Everyday people with everyday stories, making everyday decisions – ticked as credible. Digital marketing is entering the age of the influencer – one where consumers are sold products and services by other consumers, thus closing the gap in advertising.
A digital influencer by definition is a person with a large social media following that is leveraged to influence purchasing decisions. Considering the wave of social media influencers, this is a marketing strategy not to be written off. The statistics speak for themselves. According to Google, 70% of teenage YouTube subscribers trust influencers more than their favourite celebrities, and a whopping 86% of women turn to social media for help with their purchasing decisions.
All in all, user-generated content (UGC) can have a tremendous impact on the field of marketing and advertising. But, what is it that makes influencers a potentially lucrative investment as well as a more concrete way to build your brand’s persona and credibility?
About the Money
Since we’re talking investments, it’s important to touch upon the monetary aspects of the influencer marketing business. As a brand, having done your research on the various influencers supporting and endorsing your industry, and proceeding to cherry-pick the ones with the highest number of followers and the most active engagement, you can then outline a well-laid out marketing strategy backed with your expertise in the field, and the unique consumer insights you obtain from the influencer of your choice. Now, comes the execution, and here you will find that your influencer-driven program is yielding higher conversions, from a more diverse audience, at a much lower cost than any uber-expensive celebrity could benefit your brand with. The “why” of this takes us to the next point.
The beauty of influencer content is that your brand is woven seamlessly into relatable, everyday posts from the influencer’s life. Unlike content endorsed by celebrities, an influencer will make an effort to dive deep into various aspects of a product or service, while still showcasing how it is incorporated in daily life. Influencers are also perceived as being “one of us”. This means that they seem to be more on the side of the consumer than of the brand. Paradoxically, this can work to your brand’s benefit. With traditional advertising, only the positives of a product are highlighted, and these are few in number, because no one has the patience to view content about reams of specifications and benefits. Influencers can turn this around, by showing the end-user what they are interested in rather than what the brand thinks they should be interested in. This enables targeting two birds with one stone – not only are you advertising, but you are also getting insider insight to supplement your data-driven market research.
It’s Straightforward, but Transformative
According to a survey conducted by Nielsen, only 33% of consumers trust advertisements, while 90% depend on recommendations from their peers. Influencers are like consumer peers, affecting the decisions of the masses in an honest, straightforward and detailed manner. Instagram influencer, Murad Osmann, with a following of 4.1 million, shot to fame with his #followmeto project. Counted amongst the top 3 travel influencers by Forbes, he epitomises consumer stardom. Not only does his feed provide a plethora of images spanning continents, it also showcases sneak peeks into his stays at various hotels around the world. Using his distinct photography skills and his passion for travel, he transformed from an Instagram poster to an influencer star! It’s not just his individual posts that can influence other travellers to follow in his footsteps, it’s the point he has reached that can motivate others bitten by the travel bug to market the places they visit and love.
It has Different Elements
Closer to home, fashion and lifestyle influencer, Aashna Bhagwani is also a well-loved body-positivity advocate. With every post of hers, not only does she provide slice-of-life excerpts from her work and leisure activities, she also enlightens her followers on style tips, fashion trends, and most importantly, being comfortable in one’s own skin. How does this translate into marketing for a brand? While talking at length about her belief in body positivity and how she has developed confidence, she also shows her followers what clothing brands have helped, and continue to help her on her journey to embracing her body. This inspires others like her not only to try out the brands she endorses, but also to embrace these very brands as having the ideology that she as an influencer propagates. This is perhaps the most intelligent, and wholesome use of influencer marketing, where a brand like Amydus has its products publicised as not just products, but also as a philosophy and a principle.
Influencer marketing has wide-ranging benefits, and its biggest advantage is the fact that it can target consumers across the marketing funnel. From creating awareness, to instilling intent, right up to nudging purchasing decisions, this is one investment that when well-used, can positively impact a brand, especially in the long run. The way I see it, influencers aren’t going out of fashion anytime soon!