What comes to mind when you hear the words “social media influencer?” Is it something along the lines of entitled millennials, living glamorous lives, traveling the world, soaking up the sun, drinking champagne, and posing in front of murals? It certainly looks that way, but to many influencers, maintaining their content relevant to their audience is a lot of work.
Social media influencers, the good ones anyway, juggle between being relationship managers, photographers, videographers, content creators, art directors, social media managers, bloggers, editors, and act as their own new business managers, in the hopes of attracting new brands to partner with them.
These days, businesses are budgeting for influencer marketing campaigns, given that it is a fast-growing online marketing channel, on track to be worth up to $15 billion by 2022. Brittany Hennesy, an influencer marketing expert and author of “Influencer: Building Your Personal Brand in The Age of Social Media,” says that influencer marketing is almost guaranteed to drive product sales more than TV or print ads. We had the opportunity to hear her speak at the Orange County Library System’s Library After Hours event last May.
(Image courtesy of Orange County Library System)
Adding influencer marketing to your business strategy can boost your sales, build brand awareness and enhance the perception of your brand among your target audience. So when should you consider working with social media influencers?
Attract The Influencer’s Audience.
It can be a challenge to reach your target audience when you haven’t built up much of a social media presence for your brand. Influencer marketing can help connect you with the appropriate audience that matches your buyer persona. Securing the services of influencers to promote your products or services can position your brand in an authentic way, rather than appearing overbearing and forceful with your messaging.
Influencers have the ability to bring a product or service to the forefront of your consumer’s minds in a genuine and helpful manner. About six years ago, I began following Julie Sariñana on Instagram. She is considered one of the OG fashion influencers because she began blogging back in 2009, and she brought her following to Instagram. At some point in her influencer journey, Soludos, an espadrille company, approached her to become an ambassador for them, flying her across the world to exotic and colorful destinations, where she posted pictures wearing their shoes. The brand, which I didn’t know existed, became a brand that I began to follow and connect with. Today, I am the proud owner of three pairs of their shoes which I have bought over the course of three years. Why? Because wearing those comfortable, lightweight shoes put me in a vacation mindset and reminded me of her travels.
When Julie began promoting their shoes, they were still a relatively new product to many consumers and only offered some styles of espadrilles. By partnering with Julie and other influencers, they were able to exponentially grow their audience and in turn, their bottom line. Their product line-up as of two seconds ago includes clothing, sneakers, boots, customizable espadrilles, men’s shoes, and more.
Followers trust the influencers they follow and consider them as authority figures on specific topics. Because of this, influencers have the ability to drive purchase decisions. Collaborating with influencers in your niche allows your brand to reach their community and gain credibility. Your target audience will trust an influencer’s recommendation over an advertisement any day.
Using Influencers To Expand Your Reach.
Raise your hand if you’ve hidden a social media ad that wasn’t relevant to your interests. ??♀️ With so many unsophisticated marketers managing social media campaigns, encountering a poorly targeted ad while scrolling through Instagram or Facebook can feel intrusive and disrupts the user experience. With the use of ad blockers on the rise, how can your brand gain access to new people in your target audience?
That is where influencer marketing comes in. Consumers react differently when they encounter a picture of an influencer they have willingly chosen to follow that is promoting a product versus an ad, and the probability of them purchasing the product being promoted is still high. Just check my bank statement after any of the influencers I follow promote a shiny, new product.
An August 2019 survey from GlobalWebIndex showed that roughly one in five of Gen Z and millennial respondents from the US and UK made a purchase inspired by an influencer or a celebrity post on social media. Brand managers take notice of an engaged audience and find their workaround to ad blockers. Each year, Digital Marketing Hub conducts a State of Influencer Marketing Benchmark Report and this year they found that 91 percent of the survey respondents, which was comprised of marketing agencies, brands, and other industry professionals, believe influencer marketing to be an effective form of marketing. Using influencer marketing for discovery in place of social media ads allow brands to break into new audiences, and gain their trust in a way that feels organic and relatable.
Open The Door To Collaborations.
Working with influencers isn’t just about getting them to post about your product and give their followers FOMO. Many times, brands will invite influencers to the table to discuss ideas that would best resonate with their intended audience, from social media and marketing strategies to the actual design process. After all, no one knows their audience better than an influencer.
In 2017, Bri Emery, an art director and influencer that I’ve admired for years, was invited by Target for a second collaboration following the success of their collaboration on paper plates and cups. This time, they collaborated on a beautiful line of luggage and travel accessories. The collection was a success and received media attention, not to mention social media impressions and engagement from Bri posting about it on her Instagram feed. Target has a history of collaborating with influencers on campaigns and collections, and it is always fun to see who they’ve added to their list of ambassadors.
Other times, influencers will reach out to brands with ideas. In Tan France’s memoir, Naturally Tan, he describes that after successfully launching his businesses, he was approached by Rachel Parcell, from the popular blog Pink Peonies. She had often worn pieces he had designed and already promoted his product. She suggested going into business together, which Tan initially was not interested in doing. He eventually changed his mind and they formed a partnership.
Inspired by her love of the color pink, the whimsical line of premium clothing was created in a matter of three months. When they launched in April 2016, they sold over 1,000 pieces in one day. They used the profits to produce a second collection, which also sold out. Within a year, Tan was cast on “Queer Eye” and Rachel became the sole owner of the company. And while Tan was unable to continue working alongside Rachel, had Rachel not taken a leap of faith in approaching him with her idea, her career might’ve taken her a different direction. It’s a win-win!
Building and maintaining a relevant and engaged relationship with your target audience is difficult, but through influencer marketing, you can give your profile and your business a boost. If you’re having trouble differentiating between the good and the not-so-good influencers, we are ready to help!