When you hear the word “influencer,” do you think of Kardashians and detox teas? If so, it might be time for a refresher course. Influencer marketing has evolved from its uncertain beginnings in the early days of social media into a valuable part of a comprehensive marketing strategy.
So, what is an influencer, anyway?
An influencer is a person with the ability to influence potential buyers of a product or service by promoting or recommending items on social media.
Influencers have an established audience following on a social platform, ranging from micro or nano (< 5K followers) to mega (10M+ followers). They build and grow their communities across various social media platforms – including Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and TikTok – based on an area of expertise or a common interest with their followers.
Influencers engage their audiences in relatable, personal ways and create user-generated content (UGC) specific to their spheres of influence, such as fashion, beauty, home decor, comedy, etc.
As the influencer trend gained steam, brands began to actively seek out influencers as partners to access and leverage their engaged audiences. Early-adopting brands offered freebies and invites in exchange for promotional plugs; today, influencer marketing is a full-scale marketing channel.
Traditionally, major brands leveraged household-name celebrities as brand ambassadors.
But times have changed.
Today, audiences crave authenticity and a personal connection to influencer content. Mass-appeal celebrities can seem out of reach or worse, out of touch with reality.
Influencers are relatable “regular people.” Their followers look to them for their unique content, their product recommendations, and to be part of a like-minded community. Devoted followers look to influencers as peers, engaged and interested in the same things they are.
From a marketing perspective, there are many advantages to working with influencers:
Diversity and new audiences: Brands can speak to a much more segmented audience by working with niche influencers. Brands can audit influencers’ audiences to understand demographics like gender, age, location, household income levels, interests, and more. Additionally, through paid efforts, companies can tap into influencer audiences for remarketing purposes.
There are two ways to leverage influencers: Organic partnerships and paid ads.
Organic Partnerships: In organic influencer partnerships, companies recruit influencers to create and share original, sponsored content. While payment is still involved, such as fees for the influencers to create content, these are all considered organic posts and usage.
Paid Ads: Brands can also leverage influencers through paid ads. Depending on the usage rights negotiated, brands can use influencer content to run ads on their own pages.
Another way to leverage influencer relationships is to put spend behind their posts using influencers’ handles, which allows brands to target consumers in their funnel with different ad styles and display ads to influencers’ audiences after they’ve viewed the influencer’s post.
Since organic influencer marketing is largely an upper-funnel tactic, it rarely results in high sales volume – although smart strategies can pay off. Running effective paid ads with influencer content has a good track record of increased revenue. For example, brands can use discount codes to entice new customers.
For Valentine’s Day 2021, WITHIN’s Influencer team helped Yandy generate unique discount codes for influencer audiences.
This strategy drove many new customers to make that first purchase. As a result, Yandy saw a 1798% increase in organic revenue over the historical average.
To drive ROAS, it’s best to run the influencer ads in paid media. If your goals are more related to brand awareness and fueling owned channels, you’ll want to stick with organic influencer marketing.
Influencer marketing is an upper-funnel awareness marketing tactic, meaning it’s a high-level effort in your overall marketing mix. It’s primarily built to drive your brand, product, and messaging awareness.
In the customer journey, influencer marketing’s goal is to capture attention. Influencer marketing may be the first time a customer encounters your brand. By leveraging social media influencers with authentic branded content, influencers can showcase your product and push potential first-time customers onto a path to purchase.
Why Should You Use Influencers?
Influencer marketing can be a lucrative addition to an established marketing strategy or the cornerstone of a brand new cross-channel campaign. While it may not be cheap, you can maximize your influencer investment by making sure you:
Want a step-by-step insider guide to influencer marketing strategies? Check out our free influencer marketing eBook here!