The Evolution of Influence

Google trends show how, over the past 5 years, the term “influencer marketing” has steadily been used more and more by curious web surfers. Fortunately, a deeper understanding by marketers of the topic has also grown alongside this trend line as it was not that long ago that most marketers had a very singular – and incorrect – idea of what influencer marketing was. Influencer marketing was seen by most in its celebrity form only. In other words, it was mislabeled as that channel that exploited the popularity of famous people for the benefit of brands. To be fair, that description is not necessarily incorrect, but rather it is merely one facet of what is now a thriving and well-accepted part of marketing strategy.

Let’s go back a bit and start by asking what influencer marketing is, and where it came from? Well simply put, and to answer the first part of the question, it is a form of collaboration of a brand with an individual where that individual uses their personal sway to endorse or promote the products or services of that brand. It, therefore, has a foundation on the oldest and most valuable tenant of marketing – word of mouth. My standard quip on word of mouth is that it is as old as Eve convincing Adam to bite into the forbidden fruit. That aside I don’t think there would be too many people that would argue that it remains the most effective form of marketing.  

Photo by Tom Swinnen from Pexels

So, the second part of the question is answered by understanding the impact that social media has had on word of mouth and that is to create the space for word of mouth to happen at scale. Word of mouth and its Siamese twin, influence, are no longer limited by having to be in the physical proximity of others to be effective, and that – i.e. the addition of the internet and social media – is what accounts for the rapid adoption of influencer marketing into the marketing mix.

The budgets being spent by marketers on influencer marketing are almost incredible, but not surprising. This is partly due to the realisation that digital touchpoints are fast becoming dominant aspects of all media plans, but it is more aligned to understanding that people are less and less enamoured by brands attempting to seduce them by talking at them, and more and more reliant on each other when it comes to making purchasing decisions. Indeed, it is the perceived lack of pure motive of the brands that make the trust and authenticity of others (=influence) so appealing.

But, the impetus behind influencer marketing’s rocketing adoption, is also premised on the increased understanding by marketers of the multiple options available within the singular term. Notable amongst these is the rise of micro and nano influencers as a powerful option available to marketers, and the utilisation of this subset to allow smaller budgets to effectively get in on the action. And, the ever-increasing utilisation of employee influencers as part of the communication set (see highlights how fast influencer marketing in all its multiple permutations is being adopted by marketers.

Take a look at this graphic, produced by theSALT on what is correctly and cleverly titled the democratisation of influence.

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Not only does it highlight the exponential growth in spending in recent times, but it also neatly outlines how influencer marketing has become accessible by all kinds of budget sizes, from huge to small, and how individuals that have small yet highly influential networks, have been able to be involved on the influencer side of the equation.

The bottom line is that influencer marketing has grown up and has firmly earned its permanent seat at the marketing table, and whilst social media channels may ebb and flow in their relevance over time and with certain target markets, it is here to stay as an effective and essential consideration for marketers.

A media legend gives a rare peek into the Influencer Marketing crystal ball

One of South Africa’s serial innovators and media legends, Ken Varejes, is known for taking ideas and growing them into highly successful businesses.

The podcast explores the trailblazing exploits of this humble soul in media & marketing, how he landed on and is invested in Influencer Marketing and how every brand needs to integrate this form of marketing into their marketing mix.

Contact our friends at theSalt.They are influencer marketing driven experts and their solutions drive RESULTS !

Influencer Marketing from a happy client’s perspective

You know Influencer Marketing rocks and is the gift that keeps on giving when an international brand that has been in the market for 110 years embraces this concept because results are there for all to see!

Dale De Villiers (Marketing Manager – Brother South Africa) walks us through a Reason-to-Believe in this phenomenon as an essential part of any brand’s marketing mix.

Contact our friends at theSalt. They are influencer marketing driven experts and their solutions drive RESULTS !

Consumers proving to be the best brand ambassadors

logo_saltMore and more marketers and brand managers are realising that their best brand ambassadors are their very own consumers, but they seem unsure where to find them and subsequently, how to “on-board” them. Enter theSALT, specialists in influencer marketing, offering their clients positive brand conversations that originate from existing customers.

“A marketer’s existing customers are a brand’s most powerful asset. You can bet your house that if a consumer has a good experience with a brand they’re passionate about, they’re going to tell a lot of people about it – online and offline,” says Pieter Groenewald, Managing Director of theSALT.

“There is more value for marketers in gaining people who fall in love with a brand, compared to people just liking it. But the biggest barrier to entry that we see from marketers is that they find it challenging to build influencer marketing into their strategies when utilising their own resources due to the complexity of sourcing and managing a group of brand advocates.”

theSALT’s business model, as part of the Nfinity Group of companies, affords brands the opportunity to access their own loyal consumer base, which are then trained and managed from start to finish as influencers in brand campaigns.

Being part of the Nfinity Group has allowed theSALT access to a bigger network of expertise and infrastructure that has been invaluable and an enabler for the business to focus only on ‘making it happen’ for their clients. “Over the past few years, our business has grown exponentially,” says Pieter. “I believe that the market has really embraced influencer marketing and we’ve had the advantage of being around for a few years already, with a substantial database of on-the-ground influencers that are more than willing to share their brand experiences and testimonials amongst their own communities via word of mouth both on- and off-line.”

More and more brands are engaging with theSALT, allowing the business to open an additional office in Cape Town and even to start exploring international expansion.

But why not pay a local celebrity to endorse the brand? They have massive followers on social media after all.  Pieter says that there are a couple of differences worth noting: “while celebrities are selected based on the size of their audience as well as their niche (fashion, beauty, sport etc.), micro-influencers from theSALT are selected on the basis that they are an existing consumer and can speak about their “own” brand experience.  Don’t confuse reach and influence – depending on your strategy you can decide to use either or, or even both categories.”


He points out that celebrities are mostly limited to one-way communication online by broadcasting a brand message to their audience while micro-influencers can have two-conversations with their community. “It’s also important to note the difference between an audience and a community too – an audience is unknown to the celeb, where the community is a known audience to a micro-influencer,” he says.

“Possibly the largest difference of all though, is that actual word of mouth conversations in our daily environments is still the most powerful form of marketing – all research proves this. Our influencers on the ground are able to engage with real people face-to-face, in relevant environments and when they are most receptive to the messaging.  This element solves one of the biggest brand challenges: getting the message out there at the right time in the right environment thus shortening the path from awareness to purchase decisions.

Consumers and their word of mouth testimonials need to be part of the marketing mix, it’s that simple. The brands that are embracing this strategy are really reaping the rewards,” says Pieter.


The chronicles of a micro influencer

We chat with Rido, a micro-influencer on the Dettol Campaign. She takes us from the application process and discusses all the fun that she had!

Contact for all things Influencer Marketing!

The Rise and Rise of Influencer Marketing

Pieter Groenewald (BW)by Pieter Groenewald, CEO theSALT

The rise of digital and social media has given consumers a voice, and brands have slowly lost the control of conversations that they were once able to sculpt using traditional advertising, especially around quality of products or experiences. This growing trend has led to the rise of Influencer Marketing (IM).

The South African market will notice a relatively quick catch up with the overseas market and their rampant optimisation of Influencer Marketing as a channel to reach consumers in their everyday lives during 2018, a year when IM is sure to continue increasing in popularity.  I’ve got a feeling it will also become a much more prominent feature of South African marketing plans considering the increased activity and significant growth of IM already witnessed towards the back end of 2017.

According to an international survey by Linqia, 86% of marketers used Influencer Marketing in 2017, 92% of whom found it effective. The continued widespread adoption of Influencer Marketing shows that the channel is becoming an integral part of the marketing mix and is not a passing fad.

The more sophisticated a target market becomes, the harder it has become to reach them effectively and traditional channels are being questioned and challenged more and more.  If you want to achieve different results in a tight economy, you have no choice but to deploy different tactics.  The dilemma for marketers is the staggering divide that exists between the impact of influencer content on customers compared to the more traditional brand content and advertising, and the fact that brands still spend their marketing money mostly on traditional advertising channels.

Influencer Marketing is a relatively new way to reach consumers, capitalising on where they already naturally spend their time and actually prefer to spend their time.

As we close the gap on international market trends, the SA market will make less costly mistakes and take to heart key learnings from overseas markets within this field.  There will be more experimenting earlier on, with influencers not only falling into the “celebrity” type category, where reach is the main objective but into the ‘everyday celeb’ category where the average Joe utilises their own social media platforms to influence opinions about a brand.

Influencer Marketing is perfect to reach ordinary folk where the influence is natural, more in-depth and personal – your own tribe /personal friends where there is a two way communication. What better way to influence brand love than via your own trusted friends?

This is where, in my mind, there is huge potential for brands to forge relationships with their existing fans and from there utilising them within their brand plans as authentic influencers.  Think about what is on offer here, there are already trust relationships between the influencer and their communities and brands now have the opportunity to leverage this aspect further in a space where real influencing can take place.

No doubt 2018 will also see more stringent measurements around the performance of Influencer Marketing in the form of ROI, beyond the traditional reach and engagement metrics which have become the norm historically, but are now being questioned more and more.  Advanced and more forward thinking marketers are starting to look at the full consumer journey, holding Influencer Marketing accountable for driving lower funnel metrics in addition to the traditional awareness and engagement measurements.

No doubt, more players will enter the local market, offering technology solutions, in order to match brands with influencers and reporting on influencer activity.  The differentiation between these platforms will initially seem to not be that significant or “much of a muchness” as they say.  Albeit that these are great tools, don’t be fooled when you deal with humans, it will remain critical to forge personal relationships with these individuals representing your brand and effectively doing a job for the brand on your behalf.

So my advice, for best results always seek input from a supplier that can offer you that personal interaction with influencers. If you are in the marketing space, Influencer Marketing will definitely become more topical and discussions will progress beyond  the cautionary “should we or should we not”, but more to: how do we do it, what work best and who can help us in this space.

A great cup of coffee & a conversation with Sian, a micro-influencer on the Suzuki Campaign.

theSALT (Twitter – @theSALT_ZA) are experts at #InfluencerMarketing and engaging with real people to elevate #brands.

Here’s a great podcast from a recent campaign for #Suzuki with one of the #microinfluencers.