Back to basics: What is Influencer Marketing?
That's a fair question. In a world where everybody can share content online, it's easy to call anyone and everyone an influencer. But an actual social media influencer, or KOL (Key Opinion Leader) is an individual who has a dedicated following on social media and who is considered to be an expert within his/her niche. These online personalities have gained trust and confidence from their fans through their recommendations and stunning content.
Thus, influencer marketing is the ability to leverage that degree of influence towards a brand, whether in an objective of pure awareness or to push product through the door - in an another word: selling.
Years ago, only celebrities and a few very specific bloggers could be considered as influencers. Now, with platforms like Instagram, TikTok and addictive formats like Reels or Stories, it's easier to share content, get noticed and build a strong community.
Influencer Marketing can be genuinely rewarding for brands when done correctly - and on the other side of the spectrum, it can be ultimately time-consuming and expensive while yielding very poor results.
At Garçon!, we believe in influencers -heck, we have worked with over 1,200 profiles!- and we have learned what makes a successful, result-oriented campaign.
How to roll out a powerful influencer strategy?
Before getting down to the nitty-gritty, a word will often come back: consistency. Having a bunch of influencers all talking about your brand within 2 weeks and then suddenly stopping will lead nowhere. Influencer marketing requires consistency, meaning it is a long-term strategy where collabs should always be present in your marketing plan.
1. How to find influencers
2. What type of influencers to work with
3. What kind of budget you need to plan
4. Set up clear goals and storytelling
5. How to assess the impact of a campaign
Quick note, there are influencers across all social media platform, from Facebook to Instagram, YouTube, TikTok and even LinkedIn. We won't be discussing here which platforms to go for, as this will depend on your overall social media strategy. We usually approach this matter very early when laying down the ground rules for our clients' social roadmap. Check out here our process on how to find the right platform.
1. How to find influencers?
Just like with any digital strategy, it's all about researching the right influencers. If your brand is highly popular on Instagram let's say, then approaching key opinion leaders on that platform would be a first good step. At Garçon! we use social listening tools to help us identify where people are talking about your brand, and helping us to find the most influential voices within the industry.
From experience, certain industries have preferred platforms in Thailand, for instance Hospitality and Travel are big on Facebook, while Beauty, Skincare and Cosmetics have strong ties with Instagram.
Then the next question big question is how do you get to the influencers you want to work with? Here, there are 2 options:
AI Softwares to auto-generate a list of relevant profiles, based on engagement rate, audience demographics, performances and rates. There are a few players out there such as Affable who provide interesting results. However, these providers come at a steep cost and require handling technical softwares.
Handpicking profiles by manually researching keywords, hashtags, geo-locations. This is much more tedious but at Garçon! we find it also more accurate. Nothing beats the human approach of stumbling upon amazing profiles, hidden gems, having an instant connection with the content an influencer creates.
We have been able to find incredible niche influencers for clients such as Punjab Grill, Mama Pasta or Anantara that way.
2. What types of influencers to work with?
We still get requests from brands to work with some of the biggest influencers or celebrities, as part of their marketing strategy. We strongly disagree with this. Of course, it always feels like an accomplishment seeing your brand being endorsed by a 5 million fans influencer, but at what cost? Some local celebrities can charge as much as THB 500K for a post and your brand will likely be instantly overwhelmed by other posts from competitors.
We usually consider influencers tiers as follow :
Celebrities (or Mega) - 1M fans+
Macro influencers - 500K to 1M fans
Mid-tier - 50 to 500K
Micro - 5 to 50K
Nano - Less than 5K
As influencer marketing nears critical mass, brands start worrying the market is becoming saturated and that it’s becoming increasingly difficult and expensive to hire larger KOLs. Many are now tapping into smaller, more flexible profiles such as Nano or Micro influencers who usually know their followers personally, are seen almost as friends by their audience and have a true niche expertise.
Except for specific campaigns such as big openings, we almost exclusively work with Nano and Micro influencers. Lately, results have been through the roof, usually generating an engagement rate 4 to 6 times higher than with Macro influencers!
3. What kind of budget should you plan?
It's all about the types of influencers you work with. Depending on the size of their audiences and the area they specialize in, prices will vary widely. Thailand is no exception and influencers are starting to ask for rates that are nothing short of their western counterparts.
But even if a collaboration might seem expensive at first, it's all about the expected ROI the influencer campaign will generate. For instance, when we launched a micro-influencer campaign for our client GetFresh, the average influencer rate on Instagram was about THB 1,800. But our content creators were promoting a specific monthly meal plan with a lofty price tag. So if a paid partnership with an influencer would generate only 1 subscription, this would make it worthwhile. Ultimately, we ended up generating a ROI of +406% within 2 months!
Barter is also a great way to come to a cost-efficient agreement. This is when you grant influencers your products/services and in turn they create content for free. Though a barter partnership is getting more difficult to secure today, at Garçon! we work with over 40 influencers/month on average and thus we have built long lasting relationships with all of them, enabling us to launch highly-competitive KOL campaigns for our clients.
4. Set up clear goals & storytelling
What do you want to achieve? Most of the time, brands are either after raising awareness or boosting sales. We usually recommend fine-tuning your influencer marketing strategy down to what your brand's immediate needs actually are.
This could be refreshing your audience demographics by operating a shift towards a younger clientele, or talk about a very new product you are putting through the market or even take a more selfless approach and talk about CSR initiatives.
Influencers have the power to reach into very niche audience segments. Rather than spending media dollars through ads, influencers will act as brand ambassadors and spread genuinely your message to the right target.
Often overlooked, storytelling plays an immense role in that regard. Once influencers have received your products or are invited to experience your services, the key to make their content engaging to their fans is to craft a relatable storytelling. Basically, this is about creating an exciting context around the influencer's review, triggering an emotion into their followers.
One of our biggest success to this day when it comes to influencer marketing is with Baia Baia, a new lifestyle shoe brand. We invited dozens of influencers each week to experience the store, the concept, but we asked our influencers to only pick the shoes they wanted to have and create a video review while wearing them in their day to day lives. From "DIY time" to "Summer outfit" we generated plenty of viral videos where KOLs developed their own storytelling, nailing the review process.
5. Assessing the impact of a campaign
Generating amazing content, getting word of mouth, seeing your community grow steadily might sounds great - and by all means, these are good indicators - but they do not tell us if a campaign actually is successful or not. Circling back to earlier when we discussed defining goals, a campaign is only effective if it reaches them.
And there are plenty of ways to assess a campaign's effectiveness. Here are a few examples:
Tracking links. We always give our influencers trackable URLs to use so that we can quantify traffic, engagement and, ideally, conversions on site.
Promo codes. We provide dedicated codes for each of our influencer partners, so that when redeemed by fans, we can easily associate them with the original post. Plus they are great sales triggers. Our promo codes for Punjab Grill Restaurant (see on the right) generated an increase in social media bookings of +590%!
Media value. Comparing the reach of an influencer's post with the cost of doing a Facebook or Instagram advertising campaign to reach the same
Engagement rate. When accessing the influencers metrics after their posts, we always check their engagement rate (# of interactions/impressions or followers x 100) and compare it to the brand's usual ER. If it's higher, it means the influencers' content was deemed more interesting to a more qualified audience.