Social media influencers are social media users who reach a wide audience and have established credibility in a given industry or field. The influence of these individuals outweighs that of the average social media user. While social media influencers technically exist on any platform or network, they are predominantly on YouTube and Instagram.
A typical social media influencer displays the following characteristics.
• Authenticity. Influencers are perceived as genuine. The audience sees an influencer as an independent party rather than a brand spokesperson.
• Credibility. Stemming from the above, Influencers are trustworthy and impartial. Indeed, the trust has already been established: the audience members are following the influencers for reasons unrelated to any brands or sponsors.
• Expertise. Influencers are seen as having experience and knowledge about their industry or topic of choice. This expertise does not have to be professional: many beauty vloggers are not professional makeup artists or cosmetologists.
• Relatability. Influencers are approachable and accessible, albeit charismatic. Even celebrity influencers (Kylie Jenner, Cristiano Ronaldo, Chrissy Tiegen, e.g.) make efforts to humanize themselves and empathize with their audiences.
Why They Matter
Social media influencers are a major force in digital marketing. They have risen in prominence over the past decade, so this trend seems to have staying power. But why should you include these people in your marketing strategy? Here are just a few reasons to incorporate social media influencers into your marketing campaigns.
Influencers humanize your brand. As we touched on above, social media influencers are relatable. An influencer’s success (and often livelihood) depends on connecting with his or her audience. They want to be embraced by their viewers and/or followers, so most of them need to prove that they are just like their viewers and/or followers. True, there are social media influencers who seem more perfect than others, but even these models will put a face to your brand. Whether an influencer is relatable or aspirational, your brand will be humanized by the connection with a real person.
People trust peers more than companies. Who is more trustworthy: your neighbor or an ad? Your boss or a commercial? A friendly acquaintance or an anonymous stranger? Time and time again, studies have shown that people put more stock in the recommendations of their peers than in a corporate advertisement. Experience is the best teacher, so why wouldn’t you rely on an experienced source who you already trust? Even though followers might not have ever had any personal interactions (i.e., meeting the influencer in person or having an actual conversation with that person directly), they still see an influencer as their peer.
Influencers are better able to reach an audience. Influencers already have a following of their own. Likewise, they are already sharing content that relates to your brand or to your brand’s industry. In short, their audiences are already interested in content just like yours! Social media influencers will therefore be better equipped to reach your target audience than traditional advertisements. Additionally, their audiences seek out the influencers content. These followers are actively trying to engage and consume content that will help further your branding and your marketing goals!
Influencers and marketers have long-term relationships. Social media influencers should be part of your longterm strategy, not just one campaign. Influencers will likely stick to the same or similar content and audiences over the course of several years: your brand will be able to grow with them. You can actually build a relationship with an influencer, using that influencer as a resource repeatedly.
In our next blog, we’ll discuss the different types of social media influencers and help you determine which is best for your brand.
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