For the ultimate brand ambassadors, many companies trust social media influencers to build their online presence and strengthen loyalty to the company. These influencers directly engage the target audiences of a brand using online discussions, videos and other types of content through social media platforms. Its rise in popularity has made this type of marketing highly effective in reaching and engaging with shoppers.
With the growth of influencer marketing set to reach $10 billion by 2022, as reported by Business Insider, brands would be wise to integrate this strategy into their advertising program, sooner rather than later. In fact, 58% of brand strategists and marketers believe it will be integrated in all marketing activities by 2020. The proven success of this approach, combined with the prominence of social media in everyday life, has shoppers flocking to these major platforms to gain product advice and recommendations from their favorite influencers. And when you utilize social media for your program, you have an opportunity to boost brand awareness, establish connections and create brand loyalty among shoppers.
The Impact of Social Media
Although brand ambassadors have long represented companies before the rise of social media, these popular digital platforms have streamlined the process considerably. On Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Pinterest and other social media platforms, influencers can directly create and post content that ends up cycling through their followers’ news feeds. The original and shared content helps build awareness of the brand and positions its products and services as leaders in the industry. Furthermore, influencers help to reinforce your brand voice and personality for shoppers to connect with while using these platforms.
Social media reaches nearly one-third of the world’s entire population, with the number of users expected to hit 3.02 billion 2021. And beyond its extensive reach, the channel also impacts what users buy. In particular, 49% of millennials say that social media influences their purchase decisions. However, it’s beneficial to consider your target audience’s age when determining which platforms can provide the best reach. While Instagram influences almost 75% of user purchase decisions, the generational breakdown includes 89% of Millennials, 82% of Gen Xers and 65% of Baby Boomers. Pinterest, for example, has a big influence on the shopping habits of people 18-24 years old, according to Statista, making it a great platform for those marketing to shoppers in that age group.
Shoppers who follow these brand ambassadors on social media end up trusting their advice and even changing their buying habits based on their recommendations. The result is that brands have a cost-effective method to reach target shoppers, generate relevant leads and drive conversions.
5 Tips for Working with Social Media Influencers
If you want to tap into the power of this marketing strategy, you must find an effective influencer to represent your brand and drive measurable results. You can utilize the following tips to make the most of your partnership.
Pitch Social Media Influencers
To attract skilled and experienced influencers to your brand, you must send pitches out on a regular basis. Although they are publicly active on social media, your pitches should come through private channels and be highly personalized to that individual. Email offers the best return, with 83% of influencers utilizing this type of correspondence most often, as reported by Devrix.
Before you start creating your pitches, get to know the work of your preferred influencers. Follow their activity and look for posts and other content that could support your marketing efforts. Look for creativity, innovation and the ability to create solid connections with their followers. When you create your pitch, include information you learned from the research phase to help you better connect with your influencer. Your pitch should have information about compensation, usage rights and your overarching campaign schedule to help them decide if the partnership will be beneficial to them.
Leverage a Variety of Influencer Campaigns
Social media influencers can leverage a variety of campaigns to promote your brand and product lines. The campaign types may include Twitter parties, sweepstakes, freebies, unboxings, competitions and creative content. Using your influencers as creators, for example, helps establish a mutually-beneficial brand partnership and representation across all supported social media channels.
A multi-faceted approach is needed to maximize the success of your social media marketing campaigns. Watch company Daniel Wellington uses a combination of user-generated content, discount codes and freebies to build brand awareness and drive sales through social influencer marketing. Allow your partners to use a variety of campaign types to continually engage target audiences to represent your brand. Otherwise, the content could grow stale and fail to attract the attention of even their loyal followers.
Test Content Across Platforms and Audience Segments
As social media sites attract certain demographics of shoppers, brands cannot typically achieve equal success across all of them. And trying to establish a presence on every single channel is out of reach for even the most successful influencers. For example, a fashion influencer may receive more engagement on Instagram – a visual platform – than on her blog. Therefore, you must test content across platforms to determine where to best focus your efforts. According to Meltwater, YouTube is great for show and tell, Instagram is effective at inspiring shoppers to take action and editorial content can be used to convince and educate.
You will also need to test across audience segments to ensure you can identify and reach your target audience. Your influencer will need to speak directly to those shoppers to optimize engagement. Before that can happen, you must pinpoint exactly who your audience is, and use social media platforms to segment it into various groups by defining factors. Then identify the group of people who engage with your content most. By narrowing down your target audience and social media platform focus, you can maximize your success in reaching your social influencer marketing goals.
Go Beyond The Norm
You will need to occasionally go beyond social media to strengthen the link between your online brand presence and physical store locations. And social influencers can help, as these campaigns have proven to impact in-store traffic. You can achieve this by scheduling in-store events and having your influencer advertise them on your preferred social media channels. Alternatively, you can have influencers come to the event to create and share content that helps drive additional traffic into your stores.
To ensure your influencers can gather excellent photographs and video for sharing on social media, strive to make your event as visually appealing as possible. As they create content, link all posts about the event using a branded hashtag. In addition, have your influencers tag your store’s location to each post in order to drive foot traffic.
Measure Your Success
With strong analytics tools in place, you can constantly monitor the performance of your social media influencer marketing strategies. For the best results, follow your shoppers through the buyer’s journey, watching the key performance indicators (KPIs) that match those phases. For the awareness phase of the buyer’s journey, for example, you can look at reach indicators (like views and impressions), while engagement indicators best show marketing performance in the interest phase. Your success in the action phase of the buyer’s journey is best indicated by conversions and return on investment (ROI).
A simple way to track the actions social media users take is to attach Urchin tracking module (UTM) codes to the URLs used by influencers. These codes will give you the ability to track the success of each campaign through Google Analytics. Using this measurement strategy allows you to track visitors sent to your website through social media from a specific influencer.
Reaping the Rewards of a Solid Influencer Marketing Program
Social media’s popularity, reach and ease of use has made it an integral part of any brand’s influencer marketing activities. When you partner with these professionals, you can leverage the power of social media to build your online brand presence and strengthen the loyalty of your shoppers. To achieve success, keep these best practices in mind. With the right approach, you can maximize social media to boost your influencer marketing results.