From Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and everything in-between, social channels connect us to others, allow us to share our opinions, listen to opinions and engage with our trusted networks. However, more recently, these social platforms have accelerated and expanded the potential for digital influence.
Historically, word-of-mouth has been one of the best forms of influence marketing and now, the power of word-of-mouth is amplified through these social networks. Previously relying on either traditional methods of advertising or more recently, digital marketing, brands are now realising the growing power influencers have, both in engaging existing audiences as well as reaching new ones.
Recent statistics show that at the moment, approximately 70% of PR and marketing professionals use influencers for content promotion and product launches, with 68% saying that Instagram is the most important social media platform for their campaigns. Many PR and marketing professionals have admitted to favouring bloggers and social media influencers over the traditional celebrity so it begs the question, what do the bloggers, vloggers and Instagrammers of the world have that celebrities don’t?
It's all about trust
One of the most popular reasons brands are attracted to influencers over celebs (aside from the cost) is down to the trust they have built within their communities. It’s no secret that celebrities are paid extremely well for brand endorsements however most influencers have spent years growing their following by posting about products they genuinely love and use on a daily basis and this is worth more. By doing this and sharing personal updates to create that personal attachment, it’s only natural they will have a dedicated following who have trust in what they say.
Increasingly, bloggers have disclaimers stating they will only work with brands they know and genuinely like, and likewise, many vloggers mention this throughout their videos on YouTube enhancing the sense of trust amongst their followers.
Not only does this help always keep the content relevant to their followers (ensuring they return), it enhances the trust between influencer and follower as honesty was there from the outset.
A vlogger who has perfectly created a sense of trust amongst her audience is American YouTube star - Jaclyn Hill. After kick-starting her vlogging journey back in 2011, Jaclyn has been honest from the outset stating she will never accept payment from a brand or chat about a brand’s products unless she would use them personally. In May 2016, Jaclyn launched a second collaboration with Becca Cosmetics and after backlash in the press over the quality of the cosmetics in comparison to her first product line, Jaclyn pulled the products from the shelves of Becca Cosmetics and Sephora stating she wanted to stay true to herself and her followers. Jaclyn didn’t want to put her name to a product that her followers weren’t satisfied with creating a true sense of trust amongst her 3 million YouTube following.
Do influencers really increase sales?
Recent research shows 42% of internet users said they have watched a vlog within the last month rising to 50% for 16-24 year-olds and 25-34 year olds so influencers certainly have the potential to reach audiences through vlogs. Although we cannot evaluate the impact on brand sales, we checked to see the impact vloggers have on brand searches and after featuring a Cover FX product in a June YouTube video, you can see the spike in brand searches as a result. Now we’re not saying every influencer will have this impact but for brands working with Jaclyn Hill, it’s definitely paying off.
6 key reasons brands use influencers?
- They can often help reach out to millennials (vloggers especially)
- A great alternative to high cost, traditional marketing campaigns (and high cost celebrity endorsements)
- Makes brands feel more involved in digital communities
- Offers greater return on investment than other marketing activities
- Effective way of reaching large numbers of extremely relevant consumers
- More authentic way of storytelling for a brand
Top tips for using influencers
- Give them a little creative control - you might have ideas on the messaging but remember, the influencer knows their audience and knows what they will respond well to. Trust them.
- Find influencers who genuinely love your products - we cannot stress this enough, it is so important to find influencers who match your brand’s values and who have followers in your target audience. The more they love your product, the easier it will be to work with them and for them to promote your product naturally.
- Doesn’t have to be a huge following - we go back to that ages old saying, quality over quantity. When choosing an influencer, look at their following and choose someone with really engaged, responsive followers as opposed to the influencer with the most.
- Track results - establish a set of metrics from the outset so that both you, and the influencer are aware of what you are working towards. This will both allow you to evaluate the success of the campaign, it will help you decide if influencers are the best route to go down for future campaigns.
With influencer marketing growing and new blogs, vlogs and Instagram accounts appearing each day, we’re excited to see what the future holds. Will we see the day when working with influencers is standard practice for brands? Only time will tell.