It's human nature to seek validation from our peers, and thanks to social media, this innate characteristic that we all possess has been amplified. Whether we want to believe it or not, there's still something in us that wants to have the latest and greatest item to hit the market that will be the envy of our friends, whether it's a new pair of kicks or a savvy smart bike that allows us to take fitness to a whole new level. In today's digital world, the "cool" kids that are showing consumers the products and services that they need to be jonesing for are the social media influencers.
What is Influencer Marketing?
Most simply defined, an influencer is someone that has the power to persuade others to think or behave in a certain way. In regards to marketing, leveraging influencers will increase brand awareness and encourage more customers to come your way. Considering that 76.2 percent of American consumers have access to the internet to research products and services, the concept of influencer marketing via social media platforms has caught on like wildfire.
It should be said that there is nothing new about tapping into influencers to raise awareness and impact perception. Back in 1931, Coca-Cola used the lovable Santa Clause to win over fans. Marlboro created the Marlboro Man in the 1950s to show what being "macho" should look like and connected this influencer to its cigarette brand.
What's different about influencers today is that with media outlets such as social media, podcasts, and blogs, influencers can be anyone ranging from an A-list celebrity to someone that is regarded for being highly knowledgeable in a particular industry, such as consumer expert Clark Howard.
Brands are continuing to use influencer marketing to their advantage because today's consumers don't like to be advertised to. Instead, they want to discover products and services to meet their needs from people (influencers) that they perceive to be credible and in-the-know.
What is the Criteria for Qualifying an Influencer?
Do you have to be an A-list celebrity to be an influencer? Certainly not. Outlined below are the three pieces of criteria that an influencer must possess:
To realize the best ROI from influencer marketing, you need to partner with an influencer that has the means to deliver your message to a large number of people. Someone that hosts a popular podcast or has an enormous social media following will help you to get your message out and raise awareness for your brand.
When considering potential influencers to partner with, think about their knowledge as it relates to your business and industry. An influencer with a specific expertise in your industry will be more credible to your audience and will help to build trust.
Some people possess the ability to convince people of their point of view better than others. Someone with good salesmanship is able to clearly communicate points in a way that convinces people to get on board and take some type of action. You want an influencer that can persuade others with confidence.
How Do You Implement Influencer Marketing?
There are a few ways that brands go about implementing influencer marketing.
One approach is to identify influencers and pay them money to promote your products and services. However, this route is less effective as most consumers realize that the influencers are being paid to highlight your products, which makes their feedback less credible. A better name for this tactic is celebrity endorsements, which is not the same as influencer marketing.
A second way that businesses think they're leveraging influencer marketing is by identifying people with large social media presences and paying them to endorse their product. However, this is another example of sponsored advertising, which really doesn't convey the credibility of your brand.
If you want to implement influencer marketing the right way, you shouldn't involve financial compensation. Instead, understand that the right industry influencers value recognition of their expertise over money. Not only do influencers want to be recognized as leaders in their space, but they also want to be the first to know of any news as it relates to their industry. Tapping into influencers' curiosity and sharing brand specific information with them that will be useful to their followers is an effective way to cultivate a mutually beneficial relationship with influencers.
Influencer Marketing Takes Time, But is Worthwhile
Influencer marketing involves time, dedication, and focus on building transparent and honest relationships. Because identifying leveraging industry influencers the right way is not an easy task, many brands that want to embrace influencer marketing choose to take shortcuts and pay for endorsements. However, when you can win over a respected influencer and have him or her praise your business, the influencer's support will be far more credible and beneficial to your business than any advertisement.
Our team at New York Ave is committed to helping our clients create and manage an online presence that allows them to build credibility and trust with their audience. Contact us to learn more about our unique approach and how we can help you to implement an influencer marketing strategy the right way.