How Instagram Influencers are Changing Traditional Marketing


While the use of celebrity for the marketing of a business or product is nothing new, social media has created a new way of taking that celebrity to a new level. Social media influencers are among one of the new methods companies are using in order to engage new clients and to sell their items or services online. Platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram have radically changed the way businesses reach potential customers.

One of the most popular platforms for this type of advertising is Instagram, which has acquired users at an astounding rate. With a number of 300 million users on Instagram stories a day, the potential of reaching consumers is almost unfathomable to businesses in a number of different industries. For a company to have that reach through advertising, it would often have to pay for expensive television ads or radio. Even then, there was no way to target a certain audience that would be more likely to buy a product.

With the micro-influencer market expected to be worth around $10 billion by 2020, it is likely that companies are going to shift their marketing efforts and budget to competing within the social media sphere. By partnering with influencers, businesses can promote a product or a service directly to the buyers who are most likely to make a purchase rather than gambling with who might see the campaign.

“If you are an individual and you want to get an influencer deal, you have to build an engaged and large following in a specific topic,” mentions Matt Britton, the CEO of Crowdtap. Britton also comments that just having a following tends not to be enough—a micro-influencer also needs to be aligned with an agency. It can take years to cultivate an audience, and whether an agency chooses to take on an individual can depend on how loyal his or her followers are. Just like traditional celebrities, without this form of reputation management it is unlikely that an influencer will be taken seriously.

“No matter how much of any authority you are, it won’t matter to the community if you don’t have approval and acceptance of other highly-regarded experts,” Jayson DeMers, a writer for Forbes, says. It might seem as though an influencer has gained success overnight, but if his or her follower count is in the hundreds of thousands, it is likely he or she has built a community over a number of years.

Another reason companies are choosing to develop working relationships with social media influencers is because the cost is significantly less than putting together a large campaign. However, it is also difficult to determine whether the cost of investment ends up paying off over the long run and whether it was comparable to other marketing methods. “More than three-quarters of large brands that paid for influencer marketing didn’t know how to evaluate whether the money they spent on it provided a positive ROI,” says Gil Eyal, the founder of the platform HYPR.

Because social media and influencer marketing is so new, it can be a challenge for companies to determine if strategies including these platforms are more helpful than mundanel methods. While choosing to use micro-influencers is likely to become a more popular option for companies in the future because it is inexpensive, it can be difficult to gauge just how effective employing an influencer agency or individual is. Even still, many marketers encourage businesses to give it a try.

“With the right strategy, Influencer partnerships, and tactics, you can move the needle for your business on far more than just sales and engagement,” advises Keenan Beasley.

For influencers, there is a fine line between accepting products and agreeing to sponsorship and “selling out” to their audiences. Since the number of followers can take years to build and the relationship between influencer and followers is based on one of trust, it can be a gamble choosing to work with a certain company if it does not fit within the image that fans are expecting.

“It’s imperative that the brand deals align with their values, and that taste arbiters continue to stay true to themselves and exercise transparency,” Denise Garcia writes. No matter how good of a deal is offered to a social media influencer, marketing gurus recommend that these tastemakers turn them down in order to remain loyal to their followers.

Even though micro-influencers should be wary about partnering with businesses that do not share their vision, social media and the digital landscape has allowed average people to create a lifestyle and name for themselves in a way that was previously impossible. With this new form of fame, almost anyone can take the time to build and audience and begin to earn money from various platforms. Influencer Desi Perkins states for CBS, “I want to have an empire. I want to find the next step of creating something big for myself.”

With Instagram, it is likely that she will.

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