October 10, 2017
People are more likely to make a purchase if their friends recommend it. That’s a fact. Scientists have come up with different theories trying to explain this thought process but, in the end, they all reach the same conclusion: people need to trust the company from which they are buying.
Given that trust is at the basis of most transactions, social media has been a blessing for businesses. Happy customers that mention your brand or talk about your product online are probably the best advertising you could get. That’s because when they mention positive things regarding your brand to their network, they put a stamp of approval on your products, making other prospects perceive your business as trustworthy.
Sure, the opposite is also true, where unsatisfied customers could hurt your reputation, but let’s focus on the positive today, shall we? Now, here’s the thing: just sitting and waiting for your customers to promote your products on social media isn’t the best of strategies. Especially if you are a small business, cutting through all the social media noise can prove to be a difficult challenge.
So, what can you do to reach out to your audience and grow your business? Enter influencer marketing. In this article, we will present the ins and outs of influencer marketing and help you decide whether or not to adopt this marketing strategy.
What Is a Social Media Influencer?
We consider an “influencer” someone who has the ability or resources to affect or change people’s decisions. In marketing, influencers are thought leaders that have proven their expertise, have a massive following and can leverage their reputation to persuade their audience to try certain products or choose certain services. A “social media influencer” is, obviously, someone who can do that through social media channels.
Years ago you had celebrity endorsements as the first form of influencer marketing. If Shaquille O’Neal, for example, recommended a particular brand of soda, then the company would use his popularity to reach a wider audience and convince them to choose their products instead of the competition.
In 2017, things have changed considerably. You don’t have to look for actors or athletes to endorse your products. Social media has allowed even those we consider to be regular people to become online celebrities with an impressive following. Variety reported that YouTube Vloggers were the most sought out influencers in 2015 and even outranked musicians or famous actors. When Kylie Jenner partnered up with Fashion Nova, a simple Instagram post gathered more than two million likes. That’s at least two million people exposed to the brand’s product, courtesy of Jenner’s impressive online following.
What Can Social Media Influencers Do for You
Even small businesses can benefit from the help of a social media influencer. Don’t assume you exclusively need an endorsement from someone with the popularity of Jenner. A local influencer can be just as good to generate an increase in sales. In fact, according to one report, companies that use this strategy generate 11 times more ROI than those that focus solely on traditional advertising.
The key is to look for someone who has a notable online following and a good engagement rate. It’s easy to find people with more than 1,000 followers on Instagram, but if they only average 20 likes per post, they won’t be effective as social media influencers.
Once you find the right person, here are a few things you can do:
Use Their Channels to Increase Your Customer Base
It’s a rather simple process: if they have a lot of social media followers and interactions, you could leverage their popularity to your advantage.
Reach out to influencers in your niche and try building a relationship with them first. They will be more likely to help you promote your brand if you are a familiar face. Comment on their posts, share their articles, mention them in expert roundups, and so on. Then, when the moment is right, ask them to mention your brand on their social media channels and encourage their audience to try your products.
Keep in mind that the influencer and his or her tone of voice should be relevant to your business and audience. For instance, if you are a Web design company, look for influencers relevant to your niche, as their audiences are already interested in the best designs.
Increase Your Own Social Presence
Apart from bringing in new customers, social media influencers can also help you boost your online visibility. For example, you could interview a thought leader in your niche and share the content on your social channels. This tactic will increase your brand’s credibility as well as bring new people on your social networks.
Create a series of posts, including videos, pictures or other content, and post them regularly throughout a longer period. It’s an effective way to keep the people engaged, and to grow your number of social media followers.
Don’t Make It Too Obvious
If you want social media influencers to have a real effect on your prospects’ actions, then their endorsements need to seem natural. Classic “buy-this-now” taglines or exaggerated attributes like “amazing” or “the best I ever had” come across as insincere, and people might be put off by them.
Instead, think of social media influencers as actors in a movie, and make them the central character. If you fit your advertising intentions into a story, your endorser will have an easier time selling it to their followers. For instance, let’s say you have an animal shelter and want to increase the number of adoptions. Instead of having your social media influencer tell people to adopt from your shelter, create a relatable story encouraging people to adopt instead of shop, and have your influencer mention your shelter as a good option.
Over to You
As with any marketing approach, partnering with a social media influencer is a crucial component of an effective long-term strategy. As you’ve learned, it’s one of the best ways to increase your visibility and build a connection with an entirely new audience. Some might even call it the best social media strategy available right now.
Gabriel Shaoolian is a digital trends expert and CEO and founder of Blue Fountain Media, a digital agency in NYC focused on growing brands online through effective websites and online marketing. From start-ups to Fortune 1000s, Blue Fountain Media helps generate more leads and increased brand recognition Last year alone, the company, which has a client roster that includes Procter & Gamble, Harper Collins, Canon, NFL, Publishers Clearing House, Sharp, AOL and the United Nations, drove more than 200 million monthly visitors and $2 billion in revenue to the digital properties of its clients.