You may not have noticed, but we’re actually seeing fewer ads than we used to. That’s thanks to a combination of ad blockers, DVRs, and paid streaming. For consumers, the loss of ads often feels like a win. For marketers, though, it limits opportunities to expose the public to new messaging. Companies are having to search for different strategies, and many are finding success with influencer marketing.
Research shows that 92 percent of people trust individuals over brands anyway, according to a report released by global measurement and data analytics company Nielsen. What’s really intriguing is that those individuals don’t have to be personal friends. People even trust online reviewers they don’t know. As long as another person is marketing for your product or service, the public will give your message greater credibility.
Influencers are the way of the marketing future, and businesses should be taking advantage of the opportunity to market with them. By using certain products and services themselves, influencers imbue the prospective customer with a sense of trust. They create what feels like a personal connection between themselves and their audience. Influencer marketing is an old strategy that’s generated a lot of buzz recently. Future marketers are probing more deeply into influencer marketing to understand the psychology behind why it works and which influencer strategies are most effective.
For Starters, What Is an Influencer?
TapInfluence describes influencers this way: “Be they screen icons or style bloggers, these notables gain the trust of their public, and in doing so, exert some influence over their purchasing power. In this era of social media stars, the term ‘influencer’ encompasses a wide variety of socially savvy experts.”
Modern influencer marketing isn’t limited to online gurus. It can be traced back to the 1930s when a Coca-Cola campaign suggested that Santa Claus drove a team of magical reindeer, brought presents to children, and – most importantly to his employers – drank Coca-Cola with enthusiasm. Santa existed in the popular imagination before then, of course, but Coke successfully used his influence to drive its sales. Pepsi was almost as successful 50 years later when it employed Michael Jackson to drink its products for a commercial in 1984.
Today’s companies don’t have to trek to the North Pole or spend $1.5 million on the King of Pop to secure the endorsement of a trusted and effective influencer. Thanks to social media platforms like Instagram, YouTube and Facebook, a whole new generation of influence is at work. Today, an influencer could be a celebrity but also might be a normal person, a blogger or a photographer with a large and trusted social media following. Even animals such as Grumpy Cat and Doug the Pug garner millions of followers and wield a great deal of influence. In fact, 30 percent of pet owners engage with social media celebrity animals.
Most influencers are paid to promote a product. That said, influencers typically aren’t just in it for the money. If they’re going to go to their audience on Instagram or Twitter with a recommendation, they need to believe in your product – and in you. One great way brands attract and engage influencers is by inviting them to be guests on a podcast or by serving as guests on the influencer’s podcast. This kind of content-based relationship can pay big dividends for both parties.
The Purpose of Influencers
Influencers give the consumer a sense of trust in the brand. In essence, they are lending you their platform, their credibility and their relationships. That’s why it’s important that clients and influencers trust each other implicitly. According to Jay Baer at ConvinceandConvert, “The most successful and authentic social media influencers have a very simple method for earning and keeping the trust of their audience: they are truthful!”
A truthful influencer can convince a lot of people.
- 49 percent of purchasers rely on influencer recommendations.
- People aged 13-24 trust influencers with the largest follower counts.
- People aged 45 and up trust household names.
When Subaru wanted to increase its reach among millennials, it enlisted the help of Devin Graham, a YouTube influencer with five million subscribers. His high-energy, emotional video helped launch the #MeetAnOwner campaign that eventually drew two million likes and pumped Subaru’s sales by 10 percent that year.
The Key Elements to an Influencer Marketing Strategy
Successful influencer marketing examples show that it’s critical to have a strategy for executing the plan. An influencer who’s asked to “just talk about us” will be far less profitable than one who knows what message, platform and timeline to use. SmartInsights, a marketing advice site, reported, “A successful influencer campaign isn’t something you just put together and hope that it has the desired effect. You sure don’t want to rush into influencer marketing without any forethought or planning.”
Some keys to influencer marketing success include:
- Determine your audience first. Defining your audience lets you and your influencer know what price and product will communicate value. Once you have sharpened and refined your understanding of your ideal audience, you are prepared to craft the right message and choose the right messenger.
- Select the right influencer. You don’t need a celebrity. In fact, most celebrities get very low ROI as influencers. Instead, choose someone popular in your niche. BigCommerce said the ideal influencer “has between 10,000 to 100,000 followers. Beyond tracking follower numbers, it’s essential to monitor the types of followers, quality of relationships and overall engagement.”
- Compensate your influencer fairly. Don’t nickel and dime your influencer. You are asking this person to put their hard-won reputation on the line for you. That’s not a small request. So, pay them a hefty one-time fee or a monthly retainer, whichever is fairer in your case.
- Provide valuable content, not just overt ads. People crave authenticity and respond to honest messages. In general, you want to present three to five pieces of useful content for every request you make in order not to overwhelm your prospective buyers.
- Monitor and evaluate your influencer marketing activities. As with every other marketing technique, keep a close eye on Instagram influencer marketing. Stay on top of your numbers, and if something doesn’t seem to be working, address it quickly.
Future marketing professionals need a solid understanding of the psychology of influence, how social media works and effective strategies for influencer marketing. The world of advertising and marketing is fluid, always shifting and changing. Bethel’s bachelor’s degree in business administration online and online MBA in leadership equip tomorrow’s marketing leaders with roots deep in marketing theory and skills in state-of-the-art practice.
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