For the last few weeks (actually months, really years), I have been in the market for a new mattress. But now that it’s sort of urgent, I spent a part of my Sunday at an old-fashioned mattress store where I rolled around on a bunch of gross mattresses trying to figure out how to approach what feels like a big, confusing decision.

Even after that romp on dirty mattresses and lots of research on consumer reports and lots of other websites, I nearly bought a Sleep Number bed, which I had neither tried out nor looked into, because Robin Arzon, my very favorite Peloton instructor, sort of told me to. Turns out she is an influencer for Sleep Number. She said she was getting one, and that it was good for muscle aches, monitors your health, and records your sleep and heart rate. As a health-conscious (maybe obsessed) consumer who works out a lot, she got me thinking that maybe this was better than all of those mattresses I had already researched. I spent the next 2 hours online looking up different kinds of Sleep Number beds (which by the way don’t have the highest consumer ratings), and truth be told I am going to visit a Sleep Number store this weekend.

Of course in my job, I work with brands and influencers every single day. But I have rarely been influenced to this degree. I think as marketers we like to think we are immune to marketing, but we know we’re not! So what was different about this time and how could my experience translate into advice for brands with all of the backlash around influencers in the press?

I did some digging. In 2017, the influencer marketing space was already worth $1 billion. Influencers have spent time building their own brands, cultivating their audience, and some have protected their reputation. The good ones (who haven’t completely sold out) appear to be the next generation of spokespeople, but way more targeted.

Judging if an influencer is good for your brand depends on a few factors:

  • Reach – Does this person actually have metrics that make it worth having them engage with my brand?
  • Connection – How deeply connected to their audience are they? There are lots of influencers who promote their favorite products, but there are some who have such deep connections to their following, you almost can’t help but do what they say. That’s how I feel about Robin Arzon.
  • Brand Loyalty – How loyal is this person to your brand? How many other brands are they working with? Is every other post a sponsored ad?
  • Impact – Has the influencer found their voice or is it all over the place? How big is their overall buzz, enthusiasm, and level of activity with this account?

And the question we’re still all asking ourselves? How do we measure? We used to use marketing mix to understand the dollar impact each media platform was getting us. But with social and influencers, it’s no longer that simple.

When our brands want to work with influencers, we recommend starting small and watching the output before expanding your Influencer budgets. Influencers can be an incredibly effective part of a marketing mix, but like everything else, it needs to be strategic and compelling. It’s always going to be about getting the right message in front of the right audience at the moment they are ready for it.

So just like Robin did with me, I’m now considering a Sleep Number mattress, but I’m still not switching my sneakers!

If you need help figuring out where influencers fit into your marketing plan, I’d love to talk.

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