Becoming an “Instagram famous” public figure is glamorous and coveted, and no one has quite figured out the algorithm that launches these individuals to astronomical success. Social media influencers tend to be bloggers or business owners who evolve into lifestyle icons in their respective communities. Companies are bending over backwards trying to get promotional content for their products posted on influencers’ personal media channels, but what makes this style of marketing so special?
1. Influencers are just like you and me.
While these bloggers may have reached mini-celebrity status, their humble beginnings and often casual content make their personalities seem more relatable than those of movie stars posing on the red carpet. Followers take their recommendations, whether sponsored or not, more seriously because influencers seem like “real, everyday people.” Audiences often feel a more personal connection with these content creators than with official company pages.
2. Online followers are more enthusiastic audience members than magazine skimmers.
Traditional media advertisements like TV spots or billboards do not have the same reach and engagement that social media allows. The ability to like, comment, reply, and share enables dialog between product ambassadors and potential customers, which significantly strengthens brand loyalty. This “cult following” is seen with many entertainment and lifestyle businesses.
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3. Product Tags.
Instagram is especially vital to influencers’ success, thanks to the ability to link followers to the website where they can purchase items featured in an image. The in-app shopping cart is a sneaky, effective tool that shortens the buying cycle between seeing an influencer promote a brand and making a purchase. This is beneficial for buyers and sellers alike, as it encourages impulse splurges and offers greater convenience in the former’s shopping experience.
Another notable tool brands use includes affiliate discount codes that influencers share on their social channels. People can use these links to shop from the company’s website at lower prices, and the partners who share the link or code also receive a cut from the sale. This incentivizes both influencers to promote the brand more frequently and potential customers to make purchases believing they are getting a bargain on the products.
4. The Blurred Line Between Advertising and PR.
Advertisements are content that a company pays to feature in a publication or other media outlet. In PR, we focus on unsponsored editorial-style features that third parties choose to share in their media. The latter is easily the more desirable – third party validation of your product’s relevance to wider audiences, requiring little to no monetary investment. When companies send PR packages to influencers, they count on the individual to share their (hopefully) positive impressions of the products to thousands of people on their social media.
When influencers excessively make both sponsored and unsponsored posts on their media channels, the distinction between “paid to say these words” and “saying these words because I believe them” is often lost and followers tend to trust both types of posts. While ads may be more costly for companies, it might not make a difference if it leads to purchases just the same!
Influencer partnerships continue to increase in popularity as businesses leverage high follower counts and content viewership. Customers trust influencer recommendations and use social media to interface with products at a deeper level than they ever could with a magazine ad. Social media bloggers gain more content to feature and insights on their audience’s preferences – a fascinating balancing act that seems to benefit all parties involved.
Are influencer sponsorships truly effective for growing companies? What are the possible long term impacts of these partnerships? Let us know on Twitter or in the comments below.