“Influencer marketing.” It’s a term that many people are familiar with and a practice that many are exposed to every day, whether they realize it or not. But what exactly is “influencer marketing?”
While scrolling through Instagram’s “Discover page,” you may recall coming across a candid picture of an individual smiling while looking down at a product, whether that is a bottle of shampoo or a snack bag. It may resemble a typical social media post except the hashtag #ad or #sponsored is included in the caption. This post is an example of Influencer Marketing
Instead of capitalizing on the popularity of a celebrity to promote a product, Influencer Marketing utilizes a person’s “influence” or audience in a specific market, such as beauty, fitness, or the outdoors. Many businesses are currently taking advantage of the practice and if they’re not already, they should consider getting involved soon because there is proven success behind the utilization of influencers.
What is Influencer Marketing?
Influencer Marketing — a popular term that is discussed often in the world of marketing — is defined by Forbes as “someone who has the power to influence the perception of others or gets them to do something different” and buy products from the company who hired them. Social media influencers can be celebrities, industry bloggers, YouTubers, or even local instagrammers with impressive follower counts. But it’s not all about the number of followers one has.
“Micro-influencers” usually have around 10-15k engaged followers. The three main factors that contribute to the extent of one’s influence is reach, contextual credibility, and salesmanship.
- Reach – “ability to deliver a message to a large number of people.”
- Contextual Credibility – “the level of trust and authority given by the audience based on the influencer’s perceived knowledge and expertise on a specific topic.”
- Salesmanship – “the presence and communications style that gives the influencer the ability to understand and embrace a particular point of view.”
Are There Rules with Influencer Marketing?
If a company is considering hopping on the influencer marketing or micro-influencer band wagon, the first step they should take is understanding influencer guidelines set in place by the Federal Trade Commission. Influencer Marketing may seem as simple as hiring an individual to promote or endorse your product or service, exchanging free product for a review, or offering them affiliate sales, but there are strict guidelines to follow.
An influencer marketing strategy is a great way to boost your brand awareness, increase your number of followers and website traffic, and as a result, drive sales, but it must be done in a legal and morally sound way. The FTC asks that the endorsements are disclosed in an obvious manner on the post or video, the influencer is not to talk about an experience with a product if they have not tried it themselves, nor are they allowed to discuss how great a product is if they had a negative experience with it. You can read the full list of FTC guidelines on Influencer Marketing here.
What does it look like in the field?
The strategy is becoming more popular, including the use of micro-influencers, due to its success. According to Nielsen, followers are more likely to purchase a product when they receive a personal recommendation from a friend, and in a way, influencer marketing resembles that credibility and trust formed when traditional advertising is replaced. Adweek found that around 40% of people reported that they purchased a product online after seeing it used by an influencer. Whether your business is small or large, looking to build brand identity and awareness or increase sales and engagement, enlisting the help of influencers may be the cost-effective direction to take to reach your goals.
Example Influencer Marketing Strategies:
- Bigelow Tea enlisted the help of influencers to come up with new ideas and recipes for their tea to use on Instagram, as well as having them submit photos to use.
- The well-known retailer, Target, even took advantage of the strategy and worked with 10 influencers leading up to the launch of their Victoria Beckham Target line using the hashtag #VBxTarget.
- Would your brand benefit from 43M potential impressions, 2,000+ pieces of unique content, and 71k online engagements? Follow GOODFOODS lead, The all-natural food producer partnered with 60 influencers to spread brand awareness and drive sales. Their strategy worked.
Where is it headed?
While we don’t see the use of Influencer Marketing and micro-influencers slowing down anytime soon, there may be some big changes to how it is used in the near future. Instagram recently implemented a new update to their app in seven countries and removed the like count. The holder of the account is able to view the number of likes a post receives, the followers do not have access to that information, which could disrupt the standard engagement metric used by companies. Later, a marketing platform for Instagram, defined engagement rate as the following:
If the Instagram update is brought to the U.S. and likes are no longer visible, brands and advertisers will have to shift the way they measure the success of sponsored posts. Instead of the level of engagement received, they may have to instead focus on the goals of the campaign, such as sales, traffic, and brand sentiment.
Implement the Right Marketing Strategy for You
At Strunk Media Group, we work hard to stay up-to-date on all current social media marketing best practices and standards. If you’re ready to discuss potential strategies to drive your business, reach out to us today for a free consultation.