Influencer marketing breaks new ground this election season

For the first time in the history of General Elections in India, the social media influencers were seen playing an important role to reach out to targeted audiences in various parts of the country. The 2019 Parliamentary Elections process across the country and the recent announcement of BJP’s thumping win give us a clear picture of the extensive demand and use of social media and social media influencers to successfully reach out to voters and strike a chord with them. 

The increasing penetration of Internet across the nook and corners of the country has also empowered and helped social media influencers nowadays in taking up a critical role in shaping the course of most of the decisions that their followers take, including their voting preferences. And it has led to a paradigm shift in the planning and focus of political campaigns. 

‘India Influence Report 2019’ by Zefmo Media reveals what drove political parties and marketers in India to integrate influencer marketing for an impactful campaign. As per the report, 65 per cent marketers and strategists shared that it helped in increasing (brand) awareness and recall; 50 per cent of the respondent also agreed that it is effective in managing (brand) reputation and sentiments, while 47 per cent said it is effective in reaching out and influencing the new target audience. 

Read more: Influencer Marketing is becoming a key part of the Digital Marketing Mix

Influencer marketing industry is gradually maturing, with brands across verticals and size, political parties, individuals relying heavily on influencer-driven campaigns nowadays for their product or campaign positioning as well as messaging. 

In 2018, while 92 per cent marketers/ strategists were expected to launch at least one influencer campaign, the report reveals that the popularity of influencer marketing has considerably increased in 2019 with 94 per cent marketers/ strategists finding it more effective and 85 per cent continuously exploring innovative ways to collaborate with social media influencers. 

The report further indicates that 76 per cent marketers/ strategists are looking to increase their budget allocation on influencer marketing campaigns this year, compared to 62 per cent last year. 

Positive Outlook for Influencer Marketers/ Strategists 

India Influence Report 2019 clearly indicates that the perception of influencer marketing has further improved among the brands that are increasingly recognising the value addition offered by the influencer campaigns, in terms of grabbing more eyeballs for their products and services. 

The 2019 report underlines the indispensability of social media influencers as critical marketing tools who help the brands in getting their (product and service) messages conveyed across with more passion, creativity and authenticity. 

Why marketers look at it as impactful & integral? 

Respondents participating in Zefmo’s survey for the 2019 India Influence Report agree on 3 major points as to why influencer marketing remains an integral tool to the overall marketing campaign:  

  • 60 per cent believe that influencer marketing helps in reach to consumers/ audiences or potential consumers/ audiences. 
  • 56 per cent say it effectively helps in connecting with both millennials and centennials. 
  • 45 per cent see it as a better alternative to traditional advertising.

The survey clearly shows that more and more marketers/ strategists are now inclined to explore innovative ways of integrating social media influencers with their marketing strategy. 

Key takeaways 

The report sheds lights on many positives of the influencer marketing industry. It reveals how marketers/strategists are opting for influencer campaigns to create awareness, manage reputation and influence the new audience. 

Salient points:

  • 94% marketers/ strategists found influencer marketing to be an effective form of marketing
  • 73% of marketers/ strategists have revealed that they actively engage social influencers as part of either ‘always-on’ program, integrated program or campaign basis while 27% are still experimenting with influencer marketing
  • 70% marketers/ strategists responded “Yes” when asked if “exclusivity with social influencers is better for their brand?”

According to this report, there has been a palpable change in consumer behaviour in India in terms of how they look at social media influencers. Earlier, the purchasing behaviour of the consumers was heavily influenced by the product messaging relayed through advertisements. However, things have started to change now with the consumer displaying the propensity to repose greater faith and trust in those people, celebrities or otherwise, who he follows on social media platforms. 

“We are increasingly witnessing that the penetration of the Internet and social media is playing a very important role in the lives of people in India and influencers as a key part of the social media universe are actively making an impact by spreading positive messages and increasing diversity,” said Shudeep Majumdar, Co-founder, Zefmo. “We have seen influencers playing a very critical role in spreading great positive effects and promoting things like body positivity, spreading messages about speaking out about the #MeToo movement which has rapidly changed the way people think about and approach sexual assault, and environmentally conscious movements like veganism. Increasingly these trends are changing our expectations about our rights, about what we can do to get support, and about it being okay to say you are after all human.” 

The influencer marketing industry is expected to hit $10 billion by 2020, according to an AdWeek report, and the increasing popularity of the industry can be gauged by the way it is expanding to every nook and cranny of the digital ecosystem – from brand campaign to political campaign. 

Budget allocation & engagement: Upward trend continues

The survey indicates that the influencer marketing industry is set to grab a bigger chunk of budget allocation and campaign engagement in 2019. 

Key Points: 

  • 76% marketers/ strategists are of the view that the influencer marketing budget in 2019 will remain the same compared to last year or increase
  • 60% marketers/ strategists opined that their influencer marketing campaign will start from a minimum of 5 lakh and will go beyond 25 lakh on the higher side with more marketers/ strategists opting for the latter
  • 69% marketers/ strategists are clear that social influencers will be engaged more during launches in 2019
  • 61% said they will engage influencers to build and enhance reputation
  • 40% are of the view that 2019 will also see more engagement of influencers to promote and distribute content
  • In terms of the content format influencers can help leverage as per the India Influence Report 2019, 55% marketers/ strategists are convinced that reviews and videos content(YT, IGTV, etc.) will be the most effective channels while 50% are of the view that Instagram will also remain an effective platform

Challenges to look out for in 2019 

Designing a creative influencer marketing campaign is not an easy task and its effectiveness does not necessarily depend on the strategy. There are certain challenges that need to be kept in mind while running an influencer marketing campaign. As per the report, the top three things that need to be taken into consideration for a successful campaign are:

  • 65% also agree that the most important thing is to choose the right influencer with image and identity that is in line with the brand’s/ party’s messaging and ideology
  • The second thing to look should be a credible number of followers who recognise and identify with the influencer’s image. 65% marketers/ strategists say that the authenticity of influencer should be determined
  • 56% say that for any campaign to be successful the effectiveness of the campaign should be measured properly

India Influence Report 2019 has been prepared by Zefmo after conducting a detailed survey involving all the stakeholders, ranging from brand custodians to content creators across the Indian ecosystem in the last few months.


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