Recommendations and word-of-mouth from friends and family are steadily becoming two of the main ways that a consumer learns about a product or service and whether or not it is worth their time and money to purchase it. Influencers play an active role in this field; their highly-valued expertise and opinions are capable of persuading consumers towards a particular product or service.
What makes Influencers so successful at marketing to consumers is because they have succeeded in overcoming two of marketing’s greatest issues: Message Authenticity and Message Delivery.
With so much content and information freely available on the Internet and social media, consumers have become very market-savvy. Before they step into a store or online site to buy a product, they already know a great deal about that product and what other people have said about it.
This can be problematic for traditional marketing avenues such as advertising where “half-truths” are told in order to sell more of a product or service. Half-truths can sometimes result in unhappy customers who were guaranteed a particular benefit in a product’s advertisement only to find that benefit does not exist upon purchase.
Influencers do not run into this problem. As normal, everyday people who do not profit from the sales of a company’s product or service, they are more likely to tell the “full truth”. For example, after purchasing a pair of blue jeans, if the Influencer found the jeans comfortable and form-fitting they will say so to others or online. No filter required. On the other hand, if the Influencer found that the jeans shrunk after washing or the dye came off in their hands, they are more likely to mention these problems to others as a way of providing helpful advice regarding the quality of the jeans.
This ability to tell the “full truth” lends authenticity and credibility to Influencers as their motivations are in line with the everyday consumer.
There is a downside for Influencers. While their ability to tell the truth can be helpful to businesses who can bring the product back in-house, fix the flaw, and re-release it back into the market, if a particular brand attempts to connect with the Influencer and provide them with resources or free materials in exchange for their expertise and audience, this can corrupt the Influencer’s authenticity.
Consider, it’s easier to believe an Influencer who consistently tells the truth, good or bad, about Apple products that they have purchased. It’s harder to believe the same Influencer who gets these products from Apple for free.
This refers to the way that marketing message is transmitted to a consumer. With the ability to fast-forward TV commercials, ignore billboards, and employ tools such as AdBlockers, marketers have a hard time getting their content in front of consumers.
Influencers are able to overcome this problem due to the fact that they possess a direct audience that is always waiting to hear what they are going to say next. An Influencer’s social channel is where their power comes from; their ability to captivate and engage audiences and network with the right people helps keep what they say relevant and in the public eye of the consumer.
Influencers also have the ability to start a chain-reaction whereby an interesting piece of content can start with the Influencer and then proceed to be shared by multiple audience members who in turn reach other people who share the content. This creates a never-ending cycle whereby the content is seen by millions of consumers and helps to generate interest and buzz in the product or service.
Marketers are able to adapt the Influencer marketing approach by using a number of resources at their disposal. Socialpeeks is one example; an influencer discovery, analysis, and management software that conducts live analytics on Twitter and Instagram data.
Socialpeeks analyzes 720 million public Twitter and Instagram accounts on behalf of their clients, most of whom are businesses and corporations, looking for potential Influencers that they can contact and match up with their clients to help promote their products and services.
This is done through specific keyword searches concerning a certain market or demographic and provides information on all of the social accounts relating to the specific interest or market. The ability to filter possible Influencers allows businesses to get in contact with the right Influencers who could potentially help promote their business.
For example, SoCial Lite Vodka used Socialpeeks to track and analyze the liquor market on social media. They used specific parameters such as physical location (Ontario, BC, and Alberta) and occupations such as yoga instructors, nutritionists, and gluten free enthusiasts. All of these characteristics were in line with their product, a gluten free, naturally sweetened, vodka cooler.
The research resulted in recruiting 50 individuals who received samples of the SoCial Lite Vodka to try. These individuals did not receive an compensation nor were they formally asked to produce content regarding the vodka, favourable or otherwise.
The goal was that the individuals would try the vodka and provide comments to their social media audience of their own accord. The result showed that a good majority of the Influencers shared positive comments concerning the SoCial Lite Vodka which produced a significant return on investment (ROI) for the company.
The prevalence of social media has created an industry of Influencers. Having normal, everyday people provide context on certain products and services lend an air of authenticity and ensures that marketing messages stay in front of a consumer for a longer period of time. As a result, marketers would be wise to use this to their advantage. By enlisting the help of Influencers through tools such as Socialpeeks, marketers are able to work mutually with Influencers allowing both parties to benefit from the exchange.
Courtney Rosebush, Content Contributor
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