Are You Under the Influence?
I am embarrassed to admit I am under the influence. I’m not even sure how it happened. One thing led to another and before I knew it, I was under the influence. I feel obligated to share my story with you about the power of influencer marketing.
Let me take you back just two short months. Since I am focused on agricultural marketing, I ventured out to a local horse trade show to talk to current and prospective clients. I am more of a self-proclaimed cow guru but horses are a strong part of the rural culture and I do appreciate their beauty. So maybe I just had horses on the brain, or maybe I was targeted because of my attendance at the event. But what happened next was so seamless and easy that I didn’t even realize I was under the influence.
Fast forward maybe a week, and there I was sucked into the zombie-esk activity of watching random Facebook videos. And there it was, the cutest baby horse I’ve ever seen! Horses might not be my first love but I had to admit she was a cutie. She is brown (bay) with a white patch square on her head, wobbling around with a little pink coat on and sticking out her tongue slightly.
Are there more videos or pictures of this cutie, I wondered? All it took was a jump from Facebook to Instagram and sure enough, there is a collection about a foal named Ivy. Now, I am watching all the videos, and the account holder, Katie, shares that Beyonce is Ivy’s momma. How clever. I noticed there is another collection of videos for Beyonce. About an hour later, with one smooth tap of my screen, I am completely under the influence. I now follow this account, along with nearly 400,000 “friends.” Fun fact, four of my actual friends are also under this influence.
Soon, I find myself checking in on my favorite foal before bed each night. I’m watching Katie singing lullabies and tucking her in. One night, during routine bedtime, she shows us the newest edition to the horse haven. Yes! Turns out it is foaling season, so new babies are now entering the picture, quite literally. Now, I am checking in on Wheezy, Waylon, Johnny, Ethel, Rosie, and, of course, Ivy each and every single day. The farmer in me needs to know what the babies did that day and what they ate. And I love watching their personalities develop. **Insert doe-eyed girl drooling over videos of baby horses playing together**
Then, Katie does something really powerful—she shows me her website! Coffee cups, notebooks, mouse pads, and more, all with Ivy’s adorable face. I also see some of the clothing and hats Katie wears are available for purchase. I cruise through the merchandise and soon have three items in my cart. Suddenly, my brain puts on the mental spending brakes and I am left wondering—WHAT JUST HAPPENED?
As I pull out my credit card, I have a moment of realization—I am under the influence! The marketer in me is impressed. In a matter of weeks, I went from a casual viewer to interacting daily, to buying from my friend Katie. And yes, I consider her my friend. She let me fully into her world talking about her horses, dogs, house, hunting, pot belly pig, cows, and nuances of her life.
Influencer marketing is powerful and certainly isn’t a new concept but one that continues to evolve. Celebrities are among the first types of people we associate with influencer marketing and I would argue local TV news anchors and radio DJs also fit this bill. But today, the world lives online and a new class of influencing all-stars is emerging. So, what is the draw for these everyday people?
According to an article on Forbes.com, “Influencers operate independently, creating their own content and integrating a company’s advertising specifications into it. The influencer is in control of the brand’s message, choosing how they would like to portray it. This promotes authenticity and can help reach a specific target audience.”
With this approach, we are able to conclude that the influencer can make a strong argument for how a product makes their life better/easier and it comes off feeling like a recommendation from a close friend rather than a sales pitch. After all, influencer marketing is really the “original” form of marketing. And nothing beats the original!
But just how powerful is this form of marketing? According to a report by Influencer Marketer Hub, influencer marketing is expected to grow $16.4 billion dollars in 2022 with 75% of brand marketers intending to dedicate budget to this marketing strategy.
This report also gives us one of the most compelling examples of influencer marketing to date. In a single day in October 2021, two of China’s top live-streamers, Li Jiaqi and Viya, sold $3 billion worth of goods. That’s roughly three times Amazon’s average daily sales!
The question isn’t if you will use influencer marketing, but when and how. I am certain it will become a part of your marketing mix just like social media and videos. If you don’t know where to start, well, I have the perfect “solution” for you. Join us on July 14 for our Influencer on the Rocks event. We will be “mixing” a combination of networking, information, and a few cocktails to help uncover the story of who and how influencers can work for you. To learn more and to register, check out our website.