Have you ever seen someone you follow use a product or service and thought, "OMG, I should buy that too?" That moment of “I gotta have it” is at the core of influencer marketing.
Social media influencers are more than trendy teenagers with those diet teas and hair gummies clogging your feeds. They’re (usually) real people promoting brands and products to an arsenal of loyal followers.
What is a social media influencer?
We like this simple definition from Influencer Marketing Hub: “An influencer is an individual who has the power to affect purchase decisions of others because of his/her authority, knowledge, position or relationship with his/her audience.”
They’re the celebrities, thought leaders, and bloggers of the world who develop and leverage relationships with their audiences and with brands. They’re probably in your feeds right now, just waiting to show you a super cool product or service they’re promoting and maybe even using themselves.
Think of the famous cooking blogger you follow for recipes, the fashionista for style recommendations, the DIY crafter for ideas, and the city adventurer for your next trip. All of these types of accounts are influencing you whether you want them to or not and companies use influencer marketing to tap into that power. And that power really is influential. 49% of consumers seek purchase guidance from social media influencers.
Okay, so the power of influencers is cool and all, but are you wondering what they can actually do for your company? When you work with an influencer:
- It’s all about that reach: The main reason to partner with an influencer is to get some guaranteed new eyes on your company! For a brief moment, their audience is your audience and they can amplify your product and/or service to a much greater degree, especially if their audience and yours might overlap in terms of their interests and preferences.
- Trust and credibility go hand in hand: People trust influencers. This is HUGE. Once they recommend your product or service, your company becomes that much more trustworthy, credible, and worth considering for a purchase. We're all inundated by ads and product recommendations all day long, so it's natural to rely on a recommendation from a friend or someone you admire to narrow down your options and avoid decision fatigue.
- Making money moves: An influencer is a pro at inspiring others. That’s why they are influencers. People follow their accounts to learn new things, get motivated to be better in some way, see what that influencer does with their day and how they've achieved success... you get the idea. If an influencer presents a product as a tool that helped them achieve something, it's natural that their audience might see that tool as beneficial in their own lives.
The key to working with an influencer is give them a good reason to work with you. An influencer with a large following is being approached by brands all day, every day. Why should they choose you? Do you have a genuinely good product that does what it says it will do? Are you passionate about what you're doing and can connect with that influencer on a personal level? Are YOU trustworthy and credible? Since an influencer's currency is credibility and trust, the stakes are high, so make sure you have something worthy to share before going out there to share it.
Before you think influencers aren’t without their risks, they aren’t. When you partner with an influencer, your brand is associated with them for the better and for the worse. Make sure you consider:
- The right fit: You know what’s better than an influencer with a HUGE following? An influencer with a smaller, but incredibly engaged, audience around a niche topic. The best influencer for your company is the one who actually reaches a high percentage of people you want to reach. Trying to reach as many people as possible sounds nice, but it's a waste if a high percentage of those people are not your target audience.
- Taking damage: What if the influencer you use is involved in a scandal? Or if they post about your company in an inauthentic way? Your brand is, in a small way, tied to this influencer and their online reputation. Have a plan for this, just in case.
- Disclosure: You know what’s not cool? When an influencer doesn’t disclose their relationship with your brand. It’s so not cool, there have been legal cases about it. Make sure they’re following the rules, so that you don't get caught up in it.
Next week, we we’ll go over how to take the plunge, find the right influencers for your brand, and go over how to engage in a non-smarmy, non-spammy way. In the meantime, look through some of these top influencers of 2018 for some particularly influential examples.