Abhinav Sharma, Brand Marketing Manager of the Running Business Unit of Adidas, is one of the leading Indian marketers who put influencer marketing to great use. An IMT Ghaziabad alumnus, he has previously worked with brands like Louis Vuitton, Moet Hennessy and Titan. Abhinav is a sports freak with a love for football and also loves running 5KM and 10KM races.
Avik: “What’s, according to you, is the biggest reason for influencer marketing to have picked up at such a rapid pace? Is it expected to stay for long or is it going to be short-lived?”
Abhinav: “Influencer Marketing has existed for a while. It was maybe only limited to ‘famous faces’ earlier. With the acceleration in Instagram lately & Twitter earlier, it has become possible to share your visual journey with tens of thousands of ‘followers’. That has led to the boom of ‘influencers’ that are used as ‘channels’ to push across messages, stories and information.”
Avik: “What do you think of the present influencer marketing scenario in India? Where do you see it 5 years down the line?”
Abhinav: “Incoherent, accelerating and promising! In five years, I see it consolidating under various category heads and influencers aligning themselves to one or maybe two such verticals. For instance, today’s mishmash of a fashion blogger doing car endorsements, or a food blogger doing travel, would fade.”
Avik: “Do you think marketers should increase their budget for influencer campaigns in a coming couple of years?”
Abhinav: “More than budgets, I wish for marketers to increase their effort in understanding this space. Too many campaigns seem to be a “Have reach, hence you have influence” thought process behind them. Reach does not equal influence. Not by a long shot.”
Avik: “What are the challenges a marketer comes across while running an influencer campaign?”
Abhinav: “Influencer credibility. As long as an influencer does not know what he/she stands for, they would not be able to define their own brand. And as long as their brand is undefined, how are they expected to have synergy with another?”
Avik: “As a marketer, which social media channels do you prefer in running influencer campaigns? Why?”
Abhinav: “For our category, the visual aesthetic is paramount; the grit, effort and determination of our influencers and athletes need to be translated across – hence Instagram.”
Avik: “Is it better to go for long-term relationships with influencers, or do short-term campaigns hold the key?”
Abhinav: “We only pursue long-term relationships. Short term campaigns offer nothing. If a consumer is being bombarded with 100+ messages a day, one more message for a short-term campaign would not help, would it?”
“The trick in selecting the right influencer for your brand is in choosing who to have a long-term relationship with. The rest, is easy.” – Abhinav
Avik: “Which KPIs do you take into account while planning and analyzing an influencer campaign?”
Abhinav: “Relevance, on-ground credibility and authenticity of the message that the influencer puts out. Thus, these are soft metrics – which are sometimes a hybrid of hard or numeric metrics.”
“If used correctly, influencer marketing can be an extremely cost-effective tool to break through the clutter. Some hydration and nutrition brands are doing so, very well.” – Abhinav
Avik: “What role, according to you, should influencer marketing agencies play?”
Abhinav: “Their role should be to imbibe the brand’s values and expectations, and have a clear understanding of the influencer’s brand and sensibilities. Thus, the job of ‘consulting’ the brand then becomes a piece of cake. Having worked in the lifestyle and sports spaces, I can possibly name the top 50 influencers in both these spaces by impact, and not just by reach or engagement. This is what an ideal agency account manager should be able to do.”
Campaign objective: To build running communities across urban spheres in India.
Target audience: Young urban running enthusiasts, 18 to 35 years old.
At a glance: Through on-ground activation, weekly runs in running hotspots around cities. The social currency was generated through chronicling by runners, who attended these sessions and in turn inspired others to do the same. it was organic.
ROI: We attained social amplification which was incrementally higher than the spends. The reach garnered was far in excess of what we had envisaged.
Leading marketers like Abhinav stand as testimony to the success influencer marketing can achieve. Keep following us for more #MaxROI talks.