Most parents would roll their eyes at a child who says they want to be a social media influencer when they grow up. But it’s now a legitimate profession and has been for some time.
In fact, a recent survey found that 29% of U.S. kids ages 8 to 12 listed “YouTube star” as their dream job, beating out teacher (29%), professional athlete (23%), musician (19%), and astronaut (11%).
They might be onto something, too. The monetary value of influencer marketing is now more than a $13 billion industry—over double its worth from just three years ago. And data suggests payments made to influencers in the U.S. alone will surpass $4.5 billion in 2023.
Influencer marketing’s massive growth spurt proves that while “kids these days” might have less interest in going to the moon, they can certainly help take your brand there.
Why should my brand get into influencer marketing?
Influencer marketing value goes way beyond dollars generated from codes and links. Here is a look at a few of the most significant ways the strategy can give you an extra step on your next campaign.
Establish trust and credibility.
Influencers have a far stronger connection with their followers than brands do with their customers. That’s because influencers are real people, not just faceless entities.
By engaging with their fans and giving them access to their lives, they create a community of like-minded people who trust them for life advice and product recommendations. Influencers then pass that trust and credibility off to their favorite brands, who become members of that community by association.
But not all influencers are created equally. Consumers want to hear from creators who are legitimate fans of the brands they promote—not ones who hawk whatever product comes their way.
One way to nurture brand affinity with an influencer is by sending them a sample of your product before you invite them to collab. If they genuinely enjoy it and understand your brand’s mission, then you can talk about a partnership.
Improve brand awareness and consumer engagement.
If you’re a newer brand looking to blast your name to the masses, partnering with influencers with large followings is the quickest way to make yourself known.
But it will take more than a single post from a well-known creator to get results. That creator will also need a way to engage followers with “thumb-stopping” content that incentivizes them to learn more about you.
Some of the most engaging influencer content includes:
- Unboxing videos
- Live FAQs
@kaelimaee she’s a beauty.. i’m obsesseddd🤤 #fyp #foryoupage #asmr #unboxing #imac #apple #computer #satisfying #ShowYourGlow #CurameChoreo ♬ Stylish Jazz HipHop – Future Oriented Triad
Keep in mind that collaborating with larger influencers can get expensive. Before you commit to a partnership, be sure the creator regularly engages with their fans and has a history of successful collaborations.
Execute more targeted outreach.
While macro and celebrity influencers are ideal for generating brand awareness, nano and micro influencers help brands target more niche audiences. Smaller creators also tend to have a higher engagement rate than their larger counterparts, meaning they have more trust and credibility with their audience.
As brands evolve, these influencers can also help them reach new audiences they think could benefit from new product releases.
For example, when SlumberPod hit the scene with its portable canopy to provide a dark sleep space for room sharing with a baby or toddler, it naturally turned to travel influencers and mommy bloggers to help promote the product.
But the brand needed to branch out when it released a similar product for pets. So, SlumberPod turned to nano and micro influencers in the pet care space to reach an entirely new audience that quickly became hooked.
Improve SEO rankings.
One oft-forgotten benefit of influencer marketing is its ability to help improve SEO rankings. When influencers with highly trafficked blogs share your website, it provides a quality backlink needed to show up on the coveted first page of Google’s search results.
Adding influencer and user-generated content (UGC) is also a great way to make your website more appealing to visitors. The more interesting users find your content, the more likely they are to spend more time on your site, making the Google site crawlers look upon you far more favorably.
See also: Influencer Marketing SEO Best Practices to Send Your Web Traffic Through the Roof
Share your brand story.
Many influencers have made careers telling the story of their lives, so let them do the same for your brand. Everyone has an origin story, and revealing yours gives audiences a chance to learn more about your brand and products in a fun and natural way.
Roger Vivier—a luxury shoe, bag, and accessory brand—pulled this off masterfully with the help of fashion influencer May Berthelot. By visiting a boutique with a Roger Vivier brand ambassador, May (and her audience) learned how the company got started, some fashion industry history, and fun anecdotes about the brand’s early days.
Here’s a look at the final product. Full disclaimer: You’ll need to understand French to get the full effect, but you’ll get the idea.
Instagram influencer marketing: Is it still the place to be?
Instagram was once the undisputed king of influencer marketing. But now, other platforms have stepped up to the challenge, forcing brands to take a closer look at where to focus their marketing efforts.
Here is a quick look at each and how you can benefit from implementing them into your influencer marketing mix.
Just because other platforms are catching up in the influencer marketing space doesn’t mean Instagram is falling off—just the opposite, in fact.
The platform also boasts three of the top five most popular content formats among marketers. Here’s a look at the full list:
- Instagram Stories: 85%
- Instagram posts: 78%
- Facebook posts: 55%
- Instagram Reels: 49%
- TikTok posts: 43%
Instagram has placed a major emphasis on Reels as it tries to keep up with TikTok and the growing popularity of short-form video content. It’s also prioritizing creators on the platform by testing subscription services that let them charge a monthly fee for exclusive content.
No platform has seen more growth in the last few years than TikTok. With U.S. adults spending just over 4% of their social media time on the platform in 2019, that number has quadrupled and now sits at just over 16%, trailing only Instagram and Facebook.
TikTok has also proven its purchase-driving power time and time again with trends like #TikTokMadeMeBuyIt—a hashtag that has generated more than 100 billion views and counting.
Fortunately for marketers, the platform has not yet become oversaturated with branded partnerships. More than 50% of marketers have yet to leverage TikTok for influencer marketing in 2022, making now the perfect time to get in while you’re still early to the game.
Instagram might be the king of influencer marketing platforms, but YouTube is the OG. And it still sits neck-and-neck with new-kid-on-the-block TikTok for most daily time spent on a social platform.
With the recent release of Shorts, YouTube can now compete in the short-form video arena. It also remains the go-to spot for educational long-form content like tutorials, how-tos, and FAQs.
Additionally, research shows viewers trust YouTube influencers more than nearly all forms of traditional advertising. According to Hub Research, a creator endorsement is:
- 71% more likely to convert than a television ad
- 70% more likely to convert than a social media ad
- 63% more likely to convert than a digital ad
- 61% more likely to convert than a print ad
- 60% more likely to convert than a radio commercial
Even though TikTok is shiny and new(ish), Pinterest might be the platform to keep an eye on in the future. As one of the more creative communities on social media, the “discovery” platform is ripe for brands looking to implement influencer marketing.
Some have already begun to take notice. Experts estimate the number of Pinterest buyers will grow by more than 8% this year to 15.1 million.
And the platform has worked hard to release new innovative features in response to those upward trends, including:
- Your Shop – Personalized shopping pages with curated content based on a user’s activity and preferences
- Checkout – An in-app checkout tool
- Pinterest API – A shopping interface that automates a retailer’s catalog uploads and updates.
LinkedIn might be the last platform most people think about when they hear “influencer marketing.” But that’s all changed recently, thanks partly to its new “creator mode” feature meant for influencers and public figures.
Now, users can follow creator profiles instead of needing both parties to agree to a “connection.” But this minor change is only the beginning.
LinkedIn is already one of the most trusted social networks. And while it might not always be top-of-mind for influencer marketers, nearly one-third of its users say they’ve bought a product after seeing a LinkedIn creator advertise it.
As perhaps the most “professional” network, brands looking to reach those in a higher tax bracket can likely have plenty of luck on LinkedIn moving forward.
There’s good news and bad news when it comes to Facebook.
The bad news: it’s hemorrhaging users at an alarming rate.
The good news: It’s still by far the most-used platform in the world (for now).
In the U.S., Facebook has over 100 million more active users than the next leading platform (YouTube). But its share of social media time has plummeted over the last three years.
In 2019, U.S. adults spent a whopping 35% of their social media time on Facebook. Instagram was a distant second with 16.7%. But Facebook’s timeshare fell to 25.7% in 2022, and data suggests it will continue to fall through 2024.
Despite the falling numbers, Facebook still boasts considerable buying power. More than 67% of adults said the platform had inspired them to make a purchase, while over 74% said they had made a purchase directly from the app.
How can I measure influencer marketing ROI?
There are many ways for brands to calculate influencer marketing ROI.
The most common way is by comparing how much you paid an influencer (product cost, pay-per-post, etc.) to how much revenue that creator generated through links and codes.
But the real definition of ROI goes far beyond simple dollars and cents.
For a comprehensive view of ROI, brands must look at how their creators affect web traffic, brand sentiment, social growth, education, and more. Only by incorporating a full-funnel approach to influencer marketing can brands reach their maximum ROI potential.
Examples of companies who built their brand on social media influencer marketing
Co-founder Jake Kassan was working as a valet driver when he and Kramer LaPlante started MVMT Watches in 2013. But in just five short years, the 20-something-year-olds grew a business worth $300 million.
How? Influencer marketing.
MVMT leveraged micro influencers with 30,000 to 50,000 followers posting images that reflected the company’s tone and style. The brand sent the creators products in exchange for posts, and before long, the content started to gain traction. That’s when the team realized the potential of leveraging creator partnerships not only to create content, but as an extremely cost-effective way to drive sales.
Trifecta launched its science-backed meal delivery system with the core belief that there are three fundamental areas of health: mind, body, and social.
With that in mind, the brand set out to cultivate an influencer community that understood its vision and identified with its mission. Trifecta leveraged its creator team to share its brand story and ultimately increase ROI across all marketing channels.
With influencer marketing, the Trifecta team built a nine-figure brand that continues to push boundaries in the creator economy.
@_jen_hamilton_ To get a box of fresh meat sent to your door, click the link in my bio and quit buying meat at the grocery store! #butcherboxpartner #butcherbox #recipes ♬ original sound – Jen Hamilton
ButcherBox is a meat delivery service founded in 2015. The brand’s key to influencer marketing success is partnering with creators who care about community, sustainable agriculture, preserving the planet, and who love to eat.
As a subscription box service, ButcherBox took advantage of the opportunity to leverage creators for engaging “unboxing” content. The strategy resulted in thousands of new fans being introduced to the brand by their favorite influencers.
ButcherBox’s mission is now to become more of a brand than a “meat-in-the-mail” company. In 2022 and beyond, the team hopes to expand into restaurants and grocery stores and will count on influencers to help them get there.
Key takeaway: The value of influencer marketing has never been higher for brands in the creator economy.
The value of influencer marketing has grown exponentially over the past decade and shows no signs of slowing down. Brands that can harness the power of authentic content creators will have an edge that brands with more traditional marketing strategies can no longer compete with.
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