In the world of increasing real-time media and dark social networks, influencer marketing has rapidly become a “do-or-die” part of marketing for successful brands looking to raise awareness, increase their authority, and drive conversions.
Companies struggle to remain relevant in a world where authenticity rules. Social media networks are pushing that authenticity buzzword by making updates that almost require you to be a real, available, active person in the here-and-now. Whereas that is a smart move for business, it is a hard strategy to deal with for small businesses that already struggle to provide a consistent social media presence.
Now, in the world of real-time where brands are pushed to “be themselves” online with more live posts than scheduled posts, people are really pushing back on what they want to see and hear from the brands they love and follow. Likewise, dark social media sites (aka not public, not searchable, etc.) like Snapchat gain more users simply by promoting privacy and remaining ad-free, at least for some period of time.
The best way around these live mediums and dark social boundaries? Influencers.
Why is influencer marketing so successful? It works because influencers treat their audience like friends (*ding ding ding*: authenticity). Who do we turn to for advice when we want to know if something’s worth the money? Our friends!
So, let’s discuss the nitty-gritty — the benefits and challenges of the three top sites important to influencer marketing: Instagram, YouTube, and Pinterest.
Why Instagram Influencers Are So Important
Right now, Instagram is arguably the top dog of social media when it comes to influencer marketing. Frankly, its users are undeniably enthusiastic! Instagram boasts an average 3% engagement rate. That’s more than double the average across Facebook or Twitter at 0.5 to 1.0 percent!
If you’re already tapped into this crowd, congratulate yourself for finding a seriously passionate crowd of consumers. But some of the problems with Instagram marketing, for a business, probably became quickly obvious. It can be exhausting to try to post your Instagram ads at peak hours. Plus, Instagram’s algorithms are designed to limit the reach of traditional ads.
Influencers, who are on the site for the social benefits they get first and everything else second, can help you overcome both issues. Plus, Instagram is a particular hit among Millennials. If you’re starting to guide your campaigns that way (and you should be), you’re in the right place. Almost 60% of users are between ages 18 and 29. Growing your Instagram account is more important than ever.
Why YouTube Influencers Are Worth Investment
Video is an insanely powerful medium. When done right, it can captivate an audience, deliver useful content, help craft your brand’s personality, and pull a consumer right into your world. It evokes emotion, entertains, and sells, all at the same time.
YouTube has a few decidedly huge benefits. It’s been in existence for more than 10 years, which is an eternity in social media. That makes it an incredibly stable platform for your marketing campaigns. It also has 1.3 billion users who watch 5 billion videos a day!
Around 18% of consumers, of all ages, admit that they’re guided by YouTube influencers when they decide where to spend their money. Since YouTube has been around so long, and the medium is so familiar, it attracts people of all ages. However, YouTubers who have a strong social following may have particular influence on the young. Among Millennials, 40% of users feel like their favorite YouTube personalities understand them better than their own friends!
Why Pinterest Influencers Offer Perfect Partnerships
Pinterest is nothing if not visually-oriented. That can feel intimidating to marketers who are used to relying on words. It also has a few other unique aspects that can make marketing challenging. Due to the way pins are posted, viewed, and shared, it takes around 3.5 months for a pin to accumulate half its traffic. Marketers have to be prepared for the long-haul approach when thinking about ROI.
But Pinterest is a network of shoppers. Two-thirds of Pinterest pins are focused on brands and products people want to try or buy. It’s a social site that’s particularly beloved in the U.S. market, where 60% of its users are located — and Millennials use it just as much as they do Instagram!
That means you can’t afford to neglect Pinterest influencers. Those are the people particularly adept at pinning interesting, relevant items, amplifying their pins through search engines, and capturing the eyes of a niche market.
What Makes All Three A Challenge
Okay, so you know that influencers are definitely the cool kids on the block. You know that you need to win them over, convince them that your brand is worth promoting because these are true-believers — what makes them influencers is their authenticity (and they know it).
Frankly, though, that’s the easy part. You only need a quality brand with a quality product to do it. Let the influencers you choose experience your brand and they’ll happily spread their enthusiasm for a lot less than it would cost you to run a regular ad campaign.
But there are challenges to influencer marketing and they’re similar across all three platforms.
Challenge Number 1: Finding the Right Influencers
This can be tricky, since you can’t rely on numbers. Numbers, like news reports, often lie. A 100,000 follower count means absolutely nothing if the followers are unengaged, uninterested, and on another continent. Influencers’ value lie in their ability to capture their audience’s attention!
You also have to find influencers who match your brand’s persona — or the persona you want to create. If you tie your brand to an influencer who goes off the rails with occasionally offensive content, it could end up backfiring in a big way!
How To Overcome This:
It’s a step-by-step process.
Challenge Number 2: Maintaining Credibility
If an influencer loses credibility, your brand loses credibility! Even if a post is bought and paid for, it can’t feel bought and paid for by the influencer’s followers if you want to remain authentic. If that starts happening, influencer marketing will quickly go the way of other ads.
How To Overcome This:
Remember, authenticity and a fresh approach is why you’re working with social media influencers in the first place.
Challenge Number 3: Measuring ROI
This is the biggest bugbear of influencer marketing, as it’s hard to do. At best, measuring influencer ROI is an imperfect science, but there are a lot of good ways to approach it.
How To Overcome This:
Set clear goals and metrics that align. If your goal is brand awareness, simply checking your brand’s social accounts to see how many new followers you have and where they’re coming from can be one metric that works. If your focus is conversions, sales figures make a good metric.
Look at your influencers’ level of engagement on sponsored posts by comparing the number of likes, comments, and shares of sponsored posts to their normal level of engagement.
Why It’s All So, So Worth It
Sure, influencer marketing is still uncharted territory for a lot of brands — but the potential rewards are clear!
Around 74% of the market looks to social media these days to find information before making a purchase — and 45% of people say that they absolutely rely on influencers when deciding how to spend their money.
But that’s not all! Younger people, Millennials in particular, actually consider it a social responsibility to guide their friends toward smart purchases. Their audiences listen because that authenticity and genuine concern shines through in their posts.
That’s critical in an age where almost half of America thinks brands need a stronger identity and 42% feel like brands regularly lie to them. Influencer marketing gives you a chance to reinvent your brand’s image and get past all of the distrust out there — but only if you’re willing to rise to the challenge.