Whitepaper - The rise of influencers and their role in creating a content strategy for the confectionery industry

Posted by Jenni Armstrong on 26 August 2016

The final module of Squared Online sees Squares work in groups to create a whitepaper that sells their ideas on how a major digital trend will affect an industry. For our latest whitepaper showcase we're taking a look at a series of reports from students who joined us from Perfetti Van Melle, who look after brands such as Smint, Chupa Chups, Mentos and Fruit-ella.

We're kicking off with a whitepaper that examines the rise of Influencer Marketing and the sweet spot it represents for the confectionery industry.

Introduction

influencer1.jpgOne of the emerging trends in Digital Marketing which is
growing in usage amongst brand owners is Influencer Marketing. This paper examines how to use Influencer Marketing to create meaningful, resonant first impressions with your audience.

With the proliferation of smartphones, we are now able to communicate, ask questions, share opinions, publish content and communicate with our friends globally and in real-time. This has changed the dynamics of how and when people pay attention to marketing.

The consumer purchase cycle has also evolved. Whilst previously the customer journey was based around customers seeing a product in a store (FMOT) then experiencing it at home, after purchase (SMOT), there is now an extra step that comes into play. Consumers are able to ‘test’ products through the experiences of others by reading reviews, asking friends and engaging on social media (ZMOT) - where customer decision-making is now happening.

Trust in earned media wins

Brands may help to create awareness, but customers now do the research themselves. So, what does this mean for us Marketing folk? The focus has shifted, and earned media is playing a much bigger role in marketing. Whilst figures can vary across industries, it is clear that earned media is now the most trusted source of commercial information (Nielsen, Global Trust in Advertising and Brand Messages, 2013). In a Four Pillars UK survey, (The Impact of Social Media within the Hospitality Industry), 92% of consumers surveyed said they trust earned media such as recommendations from friends and family above all other forms of advertising.

What is Influencer Marketing, and how to do it well?

Influencers are people that have the ability to change behaviours and impact the purchase decisions of others. On the social web, they have earned an engaged following by creating or curating content.
Influencer Marketing is the process of developing relationships with these people to assist in creating visibility and engagement for your product or service. But it is more than just finding people with good audience numbers, it is about finding the sweet spot of maximized reach, a message that is relevant and targeted, and ultimately resonates with the audience it hits.

Good influencer marketing involves a process of identifying, researching, engaging, andinfluencer2.jpg supporting the people who create the conversations that most impact your brand. A more popular influencer grader tool, Traackr, has developed a framework that takes you through 5 key steps:

  1. defining your audience
  2. discovering the right influencers
  3. monitoring for opportunities
  4. taking action and engaging, and  
  5. measuring results (A Framework for Influencer Marketing, Traackr & Lewis PR).

So why should Influencers play a role in my content strategy?

Now we know what defines good, should we be using it? An article published in Adweek by Misha Talavera makes a strong case for why brands should be considering the role of influencer marketing in their overall mix. The article demonstrates how influencer marketing induces word of mouth; its ability to generate sales and message retention; and how increasingly consumers are getting tired of traditional paid forms of advertising. Additionally, using influencers can help your SEO efforts, with user generated posts accounting for 25% of search results (Erik Qualman, The Social Media Revolution) and ultimately every social like and picture posted online is targetable and trackable.

Who else is doing it and does it work?

A 2014 study by Burst Media suggested that on average for every dollar spent on Influencer Marketing campaigns, advertisers received $6.85 in earned media. Food-based consumer goods performed even better than that at $11.33. (burstmedia.com)

Similar results from Rhythm One’s (1H 2015) Influencer Marketing Benchmarks Report showed that marketers who implemented an Influencer Marketing program received $9.60 in earned media value (EMV) for every $1.00 of paid media spend. (rhythmone.com)

influencer3.jpg

 

influencer4.jpgIn Confectionery, Tic Tac has recently added a social influencer to their marketing mix to create awareness for their new flavours. Illusionist extraordinaire Zach King was hired to create a video that captures “Keeping it Fresh” in a unique and visually appealing style. Three videos were uploaded on different social platforms and generated over 930,000 views, joining the YouTube Ads Leaderboard for Winter 2015. Tic Tac continues to work with Zach King for their subsequent flavour launches in 2016, even utilizing Zach’s content in their traditional TV campaign.

Recently, M&M’s made use of social influencers to drive awareness of their cause related campaign for Red Nose Day in the US. The brand partnered with social influencers such as Jon Cozart, Brittany Snow and Kelly Rizzo to build traffic to the campaign #MakeMLaugh. Cozart’s YouTube video received over 500,000 views, whilst the hashtag has built to 6,600 posts since its April launch.

influencer5.jpg

Are there challenges? Any risks?

Consultancy agency Augure in their report involving over 600 communication and marketing practitioners in Western Europe and USA, identified the top three challenges in implementing an influencer marketing campaign:

  • Identifying truly relevant Influencers for the brand/campaign
  • Ability to get attention and build interest from these Influencers
  • ROI accuracy (mainly for professional working on agencies)

Tools for influencer metrics such as Klout, or its competitors, appear to be quite simple and generalistic and only 3% of marketers find them reliable. Augure further explains the need to treat influencers with a completely different approach than other forms of media. Influencer marketing has to be approached as part of the strategic reflection of the brand. (augure.com)

Influencers may not be on your payroll, but the public sees them as part of your brand identity. Risks carried by influencer marketing are primarily due to the lack of training and the absence of rules. Sometimes, influencers are not aware of regulations and correct product disclaimers. A ‘corrective post’ may even create negative publicity, driving more attention and doing more harm than the original material - an inherent risk brands cannot ultimately control. (cksyme.com)

Developing a set of criteria is essential to ensure influencers meet the campaign objectives. While creative freedom must be provided, proper training is required to equip these influencers with sufficient brand and regulatory knowledge, and this responsibility should sit with the brand owners.

How to keep it legal?

With the rise of influencers for digital campaigns, different regulatory bodies are taking note of these commercial activities, and are increasingly taking action against brands that handle influencer marketing incorrectly. In past years, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in the USA or the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) in the UK have stepped in and clarified the boundaries of influencer marketing.

For the US market, the FTC published Endorsement Guidelines, which in essence, state that a failure to disclose commercial relationships between companies and the individuals who endorse them is deceptive (www.sociallyawareblog.com). Advising the audience that a post or video is sponsored by adding a hashtag (i.e #ad or #sponsored) is a suggested solution.

In the UK, the Committee of Advertising Practice Code was published to set ad rules for vloggers and brands, which outline that viewers must be made aware of the sponsorship prior to viewing the content, and tags such as “brought to you by” are not sufficient – a clear statement is required at the beginning and end of a video. (sabguthrie.info)

As a general rule, brands using influencers should follow the same advertising rules as those that apply to offline campaigns. Additionally, the tax liabilities connected to offering free products to influencers should be considered as well as the international nature of online content – what might be unregulated in one country could lead to serious issues in another. Ultimately, influencers should be monitored by the brands that they endorse and brands should follow up on erroneous behaviour on a regular basis.

What are the implications if we choose to opt out of Influencer Marketing?

The benefits still outweigh the risks. A study by Tomoson (tomoson.com) revealed that influencer marketing is the fastest-growing channel for acquiring new customers as it clearly beats other channels, including email marketing, organic search and paid search. The following are five key reports highlighting the power of influencers:

 

  1. Consumers trust recommendations from influencers
    In research conducted by McKinsey examining 20,000 European consumers and their purchase decisions across 30 product areas from over 100 brands, they found that social recommendations resulted in an average of 26% of purchases across all 30 product categories (McKinsey&Company)
  2. Social media is growing rapidly
    Social media consumption is growing at a rapid rate across age groups. Instagram hit 400 million active users per month in September 2015. Statista reports that Snapchat user base increased by 45% in 2015. Instagram has grown by 43%, Pinterest by 40% and Facebook by 28% in terms of user base
  3. More and more people are blocking ads
    The 2015 Ad Blocking Report published by Adobe and PageFair revealed some shocking data for Internet marketers. They found that over 198 million people actively use ad-blocking around the world. This means that global ad-blocking grew by 41% in just 12 months. Specifically, ad-blocking in the US grew by 48% to 45 million people. Ad-blocking in the UK grew by an alarming 82% with 12 million active users in the same time period. The report states that publishers lost almost $22 billion due to ad-blocking in 2015 (pagefair.com)
  4. It helps with overall performance
    The Tomoson study showed that 51% of marketers believe influencers help them attract and retain better customers. Influencer marketing, along with email marketing, is deemed to be the most cost-effective channel for acquiring customers
  5.  Your competitors are spending more on it
    In a survey by Tomoson, 59% of the 125 participating marketers said influencer marketing is so effective that they intend to spend more money on it. Nearly 60% of marketers plan to increase their influencer marketing budget in 2016

In conclusion, these studies show that a growing number of marketers are using influencers to promote their brand image and products or services. They also reveal how a majority of marketers already using this marketing channel are finding it highly effective in terms of ROI, retention rate and customer acquisition. Opting out of Influencer Marketing can potentially lead to missing the boat on connecting with the digital native audience altogether.

Summary

The confectionery industry today is largely directing their one-way marketing message to a broad consumer base making use of traditional and increasingly, digital channels. Reaching the masses, but at the same time developing a two-way relationship with the consumer, is something still quite underutilized in the confectionery industry’s marketing efforts. Making use of influencers and the unique ways they engage their audiences in their channels, can help to enhance the consumer’s experience of your brand, and ultimately drive their loyalty towards your brand versus others. Whilst good examples of the use of influencers at this stage are few, studies across multiple industries show that Influencer Marketing campaigns can drive reach, engagement, and loyalty; and can be done with good return on investment. Taking into account the legalities, and possible risks, a careful review and management of your long-term influencer relationships can add an appealing layer to your integrated marketing campaigns—capturing the right audience in a platform with authentic voice, suitable timing, and long-standing influence with consumers.

You can read more student whitepapers here

Find out more about Squared Online: you can give us a ring on +44 (0) 20 7173 5938, or download the brochure to read about the course and the Squared experience.

Topics: Digital trends, Digital marketing, Whitepaper, Business case studies, Squared Network