ARE YOU MOVED BY TRENDING INFLUENCERS?

Like in most parts of the world, including Armenia, social media has become an integral part of our daily lives. Influencer Marketing, one of the more recent content generating tools is now one of the fastest growing trendy SM phenomena. Although, many articles from 2019 stated that it was going to die because consumers were becoming more susceptible to paid promotions and content, but the reality is quite the opposite. Well, some 2 years later, we see that not only it is alive, it is actually growing. So much so that the in a 2021 report, the indication of the growth ranges up to 13.8 Billion USD by 2022. In another report, it seems that 7 out of 10 teens believe and have more trust in their favoured Influencers than the customary celebrities. It claims that 40% of Millennials feel that “their favourite Influencer understands them better than their friends.” As to a gender perspective, 86% of women SM users seek advice from preferred Influencers. These and more statistics are widely available in researched papers on the web, especially on sites like the Digital Marketing Institute. 

The following piece discusses some trends and tips that will help you be more prepared to professionally handle the inclusion of Influencers in their marketing-communication campaigns. 

To discuss this young marketing mix element further and how it is perceived by the Serbian market, for example, our Creative Director, Raffi Niziblian, met with local creative agencies in Belgrade that have been known for their innovative and trendy marketing solutions. In November 2021, he spoke with Maja Stojanovic, Executive Director of Olef&McAteer, a 20-year-old agency that also represents #Ketchum in Serbia, and Tea Dabetic, General Manager of Posh&media (another agency that has been operating since  2007) that has a huge portfolio for BTL and events. Raffi also had a chance to speak to a local celebrity and Communications Specialist Misa Stojikovic, who is a radio and TV host and an avid spokesperson regarding issues of fatherhood and parental leave policy topics. 

Misa Stojikovic hosting a radio show

Maja Stojanovic, ED of Olef&McAteer

Tea Dabetic, GM of Posh&Media

WHO ARE MARKETING INFLUENCERS?

Before we start, let’s first define the term “influencer” for all those who confuse it with “brand ambassador” and “celebrity endorser”. These are marketing tools that have been used for decades and thanks to social media, have exploded and become outstanding communications activities during events, campaigns and more. In many marketing-communications cases, such personalities seem to overlap. Today, thousands of celebrities have become influencers, on top of having been brand ambassadors.

IS INFLUENCER MARKETING ROI MEASURABLE?

The most important part of any marketing campaign is to ensure the return on marketing investment to get the most out of your efforts. As such, measuring the outcome of the activities of an Influencer is crucial and, yes, very much possible. It is stated that for every dollar spent on Influencer Marketing, $5.78 is earned, with some reaching $18. It is possible to use tools like the Social Media Calculator to better measure the ROI of an influencer marketing plan.  

Iveta Mukuchyan, Brand Ambassador OF EVOCABANK

Marketing Influencers are individuals who have a certain number of active followers or fans on their social media networks. Most popular ones are the Instagram, YouTube (also referred to as YouTubers) and more so TikTok Influencers. They will, on occasion, promote products such as cosmetics, clothing or locations such as a boutique, restaurant or entertainment center. However, many also promote causes and issues close to their heart. In some cases, they believe in the cause so much that they become advocates. Sometimes Influencers start believing in the cause so much that organizations contract them to become brand ambassadors. Let’s say they are advocating to stop killing the whales, WWF will seek them out and get into a formal agreement for a short or long term to have them deliver their messages to change behavior, influence a policy or simply raise awareness.

The concept evolved very much with the expansion of Instagram and later TikTok (following the YouTubers success). To the point that influencer marketing is now considered a popular marketing tool sought out by marketers worldwide. It is a type of marketing solution using targeted social media network, hand-picked people’s followers/fans to influence them into listening to a song, liking a photo or engaging with a brand. The ultimate goal is to influence them so hard that they actually become consumers and buy the products or the service being promoted by the Influencer.

Does it work, you ask? Well, let’s see what Belgrade marketing professionals have to say. Below is an interview with Anja Nikolic, Key Account Manager and Head of Influencer Marketing at Olaf&McAteer.

TALKING WITH ANJA NIKOLIC FROM BELGRADE

Anja is the Key Account Manager and Head of Influencer Marketing at Olaf&McAteer since 2016  and has been working first-hand with Influencers to manage them and direct them in the promotion of products and services for a diverse clientele base in Serbia. She answers some of our questions and offers insights and tips to our readers.

Q: How do you approach your work with Influencers (local or international) during your communication campaigns? How do you assess their worth (press kit/portfolio and insights, reports)? 

A: To be frank, all of the above, and even more! With the expansion of Influencer Marketing, the tools for targeting and even checking the engagement and relevance of the Influencers have naturally grown. However, I do not think such mechanisms are completely adequate, or sufficient. We can only get partial insights and statistics this way. That is why I spend more time researching to find out what our clients and I would like to evaluate: with whom they worked before, what were the campaigns they were involved with, what’s their style of communication, attitude and values, how often they’re posting, which platforms and formats they use and so on. It is only as a final step that I contact “shortlisted” influencers, look for their insights and media kits, in order to get the information on audience demographics, the latest results, formats that are relevant. This is how we get and offer the complete image to our clients.

 

Q: What are the best Influencer Marketing cases you have worked on?

A: There have been many successful campaigns over the past 5 years, but I would say that my favourite ones are those advocating for a good cause; better position of women in society, the fight against breast cancer, a campaign against domestic violence. I’d like to single out the “16 days of activism” recently implemented. The goal was to raise awareness of verbal abuse and encourage women who need help or advice, as this underestimated form of violence can have long-term psychological consequences. The campaign attracted an unprecedented amount of attention and only within 7 days of the launch, it got over 300,000 views and over 500 earned IG engagement.

 

Q: In your opinion, is this a fad, a trend that will fade out, or is it here to stay as a marketing tool? Does it bring the expected ROI? 

A: I used to believe it was a brief trend which would fade away. But despite all the uncertainties, Influencer Marketing is still a highly popular and effective form of marketing. According to the 2021 State of Influencer Marketing Benchmark Report, the industry is about to reach approximately $13.8 billion by the end of this year. Influencers are “a must-have” of almost every marketing mix with the reason, they are opinion makers who successfully erase the boundaries between the online and offline world, and they are not planning to retire. At least not yet! The question is not whether they are able to bring the expected ROI, the question is whether brands know what they wish to achieve and how they are going to measure it.

 

Q: Which brings us to the next question; what advice would you give companies seeking to work with Influencers?

A: To be brave(er), open-minded and ready for long-term investment and collaboration. The relationship between the agency/brand and the Influencer(s) is like a love affair. If there is no trust, spark and chemistry, you may be in the wrong relationship, or maybe not ready for one yet.

  1. They are fast content creators, so let them be creative.
  2. Give them freedom. It is in their absolute interest to show themselves in the best light in front of their audience and for the campaign to succeed. There is no reason to be afraid of mistakes, learn from it, grow, and move on.
  3. Work together. The best designed campaigns are created by the joint efforts of the agency or the client and influencers themselves. They know their audience best, and they will know how a certain product or brand can and should be presented and in what intensity.

Q: What advice would you give Influencers seeking to grow their followers and achieving greater financial gains? 

A: Success in this area, as in any other business, takes time and does not come overnight. Therefore, I would encourage them to be patient, to continue working for 200 people, just as they would if there were 20,000 of them, and don’t let money be their main driving force and fuel. This is noticeable. That is why I respect Influencers who choose brands wisely, don’t accept all collaborations and do not promote products they don’t believe in. Followers will feel that. Becoming an Influencer is not easy. It requires hard work, constant monitoring of trends, trying, failing, trying again, learning. Trends in the online world are progressing at lightning speed. If some formats are “hot topic” today, that does not mean it will be here tomorrow. So, stay with or ahead of the trends.

 

Q: When selecting the Influencer/s, do you limit your search to exclusives, or generic ones, even those who have worked with the competition of the brand in question? 

A: My preference is to give up on Influencers who have previously worked with competitors. In Belgrade, as most probably in Armenia as well, we currently have an abundance of Influencers, so I am sure that everyone can find their ideal candidates with whom to cooperate. I don’t like seeing a certain influencer promoting a product as their favourite on Monday, and then on Tuesday saying the exact same thing about the competitor’s product. Remember – the internet never forgets. The audience always remembers.

INFLUENCERS IN ARMENIA

There are more and more young Influencers penetrating the market and becoming more effective than a lot of the celebrities who, in the past, were a major tools used by marketers and companies seeking to reach wider audiences. Regardless, it seems that this form of the marketing mix is not well organised in Armenia yet. Should it be, though? Perhaps for the sake of effectiveness, it may be a good idea to have a one-stop shop. DEEM has been increasingly working with a variety of influencers from young bloggers, YouTubers, TikTokers, especially the more targeted ones – fashion, food, environmental issues, children’s rights, and so much more. It’s always taken the marketing team additional resource to research, identify and negotiate with potential Influencers, who do not always meet expectations and end up costing more, including time. Recently, a new service provider has emerged. It offers a new platform for both Influencers and businesses to connect, collaborate and be mutually beneficial. We spoke with Harout Solakian, an Influencer himself and the Founder of Markoo, who launched his business in Armenia in November 2021.

Q: What made you think of starting a company focusing solely on Influencer Marketers? 

A: Being an influencer for several years and a business owner, I have experienced the problems that both sides face. Businesses need higher ROIs from their marketing campaigns, and Influencers need larger businesses to collaborate with. I started markoo.am which, in my opinion, is the solution for both parties.

 

Q: Do you believe that Influencers will be a long-lasting marketing tool, or is it simply a trend? 

A: Influencer marketing existed mostly through celebrity endorsements. Now, with social media platforms, it’s become an official category. Word of mouth is the oldest form of marketing. The forms could change in the future, but it will always remain the most effective and cost-efficient marketing tool. And Influencers are the biggest representative of that format today.

 

Q: In which cases do you recommend Influencer Marketing? 

A: We at markoo.am recommend using Influencers for a new product for launch, promoting an existing product or get reviews. New businesses or campaigns can also collaborate with 8-10 individual micro-influencers every month to boost their brand awareness and increase the engagement.

Influencer marketing covers a wide range of industries and categories that are growing every day including Food, Beauty, Travel & Lifestyle, Retail, Events, Health & Wellness, Charities, and much more.

 

Q: What is the benefit of an Influencer as opposed to a video advertisement or press conference? 

A: ROI of Influencer Marketing is clearly higher than a video advertisement, especially for small businesses that try to avoid high-cost campaigns. The power of the Influencer is in their UGC (user-generated content) and their follower base. For example, for the same cost of a 1-minute video advertisement, a business can collaborate with 20 targeted micro-influencers and get better results and a higher engagement rate. As for press conferences, they serve different purposes, and it depends on the campaign and the industry, in some cases the press conference works with a higher return than Influencer Marketing. A press conference serves to communicate important news related information, as opposed to an Influencer who mostly promotes tor reviews a product or a brand.

This article would not be complete without having heard some thoughts and insights from an Influencer. So, we sought out one of our favourite collaborators who promotes Armenia as a destination but also important topics, issues that are part of our daily lives. Jor Martirosyan has been developing his audience for years and today has a large SM follower base. He has worked with DEEM on many occasions, namely through the Communicating the EU to Armenia project where we developed more content than ever.

Jor talks about the challenges he faced as an Influencer, the early stages of how and why he developed an SM followership, and some tips for companies interested in sourcing Influencers for their campaigns. “My biggest challenge is choosing the right products and causes for promotion. I’m often asked to promote stuff that I don’t really want to or are irrelevant to my blog topics. Clients think that if you have a big audience, then you can promote whatever they want, which is an unprofessional approach. When I created my blog 11 years ago, my main goal was to promote Armenia and keep the Diaspora connected to their homeland. That’s how I earned my audience. Later, when Facebook gave content creators the opportunity to also post videos, I started making video blogs since I had loved videography. So, my videos went viral at once, which made people interested in promoting their products or causes through my vlogs as an option. My advice to businesses, hire the right Influencers for you! Choose those whose topics somehow involves the type of service or product that you want them to promote. And the most important thing to remember is that not all who have a large follower base and make noise or create unfounded hype should be considered Influencers. Choose them wisely”

There you go! Now that we have covered what Influencer Marketing is, we hope it will help you with your 2022 campaigns. Our advice, keep if clear, simple and creative while offering key expected results and as Anja said, give Influencers some freedom and let them generate their content for you!

For more in depth and ongoing information about Influencer Marketing, visit Influencer Marketing Hub website. DEEM’s marketing-communications professionals are always ready to tackle new challenges and offer the most strategic solutions. We are just a phone call away.