Influencer marketing is becoming increasingly powerful. While it’s unlikely to replace social or content marketing (primarily because it requires both to thrive) it’s fast rising to the top of the talent pool as a way to get consumers to engage with a brand. From b2b technology sales, to Amazon marketing, influencers are being employed across the board to improve the effectiveness of marketing strategy and drive better ROI.
The growth of influencer marketing
Whether you’re sick of the term, or totally on board the influencer train, it’s difficult to deny that influencer marketing is becoming a driving force in brand strategy today. The rapid rise in the impact and effectiveness of influencer marketing is something that has been largely driven by the increasing popularity of social media. Today, social platforms are huge – Facebook has 1.6+ billion users and in total there are now 3.484 billion active global social media users. That represents almost half the world’s population and an increase of 280 million since the start of 2018.
The average social media user spends almost two hours a day scrolling through social platforms and this figure rises the further down the age scale you go – 90% of millennials use social media on a daily basis as compared to 77% of Generation X. From the early days of social media as a networking tool its importance has ballooned into many other areas including:
- Peer review. 46% of users look for feedback on social media before making a purchase
- Research. 54% of social browsers use social media to research products
- Buying. Increasingly, consumers are much more willing to make use of tools such as in-app shopping on Instagram.
Today, most brands recognise that social selling is an integral part of sales strategy – 67% of the buyer’s journey now happens digitally and a great deal of this is done via social media. This has been the primordial soup that has enabled the evolution of the influencer into such a powerful beast. So much so that 49% of consumers now say that they depend on influencer recommendations on social media to inform their purchasing decision – that’s not a statistic that any brand can really afford to ignore.
Integrating influencer marketing
- Finding the right influencer is key. It’s not necessarily those with the biggest followings or the highest profiles who will make the most impact for a brand. What’s more important is an influencer who feels relatable to a specific audience and whose promotion or endorsement of a product will carry real weight. 65% of consumers would trust an influencer based on their standing as an expert, as opposed to 9% who would trust based on follower figures.
- Identifying the best social platform matters too. More than two thirds of influencers rely on Instagram to collaborate with brands. However, this is not the case across the board – for example, in Germany it’s more likely to be YouTube and Facebook. It may be more about where a target audience is – or the sector you operate in – than where the majority of influencers are.
- Appreciating the challenges is important. For example, the Advertising Standards Association has already stepped in to warn 200-300 influencers about a lack of transparency over paid for posts. Brands should choose to work with influencers who have already integrated transparency into their posting process. There are also challenges around verified influencers – some companies have fallen foul of “influencers” on social platforms who are not what they seem. It’s important to take steps to verify the authenticity of an influencer to avoid fraud.
Why do brands use influencers?
The short answer is that these partnerships work and, despite the challenges that exist for influencer marketing, they can enable brands to reap real benefits. There are some obvious advantages to integrating influencers into marketing strategy, including:
- Building trust. Influencers have a credibility that many famous people and brands do not. For example, 70% of teens trust influencers more than traditional celebrities.
- Acquiring customers. According to 22% of marketers, influencer marketing is the most cost-effective method of acquiring new customers online.
- Influencing purchasing decisions. The key is in the name – three quarters of consumers trust the opinions they find on social media when it comes to making buying decisions so the right influencer can be an incredibly effective tool for any brand.
Whatever your personal opinion on the social value of influencers, when it comes to the opportunities they represent to strengthen relationships between brands and customers – and boost sales – the right one could be marketing gold.