By Pritika Matkar
To think of it, a decade ago, the term ‘social media influencer’ did not exist. But as of today, influencer marketing is a critical tool in the marketing industry along with paid advertisements across social media platforms. As people have shifted from traditional TV to social media, there has been also a significant shift in the marketing strategies of the brands as well. The power of influencers is vividly clear now.
“influencer marketing is the modern word of mouth, and is eating the lunch of traditional digital media in many ways.”– Kinser
As these social media platforms provide a huge platform for marketing and give the brands direct access to a vast audience, countless brands have started battling against one another to gain the consumer’s attention on these platforms. But with the change in the industry, it is getting difficult for brands to pitch their products or services to this new consumer base. Above all, the cost of advertising on social media platforms is rising substantially. Whereas, the organic reach to consumers is more or less dead.
This is where the influencers come in. They have been trending for a while now and are preferred only because the audience find them authentic, trustworthy and relatable.
For ages, brands have been trying to reshape the consumer’s ideas, thinking, focus and likings without the consumers even being aware of it. Promoting products via social media platforms and involving influencers to endorse these products is a form of subconscious marketing strategies that have proved to be successful in modern times.
The shift From Traditional Advertisements to Influencer Marketing
Asking celebrities to endorse products via television advertisements are a thing of past now. Instead, in recent years, the market has seen a huge shift from traditional marketing to a new tool of digital marketing called influencer marketing. Further, this marketing strategy came into existence after observing a change in consumer behaviour. At present, millennials and Gen Z occupy a major chunk of the consumer base, while Gen Z has the majority. They are also the people who spend most of their time on social media. Hence making the social media platforms the easiest way to reach them.
“If you are in business, you are in the business of influencers. Period. Saying that influencer marketing technologies and services are typically applied in situations where there are very many individuals to interact with.”– Philip Sheldrake
As a result of this shift, there are new ‘trendsetters’ in the market. These trendsetters are social media influencers who have created a celebrity status on platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, YouTube and other video-based platforms such as Tiktok or Hobo.Video. Brands have come to realize that the audience is more amenable to Instagram influencers than celebrities.
Who are these influencers, you wonder?
“An influencer is someone with the collective ear of a large audience that is a group of potential buyers in your market.”– Jeff Bullas
In short, influencers are the early adopters of new products and services in the market. They are in fact the ‘trendsetters’ who create a desire for the products among their audience base. Further, the audience finds themselves to be able to relate with these influencers. They trust these influencers while the influencers generate conversations and personalized content for the audience.
How Does Social Media Popularity Transform Into an Influence?
There are many pages on social media with a large following. But having a large follower count does not mean that you are an influencer. In order to be someone who influences people’s choices and likes, you have to be able to create an impact on these audiences. You must create a distinct and impactful impression on the minds of your followers as well as potential audience base through your content. The fundamental definition of an influencer goes as-
“Influencers are the people with significant networks (followers, readers, etc.) who can speak to a broad range of products and services with the ability to sway opinions in their favour.”- Jess Estrada
For instance, a brand can get an influencer to talk positively about their products or services in the market. As a result, their words would be impacting consumer’s mind in the way the brands dream of!
In recent years, brands have come to realize the ‘influence’ of social media personalities. Especially those who have built a genuine and trusting relationship with their audience. With this realization, influencer marketing found its existence and these social media personalities became influencers. In 2020, influencer marketing took off to become a $10 billion market. It is predicted to expand further in coming years.
What Makes These Influencers ‘Influential’?
At the core of influencer marketing, are the influencers. They are not merely marketing mouthpieces; influencers are the leaders who engage in conversation and develop a strong relationship with their audience. This keeps them in a position to partner up with the brands and endorses the products effectively.
Influencers break the barriers of traditional advertising with the authenticity and realness of their content. They tend to come off as more personal and genuine when talking about any product.
Now that we have acknowledged the shift to influencer marketing and established who are influencers, let us shed some light on how these influencers make an impact on the buyers.
1. Influencers are credible sources of information
According to psychological studies, the credibility of an endorser or an advertiser depends on a few factors. They include expertise, similarity, trustworthiness and attractiveness of their content.
An influencer creates traction by regularly interacting with their audience via stories, comment sections and live Q&A sessions, and personalized content creation. They are the experts in their niches which also accounts for their credibility while promoting a product within their niche. An influencer who focuses on a particular niche, for example, food, is termed more credible and hold the position of authority while talking about and endorsing food products or restaurant chains.
2. Gen Z Finds Influencers To Be More Relatable
Influencers create content that their audience base finds relatable. They are able to relate to the audience at a personal level by sharing the authentic content, and sometimes, by getting candid about their lives with the followers. Audiences like influencers who put in efforts to build up a relationship with them.
Influencers who engage with the community and build a strong relationship with their audience, generate more positive engagement than people with a huge follower count who do sponsor advertisements with no connection to their followers.
3. Influencers Are Experts In Their Niche
When an influencer adopts a niche, it is because they have proper knowledge of what they are talking about. This is also the reason why they have a great rapport with their audience. Influencers establish expertise in the niches that are appealing to a hyper-targeted consumer base. They use the right jargons while talking about this niche and use proper hashtags while promoting these products. The critical conversations that follow with each post are also addressed correctly and skilfully by these influencers thus, making them a dependable source of information for products belonging in their niche.
Followers recognize the expertise of influencers within their niche and follow their page with avid interest. In turn, influencers cater the fervid interest and customize their post accordingly, giving a personalized touch to their content.
“Our research shows that real life influencers who are passionate about what they are recommending have significantly more buying conversations, and consumers are more likely to act on their recommendation.”- Brad Fay
4. Creative Optimization of Content
Influencers are digital natives with extensive knowledge of social media platforms and how to efficiently use these platforms for growth. They bring a sense of emotional touch and unique creativity to the products which the marketers and brands struggle to shed light on to. Influencers have the power of optimizing the complex language of the brands and translate it in a more fun way to deliver relatable content to their audience.
Influencers can bring life even to the blandest products sold by the brands.
They invest a lot of time creating campaign strategies and come up with the most creative ways to drive a brand campaign on their pages. This makes them the best way of reaching the audience for the brands.
5. Influencers Create A Desire For Products In Their Audience
Influencers are usually the early adopters of products and trends. Then, they go on to become the ‘trendsetters’ for the audience. These influencers use their social media platforms to amplify the message they wish to deliver and reach a wide range of audience. With this amplification, they generate a desire to own these products in the audience as the audience find these products ‘trendy’.
This often results in increased product sale for brands. However, this can only happen if brands understand influencers cannot be their puppets. An influencer’s followers only care about them and not the brand. To drive a successful campaign, the influencers need to act independently and create personalized and authentic content to endorse the product. If the partnership is rushed or one-sided, it can result in alienating the audience and inauthenticity.
How are influencers bringing in big results for brands?
Hobo.Video has compiled few studies showing the power of influencers and how they have helped change the shape of marketing game for major brands-
1. #TridentSocialHotel- Hotel Trident, Hyderabad
Hotel Trident, Hyderabad launched an amazing influencer marketing campaign #TridentSocialHotel, inviting many social media influencers through platforms like Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. The objective behind this campaign was to create a buzz on these platforms. Many influencers tweeted and Instagrammed about their stay experience at this hotel with this hashtag. This campaign made more than 1.2 million impressions for the said hashtag on Twitter, giving the brand recognition to a very large audience.
2. #FightHunger- Walmart
Walmart partnered up with seven social media influencers for a charitable initiative, with the intention to raise funds for Feeding America. They had pledged to donate $0.90 in return of every like, share and comment with #FightHunger on every Instagram post sponsored by Walmart. Vlogger Logan Paul’s Instagram post was most effective for his exclusive engagement. The CTA prompted the followers to act towards the cause. Walmart effectively boosted sentiment among more than 16.2 million Americans via this influencer collaboration. They raised $1.5 million for Feeding America campaign with a high Instagram engagement rate of 23%. They could generate 3.2 million likes and 216k comments through Instagram accounts of seven influencers.
3. The Walking Dead mobile game campaign on Youtube
To release The Walking Dead mobile game, the company Next Games partnered up with all-star YouTubers like Lele Pons. These YouTubers together hold an audience of about 18 million subscribers. A four-minute comedy skit was created where zombies attack these Youtubers in real life. Lele Pons was a standout of this campaign and successfully brought shareability to reach a wide range of audience for Next Games. This campaign led to a large number of downloads for this game.
The Bottom Line-
The bottom line is that an influencer has the power to make or break the marketing game for a brand. They are trusted by their audience and are more likely to be believed in, over the brands. Influencers impact a wide range of audience on various social media platforms like Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and other video-driven platforms like Hobo.Video and Tiktok.
One of the most popular examples for this is Snapchat stocks hitting an all-time low in 2018 when beauty mogul Kylie Jenner tweeted that she does not use Snapchat any more, as she did not like the redesigned features that rolled out in that year. This tweet resulted in a plunge wipeout of about $1.3 billion of the company’s market value.
“Influencers think that because they have some audience, they have power. And of course, they have some power. But they should be careful in how they use it.”- Tim Bax
Use your powers correctly and create amazing campaigns. Cheers!