When I grow up I want to be a social media influencer?!
We have probably all heard about a new type of celebrities: the “instafamous”, or more widely known as social media influencers. These influencers can be defined as social media users with a large audience in an established and specific industry, who are able to influence their audience and activate them to do or buy certain products.
Through social media marketers can apply conversational marketing strategies, which are strategies that focus on creating a dialog between customers, prospects and influencers. The created dialog builds trust between the parties, leading to a lasting relationship which can be beneficial for the attitudes people have towards certain brands.
Influence 2.0 (schematic representation below) was created by influence measurement firm Cymfony. It depicts that today social media combines and intertwines with (mainstream) media and together they make the connection between the audience and the brand.
The social media influencers can be seen as spokespersons for certain brands. However, you may wonder why brands would prefer this over advertising. We have listed a few notable reasons why social media influencers are a growing asset to marketing:
- Partnering with online influencers can boost your SEO. When for instance bloggers with a big audience introduce your brand in one of their articles or review your product after trying it, this in combination with backlinks to your own brand creates more traffic towards your brand and a higher search engine ranking.
- It is easier for a third party to gain credibility when it comes to speaking about a product. It is difficult for companies to gain the trust of consumers, and this will be easier when the favorable opinion is brought by someone not directly tied to the brand.
- By using online influences, the reach of your message will automatically be enhanced by the number of followers this person has. This will also spark effective word-of-mouth attention to your brand.
- Even though it may reach a smaller audience than a large-scale advertisement campaign, it may be cost-efficient to invest in approaching media influencers, especially when companies have smaller budgets for their PR.
- Because many of these micro-influencers are settled in specific niches, using these spokespersons may create high-quality leads. If you are able to target the right influencers you can bring your product to the right target audience.
The monetary incentives in this specific PR-sector should not be underestimated. Social media influencers are able to make a living out of their sponsored posts. The amount of sponsored posts on Instagram has increased from around 200.000 in 2015 to 400.000 in 2016. Major brands are paying around $255 million a month for Instagram posts only.
Increasingly, people have been able to make a full-time career out of this phenomenon, and there are even cases of people being able to travel the world for years and being paid to document their journey and keep travelling.
Where many see an opportunity for the future in this post-modern version of celebrity endorsement, there are still many downsides to this new form of social media marketing. The biggest argument here that a big audience does not automatically mean that you have the power to activate this audience.
It has also been shown that where 92% of consumers trusts brand advocates, highly-satisfied customers, only 18% trusts influencers. This lack of trust mostly stems from the fact that influencers typically receive monetary incentives to mention or use a product, which makes their opinion subject to bias.
Another argument is that social media influencers only create short-term loyalty to the brand, whereas brand advocates help establish a long-lasting relationship based on genuine passion and trust.
Whether or not being a social media influencer can be seen as a career will always remain a discussion, but the fact remains that it sure can pay the bills. Implementing it in your marketing mix can be an opportunity to reach a broader and well-defined audience, but it also has it’s disadvantages on the long-term.
Do you follow any social media influencers on for example Instagram? And do you think you can be unconsciously triggered to buy a product if it appears on your timeline? Let us know in the comments!