Riding the tide of social media, influencers now offer a new avenue for brands to connect with their consumer bases. You’ve probably encountered influencers waxing lyrical about a certain restaurant on their blog, or posing with a specific brand’s lipstick or clothes on their social media pages. Whatever the platform, these influencers have carved a niche on the internet, providing a more personal form of advertising for different brands. This is public relations in the digital age.
Typically, an influencer starts out by creating and publishing content on social media platforms of their choice. Platforms could range from blogs to vlogs, from Snapchat to Instagram, or the influencers could use a combination of their blog and Instagram and so on. The posted content often has an organic and personal touch, which would gain a following of social media users interested in the influencer’s life and thoughts.
Brands may be wise to embrace the influencer industry, as an increasing number of social media users now look to influencers for trends and tips. Influencers can weave brand endorsements naturally into their social media content, in such a way that still appeals to their followers. In a sense, influencers are like TV celebrities (to put things in a simpler manner), endorsing this product or that service – except that social media has become the new TV. And consumers may identify better with influencers, with their more natural feel and interactive platforms where followers can comment and ask questions.
Indeed, brands have had successful campaigns with social media influencers. Take the example of Cleo Hair and Make, a Singaporean salon. Cleo Hair and Make sponsored a series of different hairdos for blogger Benjamin of Typicalben. Benjamin would blog about his satisfaction with the salon’s services, posting photographs of his new hairdo each time. His blogposts create the feel that he turns to Cleo Hair and Make as a trusted salon. He even emphasizes that Cleo Hair and Make does not coerce him into praising the salon on his blog. This campaign resulted in more footfall to the salon, with an increase in male customers seeking similar hairstyles to his.
Trust is a very important part of the influencers’ work. People look to influencers because influencers are seen as authentic in their endorsements. You’re not just entertained by these influencers; you identify with them as they seem relatable. It’s only natural to check out what sort of brands they rely on and use in their daily lives. Benjamin walks around in public with his Cleo Hair and Make hairstyles, and he goes back to them time after time for more of their services. This example of living-by-your-word sends the message that you can trust in this salon to help you look good, too. Brands would do well to develop an organic campaign, weaving their products naturally into the influencer’s life. When followers trust that the brand reliably adds value to the influencer’s life and it could do the same for them, they will add that brand to their shopping carts too.
Using data analytics can shed light on the success of influencers’ communications to their followers and fans. Companies can look out for influencers with, say, the most traffic to their blogs, or the number of likes on each of their Instagram posts. After working with these influencers, companies can then analyze whether hits on the influencers’ content correlate with their own brand performance. If managed well as part of a broader marketing strategy, working with the right influencers can boost your brand’s online presence and work towards your favour.
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