Influencer marketing. I’ve heard it mentioned as a ‘buzzword’ for marketers, a ‘trend’ and in one case ‘a big con where celebrities get paid to advertise products’.
Guess what? If you’ve had the same thoughts you couldn’t be more wrong.
Influencer marketing actually offers a huge opportunity for brands like yours to grow your market share, drive sales and increase your customer base. In fact, it actually drives 11x more return on investment (ROI) than traditional digital marketing channels and that’s why 94% of marketers use it as part of their brand promotion.
What is influencer marketing?
Think about the last product or service you bought. What made you buy it? Did you see an ad on your social media newsfeed? Maybe someone famous or an expert in your industry suggested you buy it? That’s influencer marketing.
Even though influencer marketing has been around for a very long time, it’s only in recent years that it has become a crucial element of brand promotion, all thanks to social media. In the digital age we live in, our newsfeeds are full of influencers all recommending products, services and experiences to us on an almost daily basis.
An influencer is an individual who has a big following in a particular niche or industry. Think about celebrities like Kylie Jenner, prominent societal figures like the royal family and business experts like Gary Vaynerchuck and Richard Branson – they are just some of many influencers who help shape not only our beliefs on various issues, but they also play a huge role in helping us make purchasing decisions.
Brands who work with these influencers are endorsed largely by association, either through a Facebook or Instagram advert, interviews on podcasts or vlogs and blogs. That’s what influencer marketing is – a modern day form of ‘word of mouth’ marketing.
So how can influencer marketing help you? Here are just a few ways. You can use it to:
- Grow your audiences
- Increase brand awareness
- Drive engagement on your social media channels
- Increasing traffic to your website
- Driving business growth and sales
Why is influencer marketing important for your brand?
This is a question that I think needs answering because there seems to be so much confusion about the impact that influencer marketing can actually have on a brand. I’m going to share my thoughts on why its important but first I think we should distinguish between earned and paid influencer marketing
These are two sub categories that often get confused.
- Earned influencer marketing: This is an unpaid collaboration between an influencer and a brand where the influencer shares their genuine thoughts on the product or service after trying it themselves. Sometimes they write a blog review or record it on video for YouTube. Other times they simply share their thoughts via posts on their social media channels. This method of influencer marketing is usually the preferred one because its the most authentic – there’s no payment for the influencer and the value for the brand comes with being associated with the influencer and accessing their audience. This is where they build trust and drive sales.
- Paid influencer marketing: This is when the influencer gets sponsored by a brand to advertise a product or service via their social media channels. Usually the influencer is open about this, especially on Instagram or Facebook where posts will contain #ad or will state “in partnership with ….” Often when an influencer is paid to promote a brand they will be given guidelines to follow, maybe a script to say for video or a caption will be prepared for then to simply post. The only issue with this is that trust is less because the audience is aware that the influencer is paid rather than posting their own thoughts on the product or service.
Now that’s been cleared up, let’s talk about why influencer marketing is important.
#1: Consumers trust influencers
And in turn if you associate yourselves with those influencers and they recommend your products or services, they’ll begin to trust you too. That’s when they’ll buy from you. With research showing that 70% of teenagers trust influencers over traditional celebrities and 49% of consumers depend on influencer recommendations, you can’t really afford to ignore them.
#2: Social media impacts purchasing decisions
Did you know that 86% of women use social media for purchasing advice? Hands up if you do this? I certainly do. With over 1 billion users on Instagram who have access to 25 million business profiles and millions of influencers across the world, it’s no wonder we use it listen to product and service recommendations.
#3: Influencers boost your brand credibility
Of course is based on the solidity of their reputation. In other words you need to make sure you choose the right influencers for your brand. They need to align with your brand ethos and have a following in your target market. If you pick the right influencer then you will instantly have a stronger online presence by association and will become known by potentially millions more people.
#4: Influencers are opinion leaders
I’ve already touched on this, but in recent years there influencers and celebrities have become thought leaders. Consider the following:
- The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and the Duke of Sussex and the impact they’ve had in the UK with their mental health campaign
- The #Metoo movement in Hollywood
- Actress and activist Jameela Jamil speaking out against the fashion industry on how they portray the female body.
- Kim Kardashian-West taking on the U.S. justice system to help innocent people to be freed from jail
These are all celebrities / public figures using their platforms to help shape public opinions on serious issues but these are also influencers who endorse brands. I know these are household names, but my point is that the influencer now dominates both online and offline by being opinion leaders.
To sum up …
Influencer marketing is not a trend or a fad. It’s a powerful marketing tool and its one that’s here to stay. That being said, it isn’t for every business and while I’ve used high profile examples of influencers in this blog, I’m not for one second suggesting that you contact Richard Branson, Kim Kardashian-West and others to help you market your business (but feel free to do that if it works for you!).
Connecting with the right influencer, with either them publicly endorsing your brand or you appearing as a guest on their social media channels, I can guarantee one thing will happen. You’ll build your online audience which will in turn help you drive sales. Worth a shot don’t you think?
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