As an enthusiastic, coming of the age brand, you would have come across the fancy term, “Influencer Marketing”. The upcoming platforms would have also made themselves known to you by now.

“But, what is it?”

“Does my brand truly need one?”

“How much should I invest?”

“What should be my return?”

.

.

Breathe.

Let’s start from the start.

Here is a short story from the graveyard of year 2007 when I was about 14. My Dad punished me with a plastic framed spectacle (the time before Naina made them super cool in Kal Ho Na Ho) because I have been too clumsy, too rash and too careless with my delicate rimless ones. Rebelling and crying I accepted that hiding these in my school uniform pocket would be the only doable thing at the moment — even if that meant squinting my eyes all the time to see what’s written on the blackboard. Anyway, turned out “the popular girl” in my class knew better about predicting Bollywood trends. She wore those same glasses, and well, well, nobody called her geeky or nerdy. In fact, nerdy soon became cool.

And here I was wondering what the hell happened.

Well, now we know.

Influencer marketing. DAH!

Humans are pretty petty influential beings. We like to assume that imitating a style of our beloved icon can make us just as cool, as rich, as successful and just as beautiful as them. No matter how much you’d like to trash it, at our deepest cores, our choices in life are always influenced.

In the coming five years, millennials will splurge $1.4 trillion on products and services sold to them digitally. This is the biggest purchasing group right now who is no more engaging with newspaper and television.

And so while we were hung up on celebrity endorsements a decade ago, we now have miniature versions of these celebrities in bloggers and social media influencers.

So yes, we can safely say the most popular girl of my class grew up to become an influencer who gets paid to wear weird things and make them look hot while average kids like you and me grew up to become “followers” and buy into them. (It’s legit-ly creeping me out how true this story is!)

 

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The Trend of Influencer Marketing Platforms

So while traditionally, we had PR agencies to get in touch with the right kind of celebrities, we now have an influencer marketing platform to connect brands and these influencers.

An influencer marketing platform allows companies, brands, and marketers to track and meet their key influencers and design, manage and run an effective brand marketing campaign.

Here are few of the trending platforms at the moment:

  1. Plixxo
  2. Skreem.io
  3. EaseSocial
  4. Influencer.in
  5. Pulpkey
  6. SocialBeat
  7. BlogAdda
  8. Blogmint

Into 2017 where influencer marketing’s immediate surge in popularity has resulted in innumerable platforms mushrooming around, it has become difficult to identify which one to work with.

Ask yourself these three things before you step out to deal with one:

  • How big is your firm
  • How big is your budget
  • What is the specific industry you’re targeting at?
    Food, Fashion, Beauty, Lifestyle, Entrepreneurs…
  • What is your marketing agenda: User acquisition or brand awareness?

User acquisition and conversions are mostly driven by small but penetrative campaigns. An alluring celebrity screaming from the billboard is not the idea here. This is more about driving the right kind of audience to your business through micro-influencers who have deep influencing power in their niche circle — also known as word of mouth publicity. These don’t necessarily bring your brand an image but definitely gives you numbers.

Brand awareness can create a certain persona about your brand in the market. Campaigns aimed on brand awareness usually target big influencers, celebrities, bloggers network. They are excellent in long term to give your brand a name and a certain reputation in the market, but their effectiveness in bringing you the desired conversions is still controversial.

More than 78 per cent of marketers cites measuring the return on investment of influencer marketing as their biggest roadblock.

There is no definite way to verify accuracy of reach and impressions because of an ever stacking Fake followers on social media.

Your return on investment is ultimately determined by your conversion rates and purchases. While big influencers can promise you metrics like engagements, they mostly refrain to quote conversions.

This is why, when you do engage with influencers, it’s advisable to pay per post-click, or per engagement wise. Only 17% of marketers support paying per post in spite of it being the most popular source of payment to bloggers and influencers. Needless to say, bloggers would always prefer you to pay per post commercials.

 

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Bloggers and their marketplace

When it comes to influencers and bloggers in India, there are two extremes. There are few handful of them who have created a niche for them in the past two years. They have advantages of first movers and have a crazy following. This gives them an edge over other emerging ones which directly reflects on their commercials. So while platforms may flaunt the presence of these bloggers, these bloggers have very few collaborations through these platforms.

“Although, I am on few platforms, I will accept that I quite haven’t collaborated with brands coming through them. I mostly prefer a brand to reach out to me individually because that allows me to put negotiations on the table. However, I would say these platforms are amazing for bloggers who are just starting up and are looking for barter and paid opportunities” says Anmol Bhatia, a prime Delhi fashion blogger with an astounding following in less than a year.

For startups looking up to reach out to bloggers and influencers, these platforms do give you a healthy database depending on your industry, goal and demographics. If you’re a newbie to the industry, it can get difficult to understand the concept of barter and quoting the ideal commercials to these influencers. A platform can give you a taste of the industry without making you feel alienated and intimidated. There are plenty of emerging bloggers and these platforms can connect you to the right fit.

 

For the bloggers, especially the ones at an initial stage, listing themselves on one of these platforms can be a good idea since there is not much categorization on these platforms, and opportunities are mostly distributed even. Nonetheless, they have their own challenges.

“The major point of challenge for us bloggers are when our content, time and cost are compromised due to a miscommunication. A platform which directly connects us to the brands can work, but those involving middlemen can sometimes be an issue. Nevertheless, opportunities from these network can be quite solid if you’re in good relationship with these.” says Dappersquare, a men’s fashion blogger.

Influencer Impact

The reporting/tracking should be the final loop in your influencer marketing campaign. As discussed above, it’s not as easy as it seems. You can gather the metrics from your influencers from each of their social media platforms. However, at this point you realize how an influencer marketing platform can save you the pain of manually gathering and analyzing the metric data from the influencer.

Like it or not, influencers are influencing your consumer market’s psyche. On a broader scale, if you don’t catch up fast enough, someone else will. It’s amazing to do a brilliant business, but it’s much more amazing when your business get the people talking. For that, they gotta know you. However, it’s very important to understand that unlike Google/Facebook ads, you won’t get the results instantly. You have to stick with your strategies, campaigns and influencers till the time you gain the trust and respect in the market.

Remember, it’s a two-way street. As you go on wanting to work with the influencers, you will be building a reputation where influencers would want to work with your brand. Consistency and patience, always.

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