Increased competition across industries and the proliferation of new platforms creates a growing pool of available data for brands to analyze. This poses a challenge for brands looking to build brand awareness and attract new consumers.
Sponsored content and influencer marketing is taking the place of outdated practices, like emailing and invasive pop-up ads. These new tactics are more consumer-friendly, yet are also more difficult to get right.
Influencer marketing has become the go-to marketing strategy for brands striving to connect with the right online audiences. And when done right, influencer marketing programs can create new value for brands, influencers, and customers alike.
Influencer marketing is an endorsement partnership between a brand and an influencer, typically an individual who has a large, highly engaged community of social media followers.
A brand compensates an influencer via payment or perks (such as free product) in exchange for an official endorsement. Depending on the arrangement, this could be as simple as posting a photo on Instagram or a more extensive review of the product, such as an in-depth blog post or unboxing video.
In today’s digital landscape, you’re not only competing for a customer’s attention, but also for a customer’s trust.
According to a new study by Oracle, 80% of consumers have purchased products in direct response to relevant social media content, and 37% of consumers said they trust social media influencers over brands.
It’s clear that consumers perceive recommendations from influencers they already follow as more credible. And with influencer marketing programs in place, brands can tap into genuine connections that exist between influencers and their audiences to generate high-quality leads that are more likely to convert to satisfied customers.
And generating quality leads ensures that you don't waste time and resources on consumers with no interest in your product or service.
Consider the following stats:
Influencer marketing involves the use of popular social media creators to promote a brand’s product or service. And it can be a highly effective form of lead generation when an influencer’s audience is strongly aligned with the brand’s target customer, and the influencer provides a compelling explanation or offers to encourage followers to use the product.
Consumers tend to trust influencers' recommendations more than paid ads, and they’ll often rely on influencers to help them discover new products. One survey showed that 41% of consumers find at least one new brand or product from an influencer each week, and 24% discover new products daily.
But influencer marketing is not just important for increasing brand awareness; it can also drive sales. That same survey demonstrated that 74% of customers spent as much as $629 on a single purchase inspired by an influencer.
With social media, anyone can be an influencer, and brands are seeing the benefits of leveraging influencer-driven marketing campaigns.
A whopping 90% of surveyed brands believe that partnerships with influencers are an effective form of marketing. It’s easy to see why – 82% of consumers have researched, purchased, or considered buying a product or service after seeing posts from friends, family, or influencers.
How exactly does this modern-day marketing strategy influence sales?
Are you ready to tap into the powerhouse market of influencers? These six tactics and strategies will help your organization influence sales and marketing partnerships in 2023:
1. Podcast influencer marketing
Almost 60% of US consumers over the age of 12 listen to podcasts. Compared to other forms of influencer marketing, podcast partnerships are inexpensive and have a growing base of attentive listeners.
Podcast advertising with influencers is quickly becoming a valuable cross-channel marketing opportunity. Since this media platform isn’t oversaturated yet, podcast advertising allows brands to tap into new territory where listeners are likely to be engaged.
2. Sharing values
The racial justice movement has spearheaded a massive corporate culture shift that’s continuing to impact influencer trends in 2022. And for consumers actions speak better than words: Consumers want to see brands embrace diversity and be inclusive.
These standards are having a huge impact on influencer marketing campaigns. Audiences are tired of seeing the same air-brushed, Photoshopped models. They want to see real people in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors. The demand for diversity will continue to change the way brands seek out influencers and create inclusive content. And brands that don’t go beyond performative support, will have to take part in effective action.
3. Social listening tools
It’s never been more important to keep your finger on the pulse of audience opinion, and the key here is to listen to what your audience has to say about your brand, your competitors, and the market in general. A trend we’re watching closely is the rise of social listening tools. Such tools monitor brand mentions across social platforms and compile them into reports.
Social listening tools can help businesses understand their audience, identify useful feedback, and analyze their current brand perception. The valuable reports that social listening tools generate can help inform future influencer campaigns for maximum effectiveness.
4. Short-form video
TikTok is still a relatively new platform compared to established social media giants like Facebook and Twitter, but it’s seen tremendous growth in the last couple of years. In fact, according to Statista, in September 2021, TikTok registered one billion monthly active users worldwide, representing a 45% growth compared to the previously reported figure.
Businesses are quickly realizing that short-form video content is changing the way consumers want to interact with brands. In a recent study that included TikTok for the first time, brands listed the app as their #4 go-to social media network for influencer marketing, beating WhatsApp, Twitter, blogs, and LinkedIn. If you are looking for tips on how to start on TikTok, our guide will help you understand how to launch and maintain a stellar brand presence on this social network.
Instagram still reigned supreme as the #1 choice, but analytical data reveals that the influencer engagement rate on TikTok is higher than Instagram.
TikTok’s popularity and leading position in the top five despite its recent debut makes it a serious contender, paving the marketing landscape on other platforms. Brands and influencers will continue to push short-form video content in 2022 and beyond as a result of TikTok’s rapid growth.
5. Brand advocacy programs
A brand advocacy program incentivizes consumers to post about their positive experiences, usually in exchange for free products, discounts, or other perks.
Essentially, a mutually beneficial brand advocacy program establishes your own influencer network. It encourages up-and-coming influencers to reach out to you in order to represent your brand and products.
Why is this a good idea? Developing your influential customers into brand advocates builds trust among consumers. These aren’t random individuals getting paid to endorse your products – these are real customers who genuinely love your brand. Brand advocacy programs also create a ton of user-generated content (UGC) you can repurpose across your social accounts.
6. Affiliate Programs
Affiliate programs encourage influencers to include product links in their posts. If someone clicks to a brand’s website through that link and makes a purchase, the influencer receives a small commission.
Affiliate programs are effective because they’re typically performance based, which means you don’t have to pay unless someone makes a purchase. The influencer has an incentive to market your brand because when you get paid, they get paid. And affiliate marketing can take many forms from guest blogging to reviews, social media takeovers, and even text links.
Here are ten best practices to generate better leads through influencer marketing:
1. Choose an influencer that aligns with your brand
Brand alignment between your company and each influencer you work with ensures that your message reaches your intended audience and maintains the highest level of credibility.
For example, if a brand promotes clean living, they’ll want to avoid working with influencers who regularly show themselves using products filled with chemicals that would make the partnership seem inauthentic.
2. Identify industry experts
If possible, try to find an industry expert to promote your products. Their informed recommendation will hold far greater credibility than a casual user of your brand.
Experts may have a smaller following than other general entertainment influencers, but their audience tends to be highly engaged and trust their recommendations. Therefore, you can expect to see higher-quality leads coming from these influencers.
3. Create an authentic brand with micro-influencers
Micro-influencers are creators with 10K - 100K social media followers. They can also be an effective source of quality leads if their smaller audience is highly engaged.
Again, micro-influencers tend to have a tight-knit following of potential customers who truly trust their recommendations. Tapping into this user base can provide you with a swarm of loyal customers.
4. Identify influencers with legitimate followers
Many people know Jay Alvarrez as one of the most popular stars on Instagram – except 2.5 million of his 6.8 million followers are believed to be fake! Unfortunately, this isn't an isolated example. There are many services offering fake followers for sale, as well as other tactics, to help would-be celebrities artificially boost their numbers.
You can measure the authenticity of an influencer’s follower count with the help of an influencer marketing platform, which will evaluate a number of signals for potential fraud. Engagement rate, for example, tends to be a reliable metric for evaluating audience quality because influencers with real followers tend to receive a higher percentage of comments, reactions, and shares.
5. Give your influencers creative freedom
If you want the ads to be authentic, you need to trust your chosen influencers to create content that will resonate with their fans – not something that feels like a traditional TV spot. This creative flexibility allows influencers to add their personal touch, so viewers don't feel like the content is solely paid promotion. If your brand message is more naturally integrated, consumers will be more likely to trust the influencer’s recommendation and check out your product.
6. Build brand loyalty with influencers
You don't want your influencers to come across as too "salesy" in their product promotions, as that might be off-putting to their audience. Instead, you should invest in your influencer relationships and develop long-term partnerships that will encourage them to promote your products as something they regularly use and believe in.
7. Exchange products for reviews and testimonials
About 36% of brands pay influencers via free products or discounts on more expensive merchandise. For full-time creators, however, you should expect to not only compensate them in free products but also pay them for their time.
8. Offer discounts and deals
Consumers tend to respond more favorably to discounts and special offers. So when you share a discount code with an influencer, you increase the chances of generating more leads to your website or online shopping pages.
9. Use a multi-channel approach
Don’t rely on a single social platform for your leads. Influencers exist across all platforms, formats, and content verticals, so you should create a broad strategy that leverages multiple online channels to attract new leads.
A 2020 Statista survey, studying influencer marketing, discovered that 89% of marketers believed Instagram was an important platform for their influencer marketing initiatives. Here’s a full breakdown of the leading platforms for influencer marketing worldwide:
These figures changed even more dramatically in 2021 with the explosive growth of TikTok and the rise of several new social platforms (and don’t forget about Snapchat, which is still very relevant). As social media continues to fragment, it becomes increasingly important to take a multi-channel approach to your influencer marketing efforts.
10. Track performance and optimize for results
Above all, make sure to track the effectiveness of your influencer marketing campaigns and continually optimize for performance. With the help of influencer marketing software, you can measure which sponsored content is generating the most inbound traffic and which leads are most likely to convert to customers. From there, you can eliminate poorly performing influencers and reallocate budget or recruit new influencers that can yield a higher ROI.
In addition to understanding the current and upcoming trends driving the influencer marketing business, brands must manage their influencer relationships. They also need to know how to track campaign results and understand how to analyze the success or failure of their influencer campaigns.
That’s a tall order, but we can help! Brandwatch’s Influence makes it easy for brands big and small to manage all of their influencer marketing initiatives in one centralized platform.
Are you ready to get started with influencer marketing? Schedule a free demo of Influence to learn how we can help you connect with the right influencers and track your campaign success.