Confession: When I first heard the word “athleisure” I thought of it as this latest disruptive digital native brand in fashion. Until I stumbled upon some of the influencers & content creators lounging, running, ‘gramming this trend. It’s only then I realised about the mounting hype of the athleisure economy. Today, it’s more than an outfit. It has not only dominated the apparel industry but has even marked space in the beauty segment. Let’s take Tarte for example, the brand has launched an athleisure makeup line by partnering with social media “fitfluencers”.
Influencer marketing has seen rapid evolution and is on its track to become a $10 Bn industry. Few of the most commonly asked questions I get are if it will help in building brand equity? Is it an ROI positive approach and how to measure the performance. Here’s how I think you can build a modern-day influencer strategy with the best-in-class examples.
- Build a multi-tier influencer strategy that aligns with consumer’s purchase funnel and brand goals
- Incubating your influencer marketing program is the future
- i5 Framework for an effective rollout & maximum impact
- Explore platforms and communities beyond social media platforms like Twitch & VSCO
End the one-off collaboration & freebies mentality
First thing is to take a step back, way back. Every single brand, regardless of their size, needs to establish a circle of influencers who share the same values as the brands. Start by writing down your long-term goals — beyond monthly sales and market shares. Define “why” to build a community and why should they care — have a sense of purpose. And no, it’s not about having a one-year calendar of activations or holiday-driven PR boxes.
Treat this community as you treat & value your first customer. Engage with them — to convert them from being influencers to advocates.
It’s time to swap one-off collaboration and end the “freebies” mentality. Just like you, there are millions of brands offering them free products & experiences. This tribe’s power to influence will have a strong impact simply because they share the same values.
The value of micro-influence
Obsession with the most-followed accounts is so 2012. Popularity alone doesn’t mean that their content is engaging or that their followers trust them more. According to a recent UK study report, nearly half of Kim, Khloe, and Kourtney Kardashian’s Instagram & Twitter followers are fake.
Someone with as small as 500 followers can build consideration among their niche community — delivering frequent posts with higher engagement at a lower cost. With Unbox Social’s Influencer Marketing Platform, you can refer to Audience Quality metrics which consists of three components: Engagement Rate, Authenticity Engagement, & Followers Reachability.
Micro-influencers promote fewer brands (less clutter, more trust), post often, deliver higher engagement at a lower cost.
Multi-tier model instead of a one-size-fits-all strategy
We recommend brands to build a multi-tier model to have a balanced approach. Pyramid of Influence must be built based on popularity (reach), power of influence (relevant reach & engagement), & the role they play in the consumer’s purchase funnel. Here’s a framework to get you started.
Incubate your influencer program
Stay ahead of the curve and have a recruitment program to build your squad. For example, Sephora recently launched sephorasquad.com and received over 16,000 applications. The recruitment process included questions on diversity and inclusion in beauty to join the squad that aligns with the brand’s values.
Image courtesy: www.sephorasquad.com
We’re seeing a lot of brands adopting virtual influencers. Fast-food chain company Kentucky Fried Chicken decided to cook its modern version of Colonel Sanders, a completely computer-generated international mogul turned virtual person who wants to inspire the world with an amazing life. Now, that’s out-of-the-box thinking.
Image courtesy: www.instagram.com/KFC
Execution is the Holy Grail
What makes certain influencer campaigns perform better than the others? It all lies in the execution. We’ve developed a simple ‘i5 Framework’ as a guide to build an effective influencer marketing execution strategy.
Image courtesy: www.elfcosmetics.com
- Influence Beyond Social: Don’t restrict yourself to social media platforms alone — explore varied communities like Twitch, VSCO or Quora.
- Integrate: Integrate them into your process early-on. They are the savviest & evolved consumer set; be ahead-of-the-curve, research & test products in the labs with them. Their opinion matters. Let them be the first ones to know. Beauty brand E.l.f. Cosmetics’ Beautyscape program is a great example of the same. The brand co-creates limited edition collection by inviting beauty enthusiasts every year.
- Innovative Content: Collaborate with them to develop stand-out content and this would mean giving them freedom to communicate with authenticity, in their true voice. Content is not equal to an ad. Maintain a content calendar.
- Incentivise: Turn influencers to become your sales agents. Build an ROI-driven model that incentivises them to drive revenue.
- Indicators of Performance: Define clear KPIs to measure the performance — is it brand awareness, engagement, sales, cost? Last year in August, 80% of Nordstrom’s mobile traffic came from a single influencer, RewardStyle Network. This same influencer network also drove 21.94% of Sephora’s traffic, 34% of traffic to Revolve.com, and 30.83% to Net-A-Porter
Keep it real
I often hear creators lamenting about how brands are killing their authentic way to engage with their followers — costing them much more than what they are paid for.
Collaborate with them to build a creative concept (write a better brief) & give them space. Trust them to create, post, tweet, ‘gram, vlog to deliver the message with authenticity.
Refrain from requesting influencers to add your brand logos, include brand colours, brand fonts, campaign visuals, tag-lines in their posts or worse … make them look like clones of your brand ambassadors.
About the Author: Aditi Chopra leads the Strategy & Insights team at Unbox Social and is the Head of Unbox Labs – a data intelligence service arm to offer bespoke solutions for every marketer. She loves building brands at the convergence of data, content & technology. She’s spent the last decade working with multi-million dollar global brands at Unilever, L’Oreal and Hyatt to develop digital & ecommerce first brand strategy. If you’re looking for a Martech Solution to build a data-driven effective influencer marketing strategy, feel free to connect with her on LinkedIn, Twitter or email at firstname.lastname@example.org