As originally published in Synergyzer Issue 3|2019

What is Influencer Marketing?

Influencer marketing is an innovative form of marketing, which due to its accessible dynamics, has created a major buzz in the present day media, with more and more people wanting to become Key Opinion Leaders (KOL). A KOL or an influencer is a person who is usually someone with a huge number of likes and following on social media networks like Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter etc. Almost entirely a thing of the present day digital era, the steadily growing population of internet users has made influencer marketing indispensible.

The Role of Influencers in Brand Building

Since influencers have a lot of ‘say’ amongst their followers, and hold influence over them, they provide a major opportunity to brands to get the latter’s message across through their social media assets, in exchange for due compensation.

Even though brands can choose not to step into the influencer marketing zone, but since the current marketing capitalizes on the digital space, it may turn into a missed opportunity which may affect their marketing objectives, growth, and profitability. Firstly, brands would miss out on the traction and visibility social media influencers offer. Secondly, their chosen marketing practices may not be very relevant and effective in terms of their target audience, especially if they are targeting millennials.

Pakistani Brands and Influencers

Pakistani brands are utilizing the power of influencers, mostly by making them a part of vlogs, social media posts, or getting shout-outs from them. A good example of a KOL is Junaid Akram, also known on social media as ‘Ganji Swag’. He is a social media critic and comedian who posts videos and podcasts on Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook and YouTube; and is usually talking about the current state of social affairs as well as cracking jokes and doing parodies. Another example is Taimoor Salahuddin aka Mooroo, who has his own distinct style and a very casual approach to how he expresses himself in his video blogs or vlogs, using commonly used catchphrases, which highly resonate with his audience.  This way, Mooroo remains a top influencer with whom many brands like to work.

How to work with Influencers?

To conduct an effective campaign with any influencer, it is important for the brand to gauge if the influencer in question is suitable for the brand: Only because an influencer has a very high number of ‘Likes’ on a social platform does not mean that they can represent every other brand, rather a brand has to see if the influencer fits in their category at all. For example, a food blogger posting about detergent will be completely out of place. Plus, likes and follower count on a social platform can be bought just like inorganic reach on Facebook is obtained through boosting. Thus, brands need to do an audit in terms of an influencer’s effectiveness before taking them onboard, and check if partnering with them is the most cost-effective and result-oriented direction. Hence brands need to look for real-time statistics and ask questions like, “Is this influencer capable of causing any positive impact for the brand?”

If an influencer has a positive impact on its target audience, he or she can impact brand purchase majorly and therefore, brands should be giving influencers creative freedom to execute their style. However, this may not be the case in a lot of instances. In fact, the brands often have too many demands and very unrealistic deadlines where they pressurize influencers to do projects according to their whims and wishes. Consequently, lack of creative freedom, continuous revisions, inflexible work hours, and low compensation; all of the challenges an influencer faces results in a downgraded quality of work. Apart from that, brands often delay paying influencers, most of them going for months without getting compensated for their project deliveries. Due to such reasons, a number of very good KOL’s in Pakistan are not able to portray their real talent and the campaigns look as if they lack authenticity.

What brand custodians need to realize is that most influencers are creative professionals who want work which pushes their creative boundaries and create content utilizing their niche in terms of personal style, aesthetics, creative instincts etc. To get the exceptional quality which helps the campaign, the brand needs to give influencers the creative freedom they ask for.

ABOUT THE WRITER

Aqib is a Public Relations and marketing communications professional with experience and expertise in developing and executing communications strategies aimed at increasing brand awareness, exposure, and recognition through creative PR campaigns. In his own words, “I deeply care about what I do every single day, and work to attain the very best results possible.”

Aqib can be reached on his Instagram handle @aqiiqbal