Influencers are some of the most adept content creators, audience builders and engagement growers. They have mastered – and monetised – social media, and they have a lot to teach brands and business owners.
Many business owners struggle with social media. They understand its importance, and they know that other brands and businesses have seen success on this digital marketing platform. But when they post – their content falls flat, fails to gain traction, and rarely results in any direct sales.
In many instances, brands have turned to influencers to help them leverage their social media accounts and reach new audiences. In fact, over the past decade, collaborating with influencers has become the backbone of many companies’ marketing strategies.
What are influencers doing that makes their input so valuable for brands, and what can influencers teach brands about social media?
The reality is that business owners and brands can learn a lot from influencers in regards to how to build engaged audiences and how to market themselves. Influencers have managed to ensnare their audiences, and business owners can mimic these techniques for their own benefit.
With more and more people paying attention to social media influencers, it is worth taking the time to evaluate what it is about influencers that is so attractive.
Trust shapes a relationship
Influencers have shown us how important it is to think of the connection between you and your audience as a relationship. And what is a relationship without trust?
Influencers show the inner workings of their lives in a way that crafts a picture of authenticity. When influencers share their struggles, opinions, and thoughts, it allows consumers to connect with them. This behind the scenes perspective of an influencer’s life bypasses the gloss and sheen of the filters.
People follow influencers as their opinions, tastes, and thoughts reflect their own. Which is why influencers endorse products so well. When a consumer sees a person they respect wearing or talking about a product, they are more likely to trust their intentions and open their ears, even if they know it’s sponsored.
The Millennial effect
Millennials are no longer the crazy youngsters of the internet, but the internet’s primary consumers. Millennial ages range between 26 years old to 44 years old – meaning that they generally have the most disposable income, with the littlest amount of time. Millennials really value word-of-mouth, 82% of this group saying that it is a key influencer in their purchasing decisions.
It’s easy to dismiss hype as just that – hype. But Influencers who hype up a product or service are generating word-of-mouth. And the trustworthy nature of influencers means it is much like one friend suggesting something to another.
So as a business owner, it is important to think about whether millennials are a target audience for you – because likelihood is that they are.
If they are, you need to think about how you can generate word of mouth that they can trust. Once you figure out where your audience of millennials are on the social-media-scape, then you can target your efforts to bring them on board.
Influencers don’t drop the ball
Influencers are pros at social media management because they never drop the ball; day or night, summer or winter – they are there. Influencers offer a pervasive presence that is difficult to escape, which works really well on social media like Instagram.
On Instagram, the more you interact with an account – liking their photos, watching their stories – the more likely they are to pop to the top of your feed regularly.
This constantly updating of influencers really integrates their work into your daily life, again adding to that sense of trust that is building between you and the social media star.
This is in sharp contrast to many of our personal instagram accounts where posting is sporadic at best. Which is totally fine – however if you own a business and advertise it through your social media, then this can be a bit of an issue.
One of the most important factors of successful social media for brands is consistency. Just like our influencer friends, you need to be sharing content regularly. The highs, the lows and everything in between. Don’t just talk to your audience when you want them to buy from you – share your knowledge, your story and your brand values with them at regular intervals to stay top-of-mind.
Phew, social media management is hard work!
Influencers are storytellers
We talk about storytelling a lot in content marketing. Because having a story is one thing, but it is how you tell it that makes the biggest difference.
Influencers have refined the process of narrative crafting in a way that seems natural and yet somehow seamless. They take us on a journey with them, showing us the highs and the lows. They share their insecurities, their anxieties and how it affects them. So, when they miraculously find a product that solves this well-documented problem – they want to share it with their audience. And their audience – who likely also suffer from similar issues – are quick to snap it up.
Brands can use storytelling in a similar way. Share first-hand stories of customers who have solved their problem using your product. Build on the feelings of frustration that your target audience are experiencing in relation to their problem, and highlight how their quality of life will improve with your product.
A good way to think about this is with a common marketing saying:
“You’re not selling a mattress; rather, you’re selling a good night’s sleep.”
Engage – and mean it!
So this may seem like an obvious one, but engagement is really important for social media success. And influencers have this down pat.
Influencers maximise on potential engagement by being across all of the relevant social feeds. They post at the right times and respond to comments and reflect on things they have posted. Essentially they do all the right things, and it shows! Compared to branded content, influencers generate 8x the amount of engagement.
Influencers often seem pretty authentic when they thank their followers and their online community, and this really does wonders for their brand. Making sure social media doesn’t seem like a job is a huge part of successful influencing.
Influencers make it seem as though they want to post everything about their life, which is definitely something small businesses can do. Your social media shouldnt seem like a chore or boring or difficult to audiences, but like something you love.
Whether you do or not.
Look to the professionals
Social Media management is a tough job, but somebody has to do it. If you want to make your job easier though, examining the ways of the influencer can definitely take you in the right direction.
Building trust, storytelling, posting consistently and authentic engagement are all part of the formula that leads to success for influencers. And there is no reason that your brand or business can’t be using this formula as well!
Reposition social media as a communications platform rather than a promotional platform. View it as a place where you can talk to your existing and prospective customers – to get their feedback and buy-in, and to share the day-to-day happenings within your business. Give them behind the scenes access to your business, and they will start to feel connected to you, like they are part of your team.
Just like influencers try to make their audiences feel like close friends, you want your audience to feel invested in your brand’s success.