Less than a decade ago, the term influencer marketing was known primarily among celebrities and was only accessible to high-profile brands that could afford to invest money in expensive celebrity marketing campaigns. In recent years, it has experienced an enormous increase in popularity, which has brought great success to many businesses. More than half of everyone’s social media feed is nowadays flooded with a variety of inspiring food, fitness, clothing, and travel-related photos published by creative influencers from around the world. These influencers strive to build trust with their follower base by regularly providing valuable content related to their niche.
What is influencer marketing and how it works
The term influencer marketing refers to a social media marketing strategy that includes product features and mentions provided by social media influencers – individuals with a decent social media following who are viewed as experts in a particular niche. It is considered a very successful form of social media marketing because of its common approaches, such as word of mouth, referrals and social proof that influencers have built up with their followers.
What people usually appreciate is visual content of the influencers they follow, but also the knowledge and ideas they share as experts. For example, an automotive influencer talks about a great car wash strategy he has recently tried and shares his experience in a video. The video features all car care products he used. Because of the strong bond and trust he managed to build up with his audience, a number of followers are likely to follow his ideas and recommendations and eventually make a purchase.
Reasons why every brand should engage with influencers
1. They have established credibility among their target audience
According to the latest studies on social media, consumers trust influencers much more than they trust traditional brand advertising. Over time, influencers succeed in building trusting relationships with their followers and are thus able to successfully convey a committed brand message in a way that appeals to their audience. By encouraging engagement on their social accounts when they post about a particular product or service, they make their followers familiar with a brand.
2. They create valuable content
Creativity is the key to standing out on social media today. To remain visible and maintain a high level of organic reach and engagement, quality influencers need to think out of the box, provide valuable content and continually improve their content management skills through a range of content creation tools. Influencers can, therefore, be a great source of user-generated content, which is considered much more authentic and influential than brand-generated-content. This gives brands the opportunity to reuse any influencer-generated content on their websites and social media channels, and build connections with their potential customers.
3. They drive traffic and generate leads
Before brands start a campaign with influencers, they usually establish a certain number of collaboration requirements influencers are expected to meet. A crucial component that should be part of any influencer marketing agreement are trackable UTM links that influencers post on their social channels, allowing brands to track traffic directed to their websites. The collected data can later be analyzed by Google Analytics, which is a great tool to monitor which links most of the traffic is coming from. Aside from using special links, influencers help generate leads in several other ways: they host giveaways, make Instagram story shoutouts, and help brands launch new products, just to name a few.
In order to encourage people to act directly and to monitor the effectiveness of separate influencer marketing campaigns, brands usually provide influencers with special discount codes that are can be listed in influencers’ bio on their social profiles or in separate post captions. Codes are clear indicators of whether a particular campaign is successful or not and can reveal long-time purchases generated by an individual influencer.
4. They are not costly
Influencer marketing campaigns generally generate great ROI, especially in collaboration with micro-influencers (e.g. individuals with 10k-100k followers) who typically charge less than $200 per social media post. ROI, however, does not always come with a one-time collaboration, but only when a particular audience becomes more familiar with the product. Long-term trustful relationships with influencers are, therefore, the key to influencer marketing success.
5. They improve SEO
SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is an important part of any digital marketing strategy and can be greatly improved by influencer marketing. Despite the fact that social media mentions are not directly linked to Google’s algorithms, many influencers have a website with a blog and distribute their content through social media channels. This enables brands to have their products reviewed on influencer’s blogs. Well-structured and SEO friendly product reviews that include main keywords and links to a brand’s website are extremely helpful in achieving a higher organic ranking on Google.
Influencer marketing is beneficial in many ways. It does not bring instant results, but well-structured social media campaigns in collaboration with high-quality influencers that fit a particular niche can bring great success in just a few months.
Social media marketing – and marketing in general – is an ever-changing game and the only key to success is to keep up with the latest trends. Brands that do not consider having influencer marketing as part of their marketing strategy are likely to miss the opportunity to connect with wider audiences and increase sales.