Reaching for the Stars: What is Influencer Marketing and Why Should You Care?

Reaching for the Stars: What is Influencer Marketing and Why Should You Care?

As you’re scrolling through your Instagram feed, you stop for a brief second to like a post by your favorite fitness blogger: “Post-gym fuel makes me ready to tackle the day. @nakedjuice #ad #gymitout #lovefruit #stayhealthy.” Like.

This person is beautiful, but real. They have bad days and good days on their fitness journey, and they are brave enough to share them with the world. You love going to their feed because you can always find motivational posts that will keep you running through that last 10 minutes on the treadmill.

The picture you just liked shows them in their post-workout glow (you know because they are sitting on a classic gym bench with their kickboxing gloves still on) sipping a Naked Juice. You scroll a little further and think to yourself, “I’m hungry, but not so hungry that I want a whole meal. A Naked Juice would be a nice snack until lunch. Bonus, it’s also healthy. I’ll be right back.”

Voila. That’s how influencer marketing works.

Celebrity endorsements of the past are being transformed by social media, and in some cases, replaced by a new form of advertising — influencer marketing.

What is an influencer?

Influencers are individuals who leverage their personal brands to engage in lucrative partnerships with businesses promoting brand awareness, launching a new product, or hyping an event. Influencers, as you may suspect, wield influence through their social media channels. In the past, a majority of people (56% to be exact) would go to a friend for a recommendation on a travel site or food brand. Now, 49% of users rely on recommendations from influencers to help form their opinions. Successful influencers convey a sense of authenticity and a genuine brand message. That’s why consumers trust their opinion when they say they really LOVE that rejuvenating organic green tea face mask or promote a #NutritionTip hyping a chocolate brownie bar made with X brand protein powder. Their personalities and the perceived relationship between the star and the fan generate higher engagement rates than traditional brand messages. More people see and react to a campaign featuring an influencer than traditional brand advertising. Let’s break down some more numbers on influencer marketing.

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  • In a Twitter study, 40% of people say they purchased an item online after seeing it used by an influencer on Instagram, Twitter, or YouTube. 20% of respondents shared something from an influencer and 33% of millennials (as of 2016) follow creators on YouTube.
  • An influencer tweet can drive a 5.2x increase in purchase intent—better than the average 2.7x increase in purchase intent from brand tweets.

Major brands have recognized the need to partner and create joint ventures with social media influencers, big and small, to launch new businesses and products. When you employ an influencer, you can rely on their following and fan base to amplify your message, rather than having to recruit your own 20,000 followers on Facebook and Instagram to reach a new market. Two powerful influencers can reach the more social users and save your business time and money self-promoting your event or brand (but you can do both strategies, too!).

Influencers are not just the Kardashians and DJ Khaleds of the world either. In fact, activating 30 to 40 micro-influencers for your brand can help you reach a greater audience and achieve a larger conversion rate. Micro-influencers have smaller, niche audiences ranging from 5,000 to 200,000 followers, and in 2016, received two to five times more organic engagement per Instagram post. Not everyone can get a Kendall Jenner to promote their local boutique, but maybe you can get your local tastemaker to hype your event and store with an Instagram Story takeover or a live video on Periscope or Facebook.

Now that you understand the power of influencers on consumer decision-making, you can start taking advantage of this unique platform for marketing your business. Influencers can be powerful, but the challenge is identifying them, reaching out, and establishing a strategy.

How do you start taking advantage of influencers?

Establish your ideal consumer or persona. Who are you targeting? What channels do they use? Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat have overtaken Facebook as the best platforms for interacting with influencers.

Determine who has weight in your industry or with your target consumers. Do they fit your audience demographic? What kind of content do they create? Is it high quality? Are your brands compatible? Are their followers engaged (engagement rates)? Many brands think they need Kendall Jenner to make an impact, and of course it will, but micro-influencers have higher engagement rates than social celebs. You will see more return on your investment if you employ a micro-influencer with 10,000 followers with an engagement rate of 18.5% than an influencer with 200,000 followers and an engagement rate of 1.5%.

After choosing your influencer(s), establish the content you want them to share. It should feel authentic and exclusive. Consumers can spot a “hard sell” so making content feel organic to the influencer’s personal brand will go a long way.

Check out a couple of examples:

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pumpkin spice truffles facebook post

What are the risks?

Five months ago we saw an example of irresponsible influencer marketing —the disastrous Fyre festival. Four-hundred “Fyre-starters,” including the likes of Bella Hadid and Kendall Jenner, promoted the festival as a beachside nirvana complete with luxurious cabanas and gourmet meals, but it was pretty clear that the festival did not live up to the hype. Consumers have expectations when it comes to events or products promoted by influencers, but it is a HUGE mistake to use influencers to set expectations that cannot be met. Not only will it damage the influencer’s brand, but yours as well. So remember, influence responsibly.

Have you taken advantage of influencer marketing in your brand strategy? Let us know! We want to hear your success stories.

  • https://influence.co Niel Robertson

    Thanks for your mention of influence.co! We have lots of free resources your readers might find useful like influencer rate data: https://influence.co/go/rates. Let us know if you need anything else.

    Thanks again,
    Niel (CEO)

    • Margie Taylor

      You’re welcome! Thank you for the insightful graph and compilation of resources.

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