November 23, 2016
THE RISE OF INFLUENCER MARKETING
Social media has paved the way for many new types of marketing avenues for businesses to reach their target market, loyal customers, and potential clients. During the last two years, the explosion and rapid expansion of social marketing has also created a new form of extremely effective marketing. This type of marketing was born from previous market research, patterns in consumer purchasing behaviors, and the power of positive word-of-mouth advertising. Today, Influencer Marketing is prevalent on many social platforms and in traditional media. Let’s examine how the rise of influencer marketing came to the forefront of social marketing techniques in the last two years, its effectiveness and costs, and lastly if the future of influencer marketing in social media is sustainable.
On each social platform, such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, and even the late but great Vine, businesses began to establish pages to market their products and services. While businesses saw immense value in this, some individuals also saw a tremendous opportunity on these platforms to brand themselves. Just as a business would do, many of these individuals began to hone in on their target following and create their personal brand in certain sectors or industries. Individuals are also able to brand themselves in many more unique ways and potential careers. Examples of this include comedic personalities, motivational speakers, experts in a specific field, models; the list goes on and on. Now, professionals even have begun using social platforms to brand themselves as leaders in their respective fields. As mentioned, the opportunities for individuals to brand themselves on social platforms is nearly limitless. When an individual establishes themselves as a powerful social figure due to their brand following and follower engagement, they become a social influencer. Social influencers have immense power within the following they cultivated around their brand and are often looked up to for advice or suggestions. Businesses noticed that these influencers were able to sway their followers and fans and decided to tap into this power and harness these social influencers to market towards their business’s target market and potential customers. As businesses noticed how effective these social influencers could be, they invested more time and money into the influencers creating a new way for individuals to receive income and incentives through paid programs. It’s important for us to distinguish the difference between a social influencer, also known as a brand influencer, and a brand ambassador. Brand ambassador programs have been around for a long time and have been proven to be effective for many brands and businesses. These ambassadorship programs typically operate on local levels to market and raise awareness of a brand; the brand ambassadors are typically not compensated monetarily but often times given perks or discounts through the brand sponsoring the ambassador. Social influencers, however, traditionally have a larger scale of marketing potential, reach, and engagement from their fans and followers. They also do not necessarily have to tie oneself to a brand. Social influencers are typically compensated for their work and often times work as independent contractors for brands or businesses as their influence grows and reaches higher levels. Both brand ambassadors and influencers have been utilized more and more for their social marketing reach during the last two years by small businesses and larger companies alike.
As briefly touched on in the previous section above, businesses began to realize the effectiveness of social and brand influencers and wanted to take advantage of this unique way to market to their potential customers. But what makes a social influencer so effective? The effectiveness of each social influencer depends on many factors such as the type of personal brand they represent, what industry their brand resides in, and quantitative factors like followers, reach, and engagement. However, there are recurring themes within social influencing that augment the effectiveness of the marketing and advertising. Here’s a snapshot of three of the biggest themes that make social influencers so powerful:
Personable: social influencers tend to be extremely in touch with their following and achieve some of the highest engagement rates of all social profiles. They are able to reach their fans in a way that businesses are not able to… on a highly personal level without making it seem like they’re trying to sell a product or service. This facet of their brand gives them an advantage compared to many other forms of advertising due to consumer purchasing behaviors. Keep reading…
Consumer behaviors: to elaborate and build on why a personable social influencer is so effective, we shift our focus to consumer behaviors. Consumers are more likely to make a purchase or trust a company after reading a positive review, hearing great feedback from someone they trust, or from someone they idolize such as a brand influencer. Social influencers are able to generate raw positive word-of-mouth advertising for brands that will reach consumers directly. Talk about effectiveness! We all know that positive word-of-mouth advertising is one of the most effective ways for businesses to attract new customers.
Native advertising: Native advertising is classified as a type of advertising which reaches consumers more effectively based upon their interests and demographic behaviors. Native advertising has a 50% higher click-through rate and a 50% higher purchase rate after click-through. This is because native advertising’s goal is to deliver the most relevant ads to consumers. Social influencers, in a sense, are able to deliver a form or native advertising to their followers. In other words, when they advertise chosen products or services to their following, their reach is more effective because their fans do not recognize or feel they are being advertised to. This is primarily due to social influencers’s following consisting of a majority of people who are interested in the influencer’s brand and industry which the influencer operates in.
There are several more reasons why social influencers are so effective but the listed themes above in social influencing play a significant role in why so many businesses and brands are turning to social influencers. As a business evaluates the potential of a social influencer and the ROI of advertising through them, they also evaluate the costs. There is no industry standard or set rates for social influencers, however, the rates are traditionally based upon social metrics like following, reach, and engagement. Most company’s consider the costs of paying social influences to be significantly less than larger and more traditional advertising methods like TV, radio, and internet ads. The ROI can also be tracked effectively with influencer promo codes and click through links to give a better evaluation of each marketing promotion or campaign.
In the last year alone, according to a recent marketing survey, there has been a 264% increase in paid advertisements through social influencing compared to the previous 12 month period. Business is booming… for social influencers and also for brands utilizing them! But is this growth sustainable? If there becomes too many social influencers in any given industry sector, or if the native advertising through these influencers is overdone, what will happen to the effectiveness of this form of marketing? It is important for brands and businesses to consider these questions in the next several years as they adopt or expand on social influencing tactics. Bloom Social believes that social influencing will continue to be a revenue adding form of advertising with a strong ROI. To remain as a sustainable form of marketing and advertising, businesses and brands will need to become more selective of which social influencers to use in the future. They will also need to become cleverer when it comes to “disguising” an advertisement as a social media post through a social influencer. Just as brand ambassador programs grew and took shape with more regulation and oversight, social influencer relationships will most likely trend in the same direction. This will hopefully create a sustainable relationship or partnership between brands and influencers that will provide years of effective marketing and advertising. At least we hope so!