It's high time that we all face it, traditional marketing methods are no longer effective, as they were a decade ago. With technological advancements in each field, modern customers can learn about each product and its features, before going further with the purchase process. With the weapon of knowledge in hand, it is not easy to manipulate a customer's decision just by using commercial ads, banner ads, and social media ads. If you want to succeed in 2021, you need to make your brand stand out from the crowd.
One main method of doing so is through influencer marketing.
The practice of influencer marketing employs leading, niche content creators to improve brand awareness, increase traffic, and drive the brand’s message to its target audience. The content creators market these brands to the ideal audience across different channels such as social media, blogs, columns, digital and print ads, and television to expand the reach of the product among the buyers. Influencer marketing is a type of investment, which when worked well with the right influencer, appeals to the target audience. There are much statistical data to prove so. For instance,
Google searches for "influencer marketing" have grown to a greater extent from the span of 2017-2019.
The influencer marketing research survey of 2019 concluded that 80% of marketers believe influencer marketing is more effective than other sources of marketing.
The same report also reported that 71% of marketers believe, the quality of customers and traffic from influencer marketing is better than other sources.
Before understanding the strategies which are involved in creating effective influencer marketing for branded content, let us discuss the basics.
What is a branded content?
A branded content is defined as a “creator or publisher’s content” or is influenced by a business partner for an exchange of value. It includes articles, YouTube videos, podcasts, and films, rather than TV commercials and banner ads. A branded content does not involve the promotion of a specific product but addresses the important issues of the society (e.g., gender inequality or beauty stereotypes). When used correctly, it increases audience engagement, increases brand awareness, and improves brand loyalty. Some of the aspects of branded content involve great storytelling and evoking feelings of happiness, sadness, fear or surprise, and anger or disgust.
To understand this concept more, consider the following example.
In 2015, the Danish-based toymaker, Lego Group, witnessed an increase in its sales by 25%. What was the reason for its success? The Lego Movie. If you like cartoons, or if you have little kids, you probably have watched this movie a few times. The movie isn't an ordinary one, it is a successful example of a branded content piece which the company produced. The release of the company's first major motion picture led to a strong sales jump, with Lego Chief Executive Jørgen Vig Knudstorp stating that "this has been the best year ever for Lego Group".
Volvo, the automobile company that stands for safety, addressed the main societal issue of India, which is women's safety. According to statistics, 84% of women in India, do not feel safe in their cities. To examine this, Volvo organized a Mumbai night walk "make your city safe" to reclaim the night as a safe space for women. This piece created a branded video to draw people's attention to the company's event, as well as the safety problem. It is a perfect example of how a branded content can be used to address the topical issue of society while promoting the core value of the brand.
Influencer marketing and branded content are useful tools on their own, but they are far more effective within a strategy that treats them as complementary pieces. Often, these tools are advocated as each other’s adversaries. While influencer advocates believe the voice is more important than the message, stressing over the fact, that endorsement from an influencer goes a long way toward building audience trust, the content advocates believe that a great message is effective, regardless of the source, stressing that control over message is a powerful tool.
In the heat of these competing ideologies, the most important thing is to understand that a blended approach strategy of branded content and influencer marketing is the best approach to reach the audience.
Understand this via an example of the partnership between headspace and NBA.
Headspace, the English-American company, specializes in meditation. It mainly operates through an online platform and provides sessions of guided meditations to the users to instill mindfulness. On the other hand, National Basketball Association (NBA), is a professional basketball league in North America. Although this partnership might sound odd, still this couple made it work beautifully.
In exchange for more than 7,000 headspace memberships for players and personnel, the NBA produced guided training content with the platform and featured headspace on owned media channels. The NBA made basketball more accessible to casual fans by inviting them to try some of the advanced training strategies their favorite players use to prepare for games. Headspace, meanwhile, appealed to a wider audience that might not be familiar with the benefits of meditation. It aimed to improve the fan experience by focusing on technology.
With the above examples, the picture has become quite clear, of how influencer marketing works amazingly well for branded content. so let us move on to the next section of this article. How can we blend these two tools and use them our efficiency?
1. Fold an influencer campaign into a larger branding strategy
We earlier read that a branded content does not just focus on a certain product. Therefore, we should focus on those influencers who can work within the wider context of our brand's objective, and not those who know how to hawk a certain product. Do not just focus on the influencer's follower count, but consider focus more on whether they can tell the customers a story. For instance, Mercedes-Benz found success by working with Instagram's beloved wolf-dog Loki. This husky/arctic wolf, a malamute mix, worked exceptionally well in immersing the customers through a video in the Colorado mountains and connecting Mercedes-Benz with wonder and adventure for an audience that loved those ideas.
2. Same branded content but different influencer
While there aren't any rules that influencers and branded content, need to be paired for life, we should use this to our full potential. Even if single-influencer campaigns are effective, we can increase a brand's influence by further partnering with multiple voices inside the same niche. This practice will make the users feel like the brand is plugged into the community and is relevant to the people within it. Consider the example of Shopee Indonesia. Shopee is a commercial electronics website headquartered in Singapore, founded in 2009. It has been expanded in Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, and the Philippines. The company once worked with 200 influencers at the same time to promote a limited-time sale. The theory of the company is to identify the market and work with a platoon of influencers to generate maximum engagement.
3. Give influencers creative freedom with branded content
This doesn't mean handling off the brand's image to any stranger, but allowing the particular influencer to tell the story which they are good at telling and placing the brand at the center of the table. For example, consider the tech company Lenovo. When it introduced Lenovo’s yoga 3 pros in 2015, it did not present any script to its influencer. Instead, the company distributed products to popular influencers and asked them to spend time with the new devices and film them. As a result, influencers were able to portray their story about the product in a beautiful way. For instance, mommy blogger Kileen wrote in a blog post how Lenovo’s Yoga 3 Pro helped her fulfill her "modern mom" duties. Since this is what her blogs are centered on, the content felt authentic. She gave her followers the chance to win their own Yoga 3 Pro by promoting a giveaway contest.
With the advancements in technology, we have provided humans with the weapons of the internet and mobile devices through which they have every brand's knowledge at their fingertips. With this, brands need to understand that they can manipulate the customer to purchase their product only through effective marketing, and influencers marketing is the answer to do so.
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