Strategic Communications

Top five tips for working with influencers in 2023

Written by
Rachel Fung
Senior Consultant

Influencer marketing became a vernacular approximately 10 years ago when we saw a huge influx of YouTubers such as Smosh, Michelle Phan and Jenna Marbles. Today, influencers come in all shapes and forms, and permeate across platforms from YouTube, Instagram to TikTok. In China, influencers have amassed such an insane level of wealth and success that even the tax authorities are hounding them. We have come a long way since then. Let’s look at how the landscape has evolved.

Tip One: Use influencers who know how to capture audience on short videos

Video content is reigning. The proliferation of 5G has made mobile internet even faster and more accessible. According to a report by VIAVI Solutions published in 2021, the number of cities with access to 5G reached 1.662 worldwide, representing an increase of more than 20% over the course of the year. The penetration of 5G has fueled a stronger appetite for video content, particularly short content under 60 seconds. TikTok, synonymous with short video content, is leading the pack, being the most downloaded app in 2021, and is expected to reach 1.5 billion active users by the end of 2022. The success of TikTok prompted Instagram and YouTube to respond with Reels and Shorts respectively, proving that the trend of shorter videos sees no sign of slowing down. TikTok gave rise to a bunch of up-and-coming influencers that boast their own niche.

Tip Two: Bigger is not always better

Micro-influencers tend to refer to those who have 10K to 100K followers. Their fan base is smaller than that of a celebrity and typically highly engaged. According to a 2019 report from Later and Fohr, micro-influencers, particularly those with fewer than 25,000 followers, have the highest engagement rates at around 7%. With their relatively smaller and more intimate fanbase, micro-influencers tend to interact more with their followers and are seen as more relatable and trustworthy than celebrities. As their rates are generally relatively lower than mega-influencers, by selecting to work with micro-influencers, your marketing dollar could go further and lower your cost per conversion.

Tip Three: Find an influencer with an authentic voice

A key thing we observe when running executive communications programs is that users respond to candid photos. Even on LinkedIn, where everything is seen through a professional lens, sharing a photo of yourself interacting with customers, or attending company events, tends to generate higher engagement on average.

Even if the content is sponsored, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s unauthentic. For instance, when Jenn Im posted a video on her therapy journey, sponsored by BetterHelp, an online therapy company, many of her followers commented on how they appreciate her honesty and openness in sharing her personal experience. Reasons being: She shared how she used the service, which served as testimony that she has first hand experience with it. She has openly talked about her struggles with mental health before, and that this is not a one-off piece of content that she produced purely for the sponsor’s benefit. 

Tip Four: People will buy your products if they buy into you

Influencers are experts at cultivating relationships with their followers. This is one of the reasons why Emma Chamberlain’s coffee brand ‘Chamberlain Coffee’ has seen great success merely two years since it was founded. It has already expanded to Amazon and California-based luxury supermarket chain Erewhon and the products were reportedly ‘flying off the shelves. Personally I have tried her coffee. Not that her coffee isn’t quality, but the key selling point, ultimately – is Emma Chamberlain herself. Emma has been vlogging since 2017 and 11 million subscribers have seen time and time again her coffee ‘addiction’. She shared how involved she was with the brand design, the packaging, the coffee blends, and more. To her followers, buying into her new venture is just another avenue for them to show their support for her as a person.

Tip Five: If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it

One final piece of advice is to measure ROI, to enable you to make data-driven decisions for future campaigns. There should be measurements embedded in the campaigns which you must evaluate, such as engagements, UTM tracking links, unique coupon codes, click-through to affiliated links and more. It’s essential to keep ask the influencers for their metrics as well, to guide the planning for future campaigns.

Influencer marketing is not a magic bullet. It can drive bursts of sales and awareness, but we also believe in playing the long game. Used with a more integrated approach, it is conducive to shifting brand perception and deepening customer relationship.

Written by
Rachel Fung
Senior Consultant