Influencer Marketing is a term that’s grown in popularity over the past 2-3 years. Before Brew Social launched, we recruited a network of social influencers in the sports sector that have a combined social following of over 25 million, most importantly their followers are uber engaged. These profiles post out genuinely good content that their followers love. On the rare occasions they post out content on behalf of a brand, its tastefully done and still of value to their follower base. If not, they would be nothing more than an online ad board. They would also sabotage their engagement rates.

The move towards influencer marketing isn’t jumping on the band wagon. It’s not just a buzzword. It’s potentially a really powerful and more logical offering than many digital marketing services. At the moment, there’s a lack of understanding of how people consume content online and the role content can play in eventual conversions. There’s far too many misaligned strategies when it comes to content. Too many marketers trying to cram conversion level activities at the top of the funnel. Too many marketers hiding behind the relative subjective safety of branding, tone of voice and all the bullshit we all know to a large extent is bullshit.

Get your foundations right with your brand early on. Know what it is you want to do, sell and say. Then get on with the actual marketing where you are measured & judged on your activities. It’s terrifying how many marketing strategies solely consist of a) Traditional offline marketing and b) Online marketing using only owned media. We’re left with brands broadcasting a message in an empty room, trying to say something, that in all probability, nobody cares about. No understanding of what platforms their customers use and who influences them online. No paid or earned strategy in place.

We ran our first influencer campaign 5 years ago, by campaign I mean 2 social posts from 1 influencer. It drove over 10,000 hits to the site, 600 conversions and £2,000 worth of revenue in 4 days. The client’s product was low value, a fairly impulsive buying decision for the customer. The influencer had a very engaged following and was offering something of value to their followers. The same post from the clients’ social profiles drove 70 hits, 1 sale. It all made perfect sense. It was all about how people consume content and the impact word of mouth has via the power of a popular, relevant social profile.

It’s interesting to compare influencer marketing to organic search, in particular, link building. Link building has become more and more competitive. You are technically using content to compete for media space, along with hundreds of other agencies and brands. You have to create compelling stories and engaging content that often includes unique data, graphic design, web design and a shit ton of outreach time. Even if you aren’t hitting the national press and you are focusing on getting content hosted by influencers for free (Because your content is so awesome…) you are competing with many other similar requests from other agencies and PR’s, most of which will involve payment. So why should this influencer care about the free inbound link you are begging for? The whole market of ‘free’ coverage is becoming saturated, in a large part due to the rise in influencer marketing.

It’s a migration that’s only natural. Influencer profiles and sites have the ability to reach and engage millions of people, why wouldn’t they charge a fee for this? Compared to traditional media and even other forms of digital marketing, it’s a very cost effective and measurable service.