Let’s face it – people are savvy to advertising. It doesn’t pull the same punch it used to, as people have grown weary of being marketed to and have become guarded about an industry they see as being disingenuous or even outright deceptive.
According to an infographic by TheShelf.com, that’s one reason that influencer marketing has been on the rise in recent years. Influencers are people with a wide net of social impact. Bloggers, Facebook users, people on Twitter or Instagram can all be influencers if people look to them to help guide decision-making. Bloggers in particular are one of the most influential sources of information for decision-making, with 31% of consumers turning to blogs for help. This trails only retail sites (56%) and brand sites (34%) and comes in narrowly ahead of Facebook, YouTube, and other social networks.
But the real value of influencers is trust. Bottom line, people just don’t trust brands to tell the truth anymore (can you blame them?), but people do still trust other independent people. In fact, 92% of consumers – wow! – trust recommendations from other people, even people that they do not know, over branded content. Online reviews are also prized by 70% of consumers online. 47% of consumers reported checking blogs for advice on new trends, and 35% used blogs to discover new products. Perhaps most important to the influence marketer, 20% of women active on social media consider products promoted by bloggers they recognize.
That level of trust has big benefits to the bottom line. Sharing your content through influencers rather than directly through branded sources yields conversion rates three to ten times higher.
You can see why 65% of brands now participate in influencer marketing, 52% of companies have a stand-alone “sponsored social” budget for their brand, and 5% have an annual budget of over $ 5 million (25% have a budget over $ 500,000).
With influencers in every vertical (with representation ranging from 17% in business all the way up to a whopping 80% in food), there are plenty of opportunities for brands to take advantage of the power of influencer marketing. It can lend you SEO authority and clout, enhanced brand awareness, valuable educational opportunities for your brand, an effective way to run damage control, social following of your own, marketable use cases, authentic user-generated content you can share through your own channels, a genuine connection with your audience that builds trust, and of course – increased sales.
It’s also an investment that can keep on paying dividends. 88% of influencers verbally tell a friend about brands that sponsor them; 72% share additional posts, over and above their contractual agreements. 77% of influencers report being more likely to buy from brands that sponsor them. These are long-term evangelists with short-term costs.
So buckle down and do your research to locate influencers who can provide you with value. In particular, you’re looking for influencers who are relevant to your brand and your audience – it’s better to get a niche blogger than an unrelated celebrity superstar. Be thoughtful and realistic about your approach and be sure to respect the influencer for the work they’ve put into getting to their position. Work together to think of creative, authentic ways to leverage that authority. And finally, be sure you have a clear idea of what a successful campaign means to you and to them, so that you can look back when it’s over and be sure you hit your metrics.
Influencer marketing is the most effective way to reach a jaded digital generation. It’s time you got involved!