Ignore the power of the Social Influencer at your peril

Can a social influencer change your mind?

I like to think that I am fairly impervious to those pesky brands with their big spend advertising trying to get me to part with my cash for things I don’t need, and cannot afford. However recently it seems those brands are getting more clever!

My time is pretty much all accounted for. As a working mother, I juggle running my business with the school run as well as indulging in my other passions for fitness and food. I’m not much of a TV watcher, choosing to watch on demand and skip the ads when I do get the time. On my commute to work I am more likely to be reading my Kindle than a magazine or a newspaper. I don’t listen to commercial radio and I quit Facebook long ago. I realise that I am amongst a growing sector of the population that are becoming harder to reach via traditional advertising.

However, I do follow a number of people on Instagram who inspire or motivate me – And that’s where the advertisers have got to me! Recently I have noticed that the power of the Social Influencer has slowly crept up on me in the people I follow. Suddenly my favourite YouTube yoga teacher is an Adidas ambassador and my go to team of fashion bloggers have teamed up with brands like Hush and Mint Velvet to offer quick give aways or to extol the virtues of a new sweater/ trainers / necklace.

So what is a Social Influencer?

Influencers are people with significant networks (followers, readers, etc.) who can speak to a broad range of products and services with the ability to sway opinions in their favour.

US fashion blogger Jess Estrada

We’ve all heard of the big names, the YouTube vloggers and Instagram stars with millions of followers, that charge upwards of £50,000 per post to promote a brand’s product. But I am not affected by the Zoella’s, PewDiePies and Kim Kardashians of the world. For me, it’s the less well known bloggers, mid-level social communicators with a few thousand followers, or a few hundred, that are now being courted by the big brands. One of the fitness bloggers that I follow (11,000 followers, not massive by some standards) has recently been picked by Nike. And I’m impressed. I listen to her, I trust her because she’s an everyday girl, someone that I can relate to more than a “real” celebrity. And yep, guess what –  the latest trainers I bought were the brand that she’s sponsored by. I trust the people that I follow – I feel I  know them personally so, when they recommends a product, I am more  likely to listen.

We buy from those we know and trust

And I am not alone in realising this. According to a survey conducted by PWC nearly half (45%) of digital buyers worldwide said that reading reviews, comments and feedback on social media influenced their digital shopping behavior. We like to buy from people we know and trust.  According to a report by Nielsen 90% of consumers trust peer recommendations. Only 33% trust ads. Personal recommendations and branded websites are more trusted than paid advertising in all its forms, including digital, mobile, TV, and print media. And it’s not limited to my age group. It was recently reported that 70% of teenage YouTube subscribers now trust influencer opinions over those from traditional celebrities – this makes working with influencers an important part of many brands’ marketing strategy.

So why is Social Influence marketing so effective?

It breaks through all the online noise, drives awareness, and breeds purchase intent later. Social media influencers have…

  • a large following – some social media influencers have followers in the millions. They have a large audience that trusts the views and recommendations of the person they are following.
  • credibility – these people have built trust and credibility with their followers. Their insights, views and thoughts on various topics, including brands are thought to be valid by those that follow them
  • great content – people follow a social influencer because they entertain them. If your brand can be part of that then it’s a win win.
  • audience knowledge – many have built up their following through years of experience and so they know their audience well and know what kind of content and information they want to hear.

A growing trend

It seems I am not wrong in noticing the influence of these people more and more in my life.  The trend is growing. According to a joint study by Adobe and eConsultancy, marketers recognise that Earned Media is where it’s at. 90% of marketers have said Earned Media will have a significant impact on their strategy in the future and according to eMarketer, 84% of marketers were expected to launch an influencer campaign in the next 12 months  So, as a Marketer I am looking at how, who and when I could bring in the power of a Social Influencer with the brands that I work with. It can be effective and clever marketing but it treads a fine line. The authenticity of the influencer and the brand can be damaged if the consumer feels that they are being told about a product because the person they are following is being paid to do so.

I’d love to hear about how you may be using Influencer Marketing in your recent strategies. Do get in touch!

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