Nothing will make your business shine quite like great marketing.
Marketers and marketing strategies exist to create the bond between your company and your audience – it’s how people know that you’re doing cool stuff all of the time.
It also helps steer your business through weird and changing times like, for example, a global pandemic.
2020 was a pivotal moment for pretty much everything, not least the way that brands and consumers interact with each other.
We all looked to social media as a big distraction in an unsettling time, and for businesses this became the only way to really be seen.
As a result, after a dip at the start of last year while people adjusted to locked-down life, influencer marketing is now skyrocketing.
If you haven’t tied it into your strategy, we’ll tell you why you should.
Learn more: Social Media Marketing for Small Businesses
What is influencer marketing?
An influencer is someone with a significant following on social media, typically specializing or focusing on a particular interest like beauty, gaming, or interior design.
Put very simply, when a brand pays an influencer to promote its products or services on that person’s platform, it’s called influencer marketing.
Influencer, affiliate… What’s the difference?
Affiliate marketing has been around for much longer than influencer marketing, but age isn’t the only thing that sets the two apart.
The primary goal of affiliate marketers is to grow revenue for a brand. They earn commission for every successful conversion made via their link or referral.
Success is usually measured through metrics like sales volume, conversion rate, and traffic.
With affiliate marketing, it’s important that the content used to contain the referral is compelling to the viewers.
On the other hand, the primary goal of influencer marketers is to boost engagement for a brand. They’re usually paid upfront to push their audience towards the brand.
Success is usually measured through user engagement, follower count, and lead generation.
With influencer marketing, it’s important that the person doing the influencing is compelling to viewers.
Influencers and affiliates do have things in common. For starters, they’re both third-party advocates of a brand. Plus, it’s possible for influencers to use affiliate marketing tactics, or for affiliates to start influencing.
So why is influencer marketing important now more than ever?
It’s becoming increasingly more likely that our only experience of particular brands will be online, even if they’re physically local to us.
During the pandemic, we were also more and more likely to encounter new businesses on mobile devices more than any other digital format.
A staggering shift away from physical connections means that brands need to approach marketing in a much more human way.
This is where influencer marketing can make all the difference:
It reinforces authenticity
Trust is a funny thing – we all subconsciously trust different sets of people with different things.
While we wouldn’t trust an internet stranger with our darkest secrets, we’d easily believe them when they say a weird new product is worth buying.
The thing with influencers, though, is that they aren’t seen as internet strangers. To their followers, these social media personalities are trusted advocates.
Whether they have thousands or millions of followers, successful influencers typically spend years building their online presence and they’re visible to people every single day.
That sense of familiarity, paired with their existence as public figures and money-making machines, means that they’re in the perfect position to promote a brand.
If an influencer is prepared to align themselves with a product or service, it gives their faithful audience reassurance that the brand is at least genuine.
It’s not all just theory, either. Here are a couple of stats:
- A recent UK survey found that people are twice as likely to trust influencers that they follow on social media than the actual website of the company being promoted.
- In 2019 a study found that 8 out of 10 shoppers made a purchasing decision after seeing an influencer promote the product.
Viktorija Vaickutė, a junior influencer marketing specialist here at Zyro, agrees that trust is one of the main reasons behind the phenomenon of using influencers:
We encounter tons of ads and promotions everyday, so naturally we seek some authenticity and recommendations from people who have authority in one field or another.
It boosts brand awareness
Perhaps more simply than gaining credibility for your brand, influencers can show people that you exist.
To be truly effective in a long-lasting influencer relationship, it helps to work with partners who share your company’s interests and ethos.
That said, there’s a chance that you’ll gain reach to new audiences through influencer marketing whose attention you would never have otherwise enjoyed.
As Viktorija says, working with influencers “makes it possible to access a loyal and engaged audience or community” that has built a connection with that individual.
Remember that at the core of this type of marketing is engagement.
By showing your business to their followers and gaining impressions, by way of tagged posts or mentions in Stories, an influencer is directing traffic your way.
It offers up fresh content
We all want to tap into the hottest and latest trends. Most people don’t even read reviews that have been knocking around the internet for longer than a month.
Using an influencer as a vehicle for content will pay off in more than one way. For starters, they’ll bring relevance to your brand with a fresh post.
You can then utilize that content and repurpose it on other channels, for example email newsletters, blog entries, and user-generated posts on your brand’s social media accounts.
Influencer marketing provides a new way of interpreting your own business, too.
Sure, you’ll discuss ideas before every campaign, but having a third-party influence can aid the creation of much more diverse content. As Viktorija explains:
Suggest some ideas and guidelines, but always appreciate their creative vision and content, after all, they know their audience best.
What does the influencer marketing landscape look like?
Like everyone else writing stuff on the internet, we’ve said a lot about how much Covid-19 has changed things. But it’s true, especially when it comes to influencer marketing.
Here’s what you can expect to see in 2021:
- The rise of micro-influencers. Having millions of followers on Instagram is not necessarily the most important thing. As influencer marketing is all about engagement, it matters more how engaged your audience is. Influencers with a few thousand incredibly active and engaged followers are becoming more and more prominent.
- Long-term relationships. Yes, we’re still talking about influencer marketing. As consumers become more conscious of what they buy and how meaningful their actions are, expect to see more long-term collaborations. Audiences will need to see how a brand can fit into their lives, not just their days.