Social Media is, without a doubt, here to stay. More than 5 billion people around the world own mobile devices, making digital spaces extremely impactful on our offline behaviors and decisions.
With the rise of social media also has come the emergence of influencers — content creators that hold “influence” over certain online communities. The chef that runs your favorite cooking Instagram might be an influencer or even the Yoga teacher that you subscribe to on YouTube.
In the past few years, companies around the world have taken notice of influencers. Many (if not most) have even incorporated influencer marketing into their general marketing strategies. By the end of 2021, the influencer marketing industry is expected to grow to $13.8 billion.
“Working with influencers, to co-create content, delivers value and can inspire audiences to take action.” – Amisha Gandhi, Vice President, Influencer Marketing, SAP Ariba
What is Influencer Marketing?
Influencer marketing is a strategy where brands collaborate with influencers to promote their product or service.
Social media marketing is especially important to influencer marketing strategy. Social platforms, like Instagram, TikTok, and Twitter, give influencers the ability to communicate with their audience. Oftentimes, brands will utilize these figures’ social media platforms to spread their message to target audiences. This can be done in many ways, such as through a product placement or endorsement.
Working With Influencers
Who are Influencers?
An important distinction to remember is that influencers are not traditional celebrities. While celebrities typically have global fame and are instantly recognizable across multiple channels, influencers can be normal, real people offline.
In the general sense, influencers spend time cultivating a loyal social following and are seen as leaders in a specific niche or community. Their word on the topic of their content’s focus, whether it’s fashion or gaming, or filmmaking, will be well trusted by the individuals that follow them.
Influencers are always paid for their marketing collaborations, whether that’s in money or in free products/amenities. However, after spending time cultivating their brand, most are mindful of their reputation. This means that they will most likely only promote brands they feel comfortable recommending to followers.
Types of Influencers
Social Media influencers can be separated into four different categories. There are pros and cons to utilizing each type and the best ones are not necessarily who you’d expect.
- Mega-Influencers: 1M+ followers
Figures in this category are your Kylie Jenners, Beyoncés, Justin Biebers — “celebrities” and other famous people.
While mega-influencers have diverse audiences with broad reach, sponsorships will most likely be very expensive. In addition, their relationship with each individual follower is more distant, so you’ll see less success in converting followers into loyal customers.
- Macro-Influencers: 100k-1M followers
Usually, macro-influencers gain their following through the internet itself, cultivating their platforms from focused content creation. Their followings are generally more diverse and less specific to a single niche. These types of influencers will be extremely helpful at reaching broader demographics, like teens or young men.
- Micro-Influencers: 1k-100k followers
Meanwhile, micro-influencers are generally focused on a specific area and seen as leaders in their industry. They are also a lot more likely to have strong relationships with their followers. On Instagram, micro-influencers have an average engagement rate of 3.86%, while mega-influencers have only 1.21%.
Furthermore, because micro-influencers specialize in a niche, their audience tends to be more uniform.
- Nano-Influencers: <1k followers
Unlike other influencers, nano-influencers have small followings. However, a nano-influencer is likely to be a very influential person in their community, such as a local government leader. A great example of nano-influencer campaigns is Hollister’s use of “brand agents.” Normal high school students are compensated to post in their favorite Hollister outfits.
Find the Right Influencers
When finding relevant influencers, it is important to keep in mind that their audience should fit your target market. It wouldn’t make sense to select the type of influencer whose followers don’t fit the target audience you’re intending to reach.
Furthermore, make sure to keep in mind that the influencers you utilize have high engagement rates and hold authority in the eyes of their audience. These will ensure that you have an effective and successful influencer marketing campaign.
Why Influencer Marketing Matters
Ads Are Less Effective
Reaching potential customers with digital advertising is getting increasingly more difficult. While not every individual has ad blockers, most scroll past digital ads on their internet and social media pages, rendering them useless.
The fact is that consumers now dictate what content they see online. Conventional digital marketing is just not working as well as it used to — people see through the faceless voices of advertisements. The best way to reach consumers is through the content that they want to pay attention to.
Authenticity and Trust
Consumers have made it clear: they trust people, not brands. According to Qualtrics, 93% of consumers read online product reviews before making a purchase. They don’t take what they are told at face value. People want to know that their purchasing decisions are justified by other individuals that they can trust.
People trust the content creators that they follow. They see their recommendations and endorsements as valuable. On their platforms, influencers can have authentic conversations with their followers about their favorite brands and products.
Greater Brand Awareness
By utilizing social influencers, your brand will have the ability to gain exposure to their particular audiences. If you decide not to work with a specific person, they will take their following with them.
Since influencers will offer you greater reach to your target audience, you’ll have the opportunity to drive brand awareness.
In influencer marketing, a brand will typically collaborate to create content that in some way features the influencer themself. From a single partnership, there are endless ways to utilize the resulting content.
For instance, if an influencer posts a vlog (video blog) at a restaurant, that restaurant can then repost the video on their own account. Or, say a clothing brand collaborates with a fashion influencer in a photoshoot. The resulting photos can be utilized on the company’s Instagram page, website, and Snapchat.
In short, influencer marketing programs can help generate a diversified set of original content.
With the right approach, influencer marketing can be an extremely effective strategy for your brand. Just keep in mind: just as they didn’t build Rome in a day, your influencer marketing strategy won’t drive sales immediately. But, instead, what will happen is much more valuable to your brand. You’ll build credibility in your industry and cultivate a trusting relationship with your customers.
If you would like to learn more about marketing, check out our blog on The Most Affordable Marketing Strategies in 2021.