Remember the days when you needed an A-List celebrity to endorse your products if you wanted to reach a wide audience?
Well, not anymore. Social media influencers are the new cool kids in town.
Capturing the attention of minds everywhere, social media influencers have the power to shape the shopping trends of the future. Their trusting audiences cling to every word and respect their opinion on products or services.
So it’s no surprise that savvy brand owners are capitalising on their power to boost sales and grow their business. And with a little know-how, you can too!
What is Social Media Influencer Marketing?
Social media influencer marketing can take many different shapes.
At the heart of the idea is using a popular influencer to advertise your product or service to their trusting audience. In doing so, you get more eyes on your brand, and sales will increase.
Paying for an influencer to create content for you, you can provide a script or allow the influencer to do what they think will be best for their audience to help them engage with the content. You will also have the final say on whether you think the piece is good enough/represent and sells your brand.
Influencers can achieve this in many different ways, and it will depend largely on the platform they use. For example, YouTubers may make videos, where Instagrammers may prefer to take photos.
The type of advertising used will also differ. Influencers can be used to do product reviews, tell the audience to buy something, bring attention to your brand, or offer the audience discount codes. The type of advert used is dependent on what is agreed between the influencer and brand.
Why does Social Media Influencer Marketing work?
There is a method to this madness and many psychological principles that explain the vast recent phenomenon of social media influencer popularity and their power in marketing. So how does science explain it all?
As human beings, it is normal to be curious about other people. Social media influencers tend to show a lot of their personal lives, which drives further curiosity.
The great thing about social media is that you can curate what you offer, meaning these influencers are able to create a “brand” for themselves that represents them in the light they want.
Often, this includes creating an image of a person with a favourable lifestyle that other people want to imitate. And according to this study, consumer behaviour reflects this drive to imitate the influencers they look up to.
In fact, many studies on social media influencer marketing show that influencers are able to positively influence their audience to buy the products they promote.
Another reason influencers have so much power over their audience is due to the attractiveness bias. That is, people are more likely to follow someone they deem “attractive” or “likeable” rather than someone they see as similar to themselves.
If the psychology is not enough to convince you, maybe this interesting stat will. According to the Digital Marketing Institute, 74% of social media users make purchasing decisions using their social media.
According to this report by Influence Marketer Hub, the influencer marketing industry will be worth over $13billion by the end of 2021.
It is estimated that influencer marketing brings in 11 times the amount of ROI as digital media marketing. It should therefore come as no surprise that in 2021, it is believed that 67% of American marketers will use social media influencers as part of their marketing strategy.
Not only this, but they found 40% of people have some kind of AdBlocking technology installed on their devices. So those paid-for ads on websites you’ve been buying? They don’t have the same reach they used to anymore. But you can’t AdBlock someone’s social media content…
How can you incorporate Social Media Influencer Marketing into your business growth strategy?
1. Find out where your audience lives on the internet
Not all social media platforms are created equal. As such, it’s essential to do your research so you can pick the best two or three platforms to focus your marketing on.
For example, if your target audience is female, you may want to include Pinterest in your marketing strategy as 60% of all users are female. Equally, if you have a target audience of people under the age of 29, you may want to consider adding TikTok to your strategy, as 63% of users are 29 and under.
Once you know where your demographic lives, you can start to research influencers that your brand may benefit from collaborating with.
2. What is your niche, and who would best represent it?
Just because an influencer has millions of followers, doesn’t mean they are automatically a good choice to represent your brand. After all, you would be unlikely to pick an influencer known for their technology reviews to promote your new eyeshadow palette.
When choosing an influencer for your marketing strategy, look for one trusted within your niche by their audience. We know that trust is essential for audiences to consider buying products recommended.
You can even get your audience to help by asking for their opinion on where they hang out on the internet and who they would like to see involved with your brand, then reaching out to those influencers.
So, do your homework and make sure the influencer(s) fit your brand and do not/have not recently been in partnership with another brand of direct competition.
3. What is the relationship between the influencer and their audience?
When it comes to influencer-audience relationships, follower numbers mean very little. It is no secret that some more prominent influencers have bought followers, making their numbers useless for your prospective sales.
The actual number you need to be paying close attention to is their audience engagement. How often do their followers like and comment on their posts? What is their clickthrough rate?
You’ll find that sometimes a smaller creator with better engagement will be more beneficial for your brand.
If you want to work out the engagement rate for a prospective influencer, you can use this free calculator created by HootSuite.
4. Authenticity and Trust above all
Your consumers are no fools. They are savvy to the extreme tactics of marketing past and are able to spot when they are being pressured into a sale.
Today’s shoppers value authenticity and trust above all else when it comes to making a purchase.
This means any marketing strategy involving social media influencers needs to feel organic, or else you run the risk of turning off your audience, making them unlikely to purchase from you.
Equally, creating a relationship with an influencer may help your brand grow a bigger social media presence by proxy, helping your brand become its own social media influencer in the future.
5. The type of marketing you use matters
As briefly mentioned at the beginning of this article, there are various marketing methods you can take advantage of with influencer marketing. Think about your USP and how your influencer(s) will be able to sell it.
1. Sponsored post
This is where a brand will pay money for an influencer to mention their brand, product or service on their social media. This could be an ad-read on a podcast, a segment in a youtube video, or product placement with brand highlighting in the caption on Instagram.
2. Product review
This type of marketing usually involves sending your product to an influencer to review and post their honest opinion of it on their platform.
This type of marketing lends to building a trusting relationship between the influencer’s audience and your brand as they trust the influencer’s opinion for their purchasing decisions.
This marketing strategy is prevalent in the beauty, gaming, and technology niches.
3. Brand social media takeover
Another popular method of influencer marketing is to get the influencer to “takeover” your social media for the day to post about an experience with your brand, for example, at a brand event.
This drives a lot more traffic to your page and increases brand awareness amongst your target audience.
This method is best done on Instagram using Instagram stories
4. Shoppable tags
A good way to use influencer marketing to direct your consumer’s journey is to have them post about your product and add shoppable tags.
Shoppable tags are links that will take the audience directly to your product page to buy.
5. Discount codes and affiliate links
Giving influencers discount codes they can give to their audience can be a great way to generate a buzz about your product.
When this includes an affiliate link for the influencer, they are more inclined to get their audience to buy your product as it’s in their best interest too.
Curve card is a brilliant example of using this marketing strategy. They got influencers to recommend signing up for the card, offering £5 if you sign up using that influencer’s code. The influencer also gets money every time you use their code. This gives both consumer and influencer incentives to get the card.
6. What is your budget?
To get the best return on your investment, you need consistent posting from your influencer(s). This can be difficult if you have a low budget, which is why it’s crucial to make the most of your money.
Therefore, social media influencers can be more budget-friendly, especially if you use small-medium sized influencers with a loyal following.
According to HootSuite:
There are currently many influencer agencies online that will match brands up with influencers based on selected criteria. You can filter your options based on target demographic, price per post, location, and many more.
This will help you keep within budget, but be aware some agencies may charge finders fees, so factor this into your budget if you choose this method.
Important points to consider
So, now you know what social media influencer marketing is and how you can use it, you need to consider a few key points before you start your influencer marketing journey.
1. Know the law of social media influencer marketing
Be sure you know the law on sponsored posts. Each country will have its own laws that need to be abided by. This is especially important if you are collaborating with an influencer that lives in a different country.
In some countries, including the U.K, there is a big crackdown happening on influencers who do not correctly identify sponsored content. Those who do not comply face hefty penalties and could land in serious legal trouble.
Make sure you are considering the law when creating your marketing strategy with your influencer.
You may be worried that highlighting something as a sponsored post would hurt your product sales. However, research shows that being transparent about ads drives sales further up, creating trust between influencers and their followers.
2. Keep up with trends
Social media is an ever-evolving beast. As a result, the content that was popular two years ago may not work today.
That is why it is vital to keep up with current trends. Stale influencer content will not help your brand; you need to show you are at the top of the game.
Make sure you research the top trends. If you need a good place to start, we recently broke down the top social media trends of 2021.
3. Patience is a virtue
Wouldn’t it be lovely to pay for one sponsored post and have your product go viral, selling millions of units in minutes? But, unfortunately, the reality isn’t that glamourous.
Like most marketing, it will take a while to see results, but keep at it, and you’ll get your reward. Trust is a relationship built over time, not demanded in an instance.
While it is a great idea to keep track of the metrics to see what is resonating with your audience, you also need to give a few weeks or months of consistent posting before you see substantial results. And if you don’t, then you can see what needs to be changed and fix it.
Social media influencer marketing is an essential, budget-friendly tool to reach today’s consumers. As the majority of people now use influencers to help guide their purchasing decisions, influencer marketing is a necessary investment.
In researching your niche and creating collaborative relationships with influencers, you can take your brand to new heights and grow your business.
In short, if you aren’t using social media influencers to market your brand, you are missing out. But with a simple change in tactics, you can be back in the game.
So, get out there, adjust your marketing strategy, and start growing your business today!
Here at ArXe Ventures, we specialise in helping brands maximise their potential to grow their business to new levels. Take advantage of our services and see how we can help you level up here.