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Featured Story | Written by Stuart Banbery
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Why Iceland foods has switched to influencer marketing

Have you ever been “influenced” to buy something because of an endorsement from a “celebrity”? Whether you like to admit it, or are even aware of it, the chances are that you have.

Influencer marketing

The very definition of a “celebrity” has changed over recent years, with ordinary people now amassing followings that run into tens or hundreds of thousands – even millions.

Influencer marketing is a hot topic in social media right now, as brands realise the potential of aligning their products and messaging with powerful online influencers, using this to authentically interact with established online communities.

In contrast to the macro, omni-channel campaigns of the past, that used mainstream celebrities with huge fan-bases. A micro-influencer is essentially the same as its big brother, but on a smaller, more targeted scale, with followers typically up to 10,000. Unlike “celebrities”, experts or public figures, micro-influencers typically exist in a niche area, sharing content about their specific area of interest.

Using micro-influencers may seem counterintuitive. Why would you seek out someone with a smaller following to promote your brand? But the key difference with micro-influencers is that they boast much higher engagement rates on the content they share.

Recent studies have found that as an influencers’ followers grow, engagement rates fall. Micro-influencers in the 10,000 to 100,000 range were the most successful in engaging their audiences, displaying a higher like rate than influencers and celebrities with more than a million followers.

In years gone by, we’ve used mainstream celebrities as the cornerstone of many marketing campaigns. However, this approach can be scattergun and can polarise consumers, particularly if that celebrity is perceived as not a natural fit. It can also be an expensive strategy and difficult to attribute accurate ROI.

At Iceland foods, we felt that change was needed in order to accurately put us front and centre with our target demographic. You may remember the successful social media campaign that we ran during euro 2016, where we used an original, tongue-in-cheek approach that saw us partner with the Icelandic football team and outsmart some of our high street rivals.

Well, we’ve recently partnered with YouTube community, Channel Mum, which is made up of a number of vloggers who create content around issues important to mums of all ages. This provides us with an opportunity to speak to an established, targeted and engaged audience.

The true power in this new approach is that, unlike mainstream celebrities, micro-influencers are real people, allowing Iceland foods to drive real authenticity around our products – this is the magic ingredient underpinning any successful influencer marketing campaign. Some of the vloggers on channel mum are indeed genuine consumers of Iceland foods’ products and natural advocates anyway. These vloggers provide a real-life commentary around our products, services and their general experiences of the Iceland foods brand.

Social media algorithms

Another factor behind our new strategy is the fact that Instagram recently changed its algorithm to mirror Facebook’s. Meaning posts from accounts that users follow and interact with are shown first in Instagram feeds – positioning authentic, quality content over promoted content from big brands. Potentially, this might make micro-influencer content more visible than content from celebrities if the algorithm determines users more interested in it.

With that in mind, here are my top 5 tips to help you reach more of your ideal customers through the power of micro-influencer marketing:

1. Find relevant influencers

Always ask, how relevant is the audience of the influencer to what you’re selling? Even if they have millions of subscribers and each video gets millions of views, your ROI will be poor if you collaborate with an influencer whose audience does not match your own target demographic.

2. Focus on engagement

It’s proven that user engagement leads to growth. Before reaching out to micro-influencers, ensure they have an engaged follower-base do you consistently see likes, comments, questions, retweets, shares and other engagement metrics on their content? Always focus on engagement first.

3. Build a network

Influencer marketing can take quite a bit of work to get off the ground –  but the payback can be huge. Start off with one well-researched influencer and get your collaborative processes slick. Then gradually build a network of strategic micro-influencers who you can work together with for specific campaigns, or unite for larger projects.

4. Kiss

Keep it simple stupid (kiss). Don’t get bogged down in complicated strategies to begin, start from where you are and with what you have. Consider sending a weekly digest email to your new influencer partners, or tag them into your social posts, inspiring them to amplify what you’ve already started.

5. A two-way street

As with any successful partnership, there needs to be tangible value for both parties – this is made easier if you’ve collaborated with the “right” influencer. Think carefully about the value you can provide in return and show that care about their time or business by giving something back whenever you can.

The future

After our successful collaboration with Channel Mum, we’re now introducing dads into our marketing campaigns, with a series of videos planned to show a different perspective.

Micro-influencers can be a very effective way to engage a specific, established target market and adjust brand perceptions, but as with any robust marketing campaign, the key is solid background research and a truly complementary collaboration – anything less than authentic and you can do more harm than good.

Stuart Banbery is the Marketing Director at Orlo, he has a background spanning multiple industries and is responsible for all strategic and brand operations. Stuart is passionate about helping organisations harness the power emotional connections to create powerful customer experiences. Outside of work Stuart loves outdoor pursuits, travelling and is a keen Triathlon competitor.

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