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What is Influencer Marketing and Why it Matters in 2021? The Ultimate Guide

When they hear about influencer marketing, most people automatically think about social media. However, people used this method of advertising long before the world wide web came to be. After all, the principle is very simple. You find an influential person people tend to trust and you get them to advertise your products.

As the importance of the Internet and especially social media in our lives grow, so does the number of available methods of marketing. Among them, influencer marketing plays a role that’s far from negligible. There’s a reason why 90% of marketers find it impactful.

But social media scene changes rapidly. Why does influencer marketing still matter and what makes it so important? Let’s find out.

What is influencer marketing?

Influencer marketing implies that a certain influential person, or influencer, addresses a brand’s target audience in order to recommend this brand’s products or services. The idea behind it is that people trust influencers and refer to their opinion. Subsequently, that trust extends to brands and the products or services these influencers recommend. All this takes place at the scene called social media.

As you can see, influencer marketing is basically indirect advertising. The thing is people are increasingly less willing to trust blatant ads and commercials. Indirect advertising that comes not from brands but from those people like to trust takes a form of a friendly and well-informed recommendation.

influencer marketing

This is what makes influencer marketing so effective. People don’t just buy your products and/or services based on an influencer’s recommendation. They learn more about your brand and what it has to offer, they trust it and become regular customers.

That being said, influencer marketing isn’t just about finding a random person with an online audience. Throwing money at them so they say a good word or two for your brand and its products isn’t all it takes. It’s important to understand that an influencer isn’t just any content creator with pretty numbers in their profile. They are those who invested a lot of time and work to develop their personal brand and build their online presence. People like this care about their reputation and the credence their audience gives to what they say. Money isn’t the first and foremost thing that drives them.

What’s more, influencer marketing doesn’t provide for fast results. Brand awareness and brand trust are something you build over time. That’s in case you do want your customers to come back for more, of course. Social media influencer marketing is a slow game intended to attract loyal customers.

8 reasons why influencer marketing is important to grow your brand in 2021

1. Accessibility

At the dawn of social media marketing, only large companies wielding hefty budgets were able to afford marketing to their target audiences through influencers. These influencers were mostly celebrities with multimillion followings. Today, even small local brands can easily partner with creators with 10k followers or even less. Interestingly enough, not all of these partnerships involve money. Almost 40% of brands prefer barter collaborations over paying cash.

2. Trust

80% of social media users buy products based on influencer recommendations. Over 40% of them learn about new products thanks to content creators. Over 70% of them readily spend over $600 on products mentioned by influencers. People are much more likely to trust influential content creators than traditional advertising.

Trust is probably one of the most valuable intangible things in terms of influencer marketing. Every day we see how customer trust translates into marketing campaign success. People find it easier to make a purchase decision when they see that there are already lots of people who use that product. Your job as a brand is to show that many people are interested in your product and actively use it. And what better way to do this than collaborating with an influencer whose recommendations people trust?

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3. Efficiency

Marketing campaigns that involve influential content creators can earn $6.50 for every dollar invested in them. The majority of marketers admit that influencer-inspired leads are of higher quality.

When done right, influencer marketing can be incredibly beneficial to brands. In fact, there are multiple goals that can be achieved when you partner up with content creators:

  • Increase brand awareness and recognition;
  • Boost your target audience trust in your brand;
  • Get valuable feedback from your TA;
  • Connect with your target audience;
  • Increase sales;
  • Attract new customers.

4. Growing role of social media

Social media plays a massive role in our lives and it keeps growing. The TV viewership has been on a steady decline, while the amount of time people spend on social media increases. That’s where they learn about news, discover new brands and new products. And this means that the opportunity to reach your target audience through social media has never been better.

5. Quality content

High-quality user-generated content can easily save you time, brainpower, and money. Provided you find a suitable influencer, you won’t have to brainstorm the way of presenting your products to your target audience. They will do it for you. After all, they know their audience better: they know what they like and what kind of response they can expect. Thanks to this knowledge, they’ll find a way to recommend your product or service in the best way possible.

6. No ad blocks

40% of your potential customers use ad blocks. No one likes the annoying pop-ups. But ad-blocking software can’t block influencer posts, even the sponsored ones. So you can rest assured that your potential customers will see the advertising and get interested in your product.

7. You get a better understanding of your customers’ needs

Influencer partnerships, among other things, can supply a great deal of valuable feedback straight from your potential customers. The comments their followers leave under their sponsored post might contain some extremely useful information. You can see what people really think about your product, what they like about it, what they don’t like, and what they’d like to change. Thanks to this feedback, you can improve your products and boost your target audience’s trust in your brand even more.

What you can also do is actually interact with your potential customers. Reply to their comments and answer their questions. This would show that you genuinely appreciate their opinion.

8. It can be fully automated

Gone are the days when you had no choice but to run your social media marketing campaigns manually. As the industry grows, there are more and more services and tools to make your life as a marketer easier. Influencer marketing platforms let you automate the entire process, from influencer discovery to marketing campaign management to performance measurement to payments. This saves a great deal of time and effort, allows choosing influencers that are right for your marketing goals, and provides detailed analytics.

7 steps to easily start with influencer marketing

1. Identify your target audience

Who are the people you market to? Are they predominantly male or female? How old are they? What kind of lifestyle do they have? What are their likes and needs? What do they do for work and in their free time? What about their values and dreams? Deep knowledge of your target audience will make choosing the right influencers easier.

family instagram influencers

2. Determine your marketing campaign goals

Before you start your marketing campaign, it’s important to understand what kind of results you want to achieve. For example, it might be one of the following:

  • Original user-generated content;
  • Original product reviews;
  • Attracting a new audience (a younger/older, international audience, etc.);
  • Connecting with your target audience;
  • Attracting traffic to your website;
  • Increasing the number of leads;
  • Increasing sales;
  • Increasing brand awareness.

Once you are confident about your campaign goals, think of appropriate KPIs for them. For example, if increasing brand awareness is your goal, reach, impressions, and engagement rate might be your KPIs.

3. Determine what kind of content creators can influence your target audience

Now choose the niche that will suit you best. Do you sell sports equipment, apparel, or fitness nutrition products? Athletes, fitness, or yoga influencers might be the best pick for you. Are you a clothing brand? Look among fashion and lifestyle content creators.

4. Choose the right influencers for your marketing campaign

What kind of influencer would be right for you? More often than not, you have to look for someone who:

  • Consistently posts high-quality content;
  • Actively interacts with their audience;
  • Has a substantial audience of highly engaged followers;
  • Has a style that matches your brand style;
  • Is authentic.

Analyze their audience and determine whether it matches your target audience. You can ask them for analytics data or use an analytics service like trendHERO. While you are at it, make sure that you:

  • Analyze their audience demographics. If your target audience is teenage girls and they mostly have middle-aged moms among their followers, there are not right for you;
  • Determine their engagement rate (ER);
  • Check the authenticity and quality of their audience.

5. Get in touch with the influencers you picked

You can do that directly by sending a message to their DMs or an email. You can contact them via an agency or an agent that represents them. Or you can use one of the influencer marketplaces. Normally, they have all the tools to contact creators, discuss all the terms and organize partnerships.

6. Prepare a detailed brief

Make sure that you discuss every detail concerning the kind of content you would like to see, its format, how long it should stay on their feed, whether you can use it on other platforms, etc. Also, make sure you discuss the form of compensation to avoid any misunderstandings on that part.

Sing a contract if you find that necessary. Many influencer marketing services will help you with that too.

7. Measure your campaign performance and analyze its results

Again, using one of the campaign analytics tools might be greatly helpful. If you have access to these tools and know your KPIs, this step shouldn’t be difficult. The campaign analysis might give you great insight into how you should improve your strategy and what methods are the most effective.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does influencer marketing really work?

The industry’s worth this year reached the impressively high bar of nearly $14 billion. As was mentioned earlier, when you do it right, you can expect a return of $6,50 for every dollar you spend on your marketing campaigns.

Influencer marketing can help you raise your brand awareness, improve its reputation, boost your potential customers’ trust. A competent choice of influencers will ensure an increase in sales and website traffic.

So yes, there is no doubt that influencer marketing really works for brands of all sizes. However, it requires in-depth knowledge of your target audience and a high level of competence in terms of marketing campaign management.

Instagram Statistics

What are the pros and cons of influencer marketing?

Like any type of advertising, influencer marketing has its advantages and downsides. Here are some of them to consider:

Pros

  1. It allows reaching and connecting to your target audience.
  2. It helps to build your customers’ trust in your brand and its products.
  3. It can expand your brand’s reach.
  4. It’s relatively cheaper than other types of marketing.
  5. It saves a great deal of time and effort.

Cons

  1. Choosing the wrong influencers can do more harm than good.
  2. Every little mistake made during an influencer marketing campaign can cost your brand dearly.
  3. Results are hard to predict with 100% certainty.

What’s new in influencer marketing in 2021?

In the current climate and despite all of its flaws, the future of influencer marketing still looks promising. This year and in the nearest future you can get ready for the following trends:

  • The growing role of micro- and nano-influencers. Marketers seem to be less willing to partner up with celebs and more interested in cooperating with smaller-scale content creators;
  • Growth of the number of influencer marketing platforms and marketplaces;
  • Stricter FTC rules for sponsored content;
  • The emergence of CGI influencers.

Conclusion

There’s no doubt that influencer marketing still remains a promising and high-performance strategy. This is reflected in the fact that the majority of brands are still willing to invest substantial funds into this type of social media marketing. Connecting to your target audience and generating high-quality content with the help of influential content creators will help your brand to become a leader in your niche. Use this tool wisely and your efforts will definitely pay off.

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