Gone are the days where running one Facebook Ad was more than enough for brands to generate sales and garner brand loyalty. The modern-day Indian consumer demands to be informed and strategically allured towards a brand.

The Indian consumer now expects brands to talk with them rather than talk at them. Consumers no longer expect brands to merely sell to them, they expect to be informed, entertained and strategically drawn to the brand.

As per the recent New Realities study by InterPublic Group in association with FCB Cogito Consulting, Indian consumers scored the highest on ‘I regularly consult blogs (and social media) for finding new ideas about products.’ The findings also indicated that 77 percent of the surveyed consumers in India trust recommendations made by their friends, family and experts over celebrities.

In this paradigm shift in consumer behaviour, brands can now tap into the power of influence and strategically partner with the right influencers to spark organic conversations around their products/services.

Influencer marketing (also called influence marketing) is a form of marketing where the focus of marketing initiatives is placed on selected influential people instead of targeting the entire consumer market directly. Influencer marketing identifies individuals that have an influence over potential buyers. By making personalized purchase recommendations, influencers leverage the power of their influence to appeal and sell to the target consumers.

Choosing the right influencers

Despite its significant advantages, influencer marketing can end up being a wasted investment if not planned and executed properly. When it comes to influencer marketing, choosing the right kind of influencers and sustaining relationships with the influencers is of vital importance to a brand. Having worked on multiple influencer marketing campaigns for brands in India, we understand,

1. Relevancy, authenticity and engagement matters.

When it comes to selecting social endorsers for your brand, it is very important to look at how aligned an influencer’s content is with your brand’s messaging. Do a thorough research of the influencer’s social media channels. Get a sense of the kind of consumer that the influencer is, understand how he/she interacts with his audience and observe how authentic the content on their feed is.

Just because a food blogger posts a lot of recipes does not mean he/she is an ideal fit for an organic brand.

Observe the authenticity of your blogger’s content. Compelling and engaging stories tend to draw in more engagement than point-blank product reviews. Personal stories that include a genuine mention of a product, brand or service are more trusted by consumers and followers. Thus, brands must always allow influencers their creativity and insight on collaborations to reap meaningful results in their ROIs.

2. Quality over quantity. Always.

Often, when brands set out to plan influencer marketing campaigns, they go out looking for the ‘big fish’ i.e. influencers who have thousands of followers on their social media channels. While such influencers do help brands in gaining greater visibility, they aren’t the only ones that help in establishing meaningful relationships and brand loyalty. There is huge potential in micro influencer marketing (more on this later).

When planning an influencer marketing campaign, brands must prioritize the quality of the influencer’s content rather than just look up at the number of followers. Look for experts in your market –influencers that understand your brand and resonate with its image. A small-scale influencer with content relevant to your brand will always contribute more towards establishing loyalty with your brand over a commercialized influencer with multiple brand endorsements and a million followers.

3. Foster relationships.

A very important aspect of influencer marketing that many brands tend to ignore is the importance of forming long-term meaningful relationships instead of just one or two sponsored posts. Understand this – there is a huge difference between a fashion blogger who posts about five new brands each week, and a fashion blogger who regularly posts about the same brand.

When it comes to ensuring a good ROI from influencer marketing, brands must look at establishing long term relationships with a few selected influencers. Engage regularly, and engage often with these influencers – consider making them a part of your brand’s story and get them to represent your brand in front of your target customers for a longer duration of time. It’s simple – when your target consumers see an influencer regularly endorsing your product or service, they will be more likely to trust their recommendations.

For more on micro influencer marketing, read our next blog update.

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