Students of Mediapublishing conceptualize innovation for publishers in regard to the trending concept of influencer marketing

Preliminary note:
This blog post is part of the course „Trends in Media“. The students were supposed to research a specific trend and build a use case for a publishing house. The results of their work are a presentation and this blog post.

In the seminar „Trends in Media“ at the HdM in Stuttgart (winter term 17/18; Grasemann), students of the 6th semester devote themselves to the creation of innovative ideas for publishers. We explored and examined the trend influencer marketing.

Our first question: What is influencer marketing? Influencer marketing is a certain strategy in marketing that is employed in social networks and the social web; opinion leaders with a far-reaching community are specifically deployed for matters of marketing and communication. The company’s overall goal is to boost the brand’s authenticity and value. This is meant to be achieved on the basis of the respective target audience’s trust towards the influencer.
For instance, the following kinds of persons could act as influencers: Users of social media, having a great amount of followers, Satisfied existing customers with special technical know-how, Journalists, Bloggers, Youtubers, Celebrities, Skilled employees and experts, Politicians, Persons running forums and so on. When working with influencers, companies pursue different goals: Increasing the company’s visibility when being googled, Increasing the company’s brand awareness; Improving the company’s image; Increasing traffic on the company’s website; Generating more social signals; linkbuilding.
The big chances of Influencer marketing are the extensive reach via social media. There are existing so many channels like Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, Pinterest, Snapchat and so on. Especially younger people can easily be affected via these channels. With the influencers companies overcome the distance to the consumer because they can address the target group accurately. Furthermore they can reach audiences in an unobtrusive way and can give new impetus to an advertising campaign. Not only persons of public life are using the channels but also normal people that put out their creative work and thoughts. Because of the variety of different influencers every product can find the right cooperation partner. Moreover the success of the respective posts can easily be measured. Having the right influencer gives the company a competitive advantage as a credible brand ambassador- That is because and authentic review, which is more valuable than any artificially generated brand storytelling. In contrast to traditional advertising media, influencers can also become long-term customers and real brand friends.
But to find the right cooperation partner the company need to asks itself the following questions: Does the influencer fits with the product/brand? Is the audience an interesting target group for the marketing strategy? Does the main channel of the influencer fits to address the right target group?
Companies should use the opportunities and risks of this marketing form to choose their influencers wisely and check whether the chemistry between the influencer and the company is good and also if the expectations are shared by both parties.
Our own ideas concerning this topic are being developed during and after the research:

We developed an online service which will work as an exchange platform for companies and influencer to simplify the process of finding and getting in touch with each other.
To get a better idea of what we`ve been thinking of, we developed a case-study which is shown in the graphic below.
We call it InMatch!

Companies and influencer create an account on the platform with their profile and the most important informations (who they are,what do they do, what`s the aim?, business philosophy, projects, campaigns, reach, who they worked together with, niche product, etc.). That means that both sides, influencer as well as companies, are classified into categories (like technique, beauty, nutrition, publishing, online-media, fashion, environment,etc.) and only proper matches will have the opportunity to get in contact. This procedure prevents the danger of an overload of requests. Through certain filter they can find a fitting influencer or company. The focus lies on influencer with a smaller, an average and big reach, so they have a chance to call the companies attention over our platform. To make use of InMatch, companies have to pay money and in exchange for that, InMatch guarantees a safe and fitting match between an influencer and a company. Every influencer on InMatch has to verify himself by putting a link into his profile with all his references, in case a company wants to check on it . We also regulalry execute target group analysis and work together with research establishments, which provide us with data.

The companies have the choice between a basic-price-version or premium-price-version which will cost them either 49,99€ or 99,99€ per month. First option basically means that companies are limited in their “Bundesland” and neighbour “Bundesländer” and are able to meet influencer with smaller reach. Premium-version ensures the access to influencer in whole Germany, Switzerland and Austria with high impact and many references. In case of conclusion of contract between influencer and company, InMatch gets a provision of 7%.
The great and convincing asset of our idea is its potential to solve many and various problems:

At first we simplify processes by our support for companies looking for matching influencers. Even influencers can see at first glance which companies fits to them. So no longer annoying requests. Also contracts can be concluded short-term so long-term plannings aren’t necessary. With our platform we created something that has never been there before. There are no offshoots on the market place.
Our platform offers many influencers from many different areas. Already with a few clicks our website filters matching influencers. Example: Publishing house X would like to promote a new volume of a known series. With the filtre function only matching bloggers, which specialize themselves in publishing industry are shown.
But also additional source of revenue: By the contribution that companies pay each month, as well as the commission on conclusion of the contract we receive our additional income.
By maintenance of the website we’re creating new jobs and additionally we’re reducing the high rate of unemployment.
Due to our additional platform, cooperation with companies and influencers, we manage to gain even more coverage and increase our name recognition. Due to our simplified and faster processes from which more and more companies profits, more and more business people are becoming aware of us. At last it’s strengthen our image: If many followers see that famous bloggers cooperate with publishing houses which are listed in our platform it’ll improves our range.

However, influencer marketing doesn’t only bear advantages – of course, there are also risks that should be considered:
As influencers want to maintain their credibility product may turn out negative for the company. Especially dubious & inappropriate advertising will not be taken seriously and could earn mockery which can lead to an image damage of the company. So it’s very crucial to find an influencer who fits the target group and the company’s image. Furthermore it’s difficult for companies to control the sponsored posts before they’re published because misunderstandings concerning the contract could only be determined after the postings/videos were published. Another challenge is to determine the return on investment (ROI) of this marketing strategy. It’s assumed that companies receive  6,50 $ for every invested Dollar in Influencer Marketing. So you can say the ROI is relatively high if Influencer Marketing is applied correctly and works out well.
But when it comes to Influencer Marketing it’s important to know that the prices could vary very much depending on the number of followers the influencers have. So the “big stars” are actually very expensive to hire for sponsored postings. That’s why the trend is towards micro influencers – these have a smaller followership (less than 25k)  and tend to have a closer connection to them, which makes them more attractive to companies.

But how can the current situation be described?
Latest numbers and facts regarding influencer marketing: Nowadays, Influencer-Marketing is important and: there is willingness to pay for it! Let’s have a look at the result of a survey from 2016 on companies’ budgeting concerning influencer-marketing in Germany (Statista: “Haben Sie für das Jahr 2017 ein Budget für Influencer Marketing vorgesehen?”). A total of 68 percent of the participating marketing experts stated that they have planned to spend money on Influencer-Marketing in 2017. Then again, only 16 percent stated that their company hasn’t planned to spend any budget on influencer-marketing.


By Rosa Abu Dabash, Lena-Marie Armbruster, Laura Holzinger, Jessica D’Arnese, Luisa Flaig