5 reasons to consider engaging influencers in your digital strategy.
As social media maintains its compelling foothold in the marketing mix, we’re in the throes of an increasing trend toward engaging influencers as part of digital strategy – particularly in the retail space. Social media influencers are individuals (ie bloggers) considered to have the power to affect the buying behaviour of others due to their perceived status or authority. To give you an idea of volume, it’s estimated that 65% of brands in the US participate in the influencer marketing space.
My guess is that the resounding impact of the influencer channel itself is a byproduct of a shifting perception that the ‘source of truth’ comes from consumers, instead of brands. If leveraged in just the right way, the power of influencer marketing – particularly in the retail sector – can be a hugely successfully addition to a well-rounded digital strategy.
1. Piggyback on consumer trust
We all understand that trust is a brand asset that’s both exceptionally valuable and equally difficult to obtain. It is often argued that consumers place greater trust in influencer recommendations than they do in branded content – partly due (rightly or wrongly) to the perception that influencers are more brand-agnostic, and don’t shoulder an ‘untrustworthy’ level of bias. A study by McKinsey found that “marketing-induced consumer-to-consumer word of mouth generates more than twice the sales of paid advertising.” It’s the tried and tested tactic of selling a lifestyle, rather than a product, made all the more powerful by direct endorsement from a trusted source.
2. Leverage high engagement in social media
An engagement rate is (broadly) a correlation between the number of followers a social media persona has, and the interactions they receive from those followers. In terms of engagement rates, influencers trump brands significantly for Australian Instagram users. From Jan-March 2016 alone, consumers average weekly engagement with influencers hit 48,000 per account – almost double that of the next industry average at 25,000. These comparatively significant engagement levels can be largely attributed to influencers’ providing everyday use cases for products. Influencer relatability is fostered by their ‘real-life’ personas, meaning consumers are able to visualise their own relationship with a product much more easily – expediting the consideration path to purchase.
3. Paid advertising is a noisy space
While paid advertising has an undoubtedly valuable role in an online marketing toolkit, market saturation of sponsored content on social media means consumers are overloaded with staggering volumes of brand messages each day. Instagram is the ideal social channel for retail brands due to its image-rich and easily shareable format, but this has also led to over 200,000 advertisers currently cluttering our Instagram feeds. On the flipside, influencer pages are also the ideal fit for such platforms – becoming a much more welcome and subtle brand play for the savvy marketer.
4. Improve SEO Authority
Influencer marketing opens the door to many external networks that can potentially bolster off-page SEO. In social terms, this is a combination of the influence (engagement rate) of who shares your content, and how many interactions you receive as a result. While improved SEO may not deliver the immediate value of direct conversions into your sales funnel, there are multiple brand benefits resulting from continually improving your organic search approach.
5. Convert, convert, convert
The power of influencers in capitalising on the ‘need now – buy now attitude’ typical of millenials should not be underestimated. The combination of round the clock access to influencer content delivered into consumers personal social feeds – coupled with an infinite global marketplace in the palm of your hand – provides a real opportunity to exploit consumers sense of buying ‘urgency’. Also, removing the traditional roadblocks of extended purchase consideration mandated by the time required to physically engage and transact, makes the purchase process irresistibly simplified.
Be aware, your chosen influencer/s must be compatible with both your audience and your brand. The wrong choice of influencer presents a risk of fostering negative brand perception and sitting incongruously within your digital strategy. The right choice however, can elevate a brand to another level in a matter of posts.