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Social Media Influencers 101: What You Need to Know

by Meghan Gabel

branding marketing social media twitter

A few weeks back we posted our definitive guide for finding the right social media influencer (Quick – if you haven’t already, read it now so you know what I’m talking about). Good, now you’re all caught up. But there are still plenty of misconceptions about influencers floating around that you may have come to believe.

A social media influencer is more than a trendy buzzword you hear nowadays. A recent study by Twitter found that nearly 40% of users say they’ve made a purchase as a direct result of a tweet from an influencer, and 84% of marketers said they planned on executing at least one influencer marketing campaign in 2017. So how exactly do social media influencers work, and why are so many brands jumping to use them? That’s what we’re here to answer in the official BIGguide to understanding social media influencers. Today, we’ll dispel some common myths on influencers and walk you through everything you need to know about how they work.

So Why Should I Partner With an Influencer?

As we previously said, an influencer is an individual who has amassed above-average impact on a specific niche by offering instruction, inspiration, entertainment or advice. Consumers are more likely to trust a third-party recommendation than a brand’s, so it’s common for companies to partner with influencers for product reviews and social campaigns to get the word out. By partnering with social media influencers, they are not only bringing their audience to you, but also the loyalty of that audience. If an influencer gives a positive review and vouches for your brand, it will likely drive more traffic to your site, increase your media exposure and even directly sell your products.

It’s a Two-Way Street

Many people fall under the impression that brands can just seek out any influencer, pay them for a campaign and let them do all the work. Your partnership with an influencer is a mutually beneficial relationship, and most importantly should be a contextual fit. Your campaign won’t be successful unless you and the influencer have similar values, voices and target audiences. You want the influencer to become a brand advocate, so it’s important to determine your goals first and decide how you will help each other achieve those goals. Discussing what messaging you and an influencer want to convey will also help them tell the right story for their audience and will lead to a more sincere and believable campaign.

Numbers Aren’t Everything

Quality, not quantity, is key here. When it comes to social media, we tend to correlate a user’s following or number of likes to his or her standing in influence, but popularity isn’t everything. Brands should not assume that the best social media influencer out there is the one with the biggest following. Selena Gomez currently holds the title of most followed person on Instagram with 124.6m followers (and is the subject of many BIGfish discussions), but that doesn’t make her the best candidate for your audience. Determining which audience you want to target and ensuring that they will have a level of interest in what the influencer has to say is the best way to boost engagement.

Compensation Isn’t Always Financial

One of the biggest myths about influencers is that they charge an insane amount of compensation for a campaign. Believe it or not, money is not the most important thing for influencers. No matter how much money you offer, if the campaign does not fit  the influencer’s voice, he or she will not accept it. While it’s true that some of the bigger influencers can charge upwards thousands of dollars for just one post, compensation doesn’t always have to be in financial form. To show influencers how much you appreciate their work, be sure to go above and beyond by giving them a shoutout on social, directing your own traffic back to theirs and offering them discounts and samples even after your engagement has ended. BIGtip: a nice thank you card will go a long way.

They Are More Honest Than You Think

The past few years has seen a significant spike in the number of influencers across all social media platforms. As a result, users may find it difficult to tell at first glance whether a user’s post is their own, or the result of a partnership campaign. Although influencers are required to disclose whether their post is due to a partnership with a brand, some people may feel tricked or feel the postings are no longer authentic, but just trying to push sales for a company. In reality, most influencers actually sign contracts stating they will only give honest reviews of a product based on his or her actual experience. Influencers know that their standing depends on their relationship with their audience, so it’s all the more important for them to provide accurate recommendations and not betray the public’s trust.

 

There are countless social media influencers out there, each with their own niche and following in a specific industry. Whether you’re looking to drive sales or encourage word-of-mouth reputation, social media influencers are a great marketing leverage for brands. Still have more questions about influencers or have previous experience with one? Join in the conversation with us on Twitter.

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BIGfish is an unconventional PR agency that helps its clients redefine their industries through thoughtful storytelling and strategic PR campaigns. By integrating traditional PR with social media and marketing support, BIGfish generates awareness and motivates consumer behavior.