Jay Alvarez. Kendall Jenner. Kayla Itsines. Social Media Influencers are making waves in the industry, stretching their impact from advertising to marketing and everything in between. What started as creating influence over the market has developed into a full-time job. Now halfway into 2019, we’re looking to our influencers to forecast trends, changes, and developments of modern-day social media marketing.
Defining social media marketing
The term is thrown around loosely, leaving people to question exactly what it refers to. HubSpot defines social media marketing as the action of creating content to promote your business and products on various social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. With this type of marketing, you’re using social media to show the world what your business has to offer. When social media platforms were beginning to popularize, top marketing professionals saw this as an opportunity to get a leg up in the industry.
In 2019, that definition has taken on a new meaning. Social media marketing doesn’t give you brownie points anymore; it’s absolutely integral to the foundation of your business. Its level of importance varies from industry to industry, but it is, nonetheless, an important step in the marketing strategy of your company.
The Involvement of Influencers
For 10+ years, social media has been a game-changer in the marketing industry. Everyone is motivated by likes and followers, trying to capture the perfect picture and a catchy caption to complement it. It takes time to build a strong following, and many experts will say curating an exceptional profile is a full-time job.
Enter influencers. It’s the job everyone vies for but few people actually make the cut. By committing to the influencer lifestyle, you’re making money by posting cool photos of the cool stuff you do in cool ways. In one word: Cool.
Easily mistaken for being all fun, this job contributes heavily to the flow of the social media market, so it’s not a trivial deal.
Why Invest in the Influencers?
“It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” Companies have recognized that influencers have huge networks. Collaborating with these influencers is a quick way to relay their messages across vast audiences.
In order to expand your reach or encourage a following, you must first grab your audience. An influencer expedites that grab process. Influencers build relationships with their followers. Their network has trust in their opinions. If you’re a brand looking to build that trust, an influencer can be the gateway.
Think of it as word-of-mouth recommendations. If your friend happens to be a great food critic and recommends a pizza joint, you’ll be more likely to pay a trip to that spot just because you trust your friend’s opinion. On the other hand, if you just see an ad for the pizza place, you may be less inclined.
Defining Influencers’ Success
How do we define the success of an influencer? Industry experts use three metrics: relevance, resonance, and reach.
Relevance: This indicates how influential someone is in regards to a specific topic. Relevance is based on keywords.
Resonance: Measures the sheer impact of an influencer over his or her audience. Resonance looks at engagement activity.
Reach: How many people are actually being reached by the influencer. This takes into account the followers, fans, subscribers, etc.
Influencer Impact on Social Media
According to a study done by Olapic, 64% of 16-22 year-olds follow influencers on social media. This age group is a target audience for many brands, given their loyalty to the social media world. This same study also shows us that 34% of social media users have discovered a new brand because of a social media influencer. The question remains: How do they have such an impact?
Some venture to say that celebrity endorsements immediately preceded social media influencer marketing. The premise is that people (famous or not) develop a fanbase that trusts them and counts on them to create unique, original content. This becomes a relationship between the influencer and the fanbase, which grows as the influencer continues to drive engagements with his or her audience.
In another study done by Olapic, consumers universally chose “authenticity” as the main reason for trusting their influencers. Second up was personalization, with 66% of respondents saying they value an influencer with unique content that is relevant to their interests or lives.
2019 Trends - The good stuff: What’s trending?
Users are looking for that trust with their influencers. They want to know that there won’t be a gap in content for two weeks and then a spurt of posts another week. There’s a certain voice, style, color theme, and type of content that most influencers incorporate into their brands. Users find comfort in this brand, and they count on it.
Originality is important in anything you do in the creative realm, but it’s even more important now that influencers are becoming increasingly popular.
Social media influencing is all-encompassing. You’re an expert on the content, ensuring that all photos and videos are quality.
Specificity can be your friend. Anyone can be an influencer about clothing, for example, but finding a quality influencer on a specific facet of clothing (such as swimwear) gives you a leg-up against competitors.
Oversaturating your stream with sponsorships causes some fans to question your authenticity. In a world of competing influencers, you should have a voice and online persona that reflects who you are. The sponsorships will naturally find their way into your message, but it should never be overkill.
As the industry expands, so does the opportunity for collaboration. Many influencers connect with their peers and eventually create guest posts or combine their styles to create unique content.
2019 Top influencers
With 141 million followers on Instagram, Kylie Jenner continues to be a force to be reckoned with when it comes to the social media industry. Her portfolio contains over 6,000 posts on Instagram alone.
Her impact was so strong that a universal meme of an egg tried to combat her most-liked photo. The post was a photo of a generic brown egg with the caption, “Let’s set a world record together and get the most liked post on Instagram. Beating the current world record held by Kylie Jenner (18 million)! We got this 🙌” Too bad eggs can’t be our top influencers!
AdWeek called her the “queen bee of digital buzz.” Her Instagram account boasts of 112 million users. She has championed brands like Pantene, Coca Cola, and Adidas. Our well-loved Disney superstar, Selena Gomez, has become a major influencer with her Instagram account boasting of 112 million users.
Ironically enough, Gomez deleted Instagram from her phone, as of June 2019. Her reasoning? The star said she wanted to stay mentally healthy and that it was easy to get sucked into the vortex of comparisons and body shaming. She remains loyal to her fans and plans to continue to use her social media platforms to engage, but she’s more deliberate about how often she scrolls.
Previously part of the dynamic duo, Jay and Alexa, this influencer has impacted the way Instagram views travel. His lifestyle as an influencer is drastically different from his upbringing, and he consistently delivers original, real content to his fanbase.
His brand consistently showcases an adventurous lifestyle, as he travels the world—with a surfboard in one hand and his dog or suitcase in the other.
For all the companies who are apprehensive about influencers or for those who are working with a tight budget, micro-influencers may be the next best option. These influencers are less have less clout, a smaller fanbase, and minimal recognition among more superior influencing legacies.
These influencers are, nonetheless, a step above the “average joe” on social media. That goes to say that brands may trust them as a test run to see if influencer marketing is a possibility. Typically, micro-influencers have an audience between 1,000-10,000 followers. It’s less risky for companies that are new to investing in influencer marketing because these influencers will charge less for sponsorship.
As we transition well into the second half of the year, we can expect to see even more growth in the industry. Whether you’re an influencer yourself or you’re thinking of investing in this type of marketing, it’s important to know the industry trends.
At the end of the day, we live in a constantly changing world. In the words of Benjamin Franklin, “Either write something worth reading, or do something worth writing.” Find your niche, honor your passion, and cultivate a brand that is yours.