Influencer marketing is constantly evolving, and has been transforming the way marketers approach their potential customers. Social media is now flooded with influencers promoting products and services in every way possible - you likely will have seen it yourself. 

And it’s only growing. Let’s take a look at what exactly influencer marketing is, and what factors are contributing to its incredible increase in power.

What is influencer marketing?

Influencer marketing is one of the most powerful marketing approaches that has accelerated in growth over the past decade. Though it is such a popular marketing method for many brands, very few of them understand how to use it to get the results they want. 

Influencer marketing employs well-known personalities to market products and services through product mentions, recommendations, and paid advertisements. Most influencer marketing campaigns are undertaken on social media, on platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Educating their followers on topics in their niches, influencers give their insights on whether a product is worth purchasing, and this is a successful marketing tactic due to the high level of trust their audiences have in them. 

An influencer can have a followers ranging from 1000 to more than a million which helps us to understand that they are categorized based on their follower count. These categories are nano influencers, micro influencers, macro influencers, and celebrity influencers.

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What has led to this?

So, what has prompted this increasing growth in influencer marketing? Let’s take a look into a few of the factors that have led to brands’ shift to including influencers as a primary ingredient in their marketing strategies.

The rise of social media with Facebook

The first social media platform that was introduced to the world was sixdegrees.com, which was launched in 1997. Though it amassed over one million users, it didn’t achieve long lasting success, nor did it play a role in the growth of influencer marketing. But it may have directed us towards it. With the release of Facebook in 2004, we have seen a monumental societal shift towards social media platforms as a tool for opinion sharing. In its first two years, Facebook had 12 million registered users, which grew to some 2.7 billion  in 2020. 

Facebook also introduced Facebook Ads - an ad system aimed to help businesses to reach out and market to their audiences based on a range of highly targeted demographics. This uses data from Facebook users’ personal profiles (including their interests, age, gender, location and more) to present them with ads that suit their needs.

This data is not only great for marketers, but is also useful for influencers. Facebook’s inbuilt Insights tool allows influencers to harness a greater understanding of their audiences. Facebook is still a preferred platform for influencers, is a major player into influencer marketing as we know it today, and is still an undeniable platform for it into the future. 

What social media platforms will the future hold for marketing and influencers?

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Ad blocking and ad distrust

With the constant increase in the number of Internet users around the world, businesses are always looking for opportunities to reach out to more audiences in order to familiarize their products to them. There are over 4.5 billion people using the Internet across the world, and with just a few clicks, people of all ages, demographics, interests and locations have access to an ocean of information. This has given impetus to businesses globally to find better ways to advertise their product offerings. This is why the internet is flooded with ads - on search engine pages, websites, blogs, and more. 

This sounds great for businesses, we have seen that some audiences’ patience for ads is wearing thin. The rise of ad blocker usage has limited many brands across the world for effectively reaching their audiences. 

Ad distrust is also increasing in consumers. Studies show that 42 percent of consumers distrust brands and 69 percent claim to be skeptical of brand advertisementsThey also reveal that millennials seem to not show interest in branded media, advertisements, or companies themselves. Naturally, this has led to the rise of influencer marketing - whether it be product recommendations from a favored YouTuber or product placement by a beauty blogger. This doesn’t mean that you should give up on paid advertising however. Marketing is a balance, you must have a little bit of both to ensure you are getting good results across the board. 

The power of reviews

You can never underestimate the power of a review. A customer's personal opinion or feedback about something they’ve bought is an incredibly powerful tool, and can either build up businesses or drag them down. As reputation is important for an individual, so is a review to a business or a brand. In this digitally wired world, reviews play a crucial role in product sales. Despite your best efforts in advertising and marketing the product, a negative review can ruin all your efforts in no time at all. 

Did you know that about 90 percent of your online audience check for product reviews before they make a purchase? From this 90 percent, 72 percent of them actually buy a product once they are satisfied with the product reviews. Additionally, research shows that 88 percent of online shoppers consider these reviews a form of personal recommendation. This leads us to understand why influencer marketing works through influencers’ product reviews. 

An influencer’s reviews help your brand build customer trust and improve brand loyalty, setting you apart from your competitors, increasing your store’s presence online, and helping you to augment your sales. Most importantly, it facilitates your customers to better understand your product offerings in depth and how it can add value to them. All in all, it acts as a form of social proof for your brand. 

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Influencers as real people, not celebrities

You may find it confusing to differentiate between influencers and celebrities. To put it simply, influencers are not celebrities. They are instead “real” people who bring to light both the pros and cons of a brand with truthful opinions unlike celebrities that plainly endorse a brand’s product. For audiences across all social media platforms, they are a source of authentic feedback of various products and services. 

Celebrities are employed mainly to increase the brand awareness whereas influencers are hired as a type of brand ambassador to drive engagement, brand loyalty and more. Another major way to differentiate these two groups of people is to check what channels they used to rise to the fame they currently enjoy. Influencers tend to use social media platforms to garner attention and build their audiences whereas celebrities rise to fame with their engagement in movies, television shows, dramas, and radio. Influencers have influence for a reason - because they are a trusted authority in their niche, it’s not just because they’re famous.

Celebrities have been long favored by brands, but this is shifting. With the rise of influencers, businesses are gravitating towards personalities that are capable of influencing their followers by offering them genuine feedback about their products with an authentic touch. Studies have proven that over 70 percent of millennials  prefer influencers recommendations over conventional celebrity endorsements. Understanding the impact that they have on their audiences, we can see that influencers help brands drive their revenue by being real to potential customers. This trust is only increasing, which is why influencer marketing is one of the best performing marketing strategies available.

New ways to measure, track and optimize 

With the influencer marketing industry growing at an unprecedented pace, new tools and methods are part of measuring, tracking and optimizing these campaigns effectively. These methods are helping marketers and influencers alike to measure their performances in terms of business ROI. Since influencer marketing campaigns have different variables, each campaign is measured and tracked differently and brands need to take notice

The goal of every campaign is to move the target audience to make a specific decision. And these decisions could be anything from subscribing to your email list, augmenting audience reach, downloading an eBook, purchasing a product, rating your service, participating in a survey, or more. 

For instance, one way that brands can track the effectiveness of their influencer marketing strategy is with something as simple as a promotional code. This gives marketers an opportunity to see where their traffic is coming from, if their influencers have the reach and engagement that they were promised and more. 

You can also consider using an influencer marketing product to match you with the right fit influencers. We will talk about this more towards the end of the article.

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Right fit versus big following

Social media platforms are experiencing an influx of both users and influencers as they continue to play a major role in society as we know it. This is why brands large and small alike are resorting to influencer marketing to reach their target market - because they are more than likely present on at least one these platforms. But you won’t reach your audience if you’re not using the right methods. Partnering with influencers is a great way to expand your reach to the audiences that are interested in converting. After all, what good would it do to promote your product offerings to an audience that is not interested in your brand? 

Influencers are known for swaying the thought processes of their audiences by educating them about the products and services they promote with informed, authentic opinions. This is one of the main ways they create loyal follower bases. Their audiences value their opinions as they are very candid about the brands they associate with, unlike conventional celebrities. 

All this is possible only if you collaborate with an influencer who is the right fit for your brand. Don’t be fooled by those who have a huge follower base, you need to vet them thoroughly to see if they align with your brand values, audience, goals, style and more. Findings suggest that micro influencers work the best for influencer collaborations. But how do micro influencers, who typically have a lower number of followers, help you reach a larger audience? Let's talk about it in detail. 

Lately, micro influencers are the primary choice for marketers across various industries. This is because they are known for having dedicated followings in their niches, and also have higher engagement rates on their accounts than influencers with higher followings.More than 92 percent of consumers trust a micro influencer more than a regular celebrity endorsements and advertisements; and over 80 percent of them are more likely to purchase products recommended by micro influencers. 

Furthermore, micro influencers are 22.2 times more likely to have conversations about the products they promote, as well as educate their audience on what to buy and why it will give them value. They also have loyal followers, and more affordable than mega or celebrity influencers. Micro influencers are essentially the backbone of the influencer marketing industry, so don’t be swayed by bigger personalities - unless they’re the right fit for you.

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Valuing authenticity 

Having followers is a necessary part of being an influencer as this is what justifies their role, but have you stopped to consider that few of them may have fake followers? This is part of the reason that a huge follower base is not enough to justify them being an influencer. It is easy to gain followers from third party sites or paid followers, so ensure you vet them thoroughly.

After all, audiences today have great intuition. The moment they sense influencers are not genuine they are quick to unfollow them. But how can you check if an influencer is genuine? When influencers promote a product or service that does not align with their area of expertise, niche, or values is one of the times when their authenticity should be questioned. Working with the wrong people will affect both the influencer and brand negatively, and will lead your target market to distrust you. 

Why? Because influencer marketing is not about selling a product or service but instead should provide information to your audience about how and why the product will benefit them. The moment the audience senses the influencer is purely trying to sell a product to them, they’ll come to distrust them and your brand - and this is difficult to reverse. To avoid this, you need to connect and work with influencers who have a niche and area of interest that matches your company, followers that are part of your target audience, and the ability to create engaging content. 

You need to check that they are authentic, that their posts look realistic rather than sounding scripted, and always keep in mind that quality prevails over quantity. Working with influencers that have authentic followers will help you maximize your reach to your target audience, rather than working with influencers who just have massive followings but can’t create the impact that you have envisioned. All in all, keeping it real will make your brand transcend to newer heights through this marketing approach. 

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Creating a story

Stories are wired in our DNA, this is why people are hooked to an experience more than anything else. They help us connect with each other on a deeper level and remember things better than plain conversations. Taking this to a business level, this is what branding is all about. Branding is all about nurturing relationships between audience and the business, giving the audience an emotional reason to stay connected to the brand. Stories help brands transcend the realm of logic into having a real connection with the audience. 

Give influencers the freedom to create content. Don’t restrict them to content designed by your marketing team - they shouldn’t sound scripted. Influencers understand their followers really well, which is why they secure loyal audiences. Since they understand their followers so well, they also know how to educate them about your brand and what best serves their interests. Creating a story with every post or video will keep the audience engaged. 

After all, influencers promote your product by incorporating your brand into their life, hobbies or niche. Sharing your product as a part of their lives makes them sound more authentic, and also gives your audience a story to remember, improving your brand recall. 

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The growth of the industry’s popularity 

Influencer marketing is not new to the world. It is recorded to have existed as early as the 1700s, though not in the same way it does now. It’s been through a series of transformations, and has started to rise in popularity in recent years. As we mentioned earlier, this is thanks to the advent of social media platforms that have ushered people all around the world to share their lives online. But we’re not talking about those who were already famous, but instead about people who have gained dedicated followers as they built up their social profiles with engaging content. 

Valued at $5.5 billion in 2019, influencer marketing is forecasted to hit a magnificent $22.3 billion by 2024, growing at a rate of 32.4 percent each year. Looking at its current growth rate and its forecast, it is set to play a major role in the future of marketing. More than 49 percent of consumers rely on influencers’ recommendations and more than 40 percent of them bought products and subscribed to services after being mentioned by an influencer. 

Consumers feel that influencers foster a sense of security and authority, and trust their opinions. Likewise, if you want to reach out and market your brand to the next generation, you should know that over 70 percent of teenagers are inclined to purchase what influencers recommend, making it a perfect marketing tactic for a younger audience too. 

One of the key statistics shows us that businesses that invested in influencer marketing strategy earned $6.50 for every dollar spent - a massive profit that surpasses most other marketing strategies. 22 percent of marketers claim that influencer marketing is the most cost effective method for user acquisition. The reason that brands trust this approach is its incredible user acquisition strategy, high impact conversion rates, increasing trust of audiences on influencers, promotion of high quality content, and suitability for many industries. 

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The next big change - atisfyreach

With influencer marketing being a promising marketing approach for influencers and brands alike, we’ve created a revolutionary new-to-the-world tool that facilitates this process. atisfyreach is a one of a kind influencer marketing platform that is driven by AI and machine learning to help marketers to create, distribute, manage, control and optimize their influencer marketing strategies from end-to-end in one centralized location.

Do you dread negotiations? Worry no more! Using your marketing budget, promotion size, preferred platforms, brand’s niche, audience interests and more, atisfyreach gives you the control of your marketing campaigns. You will also have access to comprehensive campaign reports that help you measure your influencer marketing campaigns’ performance. 

Once you get on board with us, you can choose from a wide range of influencers from our dynamic database. You don’t have to worry about the authenticity of your chosen influencers as our platform is backed up by a robust machine learning system that vets influencers and checks for their authenticity.

Learn more about atisfyreach here!

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Now that you understand the influencer marketing industry and how it has been transforming, it's time for you to take advantage of it. If you’re not sure how to get started, work with an experienced influencer marketing agency to help you through the process.

Since you’re already aware how atisfyreach functions, our team can help you design and execute a smart winning strategy from end-to-end to make your business thrive.