We’ve all seen them. It is nearly impossible to avoid the new wave of personalized ads, often facilitated or conducted by ‘influencers’ who are seemingly just one of us. Businesses pair themselves with social media influencers to promote their products to new customers via the influencer’s media presence or platform.
In the age of social media, we have seen a sudden rise in the prominence and success of influencer marketing. A strategy that utilizes the familiarity of our digital circles to promote trustworthiness and reliability. Society’s addictive consumption of various social media hubs creates the perfect climate for businesses to thrive and reach a large audience.
What better way to influence a marketplace than to infiltrate advertising into regular consumer activity? Data from the Pew Research Center indicated that;
- “There are now 3.196 billion people using social media, up 13% from last year.”
- “90% of brands use social media to increase brand awareness.”
- “By 2019, social media marketing spending in the United States alone will increase to $17.34 billion.”
This illustrates the market that is currently existing for influencer marketing strategists and why it remains a leading media trend in 2018.
What exactly is an influencer?
Marketingprofs explains that; “An influencer can be anyone, from a blogger to a celebrity, but they must always have credibility and a niche.”
They are social media personalities that often have a large, trusted audiences. The dead giveaway in recognizing an influencer online is via their brand associations. These can sometimes be difficult to decipher or uncover, but often they will post direct ads, advocating their brand’s products.
They aid companies in the creation of content for advertising by formatting an individualized post about the product. Then, they post the content and through subliminal or direct advertising they end up promoting the product or business to increase awareness.
How companies are rewarding influencers
Successful influencers are trustworthy and promote lots of engagement between themselves and their followers. Businesses also look for influencers who value consistency and high quality when posting digital content. They also look for candidates to have a genuine interest or passion for the niche they are looking to promote.
Influencers often receive payment for their marketing or will be rewarded in the form of free products.
In certain circumstances, influencers are able to achieve a monetary income high enough to provide for themselves. Successful influencers have created full-time careers for themselves simply by promoting online and capitalizing on this marketing trend.
Krystal Bick is a great example of the magnitude of success seen by some influencers. This former product marketing manager at Google left her full-time job in 2015 to become an influencer in the travel/lifestyle realm. She disclosed that on average she makes four figures per post and up to five figures for brand ambassador programs, which are typically a combination of Instagram and blog posts.
Krystal explains that her approach to influencing is no small feat. She works for herself, and her foundation from working at Google is mostly what she attributes her success to. “When brands realize I speak the same marketing language as them and understand their campaign objectives, I think it helps solidify their faith in influencer marketing, and in me and my business specifically.”
Not as easy as it seems
Money, free stuff and social recognition? It looks too good to be true. A personalized marketing career that allows for flexibility and authenticity. The trend of social media influencers seems attainable, and there is an increasing amount of success stories that make it a sought-after career but do you really have what it takes to be an influencer?
Brittany Hennessy, the senior director of influencer strategy and talent partnerships at Hearst Digital Media explains in her article that posting the perfect photo and making a living off of it is harder than it looks, especially if you want to rely on it as a full-time career.
As the scout and manager of influencers for large brands including Cosmopolitan, Esquire, and Harper’s Bazaar she discloses that the most successful influencers are the ones who have had previous job experience. She claims that business savvy is the most important skill to obtain in the quest for success as an influencer; “Very few influencers have the business skill set to do this job, and that’s basic things, like replying all to an email, knowing what ‘end of day’ means versus ‘close of business’ and going the extra step, making presentations, and that sort of thing.”
Becoming one of them
If you still feel like you’re adequately equipped with the skill set needed to reign over the social media world, it is time to reach out.
Kéla Walker, a producer, and style influencer explains how reaching out to brands is also a valued strategy to begin influencing on social media; “Do the work for them (the brand), so the only thing they have to do is write you a check. Say, I love this product, and I already use it. I’d like to create content with you as a sponsor. Here are some ideas. Lay out your stats, including engagement numbers and follower count. Rates vary, but people with 100,000 followers can make up to $2,500per sponsored post.”
Once you have a niche, followers, high-quality posts and content and have reached out to a brand, it is time to prove your digital media talent and presence. Influencers are also required to have the charisma that allows them to reach broad audiences and creates an authentic feel online.
Remember it is also up to the brands to shape consumer’s perceptions and in turn need to be able to clearly identify their communication objectives to find the right fit in an influencer.
The Cooperate Communications Journal explains this further;
“The goal (of the business) is to stimulate an engaging conversation that allows us to diagnose expectations and bring clarity to the dialogue. That’s the essence of developing a brand strategy – the foundation of your communication that builds authentic relationships between you and your audience. It is by defining the brand strategy that allows you to utilize marketing, advertising, public relations, and social media to consistently and accurately reinforce your character. Without defining the core strategy, all channels of communication can often become a hit and miss expense.”
Successes in influencer marketing come from both parties when they (the influencer and the brand) are parallel in their expectations and have communicated their objectives clearly and effectively. Teamwork makes the dream work and in this case- the success of an influencer is not solely dependent on the influencer them self. It is essential to recognize all the factors and roles that play into success stories.
If one thing is certain- it’s that the market is constantly evolving. Although the trend of influencers remains prominent who’s to say this will withstand the test of time.
Jason DeMers in Forbes predicts that quality assessment tools may cause hang-ups for current successful influencers; “soon, we may have tools that can give us a detailed breakdown of their followers’ demographics, better understand their engagement rates, and even judge the quality of the relationships they have with their followers.”
He also notes that a large following may no longer be enough to break into the influencer trend.
Although the goal remains to create and build an authentic connection between brand and consumer, perhaps the influencer market will soon become too flooded creating distrust and confusion.
What are your thoughts on influencer marketing? Will this trend last for years to come?