If there is a major trend rising in various forms of digital marketing these days that continues to hold sway, it’s the undeniable power of the online influencer. The term “Influencer” is a catchall term for any public figure that has risen through the ranks of anonymous internet users to become their own brand of “cyber celebrity.”
This role has become ubiquitous in an age where the internet is accessible to nearly everyone, with the most popular influencers are able to drive huge amounts of traffic into their many social media platforms, and that of the brands that support them. These individuals become so popular and well known, mostly among the younger, impressionable online society that they are already hovering around the periphery of being “legitimate” celebrities in the mainstream.
Aspiring To Be Influential
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It seems like these days, everyone and anyone is trying to break the internet or go viral. The influencer’s job is to make that happen virtually every day. Everything they do, every item they pick up, or product they promote gets noticed by what can be up to millions of followers. It leads to incredible sales, and the demand creates huge boosts in brand equity online.
Becoming a celebrity on your own, simply by living your life and “influencing” others is a dream. So much so that even the children of this generation have decided that they would rather become Youtubers instead of astronauts. Having this much sway, particularly towards specific target markets, makes an influencer absolutely valuable, particularly to brands and companies that have a large stake in the Influencer’s target audience
The Influencer Effect
Influencers are found in almost every major social media platform: Youtube, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, Tik Tok, and so much more. They can also be found in virtually every field. Everything from an e-commerce business to travel, from beauty Instagrammers to DIY experts; there’s an Influencer in every field, and companies are often actively seeking them out.
Why Look to Influencers?
Mainly because of cold hard numbers:
- When it comes to branded content, 53.9% consumers don’t like brand-created ones. While many companies still use branded content in their own sites and pages, customers may still get turned off by the hard sell on ads and other forms of advertisements.
- 49% of consumers find brand content annoying, irrelevant, and particularly for millennials, somewhat untrustworthy. They would rather prefer to listen to a relatable influencer and their peers.
- A survey conducted by Keller Fay Group and Experticity confirmed that 82% of respondents said they were most likely to follow a micro-influencers recommendation.
- Majority of users of various platforms actually discover a product when they see their favorite influencer talk about it as opposed to results promised by seo proposals. Around 83% of Instagram users, for instance, say that they find their products this way.
The Booster Shot
So, What Is An Instagram Influencer?
Source: mohamed Hassan from Pixabay
An Instagram Influencer is a verified Instagram user (indicated by a highly-coveted blue checkmark at the end of their username) who has a considerable share of followers and engagement on the platform. Influencers may go from anywhere in the tens of thousands of followers to up to millions.
Micro-influencers typically have a lower follower count (10,000+) but plenty of engagement makes them still attractive to businesses. This is mainly because macro-influencers (big name influencers with follower counts in the millions, usually mainstream celebrities) typically have higher fees and more demands. The rule of thumb: the more followers and engagement they have, the bigger their fees will be.
Looking at the facts and numbers, it’s clear as to why Instagram has rapidly risen to become the 5th highest traffic ranking in the world and why this platform has become a prime target for marketers.
- Instagram users are growing at a rapid pace. Everything from Instagram posts to Instagram stories is a free game for Influencers and sponsored advertisement. 500 million users use the “Stories” feature every day.
- You may have noticed the steady growth of the “Brand Sponsored” Influencer post. This is because 80% of Instagrammers use the platform to find or recommend a service to one another. At the same time, 83% of them have said that this is actually how they discover new products and services.
- It makes sense to see Influencer market growth increasing as well. Instagram is the 2rd most widely used mobile social networking app in the U.S with four times more engagement than Facebook, and the 6th most popular of the top social media sites. If an Influencer has a significant amount of followers and engagement that can be reached by a single sponsored post, then a company working with that influencer could potentially reach millions of other individuals that fit their target market.
The Marketing Dance With Influencers
The Influencer marketing industry is so incredibly lucrative and growing so quickly that it’s being projected to be worth at least $10 billion this year, and getting bigger with time. It’s an incredibly competitive market, with heavy competition among the influencers themselves as well as the companies looking to work with them. Nearly two-thirds (65%) of the digital marketers surveyed in the 2019 Influencer Marketing Benchmark Report says that they plan to increase spending on this variety of marketing.
92% of people trust recommendations from people that they know, particularly if backed up by stories and anecdotal evidence. 70% of users also trust these experiences especially if it comes from their peers. That’s what influencers are, and with this type of marketing approach, a company will get to cultivate a loyal brand following in an organic way, creating more awareness over time.
Influencers are effective, cost-efficient, and they have something all companies want from their consumers: the near-militant loyalty of their fanbases. Consider the situation: You’re a company looking to market a product. You could craft a carefully planned traditional campaign, involving commercials, banners, social media marketing campaigns and more. It will require hiring a photographer for professional photographs and a graphic designer, plenty of content, plenty of man-hours, and more.
However, if a company sends a product to an Influencer for free, or for a fee, and requests to work with the Influencer on a sponsored post or an Instagram story, a company may be able to get the same effect for far less cost. All it will take is one post for the Influencer’s followers to see, and they’ll be off to investigate and purchase the item, creating waves of brand equity, traffic being driven to their site and their products, and their branding.
Source: Akshar Dave from Pexels
Companies are heading straight to the influencers these days when it comes to marketing a product or a service. And it’s working very well for everyone involved. The market is so lucrative that some influencers are even faking sponsored content so they could attract “legitimate” sponsorships. Meanwhile, companies now have their pick of a steadily growing lot: how do they find the right influencer for the job? It can’t be that easy, so what are the challenges involved in this type of marketing?
Spot the Right Influencer
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Choosing the right influencer could make or break an entire campaign. They’re not like mainstream artists or celebrities who often have teams of Public Relations personnel that handle their image. An Influencer mainly makes a living off being “relatable” to their target market, or they create interesting, funny content that attracts that market. But often, these Youtube stars and Instagrammers operate on their own, with little handling to help them along. The last thing a company needs is to back an influencer that might bring untoward attention.
There is also the threat of fraud. As with any lucrative industry, there will be fraudsters and fakers looking to take advantage of an easy windfall. And with so many companies seeking out the right influencer to sponsor for some easy promotions, fake influencers have cropped up in order to grab some money and disappear.
Be mindful of common pitfalls in selecting influencers:
- Influencers who aren’t aligned with the audience, company values, and voice – As mentioned above, not all influencers are drama-free or in the level of professionalism one typically expects from the mainstream. A company needs to find an influencer that fits in with their product and culture, as well as the company values.
- Being blinded by the follower count – The follower count may be in the high hundreds of thousands, but are those followers real? Many services online now give aspiring Influencers a quick boost by sending hordes of bot followers to their account to boost their numbers. It’s always wise to check their engagement rates first and determine that the followers aren’t just real; they’re willing to interact and engage.
- Determine the earned media value – Check the buzz around them and their brand. Do they get plenty of likes, comments, mentions, and not just from their own followers? Have they been picked up by mainstream media outlets or been covered in articles? All of these things are generally unpaid and are a greater measure of the Influencer’s value.
- Look out for those views – For Youtube stars, make sure to check the ratio of their follower count to the average views that their videos are getting. Having 10 million subscribers on a channel is great, but if only under half a million viewers are tuning in for the video, it could be a problem.
The Perfect Fit
A great way to find the right influencers is through the use of Socialblade or other similar metric sites. They will give you the ultimate analysis of how much influence an Influencer actually has. Secondly, you can check the popular blogs and videos of your target market. You’ll find that the popular influencers typically have the highest views on their posts. After that, have a good look at the type of content that they post. Does this fit in with the brand culture? If they do, then you may have found a great candidate.
Get to Work!
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Influencer marketing also takes a great deal of strategizing, just like you would typically do for a digital or social media campaign. After carefully assessing your chosen influencer and properly calculating the possible marketing ROI to be gleaned from the campaign, you need to get started on putting a comprehensive plan to action.
It’s not just about the Influencer making a post and calling it a day. Everyone does that these days; it’s time to add these 10 tips and tricks to make things a little more advantageous for the company over the rest of the highly competitive market:
Tip #1. Set goals and expectations – Now that you’ve selected your chosen influencer, you have to be clear about what each side expects and what the goals are. How many units does the company hope to move through this influencer? What metrics will be used to gauge campaign success?
Tip #2. Everyone gets a piece – Based on their audience count and the exposure they can give you, along with a clear goal set by the company, it’s important that both sides know that this is meant to be a mutually beneficial partnership. Clearly set the guidelines on content output and compensation to ensure that the partnership lasts.
Tip #3. Come up with excellent, attractive content – Both Instagram and Youtube influencers should be quite good at this: making photos and videos look good is what they do. Ensure that the content being turned out is good and that it fits in with the brand’s identity and marketing. Don’t forget to be creative as well: use Instagram stories with gifs and boomerangs. Encourage the creation of great videos that are interesting to watch and make the product look good.
Tip #4. Use Affiliate Links – Make sure that if your Influencer is making a post, it has to come with a link that shows they’re an affiliate. It’s one of the best ways not just to measure how many clicks the campaign is getting from the influencer, but also to determine how much the company will payout.
Tip #5. Put a hashtag on every post – Hashtags are ubiquitous with online promotions. It’s an easy way to stay on top of how much traction a campaign or a product is getting. Users have learned to use them to search for content. Create a unique and catchy hashtag to increase exposure!
Tip #6. Timing is everything – Seek out your audience this time. What are the times and days throughout the week that they are most active? When is the time that they will be most likely to see the content? This is the optimal time for the Influencer to make the post, as it will receive maximum exposure from their multitudes of followers.
Tip #7. Host a giveaway – Nothing stirs up an Influencer’s audience more than a giveaway. By asking the audience to create a post, or a comment, and adding the hashtag (there could even be stipulations, such as liking posts or a page), they will be more likely to take part and drum up some attention.
Tip #8. Use the tools at your disposal – Instagram tools such as Sprout Social or Iconosqure lets you keep track of the audience interaction and see whether an aspect of the campaign is working more effectively in one area than the others. It will let you change gears and adjust to meet the audience’s moods.
Tip #9. Make long term plans – The best influencer campaigns aren’t “one-and-dones.” Building a relationship with a huge audience also means building a relationship with the Influencer that brought them in. If you find an influencer that the company works well with, having them regularly participate in campaigns continues to build a foundation of trust. It shows that the Influencer continues to promote the products and clearly believes in them.
Tip #10. Stay on top of the changing trends – What works today with the Influencer may not work tomorrow; the internet’s attention span is notoriously short. It requires a frequent changing of tactics and approaches, that both you and the influencer must be aware of so that it builds a lasting effect on the company’s brand equity.
Source: mohamed Hassan from Pixabay
Brands can no longer afford to ignore the power of the influencers. More and more of them appear every day, changing the waves of trends throughout the internet, not just on social media. Influencers are having real-world effects and are reshaping the way we do marketing.