Social media has created a host of new ways for brands to connect with their potential customers.
Compared to traditional forms of media, social media platforms allow for more organic interactions. Rather than come off as overtly advertising, businesses can connect with their target markets through what feels like peer-to-peer communication.
This unique feature has driven businesses of all sizes onto platforms like Twitter and Instagram. Social media marketing has become a crucial component mos business’s marketing strategy.
Despite this though, many businesses don’t fully understand the entire range of marketing strategies available. They may run Facebook ads or post on Instagram, but they’re missing out on one of the most powerful marketing tools these platforms have to offer.
Today, we’ll explore the rise of social media influencers. Here’s what they do and how they can help businesses grow.
What is an Influencer?
An influencer is a person with a strong social media presence and a sizable following. Influencers can take a number of different forms.
Many run personal pages. The individual is at the center of their content, highlighting certain aspects of their lives to connect with their audience
These types of influencers tend to be regarded as celebrities by their following. Audiences often idolize them the same way they might a Hollywood actor.
But not all influencers center their content on themselves.
Some influencers act more as documentarians. These influencers may document something exciting or important such as scientific discoveries or breaking news
There are also creative influencers who focus on sharing their art. These people use social media as a platform for their creative endeavors like painting or article writing
Finally, there are influencers that don’t document anything at all. Rather, their pages serve as pure entertainment channels, sharing things like memes to engage with their audiences.
All that being said, just having an audience doesn’t directly help these creators make money. Even with a million followers, social media platforms don’t pay influencers directly.
How Do Influencers Make Money?
Influencers make money in a few different ways.
The first way influencers make money is by selling directly to their audience.
This is particularly viable for artists and craftsmen who use their pages to share the things they create. People interested in someone’s art will likely be interested in purchasing it.
Non-artistic pages will sometimes try to sell information instead. For example, a travel page may attempt to sell an ebook containing tips about traveling on a budget.
This strategy of direct sales is only viable for a small segment of influencers though. A much more common approach is for influencers to make money via affiliate marketing.
Affiliate marketing is essentially a kind of partnership between a brand and an influencer. The brand sends the influencer an item or link, the influencer shares and endorses the brand on their platform, and the brand pays the influencer.
Can Influencers Help You Grow Your Business?
If you’re interested in using influencers in your social media marketing strategy, there are a few key considerations you need to make first.
The first thing to consider is if social media users can realistically make a purchase from you. If you sell sneakers, the audience you gain from an influencer will likely be positioned to purchase from you.
If, however, you have a local, service-based business, affiliate marketing might not be worth the investment.
For instance, a local lawn care business probably won’t see many new sales from affiliate marketing. Their audience is so niche-specific that influencers provide a very low return on investment.
But there’s more to consider beyond if you should use influencers in your marketing strategy or not. You also need to consider the specifics of the influencers you choose to partner with.
If you’ve decided to move forward, you need to find influencers that are relevant to your business’s niche.
This won’t always be the biggest influencer. Someone with millions of followers may not connect with the people most likely to purchase your products and services.
You need to consider things from the perspective of your target market. Who might they follow on social media platforms? Who are they most likely to connect with on a personal level?
Once you’ve figured that out, you can discover the most popular influencers in your niche using hashtags. The top-performing accounts in your niche are the ones you want to partner with.
To illustrate this, let’s use an example.
A business selling sketch pads wants to use influencer marketing. They partner with a massively popular account that has nothing to do with sketching or drawing.
Because of the size of the account, the marketing is pretty expensive, but since the audience isn’t interested in the product, they don’t make many sales.
This lack of sales can have a serious impact on a small business. Small businesses typically have pretty limited budgets.
If they don’t succeed in converting the audience into actual sales, they wind up losing precious resources that can slow their growth or worse.
If that same company targeted a smaller, sketching-specific account, they’d likely pay less for the affiliate marketing but see far greater sales. They’d actually see a return, boosting their profits and allowing them to reinvest in growing their business further.
That’s why it’s important to find the right influencer. Their relation to your product is typically more important than the size of their audience.
An audience that is enthusiastic about your product is primed to buy from you. The influencer’s recommendation is the little nudge they need to hit the “buy now” button on your site.
Influencer marketing can be a fantastic tool to grow your business, but you have to be strategic.
If you’ve decided to use affiliate marketing, make sure you choose accounts that are relevant to your target audience. The connection with your potential customers is more important than absolute size.
Be selective about who you partner with and you’ll save money while boosting your sales and small business growth.