How Do Social Influencers Wield so Much Power?

Written on 08 March, 2016 by Cassie Chorn
Categories Marketing

Marketers are fast catching onto the power of influence to boost brand awareness. And, as a large percentage of content is discovered via social media sharing, so too are consumers turning away from blatant advertising and tuning in to online content.

In this social space, influencer marketing is proving to be one of the strongest performers in terms of building brand awareness.

But how do they wield so much power?

Bigger is not necessarily better

While it might go against reason and logic, influencers don’t necessarily have to have large audiences to generate the impressive engagement rates we’ve been seeing of late. Research has shown that influencers with smaller, more targeted audiences are able to generate much higher engagement rates for both sponsored and non-sponsored content, as opposed to those with larger, loosely-focussed audiences.

Creating authentic connections

Effective influencer marketing doesn’t aim to disrupt the market or do what search marketers do. Rather, it’s about integrating with technology to create authentic branded content that’s highly engaging and mostly visual. This approach is highly successful for generating brand awareness and has translated into favourable product purchase figures for many brands.

Optimised and creative content

Many influencers are digital natives, which means they’re comfortable at posting on social media at regular intervals, can maximise hashtags and share content across platforms to further extend its reach. On top of their innate knowledge of social media optimisation, influencers also bring a unique sense of creativity that the brands might struggle to replicate in-house. Consumers are responsive to rich stories, which is essentially what influencers are weaving when they interpret products and translate them into visually appealing posts. When influencers are well-aligned with brands, they can become a brand’s most effective marketer on social media.

Turning to the most powerful platform

The strongest performing platform for influencers is Instagram, which boasts higher engagement rates than any other social media platform.

Research from B2C shows that Instagram has the strongest opportunities for organic growth and engagement, and has the highest average engagement rate for branded content of all of the social networks. In fact, the photo sharing app saw eight times the engagement rate for content than any other platform in 2015.

According to Aaron Brooks, co-founder of influencer marketing company Visual Amplifiers (VAMP), many brands can expect to see in excess of 50 times the per-follower engagement rate of Facebook “with a carefully crafted influencer marketing program”. Brooks cites a number of VAMP clients who have seen above industry average engagement rates, including Samsung in their promotion of their Galaxy Tab S2 (5.4%), Schweppes with their Crisp Soda (4%), and The Horse with their Mini Block Wallet (4.2%). “It really comes down to careful selection and aggregation of influencers that have a natural affinity and alignment to your brand,” says Brooks.

Social influencer channels are a reflection of our time, where the power is in the hands of the consumer to choose who they wish to follow, and ultimately, which branded content they wish to consume. And as Instagram’s follower growth is on the upwards, we’re set to see the effect of the influencer spread even further.

An influencer’s creative interpretation of Schweppes’ Crisp Soda on Instagram (Image courtesy of VAMP).

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