I find that I talk a lot about trust – trust in our farmers and ranchers, trust in our supply chain and trust in our products. And the reality is customers trust individuals more than they trust brands or industries. Social media influencers spend a lot of time building trust with their audiences, so when they showcase a brand or product, their viewers may decide to purchase it because the trust they have in that influencer is now extended to the product, too.
Typically, when we think about influencer marketing, our minds go to B2C efforts. For advertising to consumers, this means being keenly aware of both the audience you’re trying to reach AND the audience of the influencers you’re considering partnering with. It could be a professional athlete with nation-wide appeal touting the importance of protein or a dietitian and mother in Nebraska who shares healthy meals for young families.
For B2B, the approach can be a little different. In this space, influencers on platforms like LinkedIn may look a lot more like thought leaders. These are individuals who have grown an audience around their forward-thinking industry insights. For example, in the foodservice sector, it may be a chef who is sharing flavor trends they’re seeing success with in their restaurants. For a promoted post, it may look like highlighting a new flavor in a couple of dishes using your beautiful cut of beef as the canvas. Of course, you’d also want to have them to include your brand name to reinforce that it is the best option for the dishes they’re creating.
An important aspect to keep in mind, though, is that while an influencer can get someone to try your product for the first time, they can’t get them to purchase it again. An example I’ve been watching in real time: Beyond Meat. While I don’t know the arrangement, I am guessing they shelled out big bucks to have Kim Kardashian serve as their “Chief Taste Consultant.” I have to give them credit, the brand strategically chose a high-profile mega influencer who is wildly popular with urban Gen Z and Millennial consumers – the demographic they were targeting with the partnership. Will it increase initial sales? I would say yes. Will it lead to repeat sales of those same consumers? TBD. What we’ve witnessed is that no amount of celebrity influencing has swayed consumers to make a repeat purchase of a product they just don’t seem to like very much.
When you’re thinking about doing influencer marketing with Kim Kardashian or a professional athlete, your ad budget starts getting big fast. A high-profile influencer may easily charge $100,000 per post to promote your product; some of Kim Kardashian’s previous brand partnerships have started with a $1+ million price tag. Your product would need to be a huge hit with consumers to see a really strong return on that investment. But nano, mid and even some micro-influencers can get you more bang for limited bucks. Some influencers will only “charge” you for comped product that they can showcase; for others, you may need to spend up to $5,000 per post to effectively reach your true target audience. B2B influencing sometimes requires these smaller influencers anyway. If you’re only interested in getting your products into retail stores in New England, you don’t need to be working with an influencer with a global audience.
Influencer marketing is a single tool in the marketer’s toolkit, but it’s a powerful one for building product awareness and getting trial from new consumers. It is going to be fascinating to watch how this space continues to evolve!