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The Era of Influencers in Marketing

What do you do prior to making a purchase? Ask a friend, family member or coworker? Throw caution to the wind and just click buy-now because heaven forbid you shop IRL.

Wait, or are you one of those people who still drives to a store, parks, walks among strangers, browses and then purchases?

If so, we Millennials, like, can’t relate.

What is an influencer?
Okay, so remember when a little known celebrity named Michael Jackson partnered with Pepsi for a mere five million dollar commercial? If you are a Millennial, this may sound like folklore, but get this, there were influencers prior to our generation.

Please don’t @ me, it’s true.

Yes, using well-known individuals in marketing to assist in product pushing or placement is not a new concept by any means. However, we are now in the era of the influencer, which is an “it” person in the digital space – celeb-digity – if you will. These individuals have grown a presence and huge following from the early platforms like Myspace, Tumblr and Vine to as recent as YouTube, Snapchat and Instagram Stories.

Why work with an influencer?
By using social media influencers in your marketing, you are building relationships with people who can further build relationships for you through their audience – whether that be small or large. The celeb-digity is able to do this based on their various social platforms through what is called a brand endorsement. Mid-level influencers, such as bloggers, have a smaller piece of the digital population pie; however, their followers drive 16 percent more engagement than paid media and larger influencers. This is because smaller influencers tend to have a more loyal audience.

How does a brand choose a celeb-digity?
It is crucial to vet the influencer(s) you are considering partnering with to ensure they are a good contextual fit with the brand. For example, does his or her content quality, reach, engagement and values align with the brand? Did you do a deep research dive on the influencer to make sure a brand crisis is not on the horizon or a skeleton may soon walk out of the influencer’s curated closet? This is a must to make sure you’re potentially lifting a brand and not jeopardizing it.

It will also benefit you to develop a relationship with the influencer prior to a partnership. Making strategic relationships for the right brands will pay off in the long run more than jumping the gun for a mediocre post or review from the wrong influencer. After a relationship is established and compensation is finalized, you will begin to measure earned media and decipher what influencer(s) gives your brand the most lift. This will determine future partnerships and impact your marketing strategy.

Who do influencers reach anyway?
Did you know 88% of buyers are influenced by online reviews?  Of this percentage, Millennials represent a substantial portion and find it important to read or watch reviews prior to clicking purchase. According to the Pew Research Center, Millennials are individuals born between 1981 and 1996 which is anyone currently between the ages of 22 and 37. When working with influencers, it is vital to supply them a robust experience and vast knowledge about the brand because consumers can sniff out an inauthentic review. Authentic reviews and posts will harness more brand engagement. This is obviously great news for the brand, the influencer, and you, the marketer. Way to go!

But, is it a fit?
Just because an influencer fits your brand, it is important to ensure the influencer is someone your brand consumers care to hear from or would find creditable. Once you nail down the appropriate influencer for your consumers, ensure the influence message is on track to creatively make it through the headphones of your consumer or stop their thumb from scrolling to the next. What does your consumer base want – pretty Instagram pictures? Funny memes? Relatable posts? Inspiring Instagram Stories? A polarizing story time on YouTube?

Bottom line? Boring, uninspired content is just not going to cut it, so marketers have to level up to get someone to engage. By tracking and monitoring engagement, marketers will clearly see what and who is working and when to say thank you, next, to an influencer partnership or platform.

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