Is Social Media Influencer Marketing Right for Your Business?
Influencer marketing, when brands use influencers to promote their product, is an advertising strategy nearly as old as advertising itself. One recent marketing trend brought about with the rise of the internet is social media influencer marketing. Let’s discuss what this strategy is, how it works, and whether it’s right for your business.
What is social media influencer marketing?
Put simply, an influencer is someone whose opinions are trusted by their followers, and a social media influencer is a person who uses social media as a platform for influencing others. How an influencer achieves this goal can vary from person to person, but this influencer must have a significant following in order to be considered an “influencer,” and can persuade others with merely their authenticity and reach.
Social media influencer marketing is predicated by one vital commandment: know your audience. If you know who your audience is, you’ll know what they like. If you know what they like, you’ll know what types of factors influence them and who they follow. That information is key to determining an effective strategy for your social media influencer marketing campaign. Influencer marketing campaigns can be expensive, and you want to know that you’ll be reaching your target audience with your investment.
Before you even begin to reach out to a potential influencer, you should follow what Hootsuite has called “the three Rs of influence.”
You have to determine whether the influencer that your audience will listen to is actually sharing the type of content that you need them to provide, how many people you could actually reach with this strategy, and whether the people reached are willing to engage.
Once you have a good influencer on board that will reach your chosen audience, you can use them to leverage your brand’s message.
Benefits of social media influencer marketing
When social media influencer marketing is used correctly, it can have several significant benefits for your brand.
Increases brand awareness
In addition to reaching your desired audience and promoting your products or services, social media influencer marketing increases general brand awareness. Even if many of the influencer’s followers do not need or have immediate use for your products, brand recognition is a priceless commodity. Research has shown that consumers are more likely to make a purchase from brands they trust, and hearing someone they admire trust your brand will make them likely to trust it as well.
Provides a low-cost marketing strategy
Although using an influencer to promote your brand may cost you up front, studies have found that the return on investment (ROI) makes that venture worth it in the long run. According to one influencer marketing study conducted by Tomoson, for every dollar spent on influencer marketing, businesses are making $6.50. The study says, “Marketers rate influencer marketing as their fastest-growing online customer-acquisition channel, outpacing organic search and email marketing.” With ROI numbers like that, it’s no surprise influencer marketing is becoming a go-to strategy.
When an influencer promotes your brand, it creates an automatic community of brand supporters. Perhaps one person might comment something like, “Oh I love this company. I use another of their products too, with great results!” Then another chimes in, and soon there is a community of brand loyalists — another priceless commodity. Creating a community of devoted followers is the best possible outcome of any marketing campaign.
Assists your SEO value
Tapping into the influencer’s followers isn’t the only way hiring a social media influencer pays off. It also adds to your brand’s SEO value by creating a valuable link from a reliable source back to your brand. Future searches are likely to see the influencer’s link to your company, making this investment one that keeps giving you benefits even after its launch.
Examples of social media influencer marketing
While we could give you myriads of examples of social media influencer marketing in action (and others have done a great job of that here and here), we want to share just two of our favorites with you.
The first is what you would traditionally find as influencer marketing: Starbucks sponsoring Instagram posts through influencer Kate La Vie. In the below example, Kate shares a photo of herself drinking a Starbucks drink and even points out that the company is having a sale. This is a solid example of a common strategy employed in social media influencer marketing.
The second example is one a little outside the box, using YouTube as its medium. The whisky producer Lagavulin hired Nick Offerman to star in a video for them, and it is literally 45 minutes of him sitting by a fire, drinking Lagavulin whisky. The video went viral, and its unique, outside-the-box approach paid off. The brand’s parent company, Diageo, even won an award for the marketing strategy. Here’s the full 45-minute video if you have some time to kill.
Three ways to determine if social media influencer marketing is right for your business
If you’re thinking, “This all sounds great, but I’m not sure if it’s a great fit for my brand,” read on to find out how to determine if this strategy is right for you. Here are three questions to ask before you get started.
1. Are there influencers in your target market?
Whether influencers are available in your market is probably the most important question, right off the bat. You don’t want to contact just any influencer available. Remember the “three Rs of influence” from above. Look for influencers with your audience type, your content style, and an appropriate level of engagement. Ideally you will find an influencer that you can build a genuine relationship with, not just pay to promote your product. If so, their posts will be more authentic. If there are no available influencers, influencer marketing might not be a good fit.
2. Do you have a consistent social media presence?
It would be a huge mistake to hire an influencer that encourages users to interact with your brand online only to find that there’s nothing there — or that what is there is not worth their engagement. Maintain a professional look and feel with your social media and share content that is engaging and worth the follows.
3. Is your goal realistic?
Are you looking to drive more social media follows? That is a realistic goal. Are you trying to increase the traffic to your website? Another realistic goal. Are you trying to achieve the brand recognition of Coca-Cola overnight? Definitely unrealistic. Remember, the internet is a busy, busy place. While influencer marketing is a proven strategy, it is not a magic genie lamp to make you an overnight success. Set realistic goals for your campaign.