Have you ever wondered what actually is an Influencer and what is Influencer Marketing? Why is it beneficial to a brand? How can the two work together? If you work for or own your own brand, work for a PR agency, are an Influencer or are simply interested in the business side of influencing, this blog will be tackling just that.
What is an Influencer and Influencer Marketing?
I guess the best way to start out is by explaining what an Influencer is in the first place. In a nutshell, an Influencer is just that, an influencer. In other words, they have influence over a community of people. If an individual has created a small to large following, which leads to an engaged audience interacting with their content, one can be considered an influencer.
As for Influencer Marketing, this is a collaboration between a brand and an influencer to authentically showcase and promote their product or service to the public.
Why is Influencer Marketing Beneficial?
In our modern world today, we have invented different forms of communication such as TV, cellphones, social media and so on. We can thank the internet for all of these. With Netflix, Spotify and Facebook to name a few, we as a society have shifted. Cable has become less and less popular, the radio is not listened to as frequently, we all own tiny internet devices called cell phones, which we can access all day every day. Naturally, the world of advertising has had to shift as well.
The largest form of advertising was through commercials/advertisements or traditional advertising, either on TV or radio or in newspapers/magazines. We can see this form of advertising becoming less and less valuable as our society changes. Brands need to expand their reach and continue to attract new audiences in order to continue to influence consumers to purchase their products. So now what? How can brands target a large number of consumers in a technological world? Where do our youngest generations of consumers spend most of their time?
Easy answer, the internet. The same place the majority of society has shifted to. The advertising market has shifted their approach to gain a larger, easily reachable audience. As a result, the boom of the Influencer began, and following quickly behind it was a full marketing strategy that implemented those Influencers across multiple platforms. These platforms include Youtube, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, Pinterest, Twitch, personal blogs, and the list goes on. For example, advertising can be done by everything from a brand sponsoring content created by a Youtuber to having an Instagram Influencer post a photo using and loving that brand’s product.
It has been proven that the Influencer community as a whole has a profitable reach for a brand. If you want to dive into ROI (Return On Investment), or how much a brand sees in a return on the money they spent on Influencer Marketing, this article written by The Influencer Marketing Hub explains a little more about the value of the Influencer. They breakdown how much it would cost to buy ads on a specific platform and then show you a simple example of how paying Youtube Influencers to create the content and share it was over 3 times cheaper than having a creative agency or someone create the content and then pay to run that content through Youtube Ads.
Now, what else does this new form of marketing bring to the table. Well, traditionally a commercial plays on the TV, consumers think about that product, they drive to a store and purchase said product (if you truly believe that someone runs to a store after immediately seeing a TV ad, but you get the point). The new method is much smoother and faster.
- View: An online consumer sees one of their favourite Influencers utilizing a brand’s product.
- Click One: That same consumer engages with the Influencer content by clicking a link to the product via social media. The consumer is immediately on the brand’s website or landing page.
- Click Two: That consumer now has the potential to purchase that product and they have barely moved.
The posts and videos created by these social media influencers can directly link the consumer to a brand’s product in seconds. This gives them a lot faster access to their website and products which will hopefully increase sales. Also, the value of the recommendation coming directly from an Influencer who that consumer has chosen to follow has more strength than a TV advertisement that the brand is not even sure if they truly watched (PVR, walking away, etc.)
Also, for small businesses, commercials and radio spots can be quite costly. Influencers can give smaller businesses a fair chance at expanding their business. What better way to advertise than collaborating with a fellow entrepreneurs within the space who has access to that brand’s target audience.
This has proven true with thousands of companies who have built their business solely using social media. Companies such as Revolve (clothing company) who primarily use Influencers for their promotion and marketing have grown worldwide by focusing the majority of their advertising budget on Influencer Marketing.
Another thing to consider is that the internet has given our society access to the entire world. Brands now have the ability to advertise their products to consumers all over the world without having to be located in every country or have budget capacity to cover multiple countries for TV or radio ads.
How Do Influencers Work?
Influencers use their online presence and following to authentically share their advice and preferences with their audiences. This could include travel guides, makeup tutorials, how to fix things, fashion ideas, artistic videos, poems, and the list goes on. These people have successfully built an audience who value their life experiences and the advice that they provide. Simply put, they use their platform to inspire their audience and to give value from their own perspective.
A brilliant example of this is a campaign from a few weeks ago when a group of Australian content creators were sharing the devastating news about the Australian forest fires. These creators came together to ask their audiences for help. The way they got this message out there was by creating a short video and posting it to their social media accounts where they showed footage and images from the fires and spoke directly to the camera about everyone affected.
The end (still ongoing) result was incredible! So far they have raised over $500,000 AUD and are donating it to multiple small charitable companies assisting those effected by the fires. They used their online platforms to spread this sad situation worldwide. They were able to share their story and explain what the smaller organizations were doing to help and why they were donating the money directly to them instead of the main organizations you would have heard about on the news.
How does this model work in favour of a brand or business? Let’s be honest, the number one thing consumers go to when choosing a hotel, a product to buy or where to travel is online reviews. What did someone else say about this product, hotel, destination, or restaurant?
Well, you can think of Influencer Marketing as the ultimate review. Influencers try hotels, products, destinations or restaurants and work with those brands or businesses to best tell their experience and share it with their followers. They authentically tell their audiences how they felt, what they liked about it, and so on. This opinion is trusted by their community because as I said before, they are choosing to follow this individual because they value what they have to say and who/what they have to say it about.
I like to think about it this way – an Influencer is not as close as a friend or family member for advice, but a lot better than a magazine, TV, or radio advertisement. People follow influencers because they truly like something about them and what they are sharing.
An Influencer can provide a brand with a unique opportunity to allow real people to talk to others about a product. An audience can post questions or concerns on the content creator’s page and they will respond. Anything that could be holding a consumer back from a product, restaurant, hotel, etc. can be cleared up by that Influencer in the present. Every day, I even see followers message an Influencer something like, “Hey – where did you buy those sunglasses you are wearing?” and the Influencer will link them in their Instagram Story.
Not only do most Influencers offer their platforms to showcase a brand’s product or service and share it with their community, but they can also create content for brands. Many brands can opt in for a content creator to develop photos, blogs, videos and so on for them to access and use themselves on their own platforms, be that social media, website, print, etc. in a creative and outside the box way.
It can be just like hiring a creative agency, except every Influencer can give the brand their own spin and creative on it, so it is always fresh and new. The Influencer creatively finds the best way to showcase the brand that they may have thought of themselves. This also benefits up and coming brands as they may not have the manpower or budget to support an entire creative and marketing team.
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Let’s be clear, this does not mean that the brand is not involved in the process at all. There is a reason #ad (the notification put in a caption so that consumers are aware that the brand has paid that Influencer for the content) is put on any paid post. The Influencer is there to deliver the brand in the best way possible, for their audience.
“The best way possible” has to involve the Influencers own insights and the brand’s knowledge. At the end of the day, the brand employees are the experts and the Influencer is the consumer and honest reviewer. Combining these aspects into one produces “the best way possible” to showcase a brand. The brand gets their key messaging and creative thoughts addressed through the eyes and vision of the Influencer.
There are plenty of ways to work with an influencer to accomplish this task. The how in the simplest explanation is as follows: blogs, photos, videos, giveaways, discount codes, podcasts, content creation (for brand usage), really any form of social media exposure can be shared through an Influencer.
Finally, at the end of the collaboration, the Influencer can provide the brand with data relating to how people engaged with the branded content. It is easy to share how many likes, comments, shares, saves, views, downloads, link clicks, etc. that a piece of content received. This is another great reason why Influencer Marketing is so strong. You are able to share much deeper analytics into the performance of the advertisement than you ever could with traditional marketing (TV, radio, magazines, etc.)
The Final Word on Influencer Marketing
Remember, at the end of the day, the brands are working with a mini celebrity. It is like casting an actor/actress in a commercial. They will represent the brand in the best way possible, which is their own way. They have an audience who is actively engaging with their content and values their opinion. They will connect potential consumers directly with a website that they can view or purchase products/services. As our times change and technology expands, the world of Influencer Marketing will only continue to grow. In fact, a report released by Klear, a social media marketing platform, analyzed the amount of posts that used #ad used within the caption, and the number grew by 48% from 2018 to 2019, which was already up 39% from the year before. No matter whether you are an Influencer, work within the marketing industry or are someone who is just curious, those are numbers you cannot ignore.
Comment below what you love about Influencers and why you believe they are valuable as we move further into an internet driven society.
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