Social networks are increasingly becoming relevant to our society, no longer just on a personal level: companies, gurus, brands, etc. social media is becoming a serious business even on a professional level. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and Instagram are now used daily to speak directly to consumers or potential consumers.
A really specific figure was born from these channels: the Influencer.
These are people, with a very large amount of followers on social networks, that could be more or less authoritative voices in a certain field, or simply people loved by the public.
Brands entrust these figures to convey their messages to their followers. Therefore, these figures help the increase of Brand Recognition, boosting sales in a short time. This is due to the fact that the public identifies with the influencer and wants to emulate the character they love.
Influencers have the skill to turn people into customers.
This type of communication strategy leads to positive results such as: Brand Awareness (i.e. the consideration that the public has of the brand in question), Business Leads (i.e. the increase of the number of contacts that can turn into customers), Sales (the actual sale of a product or service).
Influencer Marketing is a field that is certainly destined to expand.
What is Influencer Marketing and who are Influencers?
Influencers convey and amplify the messages of brands to their target audience. They are therefore not chosen only on the basis of how famous they are (which is certainly it is an important factor for certain strategic choices), but above all for the type of reputation that they enjoy, by how much their followers trust them, and therefore how much they can influence the actions of their followers.
Influencers convey messages, generate conversations, word of mouth and relationships. This certainly gives visibility to the brand.
Influencer marketing can therefore prove to be a winning and effective strategy, but for this to be successful, certain key elements must be present:
- The reputation of the chosen Influencer must be consistent with the values that the brand endorses.
- The influencer’s authority should not be underestimated. In fact, it is preferable to choose someone recognized as a capable and reliable person in their sector and in the sector of the brand.
- The Influencer must possess certain skills and abilities in their field.
- The Community is also important. The latter is the network of followers of the Influencer. The relationships the Influencer has with his/her community also count.
- Word of mouth is definitely important in Influencer Marketing. As a matter of fact, through trust, respect and affection a network is created and a message can become viral.
- The ability of Influencers to influence opinions and decisions is fundamental, as it can stimulate precise actions such as the purchase of a product or service.
There are three main aspects that determine the success of an Influencer Marketing strategy. The first one is frequency of exposure. As a matter of fact, the more we interact and the more we follow a character, the more easily we would be influenced by him/her. The second one is the “humanity” of the Influencer. The more the Influencer presents himself/herself as human (and therefore close to his audience), the more he/she makes himself or herself “imitable”. The third aspect is the proximity of the public to the Influencer. This means that the similarity with those who follow the Influencer and the Influencer himself/herself helps increasing the follower’s feeling of belonging to a community with common interests.
Therefore, the choice of the Influencer must refer to his/her authenticity and closeness to the public and to the values that the brand pursues.
Do you really need Influencer Marketing?
Influencers are a hybrid between testimonials and consumers. In fact, they don’t create commercials (even if the final purpose may be the same), but give pieces of advice.
Authenticity, storytelling and spontaneity are the keywords behind a successful Influencer Marketing campaign.
In order to choose the right Influencer, it is essential that the latter has socio-demographic characteristics that are similar to those of the brand’s target. Influencers must also be perceived as normal people, close to the public, and their storytelling must be intimate and personal.
By exploiting the virality of the messages and word of mouth, the Influencer can increase the awareness of the company he/she has contacts with.
Building a good reputation is certainly a complex process, which is why the Influencers’ opinions are so valuable to followers, who usually have faith in them. These opinions have also the power to convince users-consumers who are still in doubt. Influencer Marketing is a valuable ally with regards to the “Lead Generation strategy”, namely obtaining new contacts of followers or users to then turn them into customers.
Influencers also help in the improvement of the sales process, as their piece of advice is perceived as disinterested and honest by their community.
Influencer Marketing and Trust
The Influencer’s audience thinks they can trust him or her when it comes to purchasing a product or a service. For this reason, the Federal Trade Commission in the United States has instituted a new law for the protection and defense of consumers.
Influencers now have the obligation to mark the paid content that is published on their personal profile. As a matter of fact, the use of hashtags such as #sponsored or #adv is mandatory. This ensures greater transparency and helps keeping track of the sharing of this type of content. It has been estimated that , on Instagram, about over 200 thousand posts per month are sponsored.
Influencer Marketing can help the brand being perceived as reliable in its sector, as the Influencer is perceived by his/her community to be competent, experienced and believable.
This has positive effects on reputation and, consequently, on sales. Influencer Marketing is therefore a very powerful mean and it is advisable to pursue a collaboration with an Influencer only if the latter enjoys an excellent reputation and has an image that is consistent with that of the brand being represented.
A “User Experience” conveyed by Influencers provides followers with emotions to remember and effective storytelling, creative and memorable at the same time: to sum up, the focal point of the Influencer’s job is to excite. Instagram Stories are one of the favorite and more frequently used ways to do so as, as they are perceived to increase user’s participation and the naturalness of the interactions between Influencers and their followers.
Why Influencer Marketing Works
An Influencer is a person like us who tells a story or who shares his/her daily life on Social Networks. Nothing more. So why does Influencer Marketing work?
The reason is simple, as the public feels more attracted to someone who tells without filters what he/she has been doing during the day, from morning to evening. People like to get to know about the daily life of someone similar to them but from whom they can still learn something.
It is a kind of fiction, a TV series where there are no superheroes as protagonists, but people like us. It is like a friend who is at the same time virtual and real, who seems very similar to us or who has the life we would like to have.
This is certainly the great strength of this tool, namely the fact that these people, so-called “Influencers”, are easily reachable and live a life that is (in many cases) so similar to our own. They are not like the great cartoon heroes, as it is impossible to go to sleep as your normal self today and wake up as Batman tomorrow.
As well as showing us their daily life, Influencers slowly becomes a part of our day without stealing too much time, as they are present in the platforms that we normally use every day: Facebook and Instagram.
Going to take a look at what our favorite Influencer has written or said is as quick and as easy as drinking a coffee. Marketing professionals immediately understood that “hiring” an Influencer could be a great way to sponsor any type of product.
As a matter of fact Influencers, which stands for “people of influence”, are those who have created a network of users around them who trust them and, as the term says, are totally influenced by their “idols”.
Leveraging Emotions: A New Way of Marketing
The influencer creates emotional involvement between himself/herself and his/her followers. Clearly it is created through a storytelling that must leverage feelings and emotions.
The user normally returns to the same pages of the Social Network because he/she recognizes that person he/she “follows” endorses the values that are dear to him/her, even though the follower has never met the Influencer in person, he/she feels connected to him/her by sharing the same passions.
The real victory of a marketing campaign who relays on the image of an Influencer is the transformation of an occasional customer or a generic user into a regular and loyal customer.
The Three Keys to Influencer Marketing success: Brand Value, Influencer and Followers
- The first one is the value of your brand. The latter is automatically increased and gradually improved through the strategy of influencer marketing. It is quite simple and fast to create an account and to become popular through social network platforms.
The increase of the popularity of the company and the products it sells due to the sponsorship of an Influencer is particularly effective. Since the interaction between the Influencer and his/her followers is mainly based on trust, the impression made by the company and the product is much more lasting and effective than a simple online advertisement.
The reason this happens is because there is a strong Community that spreads the knowledge of the Brand more and more through stories or simple word of mouth.
- Clearly, the second key is the Influencer. The latter is a figure who is not necessarily famous but who reflects the values of a large number of people who decided to follow his/her daily life. He/she must clearly be a credible and genuine person.
- Last but not least: the followers. These are the ones who are responsible for the success of Influencers, as they are the ones who have the decision-making power to make a specific person popular or unpopular. Indeed, the users are those who can become potential customers if the marketing campaign that is implemented is successful.
These users are the ones who generate the profit.