Does Social Influencer Marketing Actually Work?

By finding the right influencer, social influencer marketing can deliver authentic messaging, a targeted audience, and more profits to your business.

Almost everybody has made at least one purchase because somebody they knew — or at least, knew of — introduced them to a product or service. Today’s social media influencer marketing just takes old-fashioned word-of-mouth marketing online to active social platforms. After all, such social sites as Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram are one of the first places today’s consumers turn to look for advice about purchases. Learn more about potential benefits of developing an influencer marketing strategy and how to go about finding the right influencer for your brand.

How social media influencer marketing works

Traditionally, marketers might have found a celebrity or authority on a topic to mention or promote products. Today’s social platforms have given birth to an entire new industry filled with people who attract a large audience through their own content. Finding the right influencer means having a spokesperson who has already attracted an ideal audience for your brand.

For instance, sales of your exercise bike or nutritional shake mix might benefit from the exposure a popular online fitness guru could offer by reviewing it for an Instagram or YouTube video. Similarly, a beauty company might look for a popular model or beauty expert to demonstrate their products.

Since there are so many social sites and influencers online these days, you might also benefit by working with an influencer marketing agency instead of trying to handle everything on your own. These are some of the tasks that an influencer marketing agency can help with:

  • Understanding your brand and products to determine the ideal audience
  • Helping to develop an influencer marketing strategy, including the choice of goals and metrics
  • Selecting and vetting social influencers and negotiating terms and rates 
  • Running and monitoring campaigns
  • Reporting upon the outcome and suggesting the next steps

According to HubSpot, an overwhelming 94 percent of marketers had a positive opinion about influencer marketings. On the other hand, almost 80 percent admitted that determining the actual ROI of their campaigns has proven challenging. That’s why you should not skip the second step that includes setting goals and figuring out how to measure them.

Can influencers help drive sales?

Influencers don’t always need to have massive audiences to benefit your company. For instance, some businesses have enjoyed great success with so-called micro-influencers who have less than 10,000 followers. Most important, any representative for your brand should have a good reputation and a loyal and targeted audience. In addition, your small business or startup may find that influencers with smaller audiences will work within your budget, increasing the chance of earning a profit. In fact, HubSpot highlighted one study that found micro-influencers tend to command more engagment than big-name celebrities.

No matter how big of a following an influencer has, it’s important to make certain they’re credible, possess a positive reputation, and won’t engage in any tactics that can do more harm than good. According to Neil Patel, millenials still tend to trust influencers but less than they did a few years ago. He says that most campaigns tend to earn decent returns, but a little less than one in five make nothing at all or even lose money.

In particular, influencers with millions of fans may charge tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars for just one post or video. This underscores the point that some businesses may want to begin by looking for microinfluencers who may lack massive reach but can deliver a good return for a few hundred dollars instead of several thousand per post. Once you’re certain you know how to use influencers to deliver your marketing message and make a profit, you can always scale up by either finding more small influencers or a big-name celebrity.

As a note, Patel also agreed that marketers he had spoken with said the biggest challenge was measuring ROI. Testing with a smaller, budget-friendly audience can give you the confidence you need to pursue bigger audiences.

Yes, social media influencer marketing still works

A thoughtful influencer marketing strategy can deliver many benefits to your business. Some examples include brand recognition, exposure to a targeted audience, an authentic delivery of your message, and valuable word-of-mouth advertising. If you’re new to influencer marketing, you should make sure you have clear, measurable goals and choose your influencers wisely.

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