Cristiano Ronaldo, Justin Bieber, Barack Obama, Charlie D’Amelio, and the Kardashian/Jenner family come from different fields, but they have one thing in common; they are all social media influencers. And in this modern digital world we live in, social media reach translates to power. These five people comprise many influencers: musicians, athletes, politicians, movie and TV stars, and other personalities who reign supreme on social media.
There is much debate about when influencer marketing started, with some saying that it started as early as the 1800s. However, around 2009-2010, when Facebook captivated almost everyone worldwide, marketing via social media began making waves. At its inception, the “mom bloggers” were touted as the most influential communicators on social media.
These mom bloggers inadvertently used Facebook as an outlet to rain praises on new product discoveries and such. Little did they know that advertisers were paying attention, and the concept of influencer marketing via social media took off the ground. Since then, the reach of these influencers has grown to include other social media networks like Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, YouTube, and even Pinterest. In fact, Instagram owns the most significant platform share among social media influencers at 67%.
What Is Influencer Marketing?
In the simplest of explanations, influencer marketing happens when brands collaborate with known online influencers to promote their products or services. Brands mainly target online influencers because they are aware of these influencers’ social media clout. Social media influencers like Kylie Jenner, Taylor Swift, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, and others can pretty much influence (hence, the term) consumers’ purchasing decisions given that they have established their position, relationship, knowledge, or authority with their followers.
Nevertheless, it is not limited to athletes, politicians, celebrities, or musicians. The most popular niches include travel, food, fashion, health, beauty, and lifestyle. Still, anyone with a distinct niche and good-sized following with whom the influencer engages actively can be deemed an influencer. Indeed, as long as you are considered influential in your industry, an expert in your field who can provide answers to your followers’ questions, you can become an influencer.
Influencer Marketing by the Numbers
How “huge” is this innovative marketing concept? The term alone has garnered a 465% increase in searches on Google in the last five years. Moreover, 90% of people surveyed for their take on influencer marketing believe that social media influencers are effective marketers.
And while social media influencers earn big bucks from their marketing efforts, businesses earn from them, too. Apparently, for every $1 spent on influencer marketing, businesses rake in return on investment worth $5.78. That is a lot of money if you do that math. And before the current year ends, influencer marketing is expected to breach the $13 billion mark.
It goes without saying that influencer marketing is a win-win situation for both businesses and influencers. However, because it is still a form of marketing, planning and strategizing come with the territory.
If the Shoe Fits
One of the best ways to ensure that a brand’s influencer marketing efforts pan out is to ensure they team up with influencers who are in tune with their goals. Marketing, in any type or form, is not a one-size-fits-all thing. Brands need to plan, put together a strategy, create a budget, and spend lots of time researching the best, if not perfect, social media influencers to help them out.
Remember how the prince knew it was Cinderella he danced with before the clock struck midnight? It was because the shoe fit. It is the same thing with influencer marketing; the social media influencer must fit the brand’s goal in all aspects. To get this part down pat, brands must understand the different types of social media influencers. There are at least ten, as the list below shows:
- Mainstream Celebrities
- Bloggers and Vloggers
- Reality TV Stars
- Social Media Sensations
- Thought Leaders
As evident from the list above, there is a vast pool of social media influencers from which brands can pick. Still, as mentioned previously, the type of influencer a brand selects must align with the brand’s goal and image. For instance, most of the collaborations of Instagram’s well-loved family, the Stauffers, are for children’s clothes and snacks. Such is a fine example of choosing influencers relevant to the brands’ niches. Reading the comments of the account’s followers shows the family has helped the brands reach their marketing goals.
Before drawing up a plan for social media marketing, brands must be clear about their goals. However, more than making a sale, a brand’s foremost goal must be reaching new customers through the social media posts of their chosen influencers. Defining their target audience is likewise crucial. There is no sense in choosing Cristiano Ronaldo to promote a product if the audience persona is women in their 50s or 60s.
Collaborating with influencers means working with them on the campaign. Yes, brands are funding it, but the influencers are the expert content creators. Brands will be using the influencers’ social media accounts for the campaigns, so it is best to get their inputs. They would want the campaigns to be consistent with their own personal style.
Brands can provide guidance, but they should leave the management of the campaign to the influencers. Working with social media influencers is a two-way street: brands expect them to use their clout in promoting their products or services, and influencers, in turn, expect to get their just due from their efforts. It is an exhilarating ride that is wildly beneficial for both parties, which is why it is not surprising that influencer marketing has taken the digital world by storm.