Superfans and influencers, new kids on the block.
We are in an age where being a celebrity is an occupation in itself with technological tools proving to be viable platforms for people to amass a substantial audience. Whether you are a three-year-old fashion star or a seasoned artist, everyone is using social media platforms to further their image, brand, and relevance. The internet has emerged as a kingmaker with its power to reach a large number of people in a medium that is ideal for quick consumption. There is absolutely no topic, no sphere, no activity that has been spared. From the useful to the unbelievable, you can find a channel, a blog or a vlog about it. They have a loyal following of people who see their unattached status as a sign of authenticity. With the changing digital landscape, it would be wrong to not to acknowledge and incorporate these factors in our approach towards audience engagement.
Breaking it down
Simply put, influencer marketing is about creating a conversation about your brand between the intended audience and a celebrity personality who is known for his expertise or relevance to the topic. For instance, when Sprite used the prominent basketball player LeBron James during their campaign, it may have seemed arbitrary to many as they could not fathom a connection between a basketball player and a soda drink. However, the campaign was released at the height of the NBA season and James was the perfect way to channel the basketball frenzy towards their own brand. Superfans, on the other hand, are the fruits of your marketing labor. They are your most loyal customers who act as marketing agents themselves. They are the first in line for your product and help create brand awareness in their circle keeping your brand alive even when your campaign has stopped.
What makes them tick?
People vary of a brand blowing its own trumpet, they see the official communication as a biased form of promotion and are likely to consume it with a pinch of salt. However, they will be more accepting of the claims when made by an independent third entity. While it is not new to use celebrities to promote your brand, the rise of the new age celebrities of bloggers, social media stars is certainly a new addition that makes the mix very interesting. We must appreciate that the latter are people from the audience and hence seem more approachable, trustworthy and already have a loyal fan base hanging onto they’re every word and move, quite literally. When they align themselves with your brand, they bring that wealth of a loyal fan base that gives your brand more recognition. The same goes for Superfans, who are ambassadors of the brand in their own right and may not have a large fan base to speak of, but still, their affinity to your brand certainly lends you credibility in the audience.
Here to stay
The drop in television and radio rating also translates to the rise of the new age mediums where viewers are curating their own personal viewing experience. In such a case, an influencer marketer is likely to help you more than that prime ad slot. It is not only cost-effective but also extremely efficient as, unlike advertisements, the connection with an influencer is not momentary. With social media transcending mediums to include blogs, vlogs, images, the rise of the internet stars shows no sign of faltering. Contrary to the conventional mode where celebrities tuned to digital platforms to widen their reach, these influencers rose to fame on platforms and have then, found a place in the mainstream entertainment industry. With lines blurring between the two, the pool of influencers, each with their own niche audience and expertise, only seems to increase as we discover new mediums to engage with the audience. As influencer content becomes more pervasive, we can be sure that the trend is here to stay and will become an essential part of a brand’s marketing strategy. In the same vein, superfans greatly help a brand to distinguish themselves from the crowd and give it the distinct advantage of locking down key demographics through credible customer stories. With new marketing techniques, innovative campaigns and a changing digital landscape, it can tough for the brands to find a solid footing to stand on. In such cases, superfan communities help the brand create a loyal base of customers that also serves as a promotional tool. Brands like Nike, Adidas, Apple are renowned for their superfans that ensure that the brand stays in the mainstream consciousness with or without a campaign.
Every pro has its con
While influencer marketing taking center stage, there are certain pitfalls to the technique. Influencer marketing advises brands to be extremely cautious in their selection and association with the influencer. Public figures also attract a certain degree of negative attention which may transfer onto the brand’s public narrative. The research and selection, thus, becomes of paramount importance and even then, it could lead to the brand suffering a negative image due to the activities of the influencer. In a nutshell, hitching your wagon to a third entity could potentially lead to a public image crisis for the brand. Superfans, too, are not a community bound by any structure and are susceptible to changes according to the varying tastes and preferences of the customers. Nonetheless, they have become legitimate marketing techniques that allow brands to use the strongest tool at its disposal- a vocal and influential customer.
The techniques have proven to work not only for the more established brands but also for the new brands that are looking to break into the market. With consumers increasingly getting informative, these techniques are an efficient way to communicate unbiased information of your brand to a new audience. They are also cost-effective as opposed to other means of promotion and gives you the added advantage of having ambassadors with their own curated content and followers. With YouTubers and Social media stars officially becoming professions in their own right, looks like the new kids on the block are here to stay.