Strong consumption as well as expansion of social media has led to a steep rise in the local influencer community. They do have a vital role in changing perceptions of users when it comes to certain product categories and brands.

Such constant engagement with a group of dedicated followers have turned many anonymous individuals into overnight sensations. Today, many retain such influence on followers and this has resulted in marketing and communication professionals seeking their assistance for continuous engagement with target audiences through the social media channels.

We now see a shift in media consumption, a shift in the dissemination of information from traditional media vehicles to social platforms. While it is true that the credibility of traditional media is still strong and continue to play a key role in the channelling information, we notice that online conversations are beginning to create an impact in the way traditional channels disperse content.

There are multiple channels — blogs, online video, podcasts as well as social networks — for an influencer to reach out to his followers. And this is where marketers step in with the objective of leveraging that strength through these conversations/interactions. Many among them believe that the influencers can play the crucial role in creating enhanced brand awareness as well as sustained engagement.

They are capitalising on the reach to establish effective touchpoints.

There have been numerous instances where influencers have actually been able to convert customers, drive web traffic, generate high quality leads and boost brand visibility. Another attraction for marketers is the return they get for their investments with influencers.

Many of them feel that compared to other media vehicles, their ROI (return on investment) is much better with influencers. But the question is how scientific is their way of evaluating the returns.

There have been instances where the role of the influencer does not extend beyond the chatter. This being the case, it is important marketers set clear benchmarks in order to check the efficacy of their campaigns executed through influencers.

The time has come to formally evaluate the impact of initiatives that are put in place through them. While quality of content is important, it is equally vital to check how relevant the communication is to the proposed audience. It is essential to understand the depth of the engagement level.

Marketers should develop evaluation tools that will help them to understand if the money they are putting in is getting them the desired results — be it in the form of enhanced awareness, improved offtake, additional traffic on the website or even an enhanced brand image. Whatever be the parameters, they need to be set in place before the campaign is executed.

The reach of influencers is also restricted to a few select categories and also to a younger audience. The influencers may not be able to extend to more categories as well as a mature audience. Before enlisting the services of an influencer, make sure to understand the brand fit is proper.

Remember, as a marketer you want to establish a meaningful relationship with customer prospects. If the fit is not correct, your efforts will not get the desired results and even boomerang in the long run.

— The writer is an Account Director at Publilink Advertising.