Influence is the new currency.
Think of all the times you’ve heard about a company, product or service from someone you know and trust. That exposure later grew into consideration, and then eventually conversion.
Today, the circle of influence has widened beyond just friends and family to now include your peers and even people you have never met. They may be bloggers or celebrities, YouTubers or Instagram stars.
Whoever they are, they have a hold on you for a reason. They create content that’s interesting, captivating and helpful. Their followers — from the hundreds to the millions — hang on to their every word, craving that next post or video about an experience they had with a brand.
It’s no wonder, then, that the influencer category has catapulted into a must-have for brands that deliver an experience in any shape or form. Naturally, marketers are starting to shift more of their marketing budget to social channels than ever before.
What is influencer marketing, anyway?
Simply put, influencer marketing is when a brand develops partnerships with relevant influencers who create and share content about that brand’s product or service that influences their followers to take some kind of action—like to go somewhere or purchase something. Finding and engaging with the right influencer takes time (if you want some tips on how to start, I wrote about it previously here because your communication needs to be personalized and thoughtful. As you engage with that influencer, you’ll settle on specifics like the total investment, how many posts will be created and on which platforms.
How prevalent are influencers?
Just plug “social media influencers” into your Google search bar and you’ll get about 5 million results. That says a lot.
While Instagram continues to be the preferred platform for influencer marketing, brands regularly execute similar engagements on other channels like Facebook, Pinterest and YouTube.
On Instagram alone, an estimated 14.5 million sponsored posts (using hashtags like #sponsored and #ad) were shared in 2017 and was expected to hit 21.7 million by the end of 2018, according to Mediakix and Instagram.
And just how much is being spent on these sponsored Instagram posts and Instagram followers? A little over $1 billion was spent in 2017, which was expected to reach $1.63 billion by the end of 2018.
What’s in store for 2019?
Looking ahead, influencer marketing budgets will continue to increase (some experts predict this category will top $5 billion globally by 2020), which equates to more opportunities for brands to engage with influencers in more creative ways.
Authenticity will continue to be key as marketers engage with legitimate influencers and promote content using rules set forth by the FTC.
The evolution—and influence—of the micro- and nano-influencer category will continue to grow by leaps and bounds as more marketers acknowledge this group as a powerful niche that creates authentic content that resonates with their audience.
With an average return of $7.65 for every dollar spent, you might just consider adding this powerhouse category to your marketing mix to build your brand’s influence.
Janelle Brannock is the senior director of influence at Commit Agency in Chandler, where she leads all social media, content marketing and influencer engagement efforts for the agency’s clients.