Influencers’ ability to connect with customers is huge – and extremely beneficial to brands.
As the “Year of the Influencer” continues, experts are studying the effects that influencers have had in the digital marketing world thus far. A recent eMarketer study examined the impact that influencers have had on the consumer journey and found that the impact was profound.
The study compared the engagement that social influencers were able to generate in comparison to a company’s social media account. Four companies – a travel company, a restaurant, a cosmetics company, and a delivery service – all had their social media pages compared to influencers they partnered with. What they found was that the influencers would get significantly more engagement than their own social media pages during the month of June. For example, the travel company averaged 2,363 engagements. The influencers averaged 241,226 engagements.
Though the idea that influencers can generate more engagement with customers doesn’t come as much of a surprise, the numbers show just how significant an influencer can be to a brand. eMarketer analyst Nicole Perrin noted in the article that “consumers have always been more likely to engage with other consumers than with brands”, noting an important distinction in how influencers are perceived. Customers don’t see influencers as spokespersons for a brand, instead, they view them as members of their community who are offering a perspective that can be trusted. In other words, the perspective of an influencer resonates with consumers.
eMarketer data supports this statement. In a survey of marketing professionals studying the effectiveness of influencer marketing, 88% said that influencers were either “extremely effective” or “effective” in “raising awareness about [their] company or [their] products.” In that same study, 65% said that influencers were effective or extremely effective in “increasing customer loyalty”, and 53% said the same about influencers driving sales.
This study provides data-backed validation for why influencers are so critical to the affiliate channel: influencers can connect with customers in ways a company simply cannot.
Influencer APP: Authenticity, Personalization, Passion
Influencers are becoming more important to a customer’s path to purchase. Customers rely on influencers to act as experts on whatever it is they’re looking to purchase or invest. This is a quintessential aspect of being a successful influencer, as shown by several studies. A recent study from eMarketer on influencers that work with luxury brands examined what the most critical influencer attributes are. The study found that being a thought leader and participating in discussions was considered the most critical attribute, followed by the ability to dictate conversation and sway opinions. Influencers address these attributes this by sharing images and videos of products, writing reviews, and sharing their perspective.
What makes an influencer different, however, is the way in which they do these things. They’re not relying on stock pictures of a product, or recycling product/brand talking points to share with a follower. Instead, they’re telling their own stories, sharing their own images, and highlighting why this product/brand works for them – as well as how it can work for their followers.
When an influencer promotes a product or brand, they’re doing so in three ways that resonate with their followers. This method can be remembered by the acronym “APP”, which stands for:
- Authenticity: Influencers publish content that is personal to them. The content is from their perspective, in their own voice, and often features or models themselves. This makes the content feel real to the follower, as if their friend or family could have posted something similar. In addition to the influencer, that also builds a level of authenticity with the brand and product for the follower.
- Personalization: Have you ever read an article or review about a product and thought ‘this was made for me?’ Influencers are experts at that. They’re able to identify what their audience values, what’s most important to them and why, and what their audience is looking for/needs from a product, and connects all that to the product or brand the influencer is discussing.
- Passion: When an influencer talks, their followers listen. That’s because an influencer is passionate about what they do and what they talk about. They care about the products and their followers, and want that conveyed in everything they publish. The way influencers convey that is through passion.
The value that influencers have on a marketing campaign are clear, and the results show that people connect with influencers in ways that brands simply can’t. It’s a multipronged effort to reach customers, but brands who leverage influencers can drive more awareness and develop deeper loyalties than their own social media efforts could hope to attain, as highlighted by the recent eMarketer article. This is great news for advertisers to be on the forefront of as Q4 planning is currently underway and the holiday season is looming on the calendar’s horizon.
For more information on influencers, check out some of these other blog posts!