Influencers: a concept lost in translation

Contrary to what brands have us believing, influencer marketing is not like blind dating.

Apart from the gazillion trade deals, China is the powerhouse of two more things: influencers and livestream e-commerce. The latter so pivotal that it garnered over $ 170 billion during a disastrous time like the pandemic. This begs the question: if these two could be combined, would it be enough to rejuvenate the Chinese economy?

Well, it is exactly what China is planning to do.

Recently, China broadcasted their annual televised version of the New Year’s Gala and it garnered more than a billion views. And all because of one influencer: Huang Wei colloquially known as Viya or the ‘livestream queen of China’.

It is a well-known fact that in this decade, influencers can sell anything: from a rocket service launch to toilet papers. And that’s what China realised and plans to profit massively from.

China knows that e-commerce without livestreams and influencers is exactly what Google’s Tiktok-Amazon Live amalgamation, ShopLoop wanted to do but failed miserably at. Further proving how adding a dash of influencer marketing never hurt anybody.

With how much companies rely on influencer marketing for their products to take off, it is more important to cut through the noise of choosing a Charlie D’amelio and getting more specific about your choice.

Brands have equated influencer marketing to blind dating. Two parties who have absolutely no idea about the other or care, come together for an evening of awkward silences and furtive glances at their watches. Which plainly is off the ballpark of the principles of marketing. The heart of any marketing effort has to be targeting. You don’t have to outright choose a random partner because your friend or your mother likes them. You have to choose who you like and getting out of the blind dating analogy, you have to choose who your audience listens to, who your audience feels for and who your audience looks up to.

Unless and until brands don’t get specific about who you are really targeting, you can never really make your consumers happy. And if consumer satisfaction doesn’t cut it for you to change your ways right away, here’s a little monetary incentive: you could lower your customer acquisition costs (CAC) by 40% if done right.

Circling back to the blind date analogy, let’s say you spend your Friday evening with somebody you actually know and like; what are the chances you are going to check on how it went for the both of you the next morning? High? Great. Then, let’s implement the same idea when you are teaming up with influencers because right now, brands are not measuring their paid efforts properly. (Organic is a whole rabbit hole you don’t want to go under because small brands can’t cut it at just mere brand awareness)

Here’s a tip: create specific UTM links for these sponsorship deals and neatly track the revenue generated by using these links or create specific referral/ discount codes. You can do it for free here.

But you know what your audience loves even more than influencers? Stories around your influencers. When you hit the customer’s pain points by making it interesting, brief and adding the dash of influencers, your paid efforts could generate much more than what you originally intended. Crafting a story won’t make it look organic with this, but your influencer will definitely appear more authentic.

And this brings me back to the fundamental ideology that you should approach such collaborative relationships with: care. Give back to the influencers in more ways than one: from care packages to throwing parties for them; the creator community is to not be underestimated. They are a pivotal part of the future of e-commerce (if it is booming in China, it is going to boom everywhere else too) and giving back in ways other than money should be your priority.

However, no matter how vast the influencer community may seem, it is not possible to have the right influencer-fit for every product in the market. For some outlandish ideas, no Billie Eilish would suffice so here’s a tip for all those acing design and technology right now: build your own influencer. No, not make your employees your influencers (which retail is acing, by the way) or make yourself an influencer (although that is the future) but code an influencer.

Imma, a virtual girl with over 300k followers | Source: Instagram

That’s right. AI is infiltrating everything including influencers. 2020 has seen the rise of CGI influencers and despite the prejudice revolving around virtual reality, Gen Z and millennials are obsessed with it. Tech and design has evolved so much that 42% of Gen Z and millennials  following these CGI influencers don’t realize they are actually not humans. Figure out why stories around CGI influencers, despite being non-human, work so well with this demographic and connect your product with it.

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