The following was curated from Forbes and Sean Smith breaks down influencer marketing in the gaming industry.
Marketing is on the verge of a massive new upheaval, the likes of which we haven't seen since social media hit the web. This new genre of marketing is most commonly referred to as influencer marketing and, while it's already being utilized by many brands around the world, gaming brands are taking it to an entirely new level.
In my opinion, nowhere is influencer marketing more influential than in the gaming industry. Whether it be Activision using professional athletes in commercials to promote their newest game in the Call of Duty series, In-N-Out Burger sponsoring professional teams of the Overwatch League that play in front of hundreds of thousands of live viewers, or individual streamers like Ninja who promotes the products he uses to his millions of followers.
Influencer marketing is ubiquitous in the gaming industry and marketers need to take serious notice. I've worked on projects such as one that led to 30,000 beta signups in 24 hours from one YouTube video pitching a service on a channel that had 40,000 subscribers. That was only one of three videos produced for that project, and the entire project cost was $1,500. If you do the math on that, the cost per acquisition is astounding.
There are three main components of successful influencer marketing. Each of these components is extremely important, and making them work in tandem is paramount or the whole thing falls apart.
1. The Product, Event Or Brand That Needs To Be Promoted
Marketers must first consider the product, event or brand to be promoted. For example, influencers in the gaming industry are used to increase attendance to community meetups or events, to get people to buy their gaming products and to increase exposure for brands that want to be synonymous with the gaming world.
Influencers promote these companies to their audience and followers, usually in paid relationships. Sometimes, however, influencers help these companies for other reasons. For example, GuardianCon is a gaming convention that significantly benefits a charity with the support of its influencers.
I asked Twaz, the design lead for GuardianCon, how they attract influencers to help gain more attendees to their convention and he told me, "There is one characteristic that is constant in every influencer I've ever worked with -- they love people. They want to help others. To that end, GuardianCon empowers influencers. The GuardianCon brand and message is clear: gaming does good. We set the stage and work with a charity that every influencer and their audience can get behind to change the world and leave a legacy of kindness."
It's important to ensure that the influencer you're looking to work with feels like a natural fit with the brand, product or event you're trying to promote. If they don't fit well, it will be an uphill battle to make the relationship work, and their audience likely won't be as receptive to what you're trying to promote. Do your research before reaching out.
2. The Influencer Or Influencers
Influencers in the gaming industry run the gamut from entertainers to content creators to professional gamers who have amassed large followings from the content they create, the team they play for, their entertainment value, the games they play or the platform they focus on.
In my experience, the platforms most commonly used in the gaming industry are YouTube, Twitch, Instagram and Twitter. For example, YouTube is typically used for creating play-throughs, guides, theory crafting, highlight reels or other entertaining static content. Twitch is used as a livestreaming platform where users can follow or subscribe to their favorite gamers, and it also streams eSports leagues for games like League of Legends, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and Overwatch. Instagram is typically used to post short clips of gameplay or entertaining things that the content creators want to share with their followers outside of their normal medium. And Twitter is typically used to keep in touch and engage with their audience when not streaming or putting out content on their other channels.
It's vitally important to understand how each platform is being used in your industry and why it is being utilized in that way. Then you can make sure that your influencer's messaging fits the context of that platform.
3. The Approach Used To Promote The Product, Event Or Brand By The Influencer Or Influencers
This is the most important point of all -- the approach: h ow these brands go about getting influencers to promote them, and how influencers promote to their followers. The best approach is for brands to reach out to influencers, letting them know that they want to work with them. Leave it to the influencers to make it a natural experience for their audiences, essentially doing what's comfortable and what audiences won't feel as disingenuous.
This approach ensures that the brand will likely get the best result from their work with an influencer, and the influencer won't alienate their audience by acting too forward with their advertisements or sponsored content.
Partnerships in the gaming industry typically take the form of sponsored banners on Twitch streams, sponsored native content on Instagram, a d segment cutouts or description tagging on YouTube and direct product endorsements or reviews on YouTube.
Even if you're not in the gaming space, you can use this same process to your advantage. Find content creators who have the most exposure to your potential customers. Ask those content creators how you can work together to promote your product.
In my opinion, influencer marketing is going to be the next big component of online marketing, following social media marketing. It's already on the rise and ubiquitous in spaces like gaming. I recommend that all marketers look at their space from the perspective of influencer marketing and learn how to take traditional sponsorships to the web in engaging ways.
Traditionally, you might have thought of Nike with LeBron James or Under Armour with Steph Curry. Now, we have Ninja with Scuf Gaming and Myth with Logitech. The landscape is changing, and as marketers, we must adapt to change with it.
Sean Smith is the COO & Co-owner of SimpleTiger, simplifying SEO for SaaS businesses.
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