According to the Nielsen Trust in Advertising report, the number one source of information that Americans rely on when it comes to the products and services they buy is recommendations from people they know. When thinking about parting with their hard-earned dollars, American consumers want “proof” that they are about to make a wise purchase.
Enter the social influencer. The people who, with one social media post can change the way thousands – and in some cases, millions – of people feel about a brand.
What Is An Influencer?
There are many different definitions for a social influencer but generally speaking, an influencer is an online persona that has built a large, active and engaged following. Whether they leverage YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, SnapChat, blogging or a mix of mediums, they have built their following by providing content that their audience regularly consumes, and they have an influence on the buying behaviors of that audience.
The Rise of Influencer Marketing
Social influencer marketing has been increasing over the last several years. Data shows that:
- “Influencer marketing” searches on Google increased by 325% in 2017.
- Marketers will invest an average of $25,000 to $50,000 in influencer marketing in 2018.
- To date, the ROI of influencer marketing is impressive. For every $1 spent, marketers see an average of $7.65 in return.
Despite its recent rise in popularity, social influencer marketing is hardly a new concept. The roots of the modern influencer era can be traced to 2010 when social media monitoring software began pointing brands to the people they should be interacting with on social platforms. For the first time, companies could prioritize who they chose to engage with and how they chose to engage with them.
These early days had a bit of a guerilla feel – manual outreach and relationship building took time, and the practices were not scalable. In response, influencer agencies began to spring up that connected brands with popular social media personalities. During this time, software platforms also started emerging that offered automated outreach to potential influencers.
These methods promised to make the process easier, but they could be extremely expensive, they did not offer effective ROI tracking, and in many cases, the information provided by agencies and platforms did not translate into effective strategies. As brands and retailers struggled to overcome these challenges, consumers were getting bombarded with irrelevant and “spammy” social media posts, which created a bit of a backlash and tarnished influencer marketing as a strategy.
The Future of Influencer Marketing
Thankfully, technology has evolved, and so have marketers and consumers. Today, companies are refocusing on creating authentic interactions, rather than just getting their name associated with a hip social media personality. By keeping interactions genuine, brands are able to tell their stories and get their messages in front of people who are actually open to hearing those messages.
Influencers themselves are a driving force behind this new wave of social marketing. People who spend years building a social presence and a strong following do it by creating engaging and worthwhile content. They want to protect the brand they have built for themselves and only want to promote brands that are a natural fit.
In the past, a campaign was created and “appropriate” (or simply available) influencers were sought after the fact. Today, brands are building relationships with influencers up front and bringing them into the planning process. After all, influencers know their audiences better than anyone, and they can provide the keys to truly authentic and effective messaging.
Is this method more time-consuming than automation? Absolutely. But consumers want genuine interactions and they want to consume content that is relevant to them and true social influencers want and need to protect their own brands. Companies that want to build trust and leverage social media effectively can harness the power of social influencers by committing to transparency, authenticity, and by choosing personalities whose messaging aligns with their own brand.
Lift361 works with influencer agencies to help measure the impact on ROI as well as to help make strategic marketing and resource allocation decisions. If you’d like to learn more, please contact us today.