Credibility: The true power of influence
As social media has matured over the years, savvy consumers are wary of being sold to but trust the opinions and recommendations of influencers that they deem to be authentic. Suzanne Mitchell shares how brands can build a highly successful influencer marketing strategy that is grounded in credibility, authenticity and relatability.
There has been a lot of talk about influencer marketing over recent years, with marketers – in businesses big and small across almost every conceivable industry – opting to tap influential figures to tell their brand’s story. The strategies are numerous and often dependent on a combination of the brand’s goals, budget and existing standing within the industry. Some, for example, blend a balance of macro- and micro-influencer to garner both reach and engagement, others take a sector-specific route such as gamer or hair and beauty influencers to reach an audience vertical. Some deploy a combination of strategies.
The influencer market is big business. So much so in fact, that, according to Insider Intelligence estimates based on Mediakix data, brands are expecting to shell out a staggering US$15 billion on influencers by 2022 – almost twice as much as the estimated eight billion in 2019. However, in what is evidently a lucrative – and possibly even saturated – marketing industry, cutting through the noise and reaching the target customer in the target geographic region isn’t always straightforward.
For years businesses have engaged famous faces to act as brand ambassadors – think George Clooney and Nespresso or, presently and locally, Snoop Dog and food delivery platform Menulog. Those days and those ambassadors are by no means over, and can still be very popular and very effective for some brands. However, the industry is evolving and so too are the ways in which consumers are influenced by the brands they engage with. Today, the sway of relatability, credibility and authenticity – particularly amongst younger generations – are changing the way brands identify and leverage influencers.
Building brand resonance through credibility
Australians are proud and parochial. To appeal to Australian consumers, a ‘home grown’ approach to partnering with the right voices that ‘endorse’ and amplify marketing messages is a very important consideration. Rather than taking a global approach, partnering with the right Australians – ‘cred-influencers’, to coin a phrase – who are inherently authentic to a brand’s offering and mission is the critical component.
A ‘cred-influencer’ is someone who has legitimacy within their market; a figure who has ‘been there and done that’. They’re a notable entrepreneur endorsing business software, for example, or a popular surfer endorsing a new surfwear brand. Their personal experience and success builds credibility that means, when they talk, they can do so with authority, relatability and influence that the audience trusts.
This trust is a crucial feeling that brands seek to instil in its customers. By leveraging legitimate, credible influencers to endorse them, brands can build a marketing approach that is, hand on heart, authentic.
Credibility and mutual benefits
Any brand can talk about the value of what they offer, but through a credible influencer, they can show the value, not just tell. Through a mutually beneficial influencer partnership, a brand doesn’t have to push its message or mission; the opportunities naturally present themselves through the influencer.
For the customer, it creates a sense of both aspiration and inspiration. If they’re searching for new business software or a new surfboard, for example, the influencer’s endorsement of a brand might subtly and subliminally position that brand as the solution or opportunity for them. ‘They’ve had success, and recommend this brand, so why shouldn’t I?’
The benefits transcend the brand and customer, though. When brands and the influencers they engage have a natural synergy and alignment, the benefits of credibility can be felt by the influencer too, through their association with that brand.
Leveraging existing channels for broader reach
Today, thanks to both the proliferation of internet access and social media use, consideration must be made not only based on the influencers standing, but the types of media channels they utilise and their reach. As ecommerce and social media continue to intersect, influencers are becoming particularly important and prominent intermediaries. However, it’s important to think holistically, too, guided by the platform’s target customers use.
For example, a holistic influencer approach could cover a blend of audio, video, social platforms as well as website, email, events and other partnerships. If a brand is satisfied that an influencer’s existing audience is similar in demographic and preference to its target customers and that they are respected, like-minded and drive appeal, the brand can achieve its desired reach and engagement.
Empowering everyday entrepreneurs
At GoDaddy Australia, we’re passionate about inspiring and empowering entrepreneurs. For us, there are few better ways to appeal to our audience than through the inspiring stories and advice from credible Australian influencers – esteemed entrepreneurs Mark Bouris and Mia Freedman.
Our partnerships with Mark and Mia form an exciting opportunity to leverage not only their reach and engagement but the respect they’re held in, through an omnichannel marketing approach. Adopting this strategic approach to our respective partnerships has created the potential for a coming together of broad, like-minded communities of vibrant Australians with a shared passion for entrepreneurialism.
Our success is in the success of our customers. Supporting Mark and Mia, we champion and celebrate existing customers, using their stories as proof to prospective customers that, with a little bit of drive, it’s possible to dream big and start, run and grow a successful and enriching online business. Crucial to growing these communities – and providing the support, tools and advice the businesses within them need – is a marketing approach predicated on credibility, authenticity and relatability.
The decision to invest in credible influencers, or indeed any other marketing approach, is largely dependent on a brand’s budget, goals and existing recognition in its market. Considering that consumer influences are numerous, there is no right or wrong approach to influencer marketing. However, for brands like ours, by approaching it through a real and authentic lens, the benefits of credible influencers can be beneficial for brand, influencer and customers alike.
Suzanne Mitchell is the senior director of marketing for GoDaddy in Australia.