How does influencer marketing work and what benefits can it provide?

By May 23, 2023 Digital Stories

Influencer marketing includes a group of activities that rely on the involvement of bloggers, testimonials, social reviewers, and digital creators who test and then communicate to their follower The quality of the brand or product.

According to some industry experts, this is now an outdated marketing technique or at least less relevant than it once was. In reality, the right resources, briefings, monitoring of output and verification of results achieved make influencer marketing an excellent ally for brand awareness and conversions.

From web superstars to microinfluencers, there are many opportunities for companies, but it is crucial to set the strategy more correct by choosing testimonials, channels and targets. Let's delve into the topic together, trying to understand how influencer marketing works, what benefits it offers and how much it can cost businesses.

What is influencer marketing

In recent years, there have been a large number of bloggers, youtubers, influencers and opinion leaders who exercise a certain social influence through sharing messages with target audiences, affecting the visibility and perception of brands.

Defining influencer marketing in one word is not easy, but wanting to simplify the concept it can be explained as a type of marketing strategy that employs mentions and sponsorships of so-called influencer, that is, people who have a large following on social media and are seen as experts in their field.

Today these influencers often prefer to be called digital creators. After the advent of celebrities such as Clio Makeup or Chiara Ferragni, they are in an era in which the figure of influencer has been democratized, especially thanks to the arrival of TikTok and Instagram, which have broadened the audience of possible influencers.

At the heart of it all is creativity and the ability to build minimal and brief content, but impactful for the community. Most critics believe that influencer is often a hobby and not real work, but the truth is that real professionals have made it a serious, full-time business, mixing video, photography, copy and PR.

For this reason, companies have completely redefined the way in which they want to influence and engage their target market, so much so that influencer marketing plans play a vital role for many marketing departments.

How influencer marketing works

Influencer marketing is possible because of the deep trust that influencers have earned on social platforms from their followers. I buying tips are perceived as a form of "social proof" for the brand's hypothetical customers.

Regarding the question of channels and sectors, it is good to say that each field has its own audience and more active platforms. Therefore, each sector will have more suitable and effective influencers that are active on specific social media.

For example, Instagram is a favorite tool for influencer marketing, but it certainly has a larger following on topics such as fashion, travel, food, wellness, fitness, psychology and beauty, with a mostly female target audience.

Instead Youtube is one of the most widely used channels for more purely masculine topics such as automotive, computer technology, and do-it-yourself and attracts people interested in video reviews, tutorials, and how-tos that they consult before purchasing.

What are the benefits of influencer marketing?

The benefits from such a marketing approach are many. Indeed, the brand can show itself to the public through the face and voice of a outstanding testimonial.

This means that the promotional message will be delivered in a less advertising form, but still in a tone and style that the influencer's fanbase will understand. The immediate result is a greater perception of trustworthiness and truthfulness. To summarize, let us see what benefits such a strategy can bring:

  • More authentic relationships: influencer marketing relies primarily on the ability of influencers to gain the trust of followers. Companies can therefore leverage this psychological aspect to present themselves in a more authentic form to potential consumers. Obviously, the influencer's values and audience must match the company's;
  • Largest number of users reached: another virtue of influencer marketing is allowing companies to quickly reach a very large and diverse audience. For example, between 2021 and 2022, social media users increased by 10.5%, with TikTok having the largest increase. Instagram is still the most widely used social to do influencer marketing, while the most popular tools are still PCs and mobile devices;
  • Increased social engagement: another parameter that reveals the usefulness of influencer marketing is social engagement, that is, user interaction with the brand. Obviously, the engagement rate is mainly related to the number of followers of the influencer and the chosen social channel;
  • Increase in Earned Media Value: With influencer marketing there is an opportunity to increase Earned Media Value, which represents the return on investment (ROI) from influencer marketing strategies. The EMV figure reveals how much the individual campaign has produced in economic terms, and the higher this value, the greater the number of effective social mentions.

Undoubtedly, the growth of influencer marketing will not stop in the coming years, becoming even more one of the most relevant means of development and profit for companies.

How much does it cost for businesses to do influencer marketing?

But what are the average costs of hiring one or more influencers capable of creating content for the purpose of promoting a product or brand? This is not easy to answer since it depends on the extent of the community of the influencer and by his or her notoriety. In addition, it should be considered that very frequently such digital creators work independently and are therefore more accessible than those followed by agencies.

There is a list for these professionals, broken down by community audience groups:

  • Nano influencer: have between 1,000 and 10,000 followers and have the advantage of working at a limited cost or sometimes in exchange for brand products. They produce simple content, including article reviews;
  • Micro influencer: have accounts followed by between 10,000 and 100,000 followers in specific niches, building industry communities on topics such as food, travel, business, make-up, fashion and more;
  • Macro influencers: they have catchment areas of 100,000 to 500,000 followers and are true professionals. They work on Instagram, Youtube or through blogs with a highly loyal audience and gradually increase over time;
  • Mega influencer: they are real stars, such as precisely Clio MakeUp, Cynical Beautician or Chiara Ferragni who are now real public figures. Or they are showbiz people and athletes who took the reverse route, eventually becoming trendsetters.

Influencer marketing and surreptitious advertising

While influencer marketing has undoubted merits, the cons are very few. In general, however, it is important to pay attention to the regulations in force on branded content with regard to making explicit the "paid" nature of collaborations.

In fact, it is also essential to consider the legal aspect of influencer marketing as a promotional collaboration must be indicated in order not to incur penalties for the company or influencer. It is the platforms themselves that now suggest adding the words "brander content" if the algorithm recognizes promotional content.

Influencer marketing, however, does not always abide by the rules, but the Italian legal system is equipping itself with tools to prevent the phenomenon of surreptitious advertising, such as the Digital Chart of the Institute of Advertising Self-Discipline, which enshrines precise rules to protect consumers.

In addition to transparency and the use of specific hashtags, the influencer must also report free material sent with wording such as "supplied by/gifted by/product sent by..." and must also be careful about managing the discount codes offered to followers on behalf of the brand.

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