Influencer marketing is becoming an indispensable ingredient in the social media marketing (SMM) and most businesses are willing to spend top dollar on getting popular agents of influence to promote their products on social media networks.
The evolution of social media since the data leak controversies that plagued the sector in 2018 and the growth of new generation social networks such as TikTok promise to make the social media industry even more relevant for digital marketers. Influencer marketing is expected to play a significant role in the development of new SMM strategies facilitating customer communication.
The article explores the ways in which influencer marketing will continue to play a prominent role in developing social strategies in 2021.
1. Target demographics engagement
Marketers experience the need to target their customers with high precision. Ineffective targeting leads to wasted marketing budgets since ads are shown to the wrong audiences. Social media channels provide large amounts of information regarding the personal information of customers including their demographics.
Harvesting this data is the key to targeting consumers more effectively.
The filters offered by social media platforms to fine-tune SMM strategies are not reliable all the time, which can result in missing some important potential customers. Influencer marketing resolves this problem by allowing marketers to ‘pinpoint’ the targeted user demographics.
SMM strategies involving influencers are highly effective for targeting the customers belonging to a specific age group or occupation. The marketers can use agents of influence from a specific niche who have a good knowledge of this specific customer group.
Some businesses may choose to combine influencer marketing with the use of inbuilt filters on popular networks to make their social media strategies even more focused in terms of their target demographics.
Electronic word-of-mouth is another positive effect of influencer marketing. The posts liked or shared by some members of the targeted customer segment are shown in the news feeds and search results of people who are not the direct followers of this agent of influence but belong to the targeted demographic group.
2. Discount codes
Promotional price cuts are a great way to stimulate customers to try the products of a company and gain their loyalty. When done well, the distribution of discount codes can yield a better impact than the money spent on the promotion of products via mass media channels. However, the abundance of such coupons generally makes customers ignore them.
Social media sites have become one of the most popular channels through which businesses can distribute discount codes. SMM strategies using popular influencers in a specific field/niche can convince the audiences of these people to try new products and services while using the personal discount coupons of a certain blogger/content creator.
For example, Audible has partnered with the New York Times bestselling author Tim Ferris to promote its services at a reduced price. Marketers can use all types of communication channels to distribute discount codes including social media pages, podcasts, and videos.
The new trends for 2021 in this field will include the use of influencers on TikTok and Snapchat platforms. These agents of influence can distribute discount codes to younger audiences who do not utilize the presently popular social media channels.
Social media networks are one of the best channels for businesses to organize contests and competitions with their customers due to their interactive nature. Such contests create deeper engagement with brands and help them increase their brand exposure.
Businesses can also use influencers to organize competitions on social media portals on the basis of user-generated content rather than the free distribution of prizes.
This method may be more beneficial in terms of consumer engagement. However, it requires a stronger connection between the influencers and their followers.
Finally, the above-mentioned competition methods may be combined with unboxing videos demonstrating new products. In this arrangement, the winner gets access to these items sooner than all prospective consumers and stimulates their interest in these offerings.
4. Video posts
Video materials attract more attention from customers as they can be consumed more easily than text and still images. The videos featuring popular influencers such as celebrities or YouTube stars are generally more effective for customer engagement.
In this situation, SMM strategies that are primarily based on visual content have to incorporate the use of agents of influence.
These persons can replace traditional company representatives in demonstrating new products and appraising their genuine features in both pre-shot videos and live streams via popular social media platforms.
This approach may be especially effective for brands seeking to target users of niche product categories.
5. Influencer networks
No brand can rely on a single celebrity to advertise its products in popular media and reach its target audience. Businesses are realizing that the dependence on a single influencer may limit their social media marketing reach.
The use of influencer networks instead of individual influencers is one of the solutions to this problem. These structures are formed by individual agents of influence who seek to offer their services to businesses or realize larger projects.
Modern businesses can map influencer networks by using influencer marketing tools such as Grin. If your product is suitable for multiple age groups, you may choose to select multiple influencers from these groups to diversify your marketing communication.
Niches may also overlap in terms of functional use as occupation as well as consumer demographics. For example, high-end digital cameras are used by both journalists and advertising professionals. Hence, the use of different influencers belonging to these respective professions within a single influencer network will yield a better return on investment (ROI) for marketers.
6. Promotion of product launches on social media
The launch of new products is a major milestone in the life of every company since it creates additional sources of profitability and addresses emerging consumer needs. The popularity of such social media platforms as Facebook and Instagram motivated many organizations to use these popular networks as the primary instrument in this sphere.
Influencer marketing allows companies to boost the results of new product launches due to a number of reasons. First, influencers are seen by many customers as subject matter experts rather than as paid promoters with little understanding of the product and the technology powering it.
Secondly, the followers of specialized channels usually have a keen interest in a specific niche, which increases the potential conversion rate. For example, the fashion brand Chanel leveraged on its influencers including Jessica Mercedes Kirschner to successfully launch the new Chanel No. 5 L’Eau perfume.
Finally, influencers can also be used for promoting new brand extensions to the niches where consumers are not aware of certain brands and their unique characteristics.
7. Long-term relationships with influencers
Many organizations rely on celebrity endorsements to promote their products and services. However, some luxury brands have maintained long-term relationships with certain famous individuals who became an integral part of the brand image and performed the function of brand ambassadors.
The same strategy may be successfully utilized in modern SMM. By developing long-term associations with influencers, digital marketers can plan social media strategies that stretch over multiple years.
Launching new products and product variants with the help of familiar influencers will also reduce the marketing costs and yield a better return on investment (ROI).
8. Provision of real-life experiences of influencers
Since consumers place more trust in the opinions voiced by agents of influence, the real-life experiences of these persons generally make social media ads and posts more credible to consumers.
Rather than simply asking influencers to promote their products on their social media pages, businesses can ask them to use their products and share their experiences over a certain period of time.
Toyota has recently experimented with this strategy. The company has partnered with three weather forecasters to highlight the inaccuracy of weather forecasts and market its new proprietary canvas roof technology. The materials developed for this social media campaign yielded 270,000 views on YouTube.
This strategy can also provide for the greater sincerity in brand-influencer relationships. For example, a famous blogger can take a reasonable advance payment and try the product offered for promotion before accepting the offer. If they are not satisfied with this brief experience, they can simply decline the advertising proposal saving both their reputation and brand budgets.
9. Boosting the Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) efforts
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is a critical element of online marketing since brand materials have to be easily searchable and engaging. The use of guest posts and other content created by external agents of influence is a good way to avoid monotony on corporate blogs.
Most influencers have their own resources that they use to share the content created for other companies. This can help you build a rich SEO backlink profile for your company website.
However, the successful realization of this strategy may be quite tricky.
To stimulate the positive impact of influencer marketing efforts on SEO results, marketers should give more freedom to influencers in terms of the content creation process. Otherwise, they will not be able to create unique materials drawing quality traffic to the corporate website and enriching the backlink profile.
10. Influencer involvement in campaign creation
The idea of content creation for corporate blogs and social media pages suggests a further development in the form of marketing campaign creation. Experienced influence agents frequently have a better knowledge of niche marketing than many brands. Hence, their unique vision can boost the effectiveness of new promotional campaigns.
This approach may be especially attractive for established brands seeking to expand their marketing communication capabilities. Speaking with younger audiences may be difficult and many traditional marketers make the mistake of being too intrusive or using the ‘push’ marketing approach in conversations with prospective customers.
Revealing the involvement of influencers in the campaign development process will also create hype around the campaign and increase its reach through social sharing.
In a recent survey on influencer marketing conducted by the leading marketing platform Linqia, 94% of marketing executives considered influencer marketing the most effective strategy of marketing communication.
Moreover, 60% of customers reported buying a product because it was recommended by a well-known expert via social media channels.
In many aspects, the increasing use of influencers is similar to the popularity of celebrity endorsements by TV marketers in the 1980s and 1990s.However, the concept of niche influence agents may be deemed unique within the scope of an increasingly connected world.
For example, small brands can still reach their intended audiences by employing multiple micro-influencers connected with them directly. This is substantially more cost-efficient than employing a single celebrity charging millions of dollars for a single generic ad.
At the same time, major brands can adhere to the same strategy to gain access to new audiences and achieve success across multiple demographic and psychographic segments.