In the digital world, influencers are one of the most powerful tools a company can utilize in their marketing strategy. Influencer marketing is one of the most widely-used, albeit under-maximized, strategies today. This type of strategy aims at delivering your message to a wider audience via brand advocates. By using people with significant social media followings, companies can expand their reach organically without spending thousands of dollars on a lengthy ad campaign.
The key to influencer marketing is leveraging the individual influencer and convincing them to advocate your brand. In this way, you’re spending less on marketing your brand but hitting as many customers as a full-scale traditional campaign would.
This is because influencers are trusted individuals; a testimonial or a kind word from an influencer regarding your brand can play a huge part on whether or not a customer would use your brand. In a digital world where the internet has made people more trusting of other individuals and less trusting of companies or manufacturers, a positive review by an influencer can have a serious impact on your brand’s success. Here are some ways to maximize your influencer marketing strategy.
But First: Why Do Brands Rely on Influencer Marketing?
Influencer marketing is a fairly new marketing strategy; as such, measuring the success rate of influencer marketing campaigns can be a bit tricky, albeit not impossible. However, many brands use it because of the noticeable and significant results that it yields.
Marketers from different industries have relied on influencer marketing strategies because:
Influencers Can Affect Real Change
There aren’t many things that drive sales more effectively than good ol’ word-of-mouth marketing: 92% percent of consumers say that they trust word-of-mouth recommendations more than any other type of advertising.
Despite all the technology and all the marketing strategies we’ve come up with over the past century, old-fashioned word-of-mouth marketing reigns supreme. In a study done by advertising think tanks, 92% of surveyed customers still rely on word-of-mouth recommendations from trusted sources, like family members or, you guessed it, trusted influencers. It seems like people would rather rely on a person they trust than a faceless corporation! Weird!
But what about millennials? Well, the next generation of consumers is no different: out of all the surveyed millennial customers in the study, 40% of them said that they would trust whatever their favorite YouTube star says, citing that said YouTubers “understands them better than their friends.”
This is, of course, an after-effect of the internet age: as technology brings us closer together, it also gives the everyday man or woman a voice. As opinions become more democratized, consumers are now more likely to trust word-of-mouth recommendations over other types of advertisements, including radio, TV, and billboard ads.
Brands that don’t integrate some form of influencer marketing in their overall ad campaign are missing out on the awesome power these internet celebrities wield. By using the power of social proof, a brand can create a highly cost-effective marketing strategy that not only gets the word out on your product or service, but also creates a trustworthy image for your brand.
They Integrate Brands Into the Online Community
We live in a constantly connected world; In 2018, Pew Research Center, one of the country’s largest think-tanks, found that an overwhelming majority of online Americans use some form, or all forms, of social media. This means that a social media-based influencer with even just a moderate following can give smaller brands nationwide awareness if done right.
But apart from awareness, social media allows customers to do something that traditional advertisements can’t do: engage with the brand itself. The internet and social media have created a consumer culture that is customer-centric, and this means that companies can’t just entice their clients to buy their products; they have to be the ones to go up to customers and start the conversation.
This is where influencers come in: because a big part of their popularity stems from their interaction with fans, brands can use this as a way to start a conversation with their customers. The right influencer acts as an official spokesperson for your brand and can easily sway public opinion towards your company.
Influencer marketing ensures that a brand becomes a part of the online community. By generating content that customers can interact with, brands can engage with their client base on a more personal level and creates a sense of accessibility for the brand.
They Create Opportunities for Customers to Create Content
Aside from being trustworthy sources of information, influencers have another useful tool for brands: the ability to mobilize your customer base.
Influencers can leverage their social proof to entice “regular” people to become a part of your promotional efforts. This form of UGC, or user generated content, can range from simple contests wherein customers post a photo of themselves using your brand, to more complex ones that require users to use your brand in specific locations.
Not only does this approach ingratiate you to your customers, it also allows your customers to communicate with you. In doing so, you help create an online community of fans who then spread the good word of your brand. This makes it more cost-effective, as you are essentially creating a full ad campaign that can expand your customer base but using word-of-mouth.
Note: Focus on Results, Not the Influencer
With all the success that an influencer can bring to brands, its important to focus on the results and not the influencer. Often, brands working with influencers for the first time will see only the number of followers or likes that an influencer has instead of the success they’ve brought to other brands.
Remember: the best way to measure success is through results. In the case of influencer marketing, this success can be seen in how much traffic they generate, how much they engage with your customers, and how many people purchase from your brand after an influencer endorses you.