Last year, 26% of desktop users turn on ad blockers, rendering traditional advertisements to be ineffective. It’s clear the methodology of traditional advertising has changed; billboards and ads are becoming less and less, and even commercials are on the out, thanks to the roughly 812,000 people cutting the cord on cable in 2016. Instead of advertisements, people are turning to the opinions and recommendations of their peers and popular social media personalities. Called “Social Media Influencers,” these internet personalities have the impact and influence on their followers strong enough to not only create awareness but also to cause brand conversions.
What is Influencer Marketing?
Influencer Marketing is the process of engaging social media influencers to post sponsored content in order to drive sales and brand awareness. Social media personalities who have a trusted and loyal following are paid by companies to advertise how they use a brand’s product or service. Basically, they become walking, talking, trusted billboards.
Not only are they pictured using a product, Facebook live video and Instagram stories have taken influencer marketing to a new level: users are able to see a product and its practical application in real-time, with zero possibility for smoke and mirrors. In addition, Instagram has made it especially easy for consumers to learn about or to purchase products by allowing some brands and influencers to add a link to their stories.
Influencers are paid exactly as regular advertisements are paid, making an easy budget it provided that influencer marketing it makes sense for your brand. We recommend doing a series of A/B testing against your traditional advertising methods to see if you are getting the ROI (Return On Investment) that your company needs.
ROI from Influencers
ROI can be measured in many different ways. While conversions give us tangible, instant gratification when it comes to monetary numbers, ROI brushes with a much broader stroke. ROI is measured exclusively on the efficiency of an investment, which isn’t always proven with an increase in the monetary numbers right away. ROI could indicate these factors:
- An increase in followers
- An increase in brand sentiment
- An increase in engagement
- An increase in website visitors
- …and more!
All roads lead to monetary gain in order to satisfy the bottom line so that we can all stay in business. So eventually, ROI will lead to conversions; however, the path to conversions is saturated with different measurements. According to recent studies, though, the ROI from social media influencers is 11 times higher than with traditional advertising.
In part, this is due to the landscape of social media, as well as the trust level of personal recommendations. 74% of people use social media platforms to inform their purchase decisions, and 92% of consumers trust personal recommendations for new products or services. These numbers are telling, and the market opportunity we are missing out on if we don’t engage influencers is too large to pass up.
How to Find Influencers
The steps to finding influencers for your brand are as simple as the age-old 5 W’s and an H. Asking yourself the following questions will help your brand identify influencers and start harnessing their voices on your behalf:
- Who: Who is following or brand? Who is talking about your brand? While all followers are valuable, be on the lookout for followers who also have a large number of followers. The variable number difference is exactly what transitions someone from a fan to an influencer.
- What: What products or services do you have that fit in with your identified influencer’s platform? What is an identifiable cross section for your brands to connect and engage the biggest audience?
- Where: Where is your influencer located? This can be a particular geographic region, or a certain market. For example, your product or service may have the ability to be useful to many different types of markets; and finding influencers in each of these markets in order to expand your reach and influence is extremely valuable.
- When: When is a good time to start this influencer campaign? Identifying your company’s goals for the quarter or timing your campaigns with the release of a new product is smart marketing. These targeted campaigns will allow you to track your ROI in a more specific way.
- Why: Why is this a smart choice for your company? While Influencer Marketing is a popular and valuable choice, it is not for everyone. As with every marketing effort, it has to make sense for your company. If you are simply doing it to jump on the bandwagon, your audience will see right through it. A marketing campaign that has a defined purpose and goal will always have a bigger ROI than those that are thrown together.
- How: How will your campaign make the most impact? Plan, plan, plan! Get an editorial calendar together, and decide what social platforms, with what content, and highlight which products will have the most influence and biggest ROI.
What do you think? Are influencers the future for digital marketing? Have you seen this work to your advantage in your company, or did you switch back to traditional methods? Join the conversation and let us know what’s worked for you!