When Portuguese football star Cristiano Ronaldo declared during a Euro 2020 media conference that he preferred water (agua!) over Coca-Cola, media reports lapped up how his action coincided with a US$4B wipe off in market value of the famed soft drink’s stock. Stories like these are a testament the power of celebrity and the influence they have in terms of branding.
Of course, Cristiano is more than what we have come to understand is an ‘influencer’. While he is the most followed personality on Instagram, he is known foremost as one of the biggest stars in the world of football. In contrast, influencers are typically native social media users such as instagrammers, TikTokers, and YouTubers.
But the line is blurring in the world of traditional media and the digital space, with digital media slated to become mainstream. Movie stars have crossed over to social media, while native social media stars are getting the celebrity treatment on the traditional space.
What all these media personalities have in common is some kind of branding, credibility, and audience share.
What is influencer engagement?
Influencer marketing defined as “the promotion and selling products or services through influencers who have the capacity to have an effect on the character or brand” (Global Yodel Media Group).
Like celebrity endorsements for famous actors, pop musicians, and athletes, the goal is to leverage the influencers’ fame and following to widen the brands’ share of voice. Ultimately, the objective is sell the brand’s product or service.
In seeking to collaborate with an influencer, it’s best to first understand the highly segmented digital media landscape, a space that defies the typical silo-ed categorisation of gender, race & nationality. According to Ruder Fin Asia, some 85% of respondents in Southeast Asia aged 18 – 35 say they are content creators, who post a variety of videos, artworks, and stories on social media.
Factors to consider in selecting influencers
Therefore, in the influencer engagement journey, a targeted approach should be adopted based on the influencers’ relevance to the brand:
1) Shared vision and values
2) The influencers audience size and platform/s
3) What part of the consumer journey is there a gap for your product/service? And, how you want the influencer to plug this gap?
One way to analyse the social media landscape is to breakdown the influencers by their following. There isn’t an exact science to this, but these categories can be used for a start:
- Mega-influencers (may be traditional A-list celebrities): 1 mil or more followers
- Macro-influencers: 100,000 to 1 mil
- Micro-influencers: 1K to 100K
- Nano-influencers: >1,000
For mega influencers, they have the power to bring a broad level of awareness to your brand, product and service. However, they are not known to have a high converting power and may require a big budget.
Macro influencers are good for reaching a relatively major category such as young women or people who enjoy cooking, while micro and nano-influencers typically have a specific niche.
For the micro/nano camp, some of these personalities are regarded as an industry or topic specialist in areas such as (i) fitness, (ii) personal finance as well as (iii) luxury living and travel. Influencers in these categories may have a higher conversion rate because their followers tend to be more engaged, that is, followers seek them out for their niche.
Determining how to engage influencers through the PESO model
Once the selected influencers have been divided into their categories, the PESO model can then be used to determine how best to work with them. For example, for companies with a sizable budget and are looking for mass awareness of their brand and product, they can look for mega influencers. Such collaborations would, thus, fall under the paid approach.
If, however, that advertising budget is reserved for other uses, they can consider the earned approach, where the PR person can pitch to the influencer. Such an approach typically involved gifting the influencer products, in hope that they’ll share about it with their audience. A genuine positive review of the brand’s product has more credibility than what appears as a sponsored post.
Shared media is typically an offshoot of the partnership between the brand and influencer, where the brand shares the content from the influencer on their owned assets and vice versa.
What is it that influencers want?
In any form of collaboration, brands need to keep in mind that most influencers want to keep feeding their audience with relevant content. Many native influencers know their worth is based on the no. of views/ engagements from their audience. And that means, creating content that their audience will value.
While most forms of influencer engagement is paid, there are opportunities to get earned media from mid-tier folks. In my book ‘Navigating Disruption: Media Relations in the Digital Age’, I share more case studies on influencer engagement, including an interview The Smart Local’s Fauzi Aziz, an influencer, on this very topic.
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