As awareness and popularity of products and services are increasingly driven by social media, there is a renewed focus on endorsements from celebrities, advocates and influencers to make the marketing campaigns more endearing to consumers. But how effective are they?
The power of social media campaigns driven by celebrity and influencer engagement is proven by the way the ice bucket challenge went viral in a short period of time. It invited participation from a large number of celebrities, athletes and politicians. Celebrity participants in the 2015 challenge have included Massachusetts governor Charlie Baker, pop star Justin Beiber, actor Hugh Jackman and actress Renee Zellweger.
The power of peer recommendation and word of mouth in driving demand for products and services cannot be ignored, and when it is done by individuals who are already in position of authority or credibility or substantial number of fan following, it becomes even more effective in drawing attention to the brand. Customers in this era, especially the millennials expect brands to talk with them rather than at them. They connect with brands that entertain and inform them, rather push products and services at them. In this new model of consumer behavior, influencers and advocates are a phenomena no marketer can ignore. By strategic partnership with celebrities, advocates and influencers, brands can attain more organic followers on social media.
If you want customers to remember your brand- align it with a well-known personality with a huge fan following. Working with these influencers will communicate to the market that your brand is credible and is a must have item. With the advent of social media, the number of channels a celebrity can push the brand onto and the immediacy of it has acquired greater significance. This also holds true in the case of influencers, especially bloggers or experts with thousands or millions of followers waiting to see their next post on Instagram. They can take your brand to the next level!
So, before choosing a celebrity for endorsements or deciding to work with an influencer, brands must consider their social media reach- for example, how many followers do they have on twitter, Instagram or Facebook and how will this help in getting a wider reach for the brand’s message. We might wonder why Justin Bieber scored a $12 million deal with the luxury nail polish brand OPI, but if we consider the vast number of his female fans, it does make sense.
Whether or not a celebrity’s bad publicity would affect brand values is debatable. When Tiger Woods was publicly shamed for his marital infidelities, companies like Accenture, AT&T, Buick, and Gatorade who had endorsement deals with him eventually left but Nike who has stuck by him pays him more than $20 million a year. Nike built a $711 million-in-sales golf division on the back of Woods. His private life did not change people’s belief in his golfing abilities.
In the emerging digital marketing space, the brand advocates are the influencers every marketer wants in reality. A brand advocate is someone who recommends a brand based on their personal experience to their followers and immediate social circle. A brand advocate could be a loyal customer who posts their experience on their social media channels or influences the decision of others through word-of-mouth. As people are more inclined towards trusting personal recommendations, brand advocates play an increasingly important role in advancing the brand’s acceptance. Brand marketers understand how important this is, and strive to find such people who are so passionate about the brand that they promote it just because they have a sentimental attachment to it. And unlike influencers, they tend to be committed in supporting the brand for the long term.
The benefit of using both influencers and advocates is mind blowing. Apart from their popularity as measured by the number of their followers on Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook and blog, it is important to consider the appropriateness or fit of the brand to their area of focus. For example, a tech blogger who suddenly revamps her blog to include fashion and cosmetics brands may not come across as authentic.
Having discussed the importance of celebrities, influencers and advocates, we believe they should be carefully selected for the quality of their content, the number of their followers, their credibility and their natural fit with the brand. When the brand finds the perfect match, it will be a win-win situation for all concerned.
An article by Dubai based PR agency Iris PR