Nowadays, it’s impossible not to come across influencers on social media. Some social media platforms even recommend the biggest social media influencer’s accounts to follow when 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 about 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 helpful insight. After reading this article, you’ll notice that your favorite social media influencers do the same thing. YouTubers often talk about certain products in their videos; some of them thank brands for sponsoring their videos, or some don’t highlight that it’s a sponsored video. Twitter celebs often tweet with specific branded hashtags and keep promoting an event or product. 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 is 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. There is no doubt that influencer marketing is profitable. It’s one of the fasting growing businesses. The market grew from $1.7 billion in 2016 to $9.7 billion by 2020. It reached $13.8 billion in 2021, demonstrating consistent growth. In 2022, the market is expected to grow to a whopping $16.4 billion.
Influencer marketing has emerged as a key strategy because of its high success rate. In a Forbes article published by ION, around 71% of consumers rely on social media to make a purchase. Moreover, it is also stated that 49% of marketers spend less than $10K on Influencer Marketing.
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-to-text website adverts, search ads, in-app ads, and social media ads.
Why do 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 most don’t prefer TV and film over social media.
To prove this theory, look at your children at home. Are they spending most of their 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.
Related Read: How to Become a Social Media Influencer in 2022
So it’s necessary to understand this consumer behavior toward social media influencers. Here are some critical roles to help figure out why social media influencers matter:
Major Roles of social media influencers
The initial step in establishing contact with these influencers has nothing to do with the influencers themselves. Instead, we should approach the process like a conventional marketing strategy: the first step is pinpointing our target market. Only after understanding our audience, we would be able to find those influencers who are valuable to our business.
We have witnessed the emergence of what is now referred to as the “citizen influencer” thanks to social media. They are driven individuals that build and publish their thoughts and experiences on the social web for everyone to see. They have much more clout than typical celebrities in their own fields of influence.
1. Connect to the target audience
Influencers can introduce us to the appropriate people. Discover those who are related to the audience you are attempting to influence. With their extensive networks of following, these influencers act as nodes to make connections more easily.
Once we’ve identified the target market, we can find the right influencers to reach out to them more effectively. As a result, social media influencers may introduce their followers to the stories and products they already know will be exciting and valuable because they are already familiar with their target market and their preferences. On the other hand, if our message does not belong to this category, then the influencer would have no interest in promoting the concept, or the message will be broadcasted to an unresponsive or irrelevant audience.
2. Provide Authentic Information
Influencers on social media play a significant role in the extensive information network of the internet. They update their fans on new releases, advancements, and breaking news. The knowledge that comes from influencers is authentic and dependable, unlike commercials that are intended to inform. A recent study discovered that bloggers are more trustworthy and essential in the decision-making process among B2-B decision-makers than trade shows or personal recommendations.
3. Shape Audience’s Opinions
An influencer’s experience includes connecting and influencing others, but ultimately utilizing influence is about forming opinions. As experts in the field of communications, we are aware that three key requirements have to be satisfied. The shared information must be:
Influencers have the advantage of having their audience’s implicit trust. They have worked hard to win that trust. As a result, if we want to reach our target audience, we must be able to give them relevant and timely information, as well as messages that are clear and simple to understand. These kinds of messaging have the potential to alter opinions, which is our ultimate purpose.
You can surely see why it is vital to involve influencers as part of your social media and inbound marketing strategy now that you know the role social media influencers play.
4. Shift End-Consumer’s Attention
One of the reasons for leveraging social media influencers is the “attention.” Some social media celebs post photos on Instagram and get 50,000+ likes and 5,000+ comments. Some 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 if 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.
5. Attract Younger Demographics
Agree or not, 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 example mentioned above also reflects how well the younger audiences know social media 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. But, perhaps, they are the ones who keenly follow social media influencers and are more loyal to these internet celebrities than anyone.
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 don’t know about your region’s social media influencers. It’d only be possible if you socialize, survey, 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 with a sizeable audience, high engagement, and growing impact. So 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 an analytics tool. ContentStudio has an influencers feature that digs deeper and finds influencers in your given niche.
Stronger Public Relations
Working with social media celebs isn’t a piece of cake. First, you should have a solid offer to make, and then your communication does the rest of the job. Public relations don’t just help connect with the influencers but also help strike 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 compared to other advertising mediums, that’s a big plus. Don’t try to take advantage of any social media influencer if you work with them or are friends with them because it won’t help in the long run.
Should have a Lucrative Offer
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. Unfortunately, most social media influencers don’t pay attention to such offers. Brands and marketers must know 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 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. First, you need to find a way to discover influencers in a specific industry. Most of you would get started by 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.
It’s best to have a way to visualize the discovered content and social media statistics simultaneously. ContentStudio has a feature called “Influencers” specifically designed to find out content on Twitter and Instagram Posted by the influencers. The Influencer tab has “relevancy” and “filter” options for searchers to discover relevant influencers.
Moreover, you can also:
- Save influencers by creating lists
- Find relevant content and accounts by hashtag search
- Set up google alerts to discover influencers in your industry
It keeps an eye on the specific keywords, whenever they 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 contact them directly for a favor. Instead, keep it slow. Make sure 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 paid work if they have no idea about you or your business. In addition, most sponsorship deals happen through sponsorship platforms and PR agencies.
Hence, connecting through social media and starting communication before reaching out for a sponsorship offer would have been much better. Brands want to leverage social media influencers because they have a strong connection with their audience. When an influencer shares a product or event, a significant segment of the loyal fans responds to it actively, making 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 drive 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 action plan.
According to Kevin, all you need is 1000 true fans to make things happen for you. However, 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 dedicated 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 with a deeper connection with their audience. When the goal is to discover a new audience through social media influencers, the brands must handpick social media influencers that dominate a specific 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 specific topics. His loyal fan base loves his reactions during the gameplay. He is funny and smart, which is why he has developed a connection with a vast 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, leading to more internet fans. 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. Suppose 80 of your 100 YouTube subscribers watch your videos, 50 of them like it, 30 comments on YouTube, and 15 shares on Facebook and Twitter. YouTube will bump your video up and show it to a bunch of new people. If the reaction from the new audience is somewhat similar, YouTube will continue to post your video to the new audience. In a matter of days, you could reach 5,000 YouTube subscribers. That’s how it works.
Connect your brand’s story with influencers
There is no doubt that influencers remain the center point of the audience’s attention. 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 looking for a new audience. Brands write hefty checks to the influencers to work with them because they know that they will cash in on the influencer’s attention.
There is a vast difference between running a video ad on Facebook to discuss your product features, working with a social media influencer to discuss the industry’s norms, and infusing your product into the conversation. Even though it’s compulsory in some countries to clarify the sponsorship 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 influencers 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 makes a difference in a social media influencer’s life, it directly becomes a part of the equation. It doesn’t necessarily mean writing a more extensive check to the social media celebs. But instead, it could be about the most agreeable conversation, a pleasant surprise, or a making-a-wish-come-true type of experience.
K-Swiss knows exactly what connecting your brand’s story with influencers means. They have been working with Gary Vaynerchuk on the sneakers project for a while. They’re leveraging GaryVee’s social media reach through this collaboration.
You’d often hear Gary talk about his deal and hear him announcing when the new GaryVee K-Swiss sneaker edition is coming out. Now their brand’s story is connected to Gary Vaynerchuk somehow. They could always share their experiences working with Gary, especially what they learned from this deal.
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. So many platforms with geographic implications 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.
Likely, you might not be familiar with social media influencers on different social media networks. When leveraging social media influencers to discover a new audience, one needs to hop on various 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 few days. So it’s unbelievably true that people on social media react to stuff aggressively. Moreover, it also tells us that nothing can stop you from dominating the space when you have got attention.
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 experimentation with different collaborators until you find a list of influencers that understand your brand’s core values.
You aim 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 particular 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, 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. We’d supposedly be interested in that influencer because his/her audience is likely to pay attention to those social media tips and guidelines.
Therefore, ContentStudio, 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, I intended to educate you on the social media influencers so that you could cash in on them before it’s too late.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. What are social media influencers?
As defined in this article, an influencer is someone who has:
- the power to influence others’ purchasing decisions due to their authority, knowledge, position, or relationship with their audience
- A following in a specific domain with whom they actively engage. The size of their following is determined by the popularity of their niche.
Social media influencer is recognized for their expertise and experience in a particular field.
2. What do social media influencers do?
An influencer is not someone who spends all their time on social media, snapping selfies and pretending to be necessary. Influencers must impact the behavior of their followers. They have established a reputation for their knowledge and experience in a given area and can persuade people’s decisions. They make regular postings on that topic on their preferred social media sites, resulting in big followings of active and more engaged people who pay close attention to their opinions.
3. How many types of influencers are there?
Types of Influencers:
Types of influencers can be distinguished in a variety of ways. Such as based on the number of followers, the kind of content, and the amount of influence. Influencers can also be classified according to the industry in which they work. That means that influencers who appear to be in a low category in one measure may appear more influential in another.
Influencers having a massive number of followers on social media are known as Mega Influencers. Although there is no hard and fast rule defining the different categories of followers, it is often assumed that mega-influencers have more than one million followers on at least one social media platform.
Macro-influencers are a step below mega-influencers and may be more approachable as influencer marketers. People having between 40,000 and 1 million followers on a social network are considered macro-influencers.
Micro-influencers are ordinary people who have become well-known for their expertise in a specific field. As a result, they typically have a substantial social media following in that niche. Undoubtedly, the relationship that a micro-influencer has with their followers is more important than their number of followers. Generally, micro-influencers are defined as having between 1,000 and 40,000 followers on a single social media.
The nano-influencer is the newest sort of influencer to acquire popularity. These people have a tiny number of followers, but they are usually specialists in a niche or highly specialized topic. They may have fewer than 1,000 followers in most circumstances, but they will be engaged and interested followers willing to engage with the nano-influencer and listen to their opinions.
4. How much do social media influencers make?
The influencer’s rate is heavily influenced by the number of followers they have and the success of their outreach. According to one report, an average influencer earns between $30,000 and $100,000 per year through product promotion. Meanwhile, sponsored posts run from $50 to $50,000. Influencers with 1 million followers can earn between $100,000 and $250,000 for every sponsored post. Nano-influencers with a few thousand followers can make $30,000-$60,000 yearly.
5. How do social media influencers make money?
Co-creating content with brands and receiving a commission for every purchase can be lucrative for influencers to earn money. Furthermore, influencers earn from social media marketing, guest appearances, sponsored posts, and running advertisements.
6. How can companies identify social media influencers?
Identify & check social networks to see who has already posted about your brand using your hashtag. Search for your relevant keywords on social media to find influencers in your field.
Let us know if there is anything else you would like to add!
Wasiq Naeem is a content and digital marketing veteran who is passionate about his writing. Extensive research and producing high-quality content is just another day at the office for him.