There are many reasons for brands to develop influencer initiatives as part of their marketing mix. While there are endless amounts of levers a brand can pull to achieve ROI, there are three specifically unique benefits to working with digital content creators: credibility, creativity, and reach.
Before continuing on, it’s important to acknowledge that not all influencers or content creators bring all (or any) of the following values to the table, which is why picking the right influencer for your specific initiative is so imperative.
Whether they create content documenting their daily activities, recipes, point of view on popular issues, or workouts – digital content creators build their following on publicly available platforms. For that reason, most are perceived as “normal” people, who dedicate their time and energy towards creating content about whatever they’re passionate about. Followers invest time and attention into their journey, allowing them to feel like they know the influencers well. This level of engagement forms a foundation of trust between influencers and their followers, which becomes hugely valuable for brands to leverage. Good influencers cultivate and honor this trust, by only promoting or talking about products they genuinely use and/or see value in.
In capitalist, first-world countries, products are part of everyone’s life- whether you live in a mansion in Paris or off the grid in Alaska. Therefore, it’s inevitable that influencers will often use, reference, or outwardly discuss products in their content, whether or not the content is sponsored. By nature of doing so, audiences get a good sense of what brands the influencer genuinely likes, sometimes down to very specific details. When influencers do so, their followers interpret that as comparable to a recommendation from a friend.
A blog post from Single Grain summarizes this well:
“Referrals have long since been one of the most effective marketing strategies. If you have a problem and one of your friends tells you about a great solution for it, there is a good chance that you'll go buy it. Influencer marketing is just like that – only at scale. Influencers have already built a loyal following of people who trust them. So when they tell their fans and followers about how great your product is, there is a much higher chance their audience will convert, simply because they need the product and trust the influencer.”
A great example is the recent partnership between Tik Tok star Charli D’Amelio and Dunkin’. For most of her time on the platform, Charli has been vocal about her love for Dunkin’ – completely unsponsored. So, when she and Dunkin’ announced that their menu will be offering a limited-time drink called “the Charli” based on her typical order, not only were fans ecstatic, but the brand earned a major PR boost as well. Of course, not all brands can pull off this major level of partnership, but brands can discover which creators organically care the most about their products, or would get the most value from their products by watching their videos or reading their blogs/photo captions to get to know them.
One of the things that makes Influencer Marketing so effective is that it’s created for consumers by consumers. Influencers bring fresh and relevant angles to campaign ideas, based on a deep understanding of their audience. Giving the reins to a number of different influencers, either for one campaign or multiple allows for diverse use cases, personalized takes on campaign messaging, and easily customizable production at scale. Each influencer, even in the same field, has their own creative way of going about their content. Rather than running one ad across multiple demos, influencers creatively integrate products into their voice and tone, authentically demonstrating where the product fits in specifically to their life. A great example of this is Hello Fresh. Hello Fresh has partnered with a wide range of digital content creators, from Family & Lifestyle to Gamers and even professional athletes! Whether in a YouTube video or Instagram post, each creator is encouraged to share their own explanation of where & how Hello Fresh fits into their cooking habits. Also, it’s a great opportunity to thoroughly show off the wide variety of recipes available through the meal kit service.
While social platforms use data to offer access to audience interests, partnering with influencers allows for context to provide insight into what an audience is passionate about. For example, it’s safe to assume that audiences tuning into a “Get Ready with Me” video is passionate about fashion & beauty, and someone who regularly follows a chef on Instagram finds his or her cooking appealing. There are thousands of niches to pick from, ranging from creators who highlight local tips to those who engage a global audience through shared interests. Aligning your brand with a creator that shares your brand values gives you access to these captive targeted individuals at scale, which ultimately costs less than trying to build that audience for yourself. If your brand is not a media company, and thus, lacks a substantial following on social media – that’s okay! Unless your business has access to unlimited resources, your best bet is to focus on creating great products and experiences and let expert content creators bring them attention through storytelling. Not only are they already putting in the work to build large, engaged audiences, but they’re doing so across multiple platforms.