These days, word of mouth and peer recommendations are more reliable to customers when it comes to brands. In simple words, if my friends trust or recommend a brand, then so will I. Mass advertisements are still paramount for their powerful reach but they more often than not succeed in creating brand awareness alone. For customers to truly consider purchasing your products or services, personal approaches are necessary too. But it is obviously not possible for you to directly engage with innumerable potential customers. This is where social media influencers come in.
These “influencers” as they are called, are individuals who can sway the sentiments of their online audience in a particular direction regarding a brand, idea, business or person. And there just might be such people out there who are already making or breaking the reputation of your brand and those who have the potential to help you increase your popularity. Let’s take PepsiCo, which was the first brand to effectively use social media influencers, as an example. When the company decided to revamp its entire brand, it sent out cans bearing the new design to select bloggers, who then blogged about the changes resulting in brand awareness. But it didn’t end there. These bloggers also influenced their audience to have a favorable attitude towards the change. So what made PepsiCo realize the importance of such influencers and why should you do the same?
1. Wide and Loyal Audience
Social media influencers generally have a large Twitter following, long Facebook friends list or heavy blog traffic which means that through them you can reach a wide audience. If they mention your brand name, talk about it or retweet or share your posts, they are amplifying your brand communication.
Tyler Oakley is a popular video blogger on YouTube, who has around 2 million Twitter followers. A fan of Taco Bell, he constantly promotes and maintains a good online relationship with them, so much so that Taco Bell sent him to cover the 2012 MTV Movie Awards as their sponsor. Through him Taco Bell became even more popular and continues to be able to reach a large number of people in a personal way.
— Tyler Oakley (@tyleroakley) April 22, 2014
2. Good Networks
Influencers build good networks. Their contacts engage in conversations or discussions on the various subjects the influencers post about, which can lead to more brand building. Not just that, they share or retweet these posts which means that your audience multiplies, increasing your visibility. Also, through them you can identify other influential people as well, who are a part of their audience. They can in turn influence their own audience’s opinion of your brand.
Influencers get the message across to the people in their network, who then send it to their own audience, resulting in a snowball effect thereby reaching out to a wider audience
In a survey conducted by Vocus and Brian Solis, 62% of the respondents said that they follow an influencer because of the content they create. Quality content is crucial to any marketing campaign. And Influencers can create great content that would easily strike a chord with the audience, and reduce the work for you. They might even come up with creative ideas for content marketing that your brand itself did not think of. Some post reviews of your products and services, its features, quality etc., some write stories related to your brand, so on and so forth.
Another important factor that contributes to their large following is credibility. In the same survey, 51% of the respondents said that they follow an influencer because they consider them as opinion leaders and 40% follow them because of their relationship with the influencer.
The expertise these individuals hold in a particular field combined with the good relations they maintain with their audience makes them reliable to people. Their opinion of your brand will most likely become the general opinion among their audience. A word from an influencer can make or break your brand.
5. New Trends & Insights
Influencers are usually aware of the latest trends of the evolving social media platforms. They tend to be among the first to try these new trends, to discover new platforms to reach and engage with their audience. Through them, you too can get acquainted with such new ideas and employ them to interest prospective customers. And seeing as they are experts in the field, you could gain deeper insights about your industry from them.
More often than not, influencers fall under the category of lead users or early adopters.
Marketers are heavily engaging social media influencers these days and it is indeed important to identify them. Building good relationships with them will help strengthen their advocacy or convince them to be associated with your brand.
But identifying these influencers from the vast ocean of social media users is not an easy task. That’s where social media listening can come in handy, tools such as Explic8 can help you identify your loyalists or even the ones who hate your brand. You can not only identify the top authors in terms of numbers but also measure their influence and categorize them as your promoters or detractors, and engage with them in real time.