Social media influencers: A trump card for marketers

Marketers these days consider social media influencers more lucrative than organic search and paid marketing

e4m by Anjali Thakur
Published: Apr 30, 2019 8:37 AM  | 8 min read

If you are a social media user, chances are you must have witnessed the hard-to-miss product reviews, clothing hauls or a video about how to ace a perfect winged eyeliner.  Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and Tik Tok are among the social media platforms where a bunch of content creators have created a huge fan base.

Social media influencers, including the likes of Bhuvan Bam (BB Ki Vines), Prajakta Koli (MostlySane) and Kusha Kapila, are these days considered more lucrative options than organic search and even paid marketing. Komal Pandey, a Delhi-based Youtube influencer with 747,334 subscribers, in a video titled My Honest Skincare Routine 2019, takes her followers through her daily skincare routine, while subtly talking about Forest Essentials Ayurveda facewash and other brands too.

Brands across categories are partnering with YouTube/Instagram influencers to engage with young consumers who spend a lot of time watching videos. “Young consumers are spending a ton of time on these platforms – Internet consumption has increased from 85.4 minutes per day in 2011 to 265.2 minutes in 2019. For example, brand leverage YouTube by tapping in to users/channels that have a huge subscriber base. These could be product reviews and endorsements, flash sale or information-based videos. Depending on the subscriber base of the influencer, the views could range from a 100 thousand to a couple millions in a matter of 7 days – all organic,” says Prashant Puri, co-founder and CEO of digital marketing agency Adlift.

He adds, “There are multiple options now for brands to leverage influencer marketing, quite differently from what Influencer marketing was two years ago. Right from YouTube to Instagram and TikTok.”

According to a report by influencer-marketing firm Buzzoka, influencers are emerging as a critical marketing tool for brands. From celebrities to the rising class of micro-influencers, they help brands grow awareness and consideration. Increasingly, they’re also helping drive sales. For the research, the company had surveyed over 500 brand custodians, including top ad agencies as well as startups and content creators like bloggers, YouTubers, Twitter influencers and Instagram influencers.



Not only do brands get more impactful returns and engagement through YouTubers, the promotional cost with influencers is low as opposed to mainstream advertising. For instance, lifestyle brand Max Fashion works with fashion bloggers online due to the high level of audience engagement in the fashion category.

The brand has grown exponentially through influencer marketing. Our community on Instagram in the last nine months has grown by 75% and that is mainly due to our continual engagement with influencers. In the last two years, the association with influencers has been consolidated. From being a brand that worked with 40-50 influencers a year, we have narrowed it down to 10 influencers a year," saiys Jiten R Mahindra, VP, Marketing, Max Fashion India.

"These influencers have been consolidated on the basis their following and fashion sense and we work with the top category of influencers across fashion and lifestyle. Influencer engagement has also helped us create brand advocates elevating our share of voice and thus reach new target audiences. We have also started working with students who are strong on the social medium to create better connect and affinity,” adds  Mahindra.

Similarly, Hindustan Liver’s cosmetic brand Lakmé works with multiple beauty influencers, with many YouTube as well as Instagram influencers reviewing products and creating make-up looks using Lakmé products.

"Digital as a medium is rapidly growing, and in particular, there is a very high level of engagement for the beauty category. Lakmé has had a digital presence for more than five years now. We believe the digital platform gives consumers the opportunity to understand brands/products in great depth, and hence helps them make the right buying decisions.We launched the Make-Up Pro App in 2015, which helps consumers use their phone to see Lakmé’s latest make-up and products look on them. It gives them an opportunity to sample products without visiting a store or trying them on," says a spokesperson from Hindustan Unilever.  

"We also work closely with beauty bloggers. In this digital age, they have become very popular with consumers. They are make-up junkies who not only have a great understanding of beauty but are also very relatable. Many beauty bloggers are strong advocates of Lakmé and are very excited by the new trend-setting innovations that we put out every year. One such example is the response from beauty bloggers to the Kareena Kapoor Khan Collection by Lakmé, which we believe has been overwhelmingly positive," the spokesperson adds. 

Actor-journalist-social media influencer Shibani Bedi has around 41.9k followers on her instagram handle. Bedi has collaborated with many brands in the past and claims. On being asked about the guidelines she follows before collaborating with a brand, Bedi says, “The point that I keep in mind is whether my audience will relate to the brands I am collaborating with, whether I stand for those brand and whether it is something that I would want to use in my life. If something is very technological, challenging or very number-oriented, it will be a problem for me because I don’t relate to that. And whatever knowledge that I have of my audience, it doesn’t allow me to randomly pick and choose brands which can be put on my timeline.”

Brands such as Lakme, Maybelline, Olay, Loreal etc. work with beauty bloggers online due to the high level of audience engagement in the beauty category. Many influencers review products and create make-up looks using various products.

According to Nikhil Agarwal, Co-Founder, Brandwitty, “Before you buy anything online, you read reviews and come to a decision. In digital world, people follow people and trust on what they say. Social media influencers have targeted audience based on content they generate. Hence, it is important for brands to bring social media influencers onboard to reach local audiences. Social Media has become an important brand advocate than many traditional media, with a whooping 65% of influence among millennial.”

For instance, 25-year-old YouTuber Prajakta Koli, who has more than 3.6 million subscribers on her channel 'mostlysane', was signed up as the face of H&M India’s online store. She also tied up with to create relatable content about travel and collaborates with Samsung often. Recently, she even appeared in a television commercial for WhatsApp in 2018.



Ramesh Kaushik, VP-Brand Experience at Blackberrys, says, "With increasing number of millennials spending time online on social media, influencer marketing is becoming a new and key way to reach out to consumers. While with huge popularity of the inflluencers, it seems easy to establish an association with consumers. But there is more to it. Before establishing an association, it is very important to consider certain things like understanding the genre or expertise of the influencer whether travel, food, fashion etc; the kind of content created/language being used / target audience, reach and the further evaluating all these factors with your brand/product values. If used wisely, influencers can definitely become very strong advocates of your product and can result in positive impact on brand image and sales. In past, we too have associated with micro influencers for new launches and events and they still are an important part of our marketing mix and haul."

On being asked about what percentage of marketing spends goes into influencer marketing, Priyanka Gill, CEO & founder, POPxo, says , “The internal spends on influencer marketing are minimal. The revenue generated from influencer marketing and campaigns is 40% of the total revenue.”  According to her, brands will increase their spends on influence marketing by 60 % and this trend is expected to grow.

At the recently held Pitch CMO Summit Delhi 2019, Shashank Surana, VP, New Product Development, DS Group, also spoke on how the digital revolution has given birth to macro and micro influencers who have helped brands immensely. “Influencers lend authenticity. With the emergence of the digital era, direct and transparent engagement with consumers has become possible.”

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