The Rise of Social Media Influencers
Influencer, I know some people can't stand this word, seeing the move by some to become influencers as changing their social community, affecting their interaction, making their community all about brands and not just a chat, but like it or not these people are here to stay. Brands interactions with influencers is on the increase and I will explain why below.
I've chosen to start writing posts on Social Influencers to look at what drives them to do what they do, how they started and what sorts of brands they work with. Social Media Influencing is fast becoming part of an effective Marketing Strategy since Influencers often have a loyal audience and the ability to target brands much more effectively.
(Copyright for the top image http://www.mdgadvertising.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/blog_template_state-of-influencer-theory.jpg).
Research is showing that a focus by Brands on mid-level influencers is actually far more effective when it comes to engagement and driving "earned" media, and at a much more efficient cost than working with “professional” A-list influencers.
This is the conclusion from an analysis of over 200 social word-of-mouth campaigns, which shows that large scale social engagement is increasingly driven by a group of influencers who are referred to as the “Power Middle.” These influencers typically have a smaller but very loyal audience (2,500 to 25,000+ unique monthly visitors to their blog or other social networks). Because their communities are so loyal, these Power Middle influencers drive an average of 16x higher engagement rates than paid media and owned alternatives–and at a much lower individual cost than professional influencers.
Think about how much Brands pay to advertise in a magazine? The 10s of thousands they pay celebrities, yet it is the smaller accounts, where people have the size of following that allows them to still engage actively with their community, that work best for brands. Why? Because you and I want to buy based on a recommendation, from someone like us, not a celebrity.
Why Social Media Influencers?
Consumers are tired of paid ads and it is powerful to be recommended something by someone you trust. It's social, Influencers are often engaged in conversations with their "marketplace" on a daily basis. You can track the effect of the campaign and it increases your own SEO. (Credit https://www.grouphigh.com/social-media-influencers/)
- The social media influencer opens up a new channel for brands to connect with consumers more directly, more organically, and at scale. By creating branded content with social media influencers, brands can amplify their message.
- Action and social mentions are driven more effectively by “power middle.” Mid Level Influencers like bloggers have a smaller but more loyal audience and drive 16 times more engagement than paid media and “mega influencers.”
- Having influencers to discuss their brand experience is crucial. 88% of buyers consider online reviews “very influential” when making a purchase decision.
- Millennials represent an enormous segment of the purchasing population yet are drastically different from other verticals when it comes to how to market to them. They vet purchases and a brand’s story more than other buyers. Here their online community is very important to them.
- 90% of consumers trust peer recommendations. Only 33% trust ads
- The most effective influencer marketing strategies build and foster strong relationships with current network, happy consumers and new influencers who are active in relevant verticals.
- Since influencer marketing is about building strong relationships, a strategy that values a mutually beneficial relationship with you influencers is key.
- Consumers want authenticity from the brands they interact with. When marketers equip influencers with an entire experience to share about a brand or product the posts are more engaging.
- Develop Relationships with influencers before you need them. Relationship building takes time and once the connection is there, activating influencers becomes a lot more seamless and effective.
Analysis finds that brands can achieve both scale and engagement when working with 100 – 300 power middle influencers, vs a smaller number of high-end influencers with larger followings. Over the course of three months, a Power Middle campaign with 100 influencers routinely drives 10 actions per influencer and 30,000 to 40,000 social endorsements delivered to millions of consumers.
Why do these mid-tier influencers drive so much engagement? Their audience isn’t just consuming news but often feels a true connection and allegiance to the influencer. They are part of a community and an ongoing conversation. As a result, a mid-tier influencer’s audience is much more likely to engage with an influencer-endorsed brand.
Campaigns targeted to Power Middle influencers tend to be far more cost-effective. Typically in the range of $100-$500 per campaign depending on product and duration.
In contrast, professional influencers can require thousands, even tens of thousands of dollars to work with brands. The lower cost of the Power Middle allows brands to approach a wider set of influencers with different personalities, perspectives and vertical areas of expertise, which, in turn, can drive more focused engagement from each influencer’s audience.
In other words, because the cost of each power middle influencer is small, you can engage more people to be involved, hence you get a different reach and market per influencer. I'd note at this point that this is an emerging market, Influencers are only just waking up to their usefulness and often don't know what to charge for their work, perhaps are even embarrassed asking for money, but as this marketplace grows and people recognise their own worth, I'd expect to see brands having to pay more to use this route. It will still be more cost effective than the other routes though.
How to Build a Strategy Around Social Media Influencers
- Identify your goals before reaching out. Thinking a campaign through from the types of influencers who your buyers want to hear from to the assets you’re going to equip them with for mentions is crucial to the outreach email you send influencers you want to work with.
- Break through the clutter. We are all bombarded with advertising that marketers need to be extra creative in the way they team up with influencers. Give them something interesting to talk about.
- Focus on an experience. Instead of a simple product review, create an experience for your influencers to share with their network. This allows them to create more interesting content which leads to more engagement for your brand.
- Always think visually driven. Equip your influencers with high resolution images and photo opps for their content. How can you help them create something pretty for Instagram?
- Think outside of the box and experiments with different verticals of influencer topics. Track and monitor the engagement so you can scale the segments that work best.
- Consider more content quality and niche topics as priority. Numerical qualifiers like traffic and social data should only be considered once an influencer is vetted.
- Create a message that people actually want to hear and share. Whether it’s in the form of research, infographics, surveys, fun facts. make sure your message is something unique and interesting. (Credit:https://www.grouphigh.com/social-media-influencers/)
So if you are wondering why you are seeing more and more brands coming across your social community then this explains it. Currently there are a lot of influencers and fewer brands utilising this method and so the cost of running these campaigns is cheaper. However, as the market catches on, and people stop being embarrassed to as for money, expect the price of running such campaigns to get more expensive, especially as influencers start to realise their worth. Look at what you can achieve for a brand!
The Girl with The Green Sofa