When you hear the word "influencer", what comes to mind? Maybe it's a celebrity, seen on Instagram flaunting the newest gadget or product. Or perhaps to you, an influencer isn't someone who is showing off a product to their followers, but rather is someone who is influencing a certain kind of lifestyle. But what if we said that a so-called influencer could actually be a marketing strategy proven to be effective, whether celebrity or not and regardless of how many followers they have?
A Forbes article written by Gerardo A. Dada sums up what an influencer is very well. It reads, "The act of influencing requires a specific result: a change in thinking or behavior. An influencer, therefore, is someone who has the power to influence the perception of others or gets them to do something different." It's pretty clear why some smart marketers would use the opportunity to leverage an influencer to achieve much greater reach with the hopes of increasing sales. There are many misconceptions surrounding just the topic of "influencer." Marketers from nearly all industries have used influencers for much longer than you may think, but it's also surprising to find out some of the common myths that are synonymous with this type of marketing strategy.
Influencers Can Only be Celebrities
Influencers can be nearly anyone, not just celebrities. Of course, we've all seen the power of celebrities as influencers. For example, a brand such as Nike is infamous for using high performing athletes like golfer Tiger Woods to sell their activewear, whether it's by appearing in a commercial or posting pictures wearing gear on Instagram. But, there are countless under the radar influencers you probably haven't heard of and maybe never will. The measure of an influencer is determined by having an engaged audience that's interested in knowing what they have to say.
An Influencer's Audience Has to be Large
The power of an influencer doesn't necessarily come from the number of "followers" that they have, but rather from who their audience is. The influencer that a brand chooses has to make sense for their business and for the influencer themselves. To find someone who is really going to have the most positive impact on your business, you have to be looking at a number of criteria including location, age, demographic, etc. Not to mention you should also be aware of the type of content that they already have on their social media platforms and see if you believe there's an opportunity for you to fit in as well. As ever, it's about quality vs. quantity.
Influencers Can Only Benefit B2C Companies
People often think that brands selling directly to consumers are the only kinds of business that can benefit from influencers. However, B2B businesses can benefit just as much; it's just that the way they do it that's different. The website InfluencerDB gives a great example of a B2B company using an influencer. It's actually a software company, Adobe Photoshop, in which they had professional photographers post photos on their Instagram account where they had used the software to edit their photos. This really shows that both type of business have the opportunity to influence, it's just a matter of how you're doing it.
You may be thinking that you now have a better understanding of what a marketing influencer is, but you're wondering how it fits into inbound marketing. These two strategies can actually work in unison, and you may be surprised to know they have common underlying characteristics.
As previously discussed in this blog about inbound marketing, this strategy is all about attracting your potential consumer by drawing them in with engaging content. Not only is the goal to attract individuals who may have an interest in what you offer, but the content is also designed to keep them coming back for more. Much of influencer marketing also revolves around creating content. Influencers haven't built their audience just by posting about products and hoping people buy. Most of the times, they are people who started out on their platforms by simply sharing their lives in some capacity and not expecting compensation or to make a living out of their online presence. Influencers have built their following in a very organic way and it's simply by creating content that keeps their readers and viewers returning.
Because influencers don't appear build their following in a premeditated way, they've created a great deal of credibility. Just as in the case of inbound marketing, influencers are continually creating content that they believe in and also know will appeal to their followers. Whether they're posting pictures or creating videos you'll often find that their content varies in an effort to continually be innovative and appealing to how their audience wants to receive information from them. It's safe to say that they know their audience what appeals to them. Because of this, influencers should want to promote your business not because they're motivated to make money but because they simply like what you have to offer and believe that to be true of their followers as well.
In this way, influencer marketing has the opportunity to garner a bigger audience for your business. It's not as easy as selecting an influencer who has a large following; it's about making sure that the influencer is aligned well with what you have to offer them and their audience. A key takeaway should be that influencer marketing can work in unison with your inbound efforts to attract, engage, and delight your consumers. Engagement and credibility can be cornerstones to your marketing strategy that make for lasting relationships with your consumers.