With all the social media frenzy around us, it can be said that people’s purchasing decisions are largely motivated by their fellow consumers’ opinions. There was a time when consumers would simply look at brands and their products before making a purchase. But that was in the yesteryears. Today, they look at their peers and their favorite personalities for their explicit recommendations and endorsements before buying a product/service.

This is how influencer marketing came into existence and is all set to become the next big thing. If used correctly, social media influencers can create a world of possibilities for your brand. Influencer marketing is growing quickly as it provides a better alternative to traditional ways of advertising. It is proving to be one of the best ways to get better results from your social media marketing campaigns. SMEs are increasingly using influencer platforms like Famebit and TapInfluence to connect with their target audience more directly and organically. Social media influencers can work wonders for your brand by lending their authentic voice to your marketing message and attract buyers.

The question that now arises is: Why you should do influencer marketing?

Why Influencer Marketing?

If you are still wondering whether or not to invest in influencer marketing, consider the fact that it is in trend these days. Not only are an increasing number of businesses incorporating it into their marketing plan, but the budgets for influencer marketing are also shooting upwards.

Online promotions firm Tomoson found that “businesses are making $6.50 for every $1 spent on influencer marketing.” This 2015 study also revealed that 59 percent of marketers are likely to escalate their influencer marketing budgets.

Here is what the study found in terms of influencer marketing budgets:

01_Influencer-marketing-budget-over-next-12-monthsThe study also revealed that marketers rate influencer marketing as a fast-growing channel for online customer acquisition, outranking paid search, organic search, and email marketing.

02_Fastest-growing-online-customer-acquisition-method-_chartbuilder There is a strong reason behind the intense buzz around influencer marketing. People, especially modern young audiences, trust social media stars over television celebrities. A survey conducted by Variety magazine found that YouTube stars are more popular among U.S. teens than mainstream celebrities. According to the survey, the top three influential entities include:

  • Smosh, which is an online comedy team comprising Ian Anthony Padilla and Andrew Hecox
  • The Fine Bros., also a comedy starring Benny and Rafi
  • PewDiePie, a Swedish video gamer with over 34 million subscribers

These YouTube stars have actually outranked many popular Hollywood stars, including Seth Rogen, Jennifer Lawrence, Johnny Depp, Daniel Radcliffe, and Leonardo DiCaprio.

DEFY Media’s Acumen Report: Constant Content further confirms Variety‘s findings. This report suggests that 62 percent of youth (13-24 years) would try products/brands recommended by a YouTube star, whereas just 47 percent of participants said the same about recommendations made by mainstream celebrities.

There is a reason why these social media stars have such intense influence over the youth. DEFY Media explains: “YouTubers are described as: just like me, understands me, someone I trust, has the best advice, doesn’t try to be perfect, genuine.”

On the other hand, Hollywood stars are regarded for their otherworldly beauty, making them superior to the common people. And when it comes to ‘who to trust,’ the younger consumers clearly put their faith in people who are more genuine and honest, even if they have less money, success, and glamour compared to movie stars.

Another reason to consider influencer marketing is that young audiences favor social media over television. They spend more time on YouTube, Instagram and Facebook than on television. According to a research conducted by Crowdtap and Ipsos MediaCT, people aged between 12 and 32 years spend 30 percent of their daily media time on ‘peer-to-peer’ or user-generated content, 13 percent of their media time on live television, and just 10 percent on shows they recorded.

The study, therefore, declares:

“Brands looking for consumers to trust their marketing can no longer rely on traditional media to communicate their messages to consumers. In today’s landscape, it’s peer-created content or consumer-to-consumer marketing that drives trust.”

These studies and researches clearly indicate the power social media and its stars have over the younger generation and there is no denying it. But if you are a sceptic like me and want more reasons before putting your trust in influencer marketing, read the following success stories gathered from around the Web.

Successful and Inspirational Influencer Marketing Stories

To promote their upcoming film ‘The Fault in Our Stars’ in 2014, 20th Century Fox used influencer marketing. Although 20th Century Fox was sure that the film would attract teen girls, they feared missing out on the ‘dating’ crowd. They hired influencer agency Speakr especially to appeal to teen boys. The company got in touch with various male influencers, the likes of which included Nickelodeon star Josh Peck of Drake and Josh fame.

The film bagged over $300 million in global sales and topped the box office charts.

Play with Your Food – Tyson Foods’ Story

Often, influencers are bloggers who have hundreds and thousands of people following them on social media channels. Moreover, studies indicate that 1 in 3 bloggers are moms. It is also suggested that almost 36 percent of moms have made an online purchase due to a recommendation from other moms. It, therefore, makes sense that Tyson Foods, a global leader in the food industry, invited mom bloggers over the holidays to turn simple chicken nuggets into exciting and fun holiday creations for their children.play-food

The enthusiasm and the creative response from the moms helped Tyson garner 8 million impressions on social media. Over the following weeks, the company saw a 42 percent increase in their sales.

Without the Crowds – Lake Tahoe’s Appeal to Influencer Marketing

Lake Tahoe is another company that worked with mom bloggers to encourage more people to visit the place during the shoulder season. The Abbi Agency, which organized the campaign, gave away free personalized trips to mom bloggers and their entire families to enjoy the serene beauty of Lake Tahoe.lake-tahoe

They created custom itineraries for mom bloggers based on their taste. However, every itinerary included the region’s key selling points. The campaign allowed Lake Tahoe to obtain a lot of authentic press, although they chose only six bloggers for the trip.

How Gap Got Content Created by Influencers

In addition to food and travel companies, fashion brands largely benefit from influencer marketing. The American global clothing and accessories retailer Gap, for example, leverage user-generated content to influence the purchasing decisions of their target audience. They created an interactive website called Styld.by featuring content created by influencers, which included prominent fashion bloggers like Olivia Lopez as well as well-known publications like Conde Nast Traveler.

traveler

While these influencers were promoting Gap, they maintained a certain distance, making the whole thing appear really authentic and appealing to the target audience.

Using Influencer Marketing Effectively

Now that you know how brands are using influencers to better reach and engage their target audience, it’s time to implement the same for promoting your business.

To begin with, you need a great influencer like Olivia Lopez or PewDiePie who can help you reach out to their millions of followers on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Pinterest. Next, you need a framework to create your strategic plan.

The following 4 tips will help you:

1. Focus on Your Audience

What do you want to achieve through influence marketing? You want to reach out to your target audience and convert them into paying customers. It is, therefore, totally logical to focus your marketing efforts around them.

First things first, know your audience and understand what they are looking for and what will be their reaction towards your brand. Once you know the answers to these questions, it becomes easier to identify the influencers your target audience is likely to follow as well as the type of content they consume.

Creating well-developed customer personas at this stage will help you go a long way in understanding how individual customer characters are influenced by different people in different ways.

2. Find the Right Influencers for Your Campaign

All the influencer marketing success stories mentioned earlier in this post have one thing in common: all the brands selected the right influencers for their campaign. These are the people who your target audience trusts and respects. Whatever they say, adds value to your target audience. It is, therefore, essential to select the right influencers for your campaign.

There are several tools like Hootsuite, Followerwonk, and Traackr to help you identify social media stats with large networks discussing topics relevant to your particular brand.

Determine the type of influencers that would best serve your purpose. When doing this, always look beyond reach. This means, when working with a social media influencer, don’t just look at their number of followers. The goal is to find people who have not only large, but also engaged networks.

He/she must also fit in with your brand. Familiarity and relatability are the most important qualities for influencers in order to appeal to people.

3. Respect the Influencer

Do you expect influencers to be grateful for the opportunity you are providing? Most brands believe that influencers would agree to almost anything in exchange for the exposure and the opportunity they are receiving. Unfortunately, you couldn’t be more wrong.

Industry influencers typically have the right kind of exposure in their own right. For example, Michelle Phan, a popular American makeup demonstrator and a notable YouTuber with more than 8.4 million followers, already has the trust and respect of her followers without your help. This is applicable to any other influencer you have in mind.

When approaching influencers, make sure the opportunity is relevant to their audience. If you are a makeup or a cosmetic brand, for instance, approaching an influencer like Michelle Phan or any other makeup artist to endorse your product/brand makes perfect sense as it is relevant to their audience.

According to The State of Influencer Marketing study by Crowdtap, 44 percent of influencers said that they prefer working with a brand, only if “the opportunity is relevant to their audience.”

The second most important motivating factor for influencers (17 percent of them), as the study found, is that the brand’s opportunity must provide an exclusive or a new experience to the influencers and/or their audience. However, only 14 percent influencers said that they endorse a brand only because they personally like it. This, ideally, should have been the main motivation.

crowdtap-influencer-study

The study also indicates that 68 percent of influencers said that competitive compensation is a key factor when “working with a brand a second time.” Over half of them said that being shown the same respect a brand would normally show to any other publisher is a major motivator.

You need to understand one thing here – influencers know what their audience wants and that they (audiences) have high expectations from their content. So, the next time you mail an influencer, make sure the opportunities you offer are relevant to their unique audiences.

4. Be Flexible in Your Approach

As mentioned, you need to treat influencers with respect. This is applicable to them not only as partners in your campaign, but also when it comes to their creative inputs. You may know what you want from the campaign and would want the influencer to stick to your vision. The influencer, however, is likely to know what would work better with their audience.

They are experts in their particular field and the trusted authority. Most importantly, their content resonates with their audience. So, refrain from telling your influencers how they should do their job. Just give them the context along with the guidelines and let them unleash their creative genius to create a successful post. Crowdtap research found that 77 percent of influencers think creative freedom is imperative to create a long-term relationship with brands.

While working with Travel Channel for promoting the Booze Traveler series, Ry Doon, a comedian with 3.5 million Vine followers and best known for his Jay-Z impressions, said that the skit for his character “Cathy” didn’t look funny on paper. However, he was sure that his audience would love it. And it was found that Doon wasn’t wrong at all as the Vine video has been looped over 2.3 million times.

Be flexible and let influencers do their job. They are promoting not only your brand, but also themselves. Rest assured, they will give their best shot to engage their audience.

cathy

Final Thoughts

Working with social media influencers means getting direct access to their loyal following. So, decide well in advance what you want to do with them. Creating brand awareness through social media impressions is rather easy to achieve. But why not attract the attention of millions of people (through your influencers) to achieve something more tangible?

Reward your influencers for their efforts. After all, they add great value to your existing content marketing strategy. But most importantly, let them be creative. This is the only way you can team up with the right kind of influencers for a long-term partnership. And what would you achieve by doing so? Let the results speak for themselves.

(Image Sources: 3, 5, 6)