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The rise of social media in the 21st century has completely transformed the way individuals and businesses market, advertise, and build their image. With the advent of platforms such as Instagram and Facebook, where account owners can potentially interact with millions of users daily, brands have begun looking at new methods to connect with consumers and advertise their products. One such method is the use of paid media marketing, which refers to paid placement of content that extends reach to more consumers on a social media platform.
Examples of paid media include pay-per-click advertising, branded content, display ads, and more. Paid media marketing essentially allows brands to boost their content and increase audience engagement.
In recent years, paid media marketing has become more widespread and more convenient to implement, as nearly every social media platform offers some version of it. For instance, Facebook and Instagram offer Branded Content services, which allow account owners to target audiences of specific demographics and collect data regarding user interaction.
What the widespread use of paid media marketing means, however, is that brands must look beyond traditional paid media usage to gain a leg up on competition.
Simply using branded content or pay-to-play click does not provide as much advantage as it did in the past, which is why businesses have been exploring other options. One example is the integration of influencers into the paid marketing strategy.
What are influencers?
Influencers are people who hold a large following on social media. Oftentimes, influencers run accounts that have anywhere from tens of thousands to millions of followers. Moreover, influencer content is usually centered around a specific topic or targeted towards a specific audience.
Influencers in the paid media marketing strategy
Traditional paid media marketing allows brands to pay the platform to amplify their content. This inherently increases audience engagement and reach, which increases revenue and knowledge of the brand.
Incorporating influencers into the paid media marketing strategy, however, allows online businesses to achieve the same effects but at an enhanced level.
One advantage of having an influencer in a paid media campaign is the ability to reach the most desirable audience. Because many influencers have specific followings that have a particular interest, they’re able to help businesses to directly reach the most relevant audience.
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While branded content services also allow businesses to target specific audiences, influencer audiences are more likely to interact with the content because they already follow the influencer.
Influencers also mitigate another major issue when it comes to paid media marketing: audience fatigue.
Audience fatigue results from consumers seeing far too many cluttered social media feeds filled with miscellaneous ads that might not even pertain to their interests. In an era where Instagram and Facebook feeds are often overloaded regularly, the presence of audience fatigue has magnified in recent years.
Audience fatigue is a huge problem for businesses because it decreases interaction and detracts from the original purpose of the content, which is to inform the consumer.
Influencers allow businesses to minimize audience fatigue in a few ways.
- Influencer accounts often have large social followings who are interested in what they have to say. This means that any brand advertisement will be looked at more closely if it comes from an influencer versus a traditional sponsored post.
- Influencers often produce a variety of content which when combined creates a compelling feed. This means that any brand advertisement will be surrounded by other engaging content, minimizing audience fatigue.
- Influencers understand their audience the best and will be able to share brand-related content in a manner that is engaging and catered to the audience’s preferences.
Many different factors determine which influencers are selected for marketing campaigns. Source
Influencers are taking advantage of their personal brand outside of sponsorships. See how Cameo is helping influencers get paid for shoutouts here.
Advantages of paid media in influencer marketing
Given the upside of incorporating influencers into a marketing campaign, the role of paid media may seem less valuable. After all, influencers are able to provide the target audience that the brands seek, along with providing said audience with an engaging flow of content.
However, paid media nevertheless provides many advantages that enhance influencer marketing.
Despite influencers having a large following, posts can often get lost in the feed and there’s no guarantee that followers will see and interact with any given post. Furthermore, on many platforms, posts only remain “relevant”, or within feeds, for anywhere from a few hours to a few days, meaning that certain posts can get lost in the shuffle and never reach optimal engagement.
Paid media solves for this; specifically, branded content tools can expand audience engagement and guarantee that specific posts are shown on feeds, overriding other algorithms.
Younger generations increasingly follow influencers on social media. Source.
Whitelisting and brand amplification
Highlighted below are two different processes brands can undertake to increase outreach. Whitelisting involves influencers in the marketing campaign, while brand amplification may or may not.
Whitelisting is the process of obtaining permission from influencers to run paid ads via their account and identity. Since each influencer has different policies regarding what they are willing to post and how often they’re willing to post branded content, whitelisting usually involves a negotiation and approval process to determine an agreement that works for both sides.
The primary advantage of whitelisting is access to influencer followers. Brands can communicate directly with the large followings of major influencers, and oftentimes there is a large amount of trust and respect that the followers have for any content released by the influencer.
On the other hand, whitelisting can often lead to complex agreements regarding how much permission the brand has to run the influencer account. Furthermore, the actual process of handing over the account can be quite complicated. Finally, overuse of influencer accounts for brand amplification can annoy influencer audiences, leading to audience fatigue in the long term.
If you’re working through an influencer’s account, you want to make sure the reach is authentic. Read more about how to identify accounts with fake followers here.
Brand amplification is the process of building brand image and expanding audience reach, albeit via the brand’s own account. The primary method for brand amplification is paid media. Brands can either make their own content or negotiate usage rights from their influencers. While brand amplification does spotlight the brand more prominently, it may sacrifice the authenticity that comes from the influencer handle.
When deciding between influencer marketing and brand amplification, businesses should analyze a variety of factors: cost, target audience, timeline, product type, and more. A different approach may be the best fit for each individual situation, and oftentimes, a combination of the two should be used to optimize audience engagement.
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Brand-building with influencers
Influencer content on branded page
One way for brands to work with influences is by contracting an influencer to post content on the brand’s account. This approach allows the brand to utilize the influencer’s image to connect with target audiences without having to go through the complex whitelisting process. Furthermore, brands always have the option to boost this content via paid media.
Overall, having influencers post content on the brand’s page allows the business to once again combine the benefits of paid media and influencer marketing.
Using influencers to produce creative ads
Most influencers are experienced in creating content targeted for specific audiences, and knowing what features to implement to maximize audience engagement. Thus, another method to incorporate influencers into a paid media marketing campaign is to have them produce creative content for the brand that builds the business’ image in an engaging manner.
In the ever-changing social media landscape, businesses need to integrate new strategies into their marketing campaigns to stay ahead of the game. Collaborating with influencers while simultaneously utilizing traditional paid media marketing methods can elevate a business’ outreach and image. To learn more about paid media and advertisement strategy, click here.