Influencer marketing is quickly evolving to become one of the primary methods of marketing on social media. Even as pay-per-click ads and other fee-for-service marketing programs continue to grow, brands are steadily putting their muscle and money behind people and professionals with blogs, heavily followed social media presences and other ways of socially sharing information.
What’s an Influencer?
An influencer is a lot of things, but primarily, it’s someone who has a trusted following on the internet who will use their wide reach to educate potential customers. Influencers can present themselves in a variety of ways, and the options that they offer for generating brand positive content is equally varied.
What Is Influencer Marketing?
The term is a little confusing because two different types of marketing are going on at the same time. First, you’re marketing to influencers to get them to pair in with your brand. Second, they’re marketing to their niche to informally sell your product. Influencer marketing is actually the act of pitching to potential influencers in order to build your brand, but it works out to the same thing in the long run. You are marketing to build your influencer team so that they can market to build your brand overall.
Why is Influencer Marketing Effective
Influencers narrow the playing field while actually creating a middle man. In a lot of social media instances, promotors often think that getting directly to the people is the way to go. Influencers have actually proven otherwise. When you’re trying to work with potential customers and clients, you have to spend a significant amount of time building up trust and loyalty for your brand. Without it, they’ll either jump ship as soon as something new or interesting comes up, or they won’t mentally invest in what you’re promoting because haven’t built the relationship. Influencers, on the other hand, have already developed relationships with their followers and readers. Whether it’s through a blog, social media content or fame through other means, the list of people who choose to interact with these big accounts do so because there is something likable about them. They are persuasive in a passive way. If there is a product or service they like, they don’t have to convince people to listen to them. They just have to share the information because, for the most part, their followers are already supporters. In this case, the middle man actually cuts down the time from marketing to purchase or engagement. Influencers actually have higher engagement rates than other paid attempts, and they can cost you a lot less than PPC or other campaigns can.
Everything You Do Is an Endorsement
Getting an endorsement used to mean spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on some big name athlete who would say that your water tasted better than every other water. That still happens, but it’s not an option for small businesses. Now, we look at endorsements a different way. Any positive interaction with your brand is an endorsement. If an influencer shares your information, comments on one of your posts or talks about you positively from their platform, they’re endorsing you. The endorsement comes two-fold, however. The influencer interacts with your brand somehow, which works as an endorsement. From there, their followers interact with the endorsement, which can be seen by the follower’s own network. As a result, a web spreads throughout the social circles as people see and interact with the original endorsement.
Influencing is Informal
The bond between the influencer and the audience is a great marketing tool because it requires no pressure, it’s totally informal and it’s entirely voluntary. If someone doesn’t want to see the product being marketed, they’ll just unfollow, unsubscribe or find something new to search for. People aren’t stuck for a time share sales pitch in hopes of getting a free toaster. They’re just looking to interact with a person or brand that has something to offer them in the way of content, ideas, motivation or another intangible benefit. In the case of people with a hint of celebrity, followers may also be looking to interact with someone who they appreciate or identify with. No matter how they make the connection, it remains an informal process, which tends to make the target customer comfortable.
What Kind of Influencers Are There?
When you’re trying to decide what kind of influencers you want to pick to share your brand information, personality and communication style matters. This goes beyond the actual brand of the influencer to the type of content they share as well as the type of energy they put out into the Influencers connect with their followers in several different ways. They may do it by encouraging them. They may provide helpful information. They may try to directly engage with their followers and build strong relationship. They may impart wisdom. They may entertain. They may do a combination of all of the above. Understanding those qualities helps brands decide what kind of influencers they’re looking for before going on a hunt for the perfect match. Once a brand or company has decided what kind of relationship they want their influencers to have with followers and subscribers, then they can start the process of connecting with the right person for their brand. This is not a fast process. Just as the influencer had to build a following, brands also have to develop a relationship with the people who may eventually be repping their products or services. It doesn’t have to be months or years, but brands need enough lead time to connect. Remember, these social media titans have taken time to build their own reputation, and they’re rarely willing to interact with brands or companies who can’t promise to protect their image as fiercely as they have for themselves.