They already exist for years now: influencers. But with the growth of social media, they become more and more popular. Being an influencer can be seen as a full-time job now, and influencer marketing is a vital part of your marketing strategy. How are influencers so effective? And how can you implement them in your strategy?
Influencers, reviews and showing off your expertise are all effective methods to influence the buying behavior of your target group. This is because of the ‘ancient’ psychological phenomenon of social proof. Social proof is a concept as old as marketing itself and is all about trusting the actions and feedback of other people.
Take a street with two restaurants right next to each other. One restaurant is crowded with people and is the preferred one to the restaurant where no one’s to be found. The commotion around the first restaurant indicates that this restaurant is the best option of the two. At least, that’s what most people will think. That’s because most people (if not all of them) will think that so many couldn’t possibly have made the wrong decision. Online reviews have the same effect. On average, online reviews will grow sales by 18%1. This is because people will choose the one thing others have already chosen.
You can think of social proof like everything positive (and sometimes negative too) said about your company. According to Aideen Lee, partner of American venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins, there are five different kinds of social proof2:
Expert Social Proof: Getting confirmation or approval of an ‘expert’. This expert can be a dentist in a commercial about toothpaste (yes, that’s why you see so many people in white lab coats in those commercials), but influencers too.
Celebrity Social Proof: A little similar like the previous one, because influencers can be seen as celebrities too. Still, this social proof focuses on the ‘real’ famous people and worldwide superstars. You can show the logos of famous companies you’ve worked for.
User Social Proof: Showing the success stories or reviews of users. Put testimonials on essential pages of your website and show a picture or even a video of the reviewer to make it even more convincing.
Wisdom of the public Social Proof: This is done by showing off your popularity. This one is based on the thought ‘if so many users already use it, it will probably be good’. This can be done by showing a counter with the number of people that have subscribed to the newsletter or the people who have liked, shared or followed your company or social post.
Wisdom of friends Social Proof: The best of all social proofs: recommendations of your friends. Your friends know you best. When they recommend something, it will probably be good.
We like to add another social proof:
6. Certificate: Not only external experts can recommend your company, but you can show off your wisdom too. This can be done by showing certificates, badges or prices you have won.
Getting reviews is crucial for your company, but how do you get started with influencer marketing?
Influencer Marketing already exists for years now. People have always looked up to someone and are influenced faster by that person. That’s why celebrities were used in commercials to convince the consumers of the power of a product. The most significant difference between then and now is that convincing can be done on social media platforms, and everyone can do it.
If you want to use an influencer to market your product or service, influencers will show your products in their everyday content. This can be their social media feed or in their social stories (images shown for 24 hours), where they name your company in a photo or video, put a link to your website in the story or do a ‘take-over’. With this last one, an influencer will take-over the social media of your company’s social media account.
Now it’s clear what influencers are, it is good to know where you can use them for. Influencers can be used for three different goals: visibility, engagement and connecting.
Influencers have a strong connection with their target group and with that a certain amount of trust. When they share something with their followers, both positive and negative, this can have a massive impact on your brand. That’s why you have to make sure the right influencer promotes your product, so it’s shown to the right target group.
With influencers, you can show your message to a target group interested in a specific topic, like travel, food, sports, and many more. An influencer can also be used to increase your reach. Because influencers focus on a specific topic, they have particular popularity. You have influencers in different scales of popularity, like nano (starting with 5,000 followers), micro, meso, macro, and mega influencers, which have over 1,000,000 followers3. Choose the influencer best fitted for your brand, online strategy and budget.
Because influencers have trust with their followers, they can ask them to perform specific actions. This action can be following your company, for example. Or let them buy something of your organization, you can even make them sign a petition. Consumers trust the recommendations of influencers (49%) almost as much as recommendations of their friends (56%), that’s how influencers are perfect for enhancing your engagement4.
And when your influencer eventually let your target group perform the most important actions, you want your target group to become faithful customers. If you want your influencer to get their followers to remain faithful, you have to gain a strong relationship with your influencer. This way, the needed trust and respect are there, and the influencer shows off your company. They become so-called brand ambassadors.
When influencers gain enough trust in your brand and would love to work together, you can make them brand ambassadors of your organization. A brand ambassador is the face of your company. They represent your brand on essential events, put your brand in a positive light and even show off your brand in their everyday life.
Brand ambassadors are perfect for your brand because they’ll always show the most positive things about it. Still, it can be hard to build up such a relationship, because most organizations are unable to keep up with the ever-changing demand. When you can keep up, and you find someone that can influence your target group and you can build a secure connection with, a brand ambassador is perfect for you.
Although it all sounds very nice, there can still be some implications with connecting a famous person or influencer to your brand. Think of personal scandal, too less or lousy content or too many advertised content, so the influencer isn’t considered a reliable source anymore. That’s why we want to show you the following tips to consider:
Align your expectations clearly to one another;
Keep an eye on the social media of the influencer;
Communicate regularly and clearly with your influencer.
In other words, take your time when starting with influencer marketing. Communicate regularly with the influencer and align your expectations.
Do you think an influencer or brand ambassador will fit perfectly in your marketing strategy? Then find out which person your target group looks up to. Research if this person meets your brand and try to get in contact with each other. You can do this by contracting the influencer or by sending a free sample to the influencer. When you choose the second option, don’t think the influencer will show off your product straight away. Influencers get many free samples every day, so you’ll be one out of many. When they do show your product to their followers, but not in a positive way, don’t you worry. You can always use this as feedback to improve your product, or the influencer just didn’t fit that well into your brand.