There’s a lot to be said for what we now call a “social media influencer”. To many, the mere utterance of it is enough to make them cringe. A social media influencer is no more to them than someone with an inflated sense of self, arrogance and a large following on social media. But these influencers are rapidly changing the way we market brands and products. The influencer industry is one of the largest growing marketing tools today. One would be foolish to dismiss the power they can play in garnering interest in a brand or product. People are moving to social media to engage and communicate with friends, family, celebrities, and now influencers. Instagram went from having little over 100 million active users in 2013. It reached 100 billion active users in 2018, and that number is still climbing.
On a grand scale, influencer marketing can be seen almost instantaneously. Reality star Khloe Kardashian only had to post one photo endorsing New Zealand branded collagen powder Dose and Co to her 122 million followers for it to get international recognition and gain thousands of new followers in only a few short hours. The result being that Dose and Co is now going to be marketed with the assistance of the international celebrity and influencer. Khloe is at the grand end of the scale when it comes to influencers, but smaller or macro and micro influencers can wield just as much power when it comes to marketing.
Former methods of advertising involved paid advertisements to get in front of the consumer and raise brand awareness. Getting the advertisement in the right place and the right time for a specific audience took planning and a little bit of luck, and the hope that the consumer would remember the brand from what they had seen when it came to making a purchase. This method still exists, but now influencers are a big driver in making sure a consumer might see a particular brand or product. New Zealand has over 3.8 million mobile phone users, and 90% of Facebook users access it on their phones.
It is estimated the average user sees thousands of advertisements, or endorsements, on a daily basis. With such a high saturation rate, the cost per rate of return in influencer marketing has significantly improved against traditional methods. Investing in the right influencer can yield up to $18 in value for every dollar spent, with the average rate of return equalling about $5 per $1 spent. Many brands are realising the positive rate of return, with the influencer market growing to a $9.5 billion industry.
A consumer is more likely to purchase a product if they see it endorsed by a person they trust and engage with, than if they see it advertised in a more traditional method. This is because the influencer has used their own personal brand to build a relationship with their followers. Micro influencers (influencers with small amounts of followers) usually have higher engagement on their social media platforms. Less people are following them, but more of their followers are taking part in the journey and story of their life online. This adds to making a brand seem more genuine, as it is being used by someone that is held in high regard and appears to have an authentic relationship with their followers or consumers. What this does is helps cement a brand or product as being more relatable and accessible in a consumer’s mind, and stick with them when it comes to purchase. After all, it is about making sure the right product is in the right place, for the right audience.
Influencer marketing is still one of the largest growing industries and methods of advertising, projected to continue to increase despite setbacks from COVID-19. Mobile and social media usage increased with the outbreak and imposed lockdowns internationally. For brands, now is a vital time to realise the importance of influencers and how they are placed in the marketing world.