What is Social Media Influencer Marketing and Why do I need them?

What is Social Media Influencer Marketing?

Using social media influencers in your marketing is the practice of building relationships with the people who can build relationships for you. Whether an influencer’s audience is small or large, an influencer can reach consumers via their blogs and social networks that your brand may not be able to.

An influencer is quite simply someone who carries influence over others. A social media influencer is someone who wields that influence through social media. The form of influence can vary and no two influencers are the same. Celebrity endorsements were the original form of influencer marketing, but in the digital age of online connection, regular people have become online “celebrities” with powerfully engaged social media followings, especially in certain market segments.

Why use Social Media Influencers?

  • Action and social mentions are driven more effectively by mid level influencers like bloggers have a smaller but more loyal audience and drive 16 times more engagement than paid media and “mega influencers.”
  • Having influencers to discuss their brand experience is crucial. Roughly 88% of buyers consider online reviews “very influential” when making a purchase decision.
  • Millennials represent an enormous segment of the purchasing population yet are drastically different from other verticals when it comes to how to market to them. They vet purchases and a brand’s story more than other buyers.
  • 90% of consumers trust peer (influencer) recommendations. Only 33% trust ads
  • The most effective influencer marketing strategies build and foster strong relationships with current network, happy consumers and new influencers who are active in relevant verticals.
  • Since influencer marketing is about building strong relationships, a strategy that values a mutually beneficial relationship is key. 
  • Consumers want authenticity from the brands they interact with. When marketers equip influencers with an entire experience to share about a brand or product the posts are more engaging.
  • Develop relationships with influencers before you need them. Relationship building takes time and once the connection is there, activating influencers becomes a lot more seamless and effective.

How to find the right social media influencer for your campaign

Before reaching out to a potential social media influencer, you’ll need to consider the Rs of influence:

  • Relevance: The influencer is sharing content and developing a following relevant to your business and the particular market segment you want to target.
  • Reach: The number of people you could potentially reach through the influencer’s follower base that would bring value to your business.
  • Resonance: The potential level of engagement the influencer can create with an audience that’s valuable and relevant to your brand.

When determining whether an influencer is a good match for your three Rs, you’ll need to ask yourself a couple of important questions.


Who are you trying to influence?

Most marketers have no trouble coming up with a high-level answer to this question: you’re trying to influence your customers, prospects, and the broader industry community. But your influencer campaign can’t be all things to all people: as in all types of marketing strategy, a meaningful answer requires greater focus and a clear understanding of your goals and your audience.

Perhaps you’re trying to influence people who work in a specific job function—social media professionals or community managers who tend to spend significant amounts of time on social media every day, for example. Or maybe your goal is to influence decision-makers in a particular vertical—maybe government or finance leaders who tend to place deep trust in recommendations from their peer network. Or, you could be trying to target a specific consumer segment, like millennials looking to buy their first home.

These are three very different groups, and an effective influencer marketing strategy requires you to speak to the right people using the right tools (and, in this case, the right influencers), just like you do in all of your other marketing work.

Looking at a very specific marketing niche, for example, a recent survey from public relations firm MWWPR found that influencer marketing is the most effective way of marketing spirits to millennials, along with earned media. According to the report, 54 percent of Millennials share branded content from spirits companies when it is posted by a social influencer, and 93 percent usually try a new liquor after someone recommends it to them. For any liquor brand looking to expand into the millennial market, those numbers should be hard to ignore.


Who do your customers, prospects, and community trust?

For marketers, the key requirement for true influence is trust. Your audience must trust and respect the opinion of the influencers you partner with. Without the trust component, any lift in results will be superficial and you’ll struggle to see a tangible business impact from your efforts.

Working from a clear idea of exactly who you’re trying to influence, take the extra step to find key opinion and thought leaders whom your audience already looks to as sources of meaningful information. These people are already influencers—and partnerships with them can drive real impact.

Keep in mind that your audience demographics play a major role in determining which influencers will be the most trusted in your marketplace. Data from Twitter shows that people aged 45 and up view more traditional household name celebrities as preferred influencers, while millennials prefer digital content creators.