Given the abundance of information in present day society, consumers are turning to the opinions of influencers in an attempt to find reliable information before making decisions. The number of companies considering the use of influencer marketing has increased, as many firms consider better ways of marketing their services.
This article will cover the reports presented during the “Basics and Tips for Success with Influencer Marketing” webinar held for various companies. We’ll also provide our proprietary data-driven analysis of the relationship between influencers and consumers.
What is influencer marketing?
How would you define the word “influencer”?
Most of you would probably define it as someone who has a lot of followers on social media or has the power to “influence” others. At IREP, we define the term as an “innovative individual or firm that is able to create and deliver useful information to its fans.” (Figure 1)
(Figure 1: How Irep defines the term “influencer”)
Now that we’ve defined the word “influencer,” let’s take a look at what influencer marketing means. Influencer marketing refers to the actual act of influencers creating and delivering useful information to its fans. (Figure 2)
(Figure 2: Defining influencer marketing)
Companies are able to borrow the trust and communities between influencers and their fans to communicate and promote their services from a third-person perspective.
There are other benefits. One of the challenges facing modern day society is the abundance of information. This can be stressful and noisy to some, preventing the “unexpected encounter” that would otherwise be possible. Influencer marketing solves these issues with the following.
- Stress from information
The countless amount of information available prevents people from finding information that is truly useful to them. Having multiple choices confuses them because they’re unsure of which to choose. →Influencers possess the trust they share with their fans as collateral.
- Noisy ads
Some consumers find it stressful when they come across information on companies told from their perspective. →By converting the source of the information to the influencer, noise can be reduced.
- Decline in unexpected encounters
Delivering ads can create contact with specific targets, but contact with new prospective or highly motivated customers may decline. →Using influencers enables those unexpected encounters with products to happen.
The relationship between consumers and influencers
As described above, influencer marketing solves information overload issues facing modern day society while contributing to marketing activities. Now let’s take a look at the relationship between consumers and influencers.
Influencers are categorized based on how many followers they have (Figure 3). Top influencers are influencers with over 1 million followers. At the other end of the spectrum are nano-influencers, who have several thousand followers. Each category of influencers has a distinct relationship with their followers.
(Figure 3: Influencer categories based on number of followers)
Take top influencers, for example. Followers of influencers in this category can best be described as having feelings of aspiration. These followers aspire to be like these influencers or have the same lifestyle as them. As such, they show high interest in the products/services promoted by them.
With regards to micro- and nano-influencers, users tend to follow influencers with similar lifestyles or hobbies. Unlike top influencers, the relationship between influencers in these categories and their fans can be described as one based on trust and empathy. They feel that the products and services promoted by the influencers are suitable for them as well, leading them to look up the products/services and making purchases.
What kind of influencer should be hired for influencer marketing? Let’s go over some key points when casting influencers.
As with commercials on television and digital ads, the purpose of the campaign is crucial when it comes to influencer marketing. Using the influencer with the most followers isn’t always the best idea. Instead, it’s important to use the most appropriate influencer for the campaign.
The chart below shows the relationship between follower count and reach/engagement. The more followers an influencer has, the bigger the reach and the smaller the engagement. The opposite is true for influencers with few followers.
(Figure 4: The relationship between follower count and reach/engagement)
Given this relationship, if the purpose of the campaign is to raise awareness, using top influencers or power influencers that exceed in providing expansive reach is effective. If the purpose is to promote an understanding of the product or persuading consumers to search the product and bring them one step closer to a conversion, then using micro-influencers or nano-influencers that have a tight knit community may be more effective.
We recommend deciding on an influencer category before narrowing the candidates by age, follower attributes, and response to services.
When we conducted a survey and asked respondents, “Who is the influencer you trust most?” the names provided were mostly influencers with fewer than 500,000 followers (Figure 5).
(Figure 5: Survey results on which influencers users trust and why)
*Based on in-house research by Irep.
The respondents of the survey stated that they trust influencers who speak their minds and show an interest in similar things, suggesting a relationship built on trust between influencers and their followers. These results further suggest that for campaigns focused on promoting product understanding or brand renewals, which require sufficient reach while maintaining the integrity of the brand, influencers between the micro-influencer and power-influencer categories are the most appropriate.
In other words, for campaigns requiring extensive reach, power influencers and top influencers are the most appropriate choices, while campaigns focused on communities should be handled by nano- or micro-influencers.
How much posts by influencers contribute to business
We’ve touched upon the basics of influencer marketing. Now the question is, “How effective is it?” We’ll explain what consumers think of influencers and what effects they have on them based on our survey.
In response to the question, “Have you bought any products after viewing a post from an influencer?” over 40% of people responded “Yes” (Figure 6). The top reason for making the purchase was “The product was appealing” at 63%, followed by “Because the product was referred by that influencer” at 20%.
These results show that trusted influencers introducing products from a third-person perspective enables companies to appeal their products and services better.
(Figure 7: Results on responses to the question: “How do you feel about influencers collaborating with products or services you’ve never heard of?”)
*Based on a survey conducted by Irep.
Consumers refer to different media and influencers depending on why they’re gathering information
In addition to the fact that consumers are influenced to take action by information posted by influencers and have a positive impression of collaborations, we also found that consumers use different influencers and media for different purposes when gathering information.
For example, when looking for information on beauty products, about 20% of respondents refer to YouTubers and Instagrammers. Media that can convey the texture and feel of cosmetics through visual communication are valued.
Furthermore, when looking for information on products that require a long period of consideration, such as home appliances, telecommunications, and financial products, many people gather official information from company websites and refer to YouTubers and Twitter users for real reviews. In this industry, where product design is complex, Twitter seems to be relied upon for its ability to provide a collection of textual information.
See the figure below (Figure 8) for results on other industries.
(Figure 8: Graph depicting sources of information referred to by consumers when making a decision)
*Based on a survey conducted by Irep.
We found that consumers refer to different influencers and media for different products. The survey results also show that the platforms on which influencers speak is also a key factor when implementing influencer marketing.
Case studies of influencer collaboration
Recently, there has been an increase in the number of collaborations between various companies and influencers. Let’s take a look at several cases of collaborations.
This is a tie-up between a company that offers hair removal products and a YouTuber popular among teenage girls called “Yoru no Hitowarai” (A Laugh at Night). The YouTuber posted a video introducing the product on YouTube, which was then used to distribute further ads. By editing videos produced by YouTubers into short 1-2 minute videos and using them as ad materials, it’s possible for consumers who aren’t familiar with the influencer to come across the video and product.
(Figure 9: Case study of companies using influencers)
The collaboration between YouTubers and companies enables the volume of the output to increase, but the key advantage is the ability to visualize the effect on the business. With influencer posts, the reach, number of views, likes etc., may be used to measure the effectiveness, but by combining them with ads, it’s possible to conduct brand lift studies and measure the number of conversions, inflows, and so on.
Influencer marketing refers to influencers creating and delivering information about companies that they deem useful to their fans while considering the relationship with their fans. Consumers tend to be positively influenced by the posts of influencers and companies.
In addition, proper casting and media selection are important to maximize the effectiveness of influencer marketing. When starting influencer marketing, companies should clarify the purpose of the campaign, which platform to use, what material to use, and to whom the content is created for before borrowing the trust between influencers and their fans and deciding on how to convey the greatness of their product or services.
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Irep Inc. is an award-winning global digital marketing agency based in the San Francisco Bay Area. Our headquarters are in Tokyo and our network spans more than 20 countries. In Japan, we are ranked No. 1 for performance-based marketing. We also offer highly specialized market entry, as well as integrated marketing and localization services. Since 1997, our data-driven solutions have effectively led our diverse international clientele to continuous success in Japan, Asia, and beyond.