The rise of the influencer has arguably been a defining feature of the 21st century. According to hrreview.co.uk 1 in 5 children want a career as a social media influencer. Although creating influence has always been an element to marketing, the internet has created a space where influence can be swayed by everyone to one degree or another. Everyone has an element of pull over their friends and their followers, making a space in the digital sector for influencers of all shapes and sizes.
With even more ways to easily reach an audience, brands are becoming increasingly savvy about how they spend their time and money. Trading influence for money isn’t something new. Brands have been trading in social currency and collaborations across all types of media, for as long as marketing has existed. However, with platforms such as Instagram and Facebook providing more ways to connect with influential users and targeted audiences, the strength of these collaborative marketing techniques have only been growing over time.
Here are some ways brands use influencers as part of their social media marketing strategies.
Adverts / Product Placement
Just like advert breaks on the TV and product placement in James Bond, social media marketers shout about products in return for payment and/or free products. This is a very standard approach to influencing through Instagram.
On your feed, this typically consists of a clear image of the product teamed with a quirky comment and a link to the main brand’s Instagram page.
On a stories post the addition of the ‘See More’ feature allows for direct linking to the brand’s website. This can be really handy for keeping tallies on traffic coming from your chosen influencers.
Up until recently, advertising on Instagram through the use of influencers (instead of through boosting/advertising your own post) has got a fair amount of bad press due to the lack of regulations around it. However, it’s now becoming common practise to use the hashtag #ad or to make it clear that the post is advertising for a brand.
Discount codes are another good way of keeping track of how well your chosen influencers are performing. It also helps in assessing whether this kind of marketing is working for your brand.
Nano & Micro Influencers
Nano and micro influencers are relatively new terms. Even a year or so back, influencers were seen as individuals with a large audience, a celebrity status, or a foothold in a particular niche. Nowadays, influencers really do come in all shapes and sizes. Nano and micro influencers are Instagram users with a fairly low follower count, but with a large amount of engagement and sway over their audience. The great thing about this is that your brand can get a lot of exposure for minimal expenditure. According to theguardian.com, “You’re far more likely to book a holiday on the suggestion of a discerning friend than some random celebrity.”
Brand collabs leverage each other’s clout to gain authority, while expanding exposure. Take a look at this collaboration between CoverGirl & Lucasfilm. Who knew makeup and Star Wars went so well together?
This is a genius move. Firstly, because it engages audiences which wouldn’t necessarily be thought of as being the same, meaning the additional reach both brands gain is maximised. Secondly, because it is stunning on every level. The professionalism of both brands really shines.
Takeovers are becoming increasingly popular. They’re fun, easy and provide exciting diversity for your brand’s audience. A takeover is when a popular figure, influencer, or someone in a relevant industry takes control of your Instagram page (usually on the stories). The great thing about takeovers is that they are a temporary feature, encouraging your audience to tune in at a specific time and date. With many interactive features on Instagram stories such as questions, polls and sliders, takeovers are an ideal way to re-engage a sleepy audience.
It’s sometimes easy to forget that a brand’s social media presence echoes what is happening in the real world. Sponsorship happens on every level, from football teams to festival stages. Nowadays it’s common practice to include a social media aspect to the deal. Linking between brands in posts dedicated to shouting out about the sponsorship is a good way to let people know about it, while gaining some momentum with your own brand’s agenda.
As brands, we are continually looking for cost effective ways to increase exposure, allowing us to reach new audiences and grow our customer base. With influencers and collaborations, both parties get something out of the arrangement. It’s win-win. Influencers get to work with established brands or cool new products, which raises their profile and develops their portfolio. With partnerships, both brands get the benefit of reaching the other’s audience.
Is your brand taking full advantage of these marketing techniques? If not, why not? Track the growth of your Instagram presence using Minter.io and see how applying these techniques could grow your audience and engagement.