An e-influencer is a person who can help target consumer segments that brands consider to be challenging. Influencer marketing has witnessed exponential growth in 2018 so far, with 86 percent of marketers having used this form of marketing and finding it effective. This kind of marketing identifies and targets individuals who have influence over potential consumers. Similarly, e-influencers are individuals who can impact the purchase decision of their peers via their social network channels and blogs. The most preferred social channels for these influencers are Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat, Google+ and blogs. Earlier, influencer marketing used to be placed under the public relations budget. However, as independent influencer platforms evolved, advertising budgets are being used to fund these services.
Kraft, back in 2016, was hamstrung by the traditional approach to content strategy and promotion at retail stores. The company was investing in the promotion of branded recipes which cost $500 each to create. The campaigns took place via traditional methods through online placements that cost $1 per view and through media buys. Kraft wanted to drive more customers to purchase its products. The company partnered with TapInfluence and created a marketing program that received 759,387 views and delivered at least $1,366,611 of media value for an ROI of 3100 percent.
Types of E-Influencer Services Procured
- Micro-Influencers: These are people who have social media followers usually varying between 1000 and 10,000. They could hyper-engage audiences. Reckitt Benckiser Group looked at the ROI of one YouTube video vis-a-vis 25 micro-influencers. Though the reach was same, in many cases, the engagement was exponentially higher for niche influencers.
- Influencers as Content Creators: CPG brands such as P&G and Unilever are increasingly using influencers as content creation staff virtually, with the aim of turning brand-owned sites into content hubs with compelling stories, videos and images.
The landscape is dominated by three types of suppliers, namely, PR agencies, specialist e-influencer agencies, and freelancer celebrities who have influence in their local domains.
- Public Relations Agencies Having an E-Influencer Division: Brands have a cost reduction opportunity by bundling e-influencer services with other PR services. To handle crisis management, PR agencies have better insights into the buyer company and their PR history. For example, Kellogg’s has sourced influencers through the Edelman PR agency to manage adverse event product recalls.
- Full-Service E-Influencer Agencies: This method is effective for one-off campaigns, as less management is required from the buyer. It is suitable for buyers with minimal influencer experience. Reckitt Benckiser and Unilever have sourced e-influencers through Jin, an independent influencer agency for new product launch and brand repositioning.
- Marketplace Platform for Freelance E-Influencers: Buyers can communicate directly with influencers. This is cost effective for lead generation and social media brand repositioning. For instance, Colgate-Palmolive partnered with GleamFutures to identify dental students to blog about specific brands using micro-influencers.
For new product launch and brand development activities, firms may work with full-service e-influencer agencies, as there is a brand/influencer fit to be assessed. For lead and social media content generation, firms can procure freelancers through marketplace platforms.
What’s in It for Procurement?
In recent years, larger spend is being assigned toward influencer strategy and strategic procurement rather than opting for ad hoc procurement globally. For instance, Colgate-Palmolive has significantly enhanced the allocation of funds toward influencer marketing through a longer-term procurement agreement with Edelman PR. There has been a 70-75 percent increase in allocation of the marketing budget for e-influencer activities by Fortune 500 companies in 2018. Thus, firms can continue to work with PR agencies to procure relevant e-influencers for handling crisis management subservices.
There are many success stories of e-influencers driving campaigns. However, recently some transparency issues have surfaced in the digital ecosystem. Brands, therefore, need to be more vigilant while engaging with e-influencers and procuring their services.