In today’s day and age, it’s impossible to not come across influencers on social media. Some social media platforms even recommend top influencer accounts to follow when the new users sign up. Users’ interaction with social media influencers begins right after signing up on the social network.
I can’t help but think that how massively brands can leverage social media influencers to get recognized, grasp validation, win new clients, and improve positioning. The question, however, is how it would happen.
What if I tell you that it’s already happening every day? You don’t need to mine through large amounts of data to get to one helpful insight. After reading this article, you’d start to notice that your favorite social media influencers do the same thing. They often promote products or highlight brands that don’t even seem that they’re selling a product or brand. Perhaps, you’re a loyal follower so it doesn’t matter to you whether or not they are being paid for the mention.
YouTubers often talk about certain products in their videos; some of them thank brands for sponsoring their videos or some of them don’t highlight that it’s a sponsored video. It depends on the terms of the deal or the territory you operate it. For instance, in the UK and US, creators and bloggers must clarify that it’s sponsored content. Similar legislation does apply in other countries as well. Sponsorship and promotional deals aren’t limited to YouTube.
Twitter celebs often tweet with certain branded hashtags and keep promoting an event or product. They get paid to do that or they get access to other freebies and perks if they aren’t getting paid.
Instagrammers do the same thing. They do sponsor posts, post branded stories, and takeover brands’ accounts for live sessions. There are different ways to use the influence on Instagram.
I’ll walk you through the steps of leveraging social media influencers to get more attention and find new eyeballs, but first, you have to understand what influencer marketing is.
What’s Influencer Marketing?
Influencer marketing is a marketing tactic in which social media influencers get on board with brands and marketing agencies to promote a product, service, or event.
It’s one of the fastest-growing businesses in the 2019-20 period. According to an article on MediaKix, influencer marketing is likely to become a $10 billion market by 2020.
It means if you don’t get to know influencer marketing today, you’ll pay the price in the next five years. It may seem something new-ish, but if you look at it, it has been around for a while.
The evolution of social media has now capped “influencer marketing” in the digital marketing industry. However, the idea behind influencer marketing has been around for decades. Brands have been doing something similar through newspaper ads, TV commercials, billboards, and radio slots–which evolved into—paid text messages, websites adverts, search ads, in-app ads, and social media ads.
Why Social Media Influencers matter?
You may have noticed that generations such as millennials and generation Z religiously follow YouTube celebrities, Instagrammers, and TikTok influencers. Perhaps, the previous generations used to do the same for TV and film actors and actresses. It doesn’t mean today’s generations don’t follow TV and film, but the majority of them don’t prefer TV and film over social media.
Just to prove this theory, look at your children at home. Are they spending most of the free time watching TV or using social media on their mobile phone or tablets?
The difference is that now the mediums of communication and art have changed. The smartphone has replaced the TV. Netflix and other streaming services have replaced VHS and DVDs. Social media ads have replaced TV commercials and billboards.
So it’s necessary to understand this consumer behavior towards social media influencers. Here are four important factors to help figure out why social media influencers matter:
- The Shift in Attention of the End-consumer
One of the reasons for leveraging social media influencers is the “attention.” Some social media celebs put up a photo on Instagram and get 50,000+ likes and 5,000+ comments. Some of them have millions of subscribers on YouTube, and when they put out a video, from 200,000 to 500,000 people show up to check out the video. These numbers may not be in millions, but still, they are huge.
Brands work with social media influencers because they’re noticing a shift in the attention of the end-consumer. Sure, the numbers still can’t match up with Superbowl or recently-concluded Game of Thrones or all-time biggest TV hit Friends, but the behavior of the end-consumers tells us a lot.
For instance, even you’re watching an NFL match or a Premier League Football match on TV, and the commercial runs, you stop looking at the screen and check your Facebook or Instagram. No one is paying attention to TV commercials, and that’s because the attention of the end-consumer has shifted from traditional media to social media.
A famous filmmaker, YouTuber, and entrepreneur Casey Neistat also said a similar thing in a podcast interview. He also believes that when TV commercial runs, we look at our phones or go to the bathroom, or do other stuff.
- To Attract Younger Demographics
Agree or not, but younger audiences are massively active on social media. Most of you might not know anything about Snapchat, Instagram, YouTube, and TikTok, but the audience of age-group 12 to 24 knows everything about these platforms.
The above-mentioned example also reflects the point of how well the younger audiences know social media as compared to elders in today’s world.
So the idea of leveraging social media influencers to reach newer faces can’t succeed without keeping the younger audiences in mind. Perhaps, they are the ones who keenly follow social media influencers and loyal to these internet celebrities more than anyone.
- Due to this age of the Internet and Social media
One of the reasons social media influencers matter is that everyone is hopping on social media. Perhaps, from your grandpa to your friend’s dog, everyone has an Instagram account these days. In this age of the internet and social media when tens of millions of people are consuming, reacting, and liking content, some of the social media celebs are bound to pop up.
So, as a business, you can either ignore social media or take advantage of it. Meaning, people are paying attention to social media influencers whether they like them or not. All you need is to find an opportunity in this game of attention on social media to get these social media stars on board with you.
- Peer Pressure leads to Catching Up on the Trends
Peer pressure does have a role in making social media influencers the internet celebs that they are now. You might have noticed that if a video goes viral on Facebook and most of the colleagues at a workplace have seen it, but one of them hasn’t seen the video, it surprises the rest of them.
The same goes for millennials and generation Z. If some of them aren’t catching up with the popular songs, games, app, and celebs, they might feel left out.
Liza Koshy is a popular YouTube celebrity who popped up on the Vine platform, and it helped her build a successful YouTube career. She revealed in an interview that she installed a Vine app in college because everyone else was installing it and trying it out.
So one of the reasons why social media celebs could be vital to modern-day marketing is because they influence the minds and behaviors of younger audiences.
4 Key Elements of Leveraging Social Media Influencers
To get started working with social media influencers, there are certain things you must figure out first. Take a look at four key elements of leveraging social media influencers to get acquainted with the concept:
Influencers Market know-how
The fundamental point of leveraging social media influencers is finding out about the influencers. You can’t pull this off if you have no idea about the social media influencers in your region. It’d only be possible if you socialize, do surveys, ask for recommendations, and spend time on the internet. It’d help you understand the market inside out.
Social Media Analytics
The second element is rather technical as compared to the first one. Brands like to work with influencers who have a sizeable audience, high engagement, and growing impact. To make better decisions about choosing the social media influencers, they’d require more than their 2-week research about the local influencers.
Here comes the social media analytics option. It’s the social media statistics of any social media account or person, but it would not be possible without using an analytics tool. ContentStudio has an influencers feature that digs deeper and finds influencers in your given niche. You’ll find out more about this feature later on.
Working with social media celebs isn’t a piece of cake. First of all, you have to have a solid offer to make, and then your communication does the job. Public relations don’t just help in connecting with the influencers, but they also help in striking a good deal with them. Try to extend your PR circle and befriend like-minded people in the industry.
Although, you’d find sponsorship deals with influencers quite beneficial as compared to other advertising mediums so that’s a big plus. The point is that don’t try to take advantage of any social media influencer if you work with them or friends with them because it won’t help in the long run.
To get the process smoother, you must ensure that the offer you’re making is lucrative for the influencers to take. A lot of people try to play smart, for example, they ask for a free shout-out or something to take advantage of their reach and exposure. Most social media influencers don’t pay attention to such offers. The thing brands and marketers must know is that your offer is not even close to attractive when you’re asking for a shout-out or offering a small remuneration for the work.
So keep these elements in mind when you reach out to the influencers.
It leads us to the steps to follow to cash in on the social media influencers to attract new faces.
Here are four ways to leverage social media influencers to discover a new audience:
Discover influencers in your industry
It all begins from here when you want to leverage social media influencers to get more reach. What you need to do is figure out a way to discover influencers in a specific industry. Most of you would get started with doing Google searches, which is okay, but it doesn’t guarantee that the content you’d stumble upon is from an influencer. Let’s admit that search engines are open to everyone — an article from a rookie blogger could beat any top blogger or social media influencer.
So there has to be a way to go through the details such as the discovered content and social media statistics at the same time. ContentStudio has a feature called “Influencers” that is specifically designed to discover content on Twitter and Instagram Posted by the influencers. However, the system brackets social media users with thousands of followers and they often post content related to the topic.
The Influencer tab has “relevancy” and “filter” options for searchers to make required changes and discover relevant influencers. You can also save the influencers by creating lists in the Influencer section.
The hashtag search is a common method to find relevant content as well as accounts on both Twitter and Instagram. However, this method doesn’t have any option to skim through and showcase only the influencers’ content.
Setting up Google Alerts could also help in discovering influencers in your industry. What it does is that it keeps an eye on the specific keywords and when those keywords appear in the content titles, the system sends an alert to the subscribers via email.
Once you discover a few influencers in your industry, don’t reach out to them directly for a favor. Instead, keep it slow. Make sure that you start following them on Twitter or Instagram, respond to their posts, consume their content, share their work, and more importantly, actively engage with them on social media.
Social media influencers would be skeptical to respond to your offering even if it’s a paid work if they have no idea about you or your business. Most sponsorship deals happen through sponsorship platforms and PR agencies. So connecting through social media and starting a communication before reaching out for a sponsorship offer would have been a lot better.
The reason brands want to leverage social media influencers is that they have a strong connection with their audience. When an influencer shares a product or cause or event, a big segment of the loyal fans respond to it actively, and it does make a lot of difference.
For example, Casey Neistat, a YouTube celebrity, once shared the story of his mailman who needed money for his sister’s medication in his video. He also created a GoFundMe campaign for that UPS guy. Casey’s fans poured in thousands of dollars into the campaign and helped the man, which proves the point of the loyal fans’ relationship with their favorite influencers.
Choose social media influencers with loyal audiences
The number of followers doesn’t always matter in influencer marketing. The depth, however, counts in some cases. Kevin Kelly’s widely popular article “1000 true fans” discusses a similar plan of action.
According to Kevin, all you need is 1000 true fans to make things or make things happen for you. He explains in the article that every creator doesn’t need to get 1,000 superfans — maybe, your 500 loyal fans could be worthy of someone else’s 1,000 fans.
It comes to loyalty, affection, and connection with the loyal audience. Getting closer to your loyal audience is a two-way street. Not only do you need to find your loyal audience, but you should also design the pathway so that they also find you.
As far as influencer marketing is concerned, it’s necessary to opt for social media influencers that have a deeper connection with their audience. When the goal is to discover a new audience through social media influencers, then the brands must handpick social media influencers that dominate the certain space on the market.
The famous YouTuber PewDiePie who dominated YouTube with the highest number of subscribers for a long time has an audience that is either interested in gaming or memes. He puts out gaming videos, meme reactions videos, and sit-down videos on certain topics. His loyal fan base loves his reactions during the gameplay. He is funny and smart, and that’s why has been able to develop a connection with a huge audience worldwide.
When Liza Koshy and David Dobrik broke up, it took the internet by storm. It got a lot of attention from the fans, which led to finding more fans on the internet. Publications wrote articles, YouTube channels talked about them, and Twitterati tweeted about them for days. So it shows a strong connection between these creators with their audience.
The number of fans may not always matter, as said before. The reason is that social media algorithms work strangely. If your 80 of your 100 YouTube subscribers watch your videos, 50 of them like it, 30 of them comment on YouTube, and 15 of them share on Facebook and Twitter. YouTube is going to bump your video up and show it to a bunch of new people. If the reaction from the new audience is somewhat similar, YouTube would continue to put forth your video to the new audiences. In a matter of days, you could reach to 5,000 YouTube subscribers. That’s how it works.
Connect your brand’s story with influencers
There is no doubt that influencers remain a center point of the attention of the audience. As long as they’re getting attention from the viewers and followers, they’re in business. It opens up opportunities not just for influencers, but also for the brands who are looking for a new audience. Brands write hefty checks to the influencers to work with them because they know that they’re going to cash in on the attention of the influencer.
There is a huge difference between running a video ad on Facebook to talk about your product features and working with a social media influencer discussing the industry’s norms and infusing your product into the conversation. Even though, it’s compulsory in some countries to clarify the sponsorship or paid deals in the video or article, which doesn’t hurt the outcome of the collaboration. The reason is that people are interested in the conversation between social media influencer and the interviewer so they’d stick around. It only happens because people can be connected to the influencer’s story in real life.
When a brand plays a role in making a difference in a social media influencer’s life, it directly becomes a part of the equation. It doesn’t necessarily mean writing a bigger check to the social media celebs, but instead, it could be about the nicest conversation, a pleasant surprise, or making-a-wish-come-true type of experience.
K-Swiss knows exactly what it means to connect your brand’s story with influencers. They have been working with Gary Vaynerchuk on the sneakers project for a while. They’re leveraging the GaryVee’s social media reach through this collaboration. You’d often hear Gary talk about his deal as well as listen to him announcing when the new GaryVee K-Swiss sneaker edition is coming out.
K-Swiss must had a wonderful experience of working alongside Gary Vaynerchuk. So now their brand’s story is connected to Gary Vaynerchuk somehow. They could always share their experiences of working with Gary, especially what they learned from this deal and so on.
Experiment with different social media influencers
Social media isn’t limited to YouTube or Twitter now. There are dozens of social media platforms that have millions of top performers. There are so many platforms with geographic implications that make them inaccessible or irrelevant to the rest of the world. For instance, WeChat, QQ, DouYin, and Baidu are the Chinese alternatives to Facebook, WhatsApp, TikTok, and Google respectively.
It’s highly likely that you might not be familiar with social media influencers that are on different social media networks. When the idea is to leverage social media influencers to discover a new audience, then one needs to hop on different social media platforms to hunt down the opportunities for exposure.
The way TikTok has started gaining momentum, it’s a testament to the belief that the audience’s attention could do wonders for a product or company.
The famous American TV and film star Jennifer Aniston recently joined Instagram and she got over 1 million followers in the first 24 hours. She has already crossed 10 million followers on Instagram in a matter of days. So it’s unbelievably true that people on social media react to stuff aggressively. Moreover, it also tells us that when you have got attention, nothing could stop you from dominating the space.
Maybe, your next social media influencer is right now making TikTok videos or reacting to a video or traveling & documenting the journey through a video camera. To find those influencers, you must start doing experimentation with different collaborators until you find a list of influencers that understand your brand’s core values.
Your goal is to get in touch with such influencers’ audiences through collaborations with those social media influencers. When you add value-factor for the audience in the whole deal, it becomes even better. For instance, you send your product to the influencer to use and review, gift a fully-paid travel package, or work on a special video, all these things fascinate the audience.
What’s the takeaway?
The takeaway is that if you want to leverage social media influencers, first you should get to know who is the ideal influencer that may sync in properly with your brand.
For instance, ContentStudio is a social media management tool and if we like to collaborate with a social media influencer, we might be looking at someone who knows how to deal with the growth challenge on social media. The influencer must talk about social media management, social media growth hacks, tips and tricks to increase followers, and content creation.
The reason we’d supposedly be interested in that influencer is that his/her audience is likely to pay attention to those social media tips and guidelines. Therefore, ContentStudio being a social media management tool comes in handy during those conversations because it does help you manage and grow on social media. The right influencer would lead you to the right audience.
I tried to shed some light on identifying the right influencer to reach out to for your influencer marketing campaign. Otherwise, it would be a shot in the dark. Plus, my intention was to educate you on the attention of social media influencers so that you could cash in on them before it’s too late.
What else would you like to add to this article?
Hassaan is a blogger and freelance writer. He has published articles on SEMrush, ThriveGlobal, BlogPress, FreelancerMap, and many other popular publications. He writes about freelancing techniques, tips, and career growth. Subscribe to his blog.