I like it! Those three words hold the power of the personal recommendation.
Influencer marketing can open doors for your business. Are you looking to step up your digital game? If your strategy already includes social media management and digital ad campaigns, influencer marketing could be a logical next step. It’s a way to expand your presence on social in a somewhat nontraditional way. And, even if you already feel you have a comprehensive marketing plan, tweaking your strategy to incorporate these various voices could attract new audiences.
To understand the power of influencer marketing, let’s first take a step back. Think about what it means to get a personal recommendation—and what “personal” means in the age of the internet. Consider this:
- Online reviews have the power to make or break a business transaction. Per one study, 67% of respondents said online reviews impact their purchasing decisions.
- Consumers have come to expect a personalized and user-friendly shopping experience. Data suggests online shoppers are both more likely to shop on a site that offers personalized recommendations, as well as return to such a site.
Such background reinforces that digital customers are savvy. They want an easy transaction, but at the same time are also interested in making “the right” purchase. While willing to do some legwork, an online shopper enjoys the experience more when it feels personal and special. It’s all about creating connections, lowering barriers, and helping the customer feel good about their product choice. Reviews and personalized recommendations cut through the noise. They say, “This one is sturdy and reliable.” Or, “That one came top rated and changed my life.”
Influencer marketing goes one step further. Instead of a consumer having to hunt down reviews, new product suggestions organically find their way home. After all, hearing from a friend—or an influencer who feels like a friend—makes marketing personal.
The OG Personal Recommendation
Thanks to the internet, we are all even more connected than we ever could have imagined. Instead of calling up a friend to find out what plumber they like to use, we can pull up Google and see the reviews right there. But it is thanks to our social roots that reviews and recommendations work. Before influencer marketing, there was, simply, best friend marketing. If your best friend called a product life-changing, chances are you wanted to get it, too.
In 2014, a Forbes column called word-of-mouth marketing “the most important social media.”
“Isn’t this really the original social media platform? I grew up with the famous Faberge commercial that showed a woman who ‘told 2 friends’ about the product and how ‘they told 2 friends…and so on…and so on.’ Hasn’t WOM always been a powerful way to influence business results?” questioned contributor Kimberly A. Whitler, an associate professor of business at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business.
At that time, stats from Nielsen reported 92% of consumers believed recommendations from friends and family over all forms of advertising. In fact, the 2015 Nielsen Global Trust in Advertising Report went so far as to declare that the “most credible form of advertising comes straight from the people we know and trust.”
So, what does this mean in 2020? Enter the influencer. The people you know through social media may be the people you consider close friends and confidants. And yet, you might not know them IRL. Does it matter? According to the numbers, it doesn’t. Influencer marketing is not only a term, it’s an industry. And it is estimated to be worth $10 billion in 2020.
It’s Not Just About Instagram
When a reputable influencer speaks highly about your product, it adds a gold stamp of approval and increases your brand’s visibility on social media. However, the social media marketplace is a lot noisier than it was in, say, 2014. While influencer marketing is an industry of its own, with successes and examples to follow, it is also crowded. But influencers are here to stay—and not only on Instagram.
Top platforms for influencers include: Instagram, YouTube, TikTok, and Facebook. The theme here is visual, but Twitter can also be a commonly used influencer platform, as can blogs, email newsletters, or personal websites. It’s about delivering content that is special, unique, helpful, or buzzworthy. Influencers might be seen as creative and bold, confidant experts in their field…or sometimes willing to reveal vulnerabilities and emphasize being authentic and honest.
With so many platforms and interests in the world, influencers can fill any niche, and provide everything from candle reviews to Trader Joe’s new product alerts. For example:
- Mukbang influencers are focused on food—lots of food. During a livestream, they become dinner guests to anyone watching, often eating large amounts of messy food.
- ASMR (autonomous sensory meridian response) influencers create crown-tingling videos in pursuit of sharing the relaxing feeling people experience from certain sounds or motions, like whispering or tapping.
- Granfluencers are stylish, silly, or seriously too cool seniors living out their golden years on the ‘gram.
- Cleanfluencers, as the name suggests, love to clean and are ready to review cleaning products and share the tips to get your household tidy.
- And, of course, we can’t go without mentioning dogfluencers and catfluencers, who take animal care and pet ownership to new levels while providing daily doses of cuteness.
Find Your Social Media Match
While the above list of influencers is a little wild, demonstrating the range of ways people can support and entertain others on social media, it is also exciting for marketers. Think about your product or business mission. What would an ideal influencer marketing partner look like for you? Are there values you hold that you would like them to share? What sort of interests would you hope to have in common with their audience?
Partnering with an influencer helps open up another channel for your message. For one, influencers can introduce your product or business to loyal followers. They can also signal a different approach and show your business is savvy and interested in more organic communication. Heading in a new direction is important, especially as more people turn to ad blocker technology. Hearing from an influencer while scrolling through a social media feed feels more natural and less disruptive.
It is also important to note that influencer marketing is not only about celebrities: mega, macro, and micro influencers all have roles to play. In fact, depending on the size of your organization, it may make more sense for you to partner with a micro influencer, or someone with 1,000 and 100,000 followers who has sway in your immediate community, than a superstar. (Not to mention, your budget may not accommodate someone with more than a million followers.)
Keeping a focus on your brand’s mission will ensure you connect with the right influencers. Discovering influencers can also be part of your regular social media upkeep. Following hashtags, watching for location check-ins, and spotting natural champions on your social channels all helps. However, there are also influencer databases. Tools like Hootsuite or BuzzSumo also have influencer search features to help you discover potential partnerships.
Create Connections with Influencer Marketing
Ultimately, influencer marketing is about connecting with audiences in a more authentic way. How could influencer marketing start conversations in your community?