By Evan Nierman, founder & CEO of Red Banyan, an international crisis communications firm, and author of Amazon bestseller Crisis Averted.
Businesses and brands that strive to reach new audiences must embrace the power of social media as influencer marketing continues to grow at a staggering rate. In my experience, it’s the quickest way to have the greatest impact and reach the biggest audience with measurable results.
The impact of influencer marketing has skyrocketed over the last five years. What started as a trendy marketing practice has morphed into a $13 billion industry. In fact, a study by Pew Research Center found that 48% of U.S. adults get their news “often” or “sometimes” from social media.
Organizations that need to get their message out quickly and effectively can’t afford to overlook influencer marketing. The impact and returns are too great, and whether the platform is TikTok or Facebook, the reach is notable. It is clear that the reach and immediacy of social media are quickly outpacing conventional media.
The power of social media was not lost on the Biden Administration, which recently met with 30 top TikTokers to share information and answer questions about Russia’s war against Ukraine. The administration realized that TikTok stars have become an important link to young people who rely on the platform to get information on just about everything. A recent study published by Forrester showed that 63% of Americans ages 12 to 17 use TikTok on a weekly basis. With millions getting their news from social media, the move made a lot of sense.
How Influencer Marketing Works
If you aren’t already familiar, at this point you’re probably curious how influencer marketing works exactly. In most cases, a business will target specific social media personalities that have demonstrated an ability to grow and engage a particular audience, therefore influencing that audience’s purchasing decisions. Businesses can then sponsor an influencer’s online content in hopes that the influencer will subsequently endorse the business’s brand, product or service.
The goal is to increase sales by creating buzz about a product or service. The key to success is partnering with someone who could believably use the business’s product or service. If the influencer and the product or service are not compatible, the endorsements can fall flat.
Social media marketing overall provides a unique new way for businesses to communicate directly with customers and can be used to improve customer relations or an online reputation. If you’re interested in launching your own influencer marketing campaign, here are five key elements to make it a successful one.
1. Know your audience. Who is your target audience? Have a thorough understanding of the demographics of the customer base you are trying to contact, then reach out to them on the social media platforms that they use. Is your target audience composed of teens who spend most of their time on TikTok or older adults who would be more likely to surf Facebook?
2. Speak in a voice that will resonate. If you want to succeed, you must talk the talk and walk the walk or your words will fall on deaf ears. Is your message relevant to your target audience, and is it being presented in a way that is compelling and memorable? Finding a way to stand out is half the battle.
3. Identify influencers who align with your business’s core values. What does your company stand for? Not all influencers are equal, so do your research and make sure you know what you are signing up for. Are you comfortable with the content on your chosen influencer’s social media accounts? Is it appropriate for your target audience? Most importantly, is it believable for the influencer to endorse your product or service? Doing your homework ahead of time can save time, money and heartbreak.
4. Develop storytelling opportunities. The sky is the limit when it comes to content creation on social media, so explore the possibilities. Video storytelling can be hugely impactful, but the cost may not be in your budget. Explore your options and have fun finding new ways to draw attention to your brand or services.
5. Establish measurable goals. What do you hope to achieve with influencer marketing? Decide your top goals and rank them accordingly. Do you want to build brand awareness, generate more web traffic or drum up new leads? Without goals and the associated metrics, you will not be able to measure the success of any campaigns you undertake. If you have no way to measure the ROI, you are spinning your wheels.
Social media influencer marketing isn’t the wave of the future. It is the present way for businesses to get their messages out lightning-fast and reach huge new audiences. Companies that want to be on the cutting edge of communications cannot afford to overlook this evolving form of brand-to-customer communication that offers benefits for marketing, SEO and customer service.