well for them. Though they’d still have to manage the workflow between everyone and send updates, ask for changes, etc. Socialkyte’s campaign CRM allows a seamless way to manage the whole workflow with ease. From discovery, selection, product delivery and content approvals, all the way to reports.
If you’re new to influencer marketing, or short of time and/or resources to undertake the process, you should onboard an influencer marketing agency. The agency, with its experience and skill set, would execute the campaign on your behalf: from selecting, processing, to post-campaign work, sometimes even helping ideation and scaling up.
Kickstart Influencer Campaigns with Socialkyte
Are we an agency? A platform?
We’re Socialkyte, and we’re a bit of both.
Our next-gen AI-based tool doesn’t just help find your next collaborations.
It gives you complete freedom, flexibility and peace of mind. Your brief helps our platform discover & recommend best-fit influencers who will work wonders for your brand.
As an agency, our clients’ testimonials speak for us well. We’re proud of conceptualising successful campaigns, providing support at each stage and exceeding brand expectations.
Choose from our network of >100,000 creators and gain access to:
-Scalability to choose tens of thousands of creators
-Onboarding Category-specific Influencers through our classification module
-Cumulative Reporting of multiple campaigns across multiple channels
-Real-time social media analytics that give flexibility in strategy during campaign
-Micro-level analysis: Audience Sentiment & Interest Group Engagement
Streamline your influencer marketing strategy with us today.
Whichever path they take, finalising the campaign’s goals would be an important first step. Only then can the influencer marketing platform or agency find ways to realise it. You wouldn’t want to be vague in your deliverables; be specific, decide timelines and have measurable metrics to gauge success, post campaign completion.
Creators would do well to remember their close relationship with their followers while accepting brand collaborations. Advertisers want your voice and influence to give credibility to their service, along with promoting it to their target group (which matches your follower group).
Always go for collaborations that provide value to your audience.
Else that genuine bond of trust with them will take a hit.
Once the basis of partnership is decided, the advertiser-creator relationship needs to be nurtured. The brand should understand that they’re gaining a union, but the creator should convey their service in the way they’ve always done — the unique irreverence they are loved and famed for.
The Brand’s message, in the Creator’s words.
And lastly, both parties need to remember, regardless of platform or agency route, influencer marketing is a more human activity than promoting posts on Meta and Instagram. Creators are often engaged in multiple collaborations, so a level of understanding regarding deliverables and timelines may be needed.
Once their social media analytics report arrives, marketers will know how to refine their influencer marketing strategy to maximise gains. It takes time and trial-by-error to learn, but many brands have fine-tuned their collaborations to showcase themselves in the best light.
Fujifilm, the global brand in imaging solutions, found a great way to showcase their new products and accessories using the right influencers. Their brand ambassador program onboarded photographers and videographers from around the world. With creators from different countries, cultures, and imagery, they were able to showcase the variety of our world in a picturesque and attractive manner, all made possible with their equipment.
WHO TO ‘COLLABORATE’ WITH?
Creators gain experience, expertise, followers and fame as they step-up their collaborations with brands where the union works well for their audience too. And because their audiences, like many other people, are able to distinguish a sales pitch from genuine opinion, marketers would waste more than just time or money if they try forcing their message on the influencer.
We’ll see the same case if we compare influencer marketing in india and compare it with the world. No matter the geography, the loyal fans of their passionate creators did not wake up excitedly to watch the first 3 minutes of the video be a product offering they couldn’t care less about. A gentle reminder (again) to excel in the influencer marketing game: do not underestimate the genuine level of trust between the creator and fans.
But what are the conditions that an advertiser can look at a creator’s profile, their engagement metrics and finalise them for their influencer marketing services? In short, who should they choose as their brand advocate?
Short answer is that it depends. To amplify your message through creators and their followers depends (to begin with) on the brand’s industry and popular platforms its audience visits.
If you’re into Finance, YouTube Influencers and Twitter Influencers may have content that relates best with your needs. Twitter is also great for quick interaction and real-time updates over newsworthy topics and debates. To create awareness about the innovative features of a product (especially in B2B), creators who write technical articles or industry blogs should be the go-to for influencer marketing services. “Beauty and fashion brands shine on Instagram and YouTube. The video game industry dominates on Twitch.” Quite understandably.
After reconnaissance of suitable channels, you would see potential creators who could get your message through to the right people. But with the creator economy around the world burgeoning with potential gains rising, influencer discovery cannot be ignored.
At a time when collaborations within creators is rising, influencer marketing has made tie-ups with Brands, Talent agencies and NGOs, even globally, much more accessible. Anyone wanting to engage in a collaboration would ask for prior campaign metrics for reference. Still a lot of people share screenshots and/or PDFs of their media kit. It may be time-consuming and tedious for the creators, and not the most legible for advertisers.
To help businesses ease their discovery, many influencer marketing companies like specialised platforms and agencies are now dotted across major cities. One major advantage brands gain with an agency is not needing to invest loads of time in influencer outreach i.e. building a relationship with the creator from scratch.
SOCIALKYTE — ENABLING GROWTH THROUGH COLLABORATIONS
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67.6% of marketers surveyed reported that finding influencers that could be their brand advocates was the biggest challenge they face in influencer marketing strategy and execution. This implies creators need to be armed with clinical insights and KPIs that convince the advertiser of their suiting a particular role.
Brands are looking to collaborate with influencers who have a strong and loyal following that’s also a viable target group for them. Here again, it’s not just follower numbers but engagement rate metrics that will make your profile shine from others.
Whether they choose an influencer marketing platform or take the agency route, both would be able to give a detailed analysis of your engagement. With Socialkyte’s Dynamic Media Kit, you gain micro-level data that gives a much better indication of your interests and projections.
After being shortlisted for collaborations, influencers still ensure certain points would hold if they go ahead with it. Augere’s survey with influencers found that 55% would be happy to work as it would lead to increased reach for their activity, potentially growing their audience too. 45% agree as it could help create higher quality content for their fans. The usual perks of product samples and discounts, trips/events and adding another revenue stream were other results.
But metrics and past performance will continue to be a portfolio to showcase your engagement history and project your growth to advertisers. And with nearly 7 out of 10 brands now tracking sales from influencer campaigns to showcase growth, having the right tools is going to make a huge difference in the selection criteria.
We’ve now covered the “whys”, “hows”, and “whos” of influencer marketing and how brand awareness can be amplified with influencers integrated into their social media strategy. To condense the core thought in a sentence we can say — brands can amplify their name with the right target group if they collaborate with the right creators.
If the union is a sound one, adding value and quality to followers’ expected content, advertisers can create a win-win situation for everyone. Their chosen creators will become the perfect ambassadors if they already love your offerings and would be ecstatic to scale-up their brand collaboration further for the future. And social media analytics can help in tracking that growth to pitch others as well.
The creator’s process of upskilling is anything but easy. But with the right tools available, a dynamic digital environment, and ample opportunities for brand partnerships, the tip of the influencer marketing iceberg is slowly revealing itself, showing the true potential of collaboration to the world.
EXAMPLES OF ‘COLLABORATION’? WHAT WORKED IN THE WORLD
Like before, some more numbers and data before we dive down to how influencers are gradually taking over the AdEx pie:
- $104 Billion — Estimated Market of the Creator Economy
- 50 Million — Rough count of Global Content Creators
- Usage of Ad blocking tools rose 9% YoY
- Average global desktop ad blocking rate stands above 43%
- 8/10 brands used Instagram as their influencer marketing platform of choice
- Zara had the most mentions for a brand on Instagram — 300,000 — gaining an astounding reach of more than 2 billion
- In October 2021, two of China’s top live-streamers sold $3 billion worth of products in 1 day
(Source: State of Influencer Marketing 2022)
- Creator economy is about to get a whole lot bigger and better
- More creators want to monetise social media following
- Ads are finding hard to attract people with shrinking attention spans, banner blindness, and ad blockers
- Major influencer categories include beauty & fashion — it’s understandable that Instagram has taken centre stage with new updates supporting creators
- Zara had nearly 100k influencers sharing their products and experiences for their incredible reach on Instagram
- Li Jiaqi and Viya are also hugely popular on Douyin (China’s TikTok). And their $3 billion sales figure roughly equates to 3 times what Amazon sells globally daily
There has never been a better time to turn your passions into a genuine work role that pays well. And with countries like UAE introducing Social Media Influencer licences and an obligation to pay VAT, the industry will keep gaining greater credibility all over the world.
Influencers are no longer considered one person teams. They’ve slowly attained crews to support them behind-the-scenes in managing their social media strategy, their sets and photo shoots, along with the more tedious stuff like keeping accounts and expanding business affairs.
Their flexibility to adapt was seen clearly in the aftermath of the pandemic when with international travel not an option, their content shifted to domestic staycations and road trips with the travel industry.
2022 is going to be a turning point where influencer marketing companies will need to churn out innovations to attract the best creators and maximise gains in the industry. There have already been many notable activities which signal this projection coming true.
To give a little context, the baseball season in the United States is yet to start due to a lockout between the players and their organisations. While the sport is still dearly loved in many cities, the average age of MLB fans is now 57 years [Sports Business Journal survey]. That’s much higher than that of an NBA fan — 42 years. The slow tempo of the sport has failed to resonate with the younger generations. But this might change in the coming years.
Just recently, an American influencer marketing agency put out a statement stating that 1,200 active baseball players signed with the MLB (Professional Baseball League) would be coming on board with it.
The agency, Influential, will provide the players with key social media analytics across all platforms so they can act as ambassadors of the game and content creators for younger audiences. And during the lockout period, they’d be able to use the metrics to pitch for better sponsor deals, turning into baseball influencers themselves. This way even the younger Gen Z would be able to engage with the players up close and gain a closer feel for the sport.
A tech telco in Australia recently unveiled a 3D avatar billboard in Melbourne that was based on the metaverse. It has customers and influencers in their chosen avatars being able to share positive messages of unity and optimism with others. As the whole system was based on specialised motion capture software used to shoot amazing games and movies, it is able to give people a delightful new innovation in these uncertain times.
A diverse range of influencers included creators, LGBTQI+ advocates, gaming influencers & design influencers, with many other notable icons making an appearance.
Even further, they got attuned to their customers and delivered something remarkable and part of the latest news as a new-age tech telco. Not at all easy to bring together and execute, which makes the whole campaign even more brilliant.
And by bringing an ensemble of creators to promote it, it’s getting even wider coverage and will be showcased at other locations too.
With digital overtaking TV in India, short-form video forms like Reels on Instagram and Tiktok getting huge globally, bigger and better opportunities for brand collaborations and increasing proliferation of platforms and agencies, influencer marketing in India has the chance to fundamentally shape how advertisers have engaged with their audiences online.
With influencers creating their own NFT collections and starting podcasts to give their audience full disclosure, the possibilities are expanding every day. Metaverse can be a game-changer for brand collaborations as well. The digital context is continuously evolving and everyone from the advertisers to the creators and even whole nations are trying to adapt and find their footing in the new system. And there’s greater scrutiny over content quality over engagement numbers — more impetus to partner with other creators and upskill.
While the potential for awareness and reach expansion is on a different level to traditional methods, finding the right creators will still be the most crucial step when marketers decide to undertake influencer marketing.
Our research was meant to help you better understand the rules of this game and keep you abreast of the limitless potential of creator collaborations. We would love to hear your thoughts and suggestions on our projections, as well as understanding what went well for you.
And if you’re a marketer or a creator interested in starting your influencer collaborations, we at Socialkyte are all ears.
Help us help you grow with the right Collaborations.
Mail to: hello@socialkyte if you’d like to work with us!