The Shift in the Dial, from Bloggers to Influencers
How to build authentic influencer content: a summary of Sonali’s BrightonSEO presentation
At this year’s BrightonSEO I collaborated with global footwear brand Fitflop, to deliver a talk on the changing landscape of blogging and the rise of influencer culture, to a 400 strong audience that was made up of industry experts, brands and entrepreneurs. If you missed our presentation I have outlined the key points to take away, and put our research into practice.
Over the years, FitFlop has grown and expanded to become the global lifestyle brand it is known for today. It now caters for a broader, more sustainable audience, all the while still paying homage to their all-day comfort technology and innovation, which has continued to set them apart from their competitors.
Recently and perhaps most importantly, FitFlop has seen a shift from a narrow, ageing female audience to a younger and more diverse customer base. This move came as a result of Fitflop steering away from working with one global celebrity ambassador in favour of collaborating with numerous locally relevant influencers instead.
Facts: the growth of influencers
Marketing has undergone a transformation over recent years. Whilst product placement in films and television has been a firm favourite for brands, there has been a shift towards using influencers rather than bloggers in the more traditional sense, to advertise products for more direct engagement. This then snap shifted to the rise of micro influencers, who can have anywhere between 2,000 to 50,000 followers on Instagram. The major reason why brands have moved away from traditional media in this way, is in order to promote authentic reach and directly engage with their target consumers
Figure 1: increased search results for how to be an influencer
Figure 1 depicts the rise of interest in micro influencers and how the landscape of influencer marketing has changed. More people now seem to search for phrases such as ‘how to be an influencer’, as opposed to ‘how to be a blogger’. This shift is particularly interesting to those already in SEO, as bloggers have previously dominated due to the opportunity for potential backlinks. However, as Figure 1 demonstrates, we can no longer think predominantly about bloggers. As a bare necessity, bloggers now need a social profile to complement their online work in order to be recognised as an influencer. This is due to new platforms emerging that audiences are engaging with more often. Overall, bloggers now need to create content across multiple platforms, rather than just on their site because engagement matters just as much as domain authority (DA).
Benefits for Brands
We know brands are now more open to using influencers rather than relying solely on traditional media advertising, and we can also see that there is a shift from people moving away from blogging and towards becoming influencers, but other than cutting advertising costs and understanding there’s a new blogger in town, what are the benefits of influencer marketing for the brand?
For brands that want to have a younger demographic, influencer marketing is critical. Here are some statistics about why influencers may be important when considering attracting younger customers and engage a specific audience:
- According to MuseFind, consumers are 92% more likely to trust an influencer or peer recommendations, over branded content
- According to Adweek, bloggers are now the third-most-consulted consumer decision tool for shoppers
- Whilst Crimson Marketing found that sharing your content through influencers in your industry, increases conversion by at least 3 to 10x,
- Finally, Forbes has reported that marketing inspired by word of mouth generates more than twice the sales of paid advertising and customers have a 37% higher retention rate.
This further exemplifies how the power of influencers cannot be underestimated when it comes to marketing your brand in the social media age.
The proof is in the pudding: implement what you learn
The decision to change the campaign messaging from; ‘For Superwomen’ to ‘Made for Living in’, showed FitFlop recognised the need to swap their celebrity ambassador Uma Thurman, for more locally relevant influencers in order to represent the everyday woman and man. In changing the approach, FitFlop left behind the restrictive usage rights (so strict that we couldn’t even show the campaign images in this talk) and the overtly female audience, to open up the brand to a new demographic, that included men too.
The new campaign is now a gender neutral platform, opening the brand up to a more diverse demographic and lifting the lid on the narrow consumer base. The relatable content created by micro-influencers allowed consumers to receive a more direct and genuine connection to the brand.
The approach: research to creation
In order to move towards using numerous micro influencers rather than just one celebrity, authentic product content had to be produced. We had a general idea of who our audience was, from first party data which found that the client base was older than what we wanted. The objective was to shift towards a younger customer, so we used third-party data tools, analytics and client data to receive insights which allowed us to create enhanced target audience profiles.
These profiles went beyond age and demographics (i.e. we understood that Xennials are more eco-conscious and outdoorsy) and helped us to understand what content is important to the target audience and then seeded out to relevant the channels to create a multi-channel approach. Optimised content which fulfilled the aims of the audience was created, whilst the research was also integrated into paid channels ensuring that the publications contacted were relevant to the target audience.
From the profiles, we sought the influencers who embody these principles using third-party tools. We wanted to ensure that the influencers were diverse but also that they were attainable in order to ensure that the content was authentic. Through building direct relationships with these influencers, Fitflop turned these individual influencers into organic brand ambassadors, who naturally shared content without prompt.
As a result of using influencers in their campaigns, Fitflop saw a shift in the consumer audience where there was an increase in 35+ age category (prior to collaborating with influencers, the audience age category was stuck in the 45+ category). This shift demonstrated the success of the influencer marketing campaign and that FitFlop had achieved its goal of reaching a more diverse audience.
The campaign also found that:
- Ads using influencer imagery performed up to 4x better across the board,
- The affiliate campaign generated over 250,000 unique clicks,
- Organic social campaign results showed 260,000 interactions and over 170 million impressions.
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