What are they?
-Influencers are people who use their online presence and following to affect others thinking and feelings. They can also help induce behavior or actions through Social Media.
There are so many different perspectives now regarding Social Influencers. Their rise to fame…their impact on our culture…their ability to influence buying decisions and decision-making in general. Regardless, it’s a hard to deny the force that’s with them and recently there’s spawned a new-found respect and awareness for their promotional capabilities. To understand better what Influencers can do along with their impact through Influencer Marketing, we need to capture who they are and why.
-Social Media Influencers impact thousands to millions of followers via Facebook, Instagram, Snap Chat, Twitter and other online venues on a daily basis.
Who are they?
To start: Influencers can be anyone from anecdotal to ongoing content contributors, celebrities, and industry experts. They are able to engage audiences at incredibly high levels of speed and mass…like no other current marketing medium can. Bloggers started off leading the charge back in the infancy stages of the Social Media explosion, and still continue to be a top ‘go-to’ for engagement.
-Influencers often have an informative or authoritarian appeal on various topics or interests with credentials in a certain area. Their experiences and/or expertise can contribute to their efficacy with followers.
In a sense, Influencers are similar to columnists with just about anyone having the ability to write (at any time) their perspective or experience with thoughts on just about anything. Micro-Influencers have recently taken the lead (along with industry experts) for driving follower interaction, brand endorsement, and having the much-needed relationships fans and followers needed to have sustainable long-term engagement.
-Through their “likeability” and “just like us” appeal with followers and potential consumers, Influencers typically possess a knowledge on general consumer topics that generate trust from their audiences.
This helps stimulate purchasing habits and generate activity. Um, let’s be honest, it also doesn’t hurt that the Influencer is often very attractive and has a magnetism in some way shape or form to what a follower either desires or aspires to be like. When someone looks online for an authority figure on a subject of interest, example: health and wellness, fitness, or a work out routine, a Micro-Influencers is a natural choice. They have grown and enveloped mass appeal, in many different categories, as they are often sought for their input and trials of products, services, and experiences.
-A whopping 95 percent of consumers trust recommendations from others over content that comes from a brand, a 2011 Nielsen survey found.
Micro-Influencers can be the most effective form of ambassadorship for a variety of different reasons, but we will talk about that a little bit later on in the blog. In comparison to Micro-Influencers, the days of Celebrities and Athletes being a major go-to for Influence and marketing has waned. This, in part, has been due to the amount of compensation they are paid to be spokespersons or endorsers.
-The days of expensive endorsement with the “Pay to Play” advertising strategy isn’t quite as effective as it used to be.
To advertisers, especially small and growing to mid-size and even large companies, it simply costs too much. Paying millions on one advertisement in a challenging consumer purchasing environment just is hard to justify from a marketing budget standpoint.
-Non-celebrity bloggers are more likely than celebrities to inspire purchases, with 30 percent of consumers more likely to buy from them, a Collective Bias survey finds.
There can also be a trust or relatability issue with Celebrities and Athlete endorsements. Lifestyle parallels play a key role for consumers and it often difficult to identify from an economic, social, or personal standpoint with the activities and financial spend of a Celebrity or a Professional Athlete. As much as they are respected, admired, and even adored, it can be out of reach or perceived to be, in the eyes of many with regards to an average consumer’s purchasing habits and lifestyle.
-The preference of non-celebrity endorsement is even more evident with Millennials. 70 percent of Millennials use peer recommendations when purchasing, reported by the earlier mentioned 2011 Nielsen survey.
Where did they come from and why?
Influencers really spawned from their own efforts and dedication. The natural rise came via an increased usage of Social Media platforms and platform for interactive commentary and content. This has been a means of communication for all different ages, ethnicities’, and backgrounds for almost a decade now. The followers may have started off as friends, family, co-workers, acquaintances…and soon Influencers built networks that offered a valuable communication forum. There’s a certain intrigue and excitement surrounding individuals who lead interesting lifestyles with colorful personalities and active lives. We saw this interest originally after the launch of the “Real World”- MTV or “Big Brother”-CBS, back in the day. The appeal of Reality TV shows has naturally progressed into online variations through Social Media viewing, interaction, and the following of Influencers.
-The declination of TV viewership doesn’t mean people aren’t “watching” they’ve just started watching elsewhere…Internet alternatives & Social Media.
Online participants account for just close to half of the planet now with just over 3 Billion people (source: Global Digital Statshot August 2017). Consider that…for those of us who are pre-90’s babies, we remember the days where the internet/intranet was a concept we’d heard about in science class or used only at the Pentagon and in computer-based companies like Mac and IBM. Ads on TV were the way we decided what cereal to eat and toys to play with (Saturday morning cartoons). A big red cola bottle could literally change the world with it’s refreshing pop of the top. And a full cable TV channel was created and dedicated to telling us what to buy, 24 hours a day/7 day a week.
As we’ve seen for many years now, there are many millions of people who have replaced TV time with social media interaction, buying online, and surfing the web. Influencers are a more recent prodigy of this transition but represent a new form of highly effective marketing communication.
What can they do?
-Nowadays, an Influencer can help make a follower’s decision regarding purchasing, their virtual/online and physical activities, social/political views, or on basically anything.
They often share videos, pictures, links to other websites, go to events, and are in many cases-subject-matter industry experts on similar topics of interest with their audience. Influencers are also creative in how they generate their posts, content, and blogs, and keep it fresh and interesting. They’ve learned how to entertain and educate vicariously through sharing the narratives of their own lives, activities, and interests.
For followers, Influencers are like friends and family. For brands and companies, Influencers, especially Micro-Influencers, represent an instantaneous way to reach a huge audience quickly and at a more affordable cost. The capturing of a high-priced endorsement can also be limited to a certain audience and may not fall into cross-consumer categories. Companies have recently begun to look for more cost-effective and relatable spokespersons to be Brand Ambassadors. These messengers are often Influencers who possess major appeal to many types of audiences and have a specific relevancy to the product or service the brand is attempting to promote.
-The reach and exposure of Micro-Influencers are second to none when it comes to out of pocket marketing and timely return on investment.
The old days of paying gobs of money for an ad on the radio, TV, or in print annually, just aren’t as cost-effective and the dividends aren’t as plentiful. The benefits of Micro-Influencers include specific organic content and education with target audience relevancy for marketing. Let’s face it: It’s just not easy anymore through conventional marketing means to hit thousands or even millions of potential consumers and leave a lasting imprint.
If you want to advertise, educate, and get endorsement fast, it’s easier to do it with the click of a button. Marketing firms in the past few years have begun allocating specific budgets to “Influencer Marketing” as a result of the performance and engagement issued in real time and measurable through “likes”, “comments”, “re-posts and shares” and just plain visible exposure of how many followers an Influencer has.
Influencer marketing content provides a return on investment that is 11 times higher than traditional digital marketing forms, according to a study conducted by Nielsen Catalina Solutions.
In the ever-changing world of media and marketing, the new world of Influencer Marketing is upon us. For many companies; budgeting, strategy, and measuring results is the challenge…not accepting the medium and its efficacy.
-SO, are you ready get further introduced on LEVERAGING INFLUENCERS? Check out what alternative marketing resources can do for you or your brand and contact PUSH to learn more about its Micro-Influencer Case Studies!
Roxy L.-PUSH Agency Consultant & Contributor