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If you’re in the marketing industry, you know just how powerful storytelling is. Any effective campaign likely tells a story that resonates with consumers, thereby stimulating business. This is probably why word-of-mouth marketing is often regarded as the “most important” marketing method – happy customers tell others a story about their experience with the product or service and influence them to experience the same.
So with the rise of social media usage, it’s only natural that influencer marketing would flourish. Influencer marketing takes traditional marketing’s pillar of storytelling and runs with it, reaching billions of potential consumers through influencers and storytelling on social media. In this article, we’ll break down the top three benefits of influencer marketing:
- Lower Cost
- Reaches Target Audiences with Easy-to-See Results
- Builds Brand Awareness and Makes Brand Management Easy
But what is influencer marketing, really?
Although it’s been met with skepticism and with the thought that it’s just a fad, influencer marketing isn’t all that different from traditional marketing methods (and it’s been around for a while, now). Utilizing social media platforms, influencer marketing is a type of marketing that relies on endorsements from individuals who have a strong enough social following that they’re viewed as experts in their niche, thus being seen as influencers. Think of influencer marketing as word-of-mouth marketing on social media.
Influencer marketing is extremely effective because of the high level of trust from an influencer’s following gives an influencer the ability to generate social proof for brands. Sprout Social defines social proof as “the concept that people will follow the actions of the masses. The idea is that since so many other people behave in a certain way, it must be the correct behavior.” So if an individual with a dedicated following promotes a brand’s product or service, the buying potential for that audience is extremely high.
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Since influencer marketing is essentially word-of-mouth marketing that builds social proof for a brand, it shouldn’t be difficult for traditional marketers to embrace it – it’s simply good old-fashioned people talking. And the benefits of influencer marketing aren’t limited to the outstanding savings and ROI it provides. Influencer marketing helps build brand awareness by reaching target audiences (and very large audiences, at that), makes governing a brand’s reputation manageable, and ultimately yields effective results that are easy to manage.
In this article, we’ll break down the top three benefits of influencer marketing and why they’re compelling enough for you to leave traditional marketing methods behind.
REASON ONE: Lower Cost
One of the biggest benefits of influencer marketing is the affordability of it. There are two types of influencers, and influencer marketing costs greatly depend on what type of influencer you’re working with:
- Macro-influencers: 100,000+ followers
- Micro-influencers: 1,000 – 100,000 followers
To give an idea of just how budget-friendly influencer marketing can be, we’ll look at an example of an influencer marketing case compared to a more traditional celebrity endorsement deal. Kim Kardashian is one of the most-followed people on Instagram with 160 million followers, and she earns anywhere from $300K to $500K per post. The most money she’s made with a long-term deal is $6 million over the course of a year. To contrast, Coca-Cola signed Taylor Swift to become a brand ambassador for Diet Coke for $26 million in 2013. The $26 million doesn’t include the production and distribution of the television, print, and web ads that Coke paid Taylor to be the face of. The Kim Kardashian pay-per-post campaign was done at a fraction of the cost of the Coke campaign, and what makes it even greater is that it provides more quantifiable results than the Coke ads.
However, the majority of the influencer marketing industry isn’t run on such a large scale – the majority of brands work with micro-influencers. Bigger isn’t always better, and after a certain number of followers, the genuine connection that marketers look for is often lost. We’ll talk more about reach and audience in the next section, so, for now, we’ll simply say that working with micro-influencers brings a greater ROI than many traditional marketing methods.
The ROI of YouTube ads versus TV ads provides a great example of how working with micro-influencers trumps traditional advertising methods. A study by Google found that in 56 independent investigations, 8 in 10 studies found that YouTube had a higher ROI than TV ads. There’s no minimum investment with YouTube ads, whereas TV advertising requires a chunk of money to reserve air time. A typical video ad on YouTube costs between $.10 and $.30 per view, so like most social media advertising, what you get out of YouTube advertising is often dependent on what you put into it.
Additionally, influencer marketing is unique in that there are generally no standard prices, so working with micro-influencers on Instagram, for example, could be very cost-effective because the contract can be negotiated. If an influencer’s rate is within a brand’s budgetary range, a brand may negotiate other contract terms like timelines, deliverables, content types, commissions, and follow-up campaigns.
For an idea of price breakdowns in terms of platform and influencer type, check out this article.
REASON TWO: Reaches Target Audiences with Easy-to-See Results
Another one of the great benefits of influencer marketing is the ability to reach specific audiences and measure results with analytics.
There is a niche for literally everything imaginable, making influencer marketing something that nearly every brand could benefit from. When evaluating influencers, brands and influencer marketing agencies look at the influencer in terms of reach and niche:
- Reach: As a general rule, targeted reach, cost-effectiveness, engagement, authenticity, and accessibility all go up as follower count goes down.
- Niche: Brands can leverage relevant niche influencers to more intentionally target audiences.
Working with an influencer who has a smaller reach allows a brand to get super specific in targeting an audience. As mentioned earlier, the smaller the audience, the more authentic the connection is with the audience, so working with a micro-influencer who is seen as an expert in their niche will reach an audience with a high buying potential.
When discussing the audience as one of the benefits of influencer marketing, it’s also important to reiterate just how wide of an audience social media provides versus traditional advertising methods like print or television. For example, over 5 billion YouTube videos are viewed daily, 500 million Instagram accounts are active every day, and Facebook’s total number of active monthly users is 2.5 billion. In contrast, the most-watched TV broadcast in the U.S. – the Super Bowl – had 99.9 million viewers in 2020. If TV has only a fraction of the audience as social media platforms on its most-watched broadcast, there’s no way that its audience size on the daily can compare to the audience influencers have on social media.
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And influencers have the ability to deliver immediate results with easy-to-understand analytics. For example, an influencer can post a sponsored ad on Instagram with a link to a product embedded in the post. The brand can monitor sales through the analytics provided by the influencer. The effectiveness of the ad done by the influencer can be monitored with data on clicks, impressions, views, and more.
REASON THREE: Builds Brand Awareness and Makes Brand Management Easy
The truly exciting thing about influencer marketing is how individuals can become brand ambassadors for products or services they’re passionate about and/or experts in. Just as brands traditionally evaluate potential spokespeople for products, brands can evaluate an influencer before partnering with them.
Choosing to work with an influencer whose persona and presence aligns with your brand’s values, needs, and goals is the key to successfully utilizing influencer marketing. Thoroughly vetting an influencer by not only reviewing the kinds of content they produce and level of creativity but by also examining the kinds of engagement they have with followers is essential. An account that has an engaged following is likely to yield incredible results because the audience has a high level of trust in the account.
Brand management is another plus of working with influencers. The immediacy of social media could be a good or a bad thing, but having a solid relationship with influencers can help brands manage their reputation by controlling brand messaging with simple clicks.
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Influencer marketing isn’t just a fad – it’s here to stay and it’s growing and evolving every day. Although keeping up with the constant changes of influencer marketing may feel overwhelming, the benefits of influencer marketing are enough to consider integrating it into a brand’s overall marketing strategy. And the good news is that influencer marketing agencies are available to help navigate all of this.