An Introduction to Influencer Marketing
The following is an excerpt from The Evangelists: Insights from Leaders of the Nation’s Most Beloved Brands. Written by Monica Padillo, this chapter is titled “The Power of Influencer Marketing.” In it, Ace Gapuz, CEO of Blogapalooza, is interviewed about how the organization executes its strategy in influencer marketing.
Role of social influencers to strengthen your brand
With the rise of social media, it’s undeniable that influencer marketing has also become quite relevant. With influencers often having thousands or even millions of followers, influencer marketing has become a lucrative business opportunity for some.
According to Ace Gapuz, CEO of Blogapalooza, influencers have massively changed the marketing industry. Because of their wide reach, influencers were now being tapped by businesses to serve as their brand ambassadors and social media spokespersons. Most companies now would actually rather invest in collaborating with plenty of content creators instead of spending their budgets on famous celebrities. Not only would they be saving on money, but on production time as well because influencers are able to create and post content almost instantly.
“Influencers have made things more easily and widely known at a very short period of time. Before, companies would need to spend a lot of time and money, mostly in putting up TV ads and billboards featuring celebrities. But right now, because of influencers, they don’t have to hire a studio, a creative team, a production team, and sometimes even a PR team! Everything that they need may already be done by an influencer,” she said.
This was one of the many reasons that gave birth to Blogapalooza as a company; what started out as an annual networking and marketing event for businesses and bloggers in the Philippines was now a fully incorporated firm that linked brands from various industries to influencers.
In some cases, Blogapalooza also serves as a one-stop-shop where influencers can find a community of like-minded people. Gapuz explained that when they market themselves to the influencer community, they would approach content creators and invite them to be part of a “family.” Part of joining their community was being able to build connections and relationships that were sometimes hard to do on their own.
“We tell them that they’ll be part of the ‘BlogaFam’ because we would want them to feel good about being part of a community that they can consider as a safe space. We want them to feel confident and empowered, and more importantly we want them to feel welcomed and accepted. That’s a part of marketing. Of course they would want to work with you if they like you,” Gapuz said.
Meanwhile, when it comes to marketing Blogapalooza to businesses, they focused on the optics of their business or rather how they can be externally perceived by others. These things often have to do with their activeness on social media, the way they speak in emails, and even the way they write their email signature, among other things. While these factors may seem like minor details to other businesses, they encompass how brands and influencers perceive their work.
And they proved to be quite successful considering the wide range of business clients and influencer communities that Blogapalooza has amassed over the years. But they don’t have a universal formula for everything; each of their clients have different definitions of success that Blogapalooza would then have to help them reach.
Gapuz shared that when working with a client, Blogapalooza and the company first align on a clear metric for success. One of their customers, a Sweden-based beauty brand, defined success as having many video views. In turn, Blogapalooza gathered YouTube influencers to help them gain thousands and sometimes even millions of views per video.
For another brand, they defined success as having a lot of engagements on Facebook. Blogapalooza then responded to this by tapping influencers to engage with large communities on the social network to post and talk about the products and services of the client.
In a different instance where an e-commerce brand sought help as well for their sale campaigns, Blogapalooza gave them influencers who would talk about the sales on their Instagram pages.
“Campaigns become successful when, at the onset, you’re aligned with regard to what success means to you because you’re able to achieve that in conjunction with them,” Gapuz said.
Of course when there’s success, there were also mishaps and downfalls. Gapuz admitted that there were inevitably challenges when it came to dealing with various clients. She recalled that there are still some businesses that have little to no inkling of what they actually want to achieve or do not really understand how the marketing process works until they actually do it. They also did not understand the customer journey of purchasing items, which then led to these businesses setting incredibly high expectations for their campaigns.
Blogapalooza had one client that wanted to promote and sell an expensive pair of earphones within a two-day timeframe. The brand believed that because their planned selling dates were near payday, they would be able to sell a lot of units. Gapuz and her team found this a bit challenging, especially that big-ticket items usually require a bit more time for the consumers to make a decision.
Additionally, due to the lack of influencer pricing standards, some businesses were opting to work with freelance PR groups with less expensive influencer marketing prices. This was a challenge that Gapuz and her team at Blogapalooza always faced―brands can now create pricing benchmarks on their own.
“Good quality comes at a price. We know that in Blogapalooza, the kind of service that we extend and the value that we provide from the very first encounter are all top-notch. Apart from this, we make sure that the influencers we work with are compensated fairly, more often than not with cash. Brands would be frustrated and say ‘Why is it so expensive?’ That’s another challenge for us because there are no standards in terms of influencer pricing,” Gapuz said.
These challenges proved that the processes involved in influencer marketing were not as easy and smooth as it sounds. At the end of the day, brands were still running a business and if they don’t play their cards right, they won’t be able to reach their desired level of success.
“Influencer marketing has to be done right. And it also cannot be neglected, especially in our present time where the people’s attention has shifted to many contemporary platforms, ” Gapuz advised. “It really has to be part of the marketing strategy of every business, because in the way that the industry has evolved over the years, we know that influencers are not going away any time soon.”
She added that it’s important for marketers and entrepreneurs to look at influencers as enablers and catalysts of business. It is with this strong belief in the influence of others that empowered her and her team to continue supporting the influencer community and help businesses grow through this new form of marketing strategy.
“When we speak of influence, it also speaks of power and of responsibility. We want to be able to elevate that influence in terms of professionalizing and putting systems into how it can possibly work as a sustainable job. You’ll also have to think that this influence can and should contribute to the greater good,” she said.
To get more insights from other marketing leaders like Ace Gapuz, please check out the full book, available for purchase here.
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