We’re all on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and other social media channels, and we all regularly consume blog content. We’re also not blind to what’s happening in this arena of content marketing.
That’s what influencer marketing is all about; teaming up with people who have influence over a particular target audience, and getting them to review or promote your products.
Popular people are nothing new in the world of marketing. You’ve seen commercials with George Clooney, Heidi Klum, Angelina Jolie, and other celebrities, right? These are influential people. Everyone wants to be like them. When they promote a product, we feel like we’ll be a bit more like them when we get that product. Celebrity TV ads, however, are a traditional marketing technique, and if we’re being honest, people are watching less free to air TV nowadays. Teenagers and children, in particular, watch 33% less broadcast TV than they were back in 2010.
So it might not be smart for you to hire a celebrity for a TV ad just yet. Big brands are still doing it, but the method is too expensive for startups.
Influencer marketing, on the other hand, is an innovative, affordable and completely accessible form of marketing that has the potential to significantly broaden your brand exposure.
What Exactly Is Influencer Marketing?
Influencers are social media users or bloggers who have the capacity to ‘influence’ their followers with recommendations. Their lifestyle serves as an example that people want to follow. These are not necessarily celebrities, but they are certainly famous (or at least well known or recognisable) in their chosen niche.
But, what makes influencer marketing better than the traditional marketing with celebrities? Communication! The influencers are not just parading the online world. They are part of it. They connect with the audience and they give everyone an opportunity to share their voice. That’s why this type of marketing is more genuine and effective in the changing media landscape. It connects a brand with their audience on a deeper level.
So, here are few important reasons why every brand needs influencer marketing:
Influencers Attract a Growing Audience That Trusts Them
When a brand is new to social media, its main goal is to attract more followers. Paid advertising certainly has an effect. You create an ad that would look well on social media and niche websites, and you’ll be paying for every click you get. This works.
Paid social media advertising will certainly get you followers, but influencers can speed up that process. They will make your brand seem more attractive, and your marketing campaign more believable. However, there’s a pitfall; some people don’t like seeing ads. They use ad blockers, which eliminate promotions from websites and their social media feeds. The use of ad blockers is expected to reach over 100 million Internet users in the U.S. alone by 2020.
That fact pushes marketing experts to look for other solutions. Influencer marketing is one of them. It doesn’t come with the face of traditional advertising; so everyday Internet users don’t mind it.
This is because the recommendation is coming from a real person that users have grown to admire, and from a person who has clearly tried that product/service and compared it to something else they’ve been using.
In 2015, hoverboards became a trend mainly because Kendall Jenner, John Legend, Nick Jonas, and other celebrities were seen riding them. These are people with millions of followers. When they take a trend online, it expands at the speed of light. People start following the brands being promoted.
Why is this better than an ad? The influencer’s honest and real (not filmed) experience makes a world of a difference. It makes the recommendation more believable.
Influencers can Impact Brand Awareness
Why are brands engaged in marketing, anyway? The point has always been the same: it’s all about developing a positive brand image. You want people to recognise your brand, and influencer marketing helps them to make a cultural association with the product or brand being promoted.
With influencer marketing, your branding efforts get a boost.
Alo Yoga is a nice example of using influencers for creating awareness. The brand paired with the most authoritative Instagram yogis out there to promote their products. In the promotions, we don’t see them just talking about the brand, we actually see them wearing these products all of the time in their photos and videos!
According to the 2016 Influencer Marketing Benchmarks Report by RhythmOne, brands that invested in influencer marketing for two or more weeks got a boost of 8.73% in positive brand sentiment and 14.78% in brand mentions. Instagram was the most effective platform for driving engagement, and Snapchat was particularly successful in attracting Millennials.
23% of the brands included live events or experiential tactics as part of the campaign, and 38% included giveaways.
Influencers Return the Investment
That same report by RhythmOne showed another important detail: brands that invested in influencer marketing got $11.69 in Earned Media Value for every dollar they spent. When compared to the results from 2015, that was an increase of 4.4%.
We’ll have to wait a bit for the 2017 report, but given the fact that influencer marketing really gained momentum in 2017; we expect to see an even greater increase.
Influencers Are Honest
Take few minutes to watch a video by Unbox Therapy. What are your thoughts? If you’re like most people, you’ll have an impression that this guy is funny, smart, and incredibly honest. He mentions all the good aspects of a featured product, but he also identifies the disadvantages.
This is exactly why influencer marketing is so believable: the influencers (well, most of them) are being honest. They try these products, and when it comes to providing reviews, they test the products and disclose their opinions to their audiences. They do not put their reputation at risk by recommending a product or service that’s a waste of money.
Influencers Have the Power to Introduce a New Brand or Product into Digital Communities
Influencers don’t just share opinions about brands or products. They also share the brand’s values. If a social media influencer is promoting a healthy lifestyle, they will associate your brand with that healthy lifestyle. That’s why it’s important for brands to team up with influencers who represent their niche.
The influencer whose values align with the brand’s values, goals, and mission, will spread the message with ease. They will use several social media platforms to share images, content, and/or videos about the product. Hashtags will be involved, too. Their followers will spread the message further.
When a brand provides free products for the influencer to use for a giveaway, they both win. The influencer gets engagement. The brand, on the other hand, gains a relevant base of followers, have more people testing out their products and talking about it with their friends and family. The brand will then be introduced to the digital community in a natural, seemingly effortless way.
So Yes… Brands Need Influencers!
It’s clear why so many brands are engaging in influencer marketing. These campaigns are effective. They help the brands gain more followers and sell more products. The return on investment is great. Most importantly, the brand gets honest promotion that people are willing to believe.
Building trust. That’s what this is all about.
How can You Team up with Social Media Influencers to Increase Your Reach?
Now, you may be left with one last question: how do you team up with influencers? It’s not that hard.
- Research! Spend a lot of time on social media to see who your target audience follows. See how they engage with influencers. Be part of this online community, so you’ll know how it works.
- Contact! Influencers have busy inboxes. Many brands would like to get them on their side. You’ll have to give them a good reason to stand behind your brand. You’ll have to offer a contract with attractive compensation, as well as great prizes for their giveaways, but be flexible. The influencer will likely have suggestions, so make sure you consider them.
- Offer creative control. You’ll agree on the general flow of the campaign, but they will be free to create the content for their social media pages in any way they want. They have to be authentic and honest; that’s the only way for them to keep the trust of their audience and promote your brand in the most natural way.
Now that you know why it’s so important and how you can start your campaign, it’s time to take the first steps. Research more. Learn more. Pick your influencers, develop the tribe around your brand, and you’ll soon enjoy the results.