Social Media Influencers: What do they mean for marketing?
It’s a term you might have heard thrown around on social media or in marketing articles, but what exactly does the term ‘Social Media Influencer’ really mean? It’s a relatively new phenomenon that ties into the rise of social media as of the mid 2000’s. We define it as:
A Social Media Influencer is a person with a fanbase or group of followers who actively engage with their content and respect and listen to their opinions.
While larger audiences are better when it comes to Social Media Influencers, research has shown that the most effective Social Media Influencers have audiences of 10,000-100,000, as engagement levels are much higher in this bracket than with much bigger audiences who may be receptive but less engaged. These statistics become particularly important if you’re considering using Social Media Influencers for your company, as ROI has the potential to be higher when using multiple smaller influencers than one large one.
Why use a Social Media Influencer?
Using celebrities to endorse or sell products and services certainly isn’t something new. Advertisers have been using the tactic of getting well respected and known public figures to promote products since the early 1900s, with cigarettes being one of the first celebrity endorsed products.
If you’re considering using a Social Media Influencer, there are a few key things to bear in mind. When collaborating with a Social Media Influencer, you are essentially piggybacking on their established branding, channels and audience. Therefore, you need to reach a good understanding and agreement of what you both want out of this partnership. There are three R’s to bear in mind:
- Relevance – is the influencer you want to use relevant to your brand and product?
- Reach – what are the potential numbers you can bring in?
- Resonance – What is the potential level of engagement? What is the potential for ROI?
If you can keep these key points in mind when mapping out your strategy for working with an influencer, both parties will be able to get more out of the partnership and this will reflect positively on the audience and their engagement.
49% of consumers will seek purchase guidance from Social Media Influencers, and given that 90% of consumers trust peer reviewed products, the potential outcome of using an influencer could be huge for your brand.
Instagram is perhaps the most powerful platform for this, compared to YouTube and Snapchat, the second most powerful platforms for influencers, with Facebook and Twitter falling third. On Instagram alone, brands are spending more than $1 billion dollars per year on Social Media Influencers- that’s capital solely dedicated to sponsored or targeted posts and product placements.
That’s not to knock the other platforms – Instagram simply lends itself well to product placement and engagement due to its ease of access and massive database of users. As a platform widely (and successfully) used by many brands with their own channels too, Instagram is more accepted as a platform for advertising.
Snapchat and YouTube, with their visually engaging fronts, are also very popular with brands looking to use influencer platforms. In a recent survey of the most powerful influencers, 8 out of top 10 were YouTube content creators. However, it’s important to work with the people and platforms that will work best for what you’re offering. If you’re a company that specialises in customised car parts, aiming to work with Zoella, one of the world’s top beauty bloggers and YouTube creators, will unlikely give you the best results.
Things to consider when working with influencers
The influencer needs to feel that you’re offering their audience a good product that fits with their values and ethos. Influencers have a very powerful position of trust that is created organically. If this isn’t treated with care, influencers and companies that work with them can end up facing a huge backlash and be seen taking advantage of their audiences. Particularly on YouTube, the connotations behind #spon #ad and #sponsored have generated a lot of debate within the community, so how you approach this is vital.
Some brands on YouTube that have done this well are Kellogg’s with their ‘Krave Challenge’ in summer 2013 and Audible, who frequently sponsor YouTubers and offer free trials to their fanbases with personalised codes. Many YouTube partners these days also have agency and management teams, so organising a deal that suits everyone can take some time, but ultimately you should be able to start getting the brand exposure you want.
Branching out to work with Social Media Influencers and their audiences can seem like a daunting task if it’s your first foray into the world of #spon posts and content. But finding the right partners to work with, like in any business, will help you reap the best results for both your company and the influencer’s audience.