When you hear someone tell you, "You should be using influencers to market your brand," you may think, "Duh. Everyone knows that." Big brands have been utilizing "influencers" as their spokespeople since the beginning of advertising.
Jennifer Aniston applies Aveeno to moisturize her skin every day, so if you want to look young like her, you should slather on Aveeno too.
Matthew McConnaughey drives a Lincoln, so if you want to be cool like him, you should drive a Lincoln too.
It's an age-old marketing tactic that plays on the consumer desire to do what rich, famous people do, and it's a tactic that's worked really well over the years.
But, if you're not a big brand, you're probably not in a position to use celebrity faces in your marketing and advertising.
Fortunately, there is a new form of "influencer" popping up in the marketing world, one that is arguably an even more trustworthy source for brand or product credibility. These are the social media stars, a.k.a. YouTube vloggers, Instagrammers, bloggers, Twitter junkies, etc. These regular folk didn't become "celebrities" the way an actor, a model or a musical artist becomes a celebrity. Rather, these are internet savvy people who have strategically carved out their stardom by becoming experts in something important to their target market, and then marketing the hell out of themselves.
Fashion bloggers, mommy bloggers, YouTube makeup tutorial artists, fitness guru Instagrammers, travel bloggers (the list goes on and on) have begun dominating the social space in a way that can't and shouldn't be ignored. These are the faces and names that consumers trust when deciding which makeup products to use or what diet plan to try or, really, anything and everything that people search for online. These influencers are people just like us, not celebrities who do whatever their publicists and agents tell them to do. And most importantly, these influencers personally interact with their fans, making their fans feel like actual friends, which renders them the ideal spokespeople for your brand.
Here are 5 reasons why you should be using influencers to market your business.
Yes, having George Clooney grooming his pretty face with your company's shaving cream brand on prime time TV would be advertising magic, but it would also be outrageously expensive. If you aren't one of the bigger companies out there, having a celebrity spokesperson may be completely out of reach. Working with online influencers, on the other hand, can be a much more cost-effective way to partner with influential people in your industry who have their own significant pools of loyal fans.
In a world where Yelp and consumer reviews dominate the online space, having real, credible people speaking positively about your brand can be an excellent way to improve your online reputation, as well as convince on-the-fence consumers to buy your product or service. People trust people, not brands.
3. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
That obfuscating acronym that everyone always talks about but few people truly understand is confusing for a reason. Every brand with a website knows it needs to "do something with SEO" but not everyone knows what that actually means or where to start. SEO is based on an ever-changing algorithm that Google and other search engines regularly manipulate on purpose to prevent websites from abusing the system, in addition to the more obvious reason: improving the speed at which consumers can find the content they're searching for.
While the rule for conquering SEO over the past few years can be summed up by, "content is king" (meaning the more high quality blog posts you publish to your site, the better you'll rank), the system is beginning to shift. The new motto, as I've heard through hushed whispers in the hallways, goes more like, "credibility is king." What this means is that the more credible online sources citing your brand or website, the better you'll rank in the search results. (Note that this is vastly different from the old-hat, back-linking strategy that was popular circa 2013, where companies posted links to their site in as many places as possible, regardless of relevance). What matters most now is that important websites (or powerful online influencers) are talking about you and linking to your site.
Think: quality over quantity.
4. Creation of real brand ambassadors
Partnering with influencers to promote your brand or review your products to their fans can create lasting relationships that may provide even more publicity opportunities in the future. If you scratch their backs, they'll likely scratch yours, and this could mean a long and fruitful courtship with benefits to both parties. You never know when you may need them in future campaigns.
Or hey, maybe when they make it big time and are working a red carpet event, they can show up modeling your earrings, or revealing their skincare routine (and how much they love your products), or boasting on camera about their involvement in your human rights campaign. The possibilities are great.
5. Influencers are the future of online marketing
Paying to play in a space that not everyone is taking advantage of yet can be rewarding. To reiterate my point about credibility, consumers trust other consumers, not the brands themselves. It's important to get your consumers talking to each other and to their networks about your brand to really build the trust, making way for expanding your market.