Whether it’s choosing a restaurant, picking the best vacation spots, or buying a new phone, a recommendation from a trusted source holds significant power.
In many ways, social media has made influencers the new trusted source for marketing products and services. While going viral with a product or brand is appealing, audiences still value authenticity and credibility at the moment of purchase.
With that in mind, the question remains: Can small businesses leverage social media influencers to effectively market their products? What should businesses look for when seeking out influencers? And, where should businesses start?
Trend interviewed Mickey Cloud, Executive Director at Sasha Group, a VaynerX Company, to explore the benefits of adding social media influencers to a company’s marketing tool belt.
What is influencer marketing? And what does it look like on social media?
Influencer marketing is a concept that’s been around for a long time, probably as long as people have been selling products.
In the past, influencers might have been celebrities, local radio personalities, or public profiles within a community. What the internet and social media have done is create a platform for anyone to build an audience.
Social media platforms have essentially democratized the ability to put out content, build an audience, and leverage that audience through business partnerships and deals. Typically, a partnership forms between creators, influencers, and brands, which can involve monetary transactions or mutually beneficial arrangements such as granting access or providing products or services.
How does social media influencer marketing differ between B2B and B2C?
The main difference is in the platforms where these influencers are found. The B2C space is going to be driven more by consumer apps like TikTok and Instagram, where an influencer or creator has built up an audience.
The B2B side might be LinkedIn or Twitter, or TikTok as well.
In both instances, your fundamental marketing approach is not very different. Start by identifying thought leaders within your industry who consistently produce content. Then, see where there might be an opportunity to connect and leverage their audience to benefit your brand.
What advice would you give to businesses wanting to start social media influencer marketing?
First, clarify your objectives. What are you aiming to achieve? Is it enhancing brand perception or reaching a previously untapped audience?
Maximize influencer partnerships by providing them with a high-level brief of your goals and allowing them to create content that genuinely resonates with their audience.
When collaborating with influencers, you are investing in both their creative abilities (content creation) and their distribution capabilities. Consider both the quantitative (metrics, media evaluation) and qualitative (creative) aspects.
Evaluate influencers based on their reach and engagement. Are they attracting your target audience? Do their values align with your brand’s values? A large following alone doesn’t guarantee content performance. Assess not only follower count but also the authenticity of their following and how actively their audience engages with them.
What are some red flags to avoid when considering influencers?
You have to go beyond the surface-level impression of a large following. High follower counts can be misleading since there are methods to inflate those numbers, like using bots.
Their followers might be from a market outside your target region. Location is also a factor to consider. For instance, if your product is exclusively available in the U.S. or your retail locations are limited to Chattanooga, having a large number of international followers may not be beneficial.
How can businesses find a balance between staying authentic and following social media trends?
You have to do your homework and go back to your target audience. If you have a product or service, it has to fit into that influencer’s life—or at least into what they talk about to their audience.
If they can’t authentically speak about your product or service, then their followers will notice. If the influencer and brand are not a good fit, it’s going to come across that way.
Is it worth the investment of money and time?
The thing about influencer marketing is that when it works, it can sell out a product on shelves at the biggest retailers.
Building relationships and conducting outreach can be daunting. However, there are influencer service companies available at different budget levels that can assist in these tasks.
To learn more about Sasha Group’s range of services visit their website, here.