Google the term “social media trends,” and influencer marketing will be on nearly every top hit. It may sound fancy, but what is influencer marketing? It is a marketing strategy that leverages the popularity of “regular people” to drive a message to a larger audience. And why is influencer marketing worth your time and attention? Read on to find out.
Who are the influencers?
Influencers are regular people who have built up a following online and use their platform to share your brand. Influencers commonly share their thoughts in the form of a restaurant review, a blog post, or social media updates. In Malcolm Gladwell’s book, The Tipping Point, he identifies a category of people he calls connectors. Connectors are influential precisely because they know a lot of other people, and are usually looked up to and trusted. When they say something, everyone listens.
How does influencer marketing work?
It’s a fact: people trust what others say to them more than what they learn from a business, salesperson, or commercial. When’s the last time you asked a friend for a recommendation? Case in point.
The benefit of influencer marketing is the organic content (such as a blog post, social update, or photo essay) that is birthed from the relationship between brand and influencer that reaches a large group of consumers that may not be reached otherwise. The beauty — and challenge — of influencer marketing is that it can be as structured or freely inspired as the brand would like. Since they are not a directly scripted “spokesperson,” influencers typically have wide leverage over how they promote your brand. How you use them can run the gamut. Some companies plan their influencer’s content, while others may steer them in a certain direction and provide brand talking points. Still others give broad leverage to the influencer to decide what his or her particular audience will engage with.
Oftentimes, the relationship forms in a unique way and the degree of independence stems from what you would like to give or what they would like to have. But in every brand/influencer relationship, you still hold the reins on which influencers you invite to promote your content, and you can shape their experience (favorably!) with your products or services to give them the best possible base for sharing real, positive experiences with their audience.
How is influencer marketing different from my brand’s own social media presence?
You may be thinking, “doesn’t my company already do this through our own social media page?” Nope. The crucial difference about influencer marketing is that the content does not come from you. While customers might trust your brand, they know you are trying to sell them something and it colors how they receive messages from you.
When an influencer posts about a product to their followers, it gains traction because their fans trust this person and feel like they have an established relationship. Consumers will be more likely to check out a brand or product if someone they trust recommends or endorses it.
Here are the top four reasons influencer marketing is worth your time:
1) Save time + Money
Targeting influencers that already have the ear of your target customers is an authentic way to reach new customers. Simply research which influencers would be a good fit, begin an online relationship, and invite them in. While traditional advertising costs a pretty penny, influencers may accept comped product or services in exchange for a write up about their experience. Others will charge fees for their time.
2) It’s low maintenance
While you have to find the right influencer and guide them to ensure the correct brand image is being portrayed, influencers are often low maintenance. Once they experience your product or service, they do the work of sharing their experience with their followers.
3) Improve your SEO
Influencers are great at starting conversations online about a brand. This is fantastic for SEO. Savvy influencers will typically link, tag or mention a brand in their updates, especially if you ask. We also recommend sharing with the influencer any relevant hashtags, which makes it easy for them to use. Google and other search engines know a brand is current and hot when lots of people mention it online – so get ready for organic traffic coming your way.
4) Increase brand awareness
As influencers share their experience, your brand’s name will reach new customers. For customers who are already familiar with your brand, it’s a strong social cue that your brand is hot and being talked about by people whose opinion they value.
Now that you know about influencer marketing, check out how to launch an influencer marketing campaign.