By Mulenga Agley, Founder of Growthcurve
In a world where scrolling through an endless feed of branded advertising is the new normal and where we’ve all been banner blind for at least 10 years already, the smart money is flocking to influencer-first ad strategies. Try as people might to dodge the ads, content creators can sneak their marketing messages right under the nose of those pesky ad blockers and right into consumers’ hearts and minds. In our Kardashian-crazy world, you might think this isn’t new news, but the pivot here is that today you can ditch the (expensive) shiny Hollywood-production levels TV ad, and go all out influencer-first.
Now, let me be clear: I’m not just jumping on the bandwagon here – the numbers speak for themselves and we’re not just witnessing a change; we’re smack bang in the middle of a cultural revolution, with TikTok and content creators leading the charge.
It’s no secret that authenticity is the currency of the current era. But let’s put some numbers on that, shall we? When we see that 90% of consumers cite authenticity as key when it comes to deciding which brands to support that’s not just impressive, it’s a whopping neon sign for where to put your ad dollars. And considering a single recommendation from a trusted influencer can carry more weight than a thousand faceless ads, it’s no wonder why influencer marketing is on track to become a $21.1 billion industry by the end of 2023.
But here’s where it gets spicy: influencer marketing isn’t just about having someone with a zillion followers to hawk your product anymore. It’s about the relatability of the person next door, the one who can tell your brand’s story as if they’re sharing a pint with their followers. It’s about creating that ‘down the local’ feel in a digital world.
And how about the notion that customers with a personal connection to a brand have a 306% higher lifetime value? That stat from Motista should be enough to make any marketer sit up and listen. It’s like finding out your mate’s not just good for a laugh, but he’s also ace at helping you move flats, finding you a new job and scoring you cup final tickets. Suddenly, he’s the first one you call. That’s what an influencer can do for a brand—turn a casual buyer into a brand champion, a friend for life.
Now, let’s talk tactics and tools for a second. Think of them as the nuts and bolts in a marketer’s toolbox. For starters, pick authenticity over sheer reach every single time. A micro-influencer with a dedicated following can give you more bang for your buck than a celeb whose followers scroll past their posts. Then there’s the power of a good natter—direct-to-camera videos. This isn’t just fluff; a TikTok trend report suggests users spend up to 24 hours a month on the app, with the direct-to-camera storytelling format proving a big hit. That’s a whole day they could be engaging with your brand—if you play your cards right.
And longevity is key. This isn’t a one-night stand; it’s more like a steady relationship. Long-term partnerships with influencers mean that their followers get to know your brand as a familiar face, not just a passing fling. That kind of relationship breeds trust, and trust is what engenders customers to stay and pay.
And let’s not forget the treasure trove of user-generated content (UGC). It’s like having your customers do a bit of the legwork for you, creating content that other customers trust because it doesn’t come with that ‘sponsored’ tag. It’s just real people having a real chat about products they actually like. Tabs Chocolate grew in its first year from 0 to 100k+ customers without spending a dollar on traditional ads. Instead, Tabs decided on an ‘influencer only’ strategy – that helped them generate over 70 billion views by recruiting self-serve creators and paying ~$100 per 100,000 views. Tabs scaled to $11 million in just 18 months, with 40% margins. Clearly, it’s an approach that works!
I could go on about the need to be platform-agnostic—knowing your TikTok from your Instagram and your YouTube from your Twitch. Each one’s got its own lingo, its own quirks. It’s like knowing which pub has the best quiz night or which local takeaway does the meanest curry. You’ve got to know where your audience hangs out and what they’re into.
And influencer-first shouldn’t just be the realm of B2C marketers – there’s rewards to be had in the B2B world too, and opportunity to steal a march on your rivals, with just 24% of B2B businesses reportedly including influencer marketing in their mix.
In closing, let’s bring it back to the human element. An influencer-first ad strategy isn’t just a shift in marketing tactics; it’s a shift back to good, old-fashioned storytelling and relationship-building. It’s about having a crack with your customers, not at them. And in a world that’s more connected than ever, yet sometimes feels as distant as the moon, that’s a winning ticket.
So, here’s to the influencers — the digital age storytellers, and here’s to the brands that see the value in a handshake and a smile, even if it’s through a screen.