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The Importance of Social Media Influencers for eCommerce in 2019

Richard ClaytonRichard Clayton
March 4, 2019

Imagine scrolling through your social feed and coming across a post by a well-known actress endorsing a particular face cream. Everything about the picture is perfect; from the background to the pose to the caption – it all seems too set up. And it is. Now, imagine the same scenario, but instead of an actress, you see a post by your favorite lifestyle blogger. You have been following her for a while, you know and connect with her particular style, and now she is promoting a face cream.

Which of the photos are more likely to drive you to check out the face-cream brand’s page? Chances are the post by your favorite blogger.

This is because 92% of consumers today trust influencers more than traditional celebrities. If you are a B2C business and influencers aren’t part of your eCommerce marketing strategy, you’re missing out on a piece of the profitable pie.

What Is an Influencer?

Influencers are well-respected personalities that have a large following and are generally trusted by the greater public. On social media channels such as Facebook and Instagram, they can help ensure the success of a post, tweet, event, or product by lending their authority to it, in turn influencing others’ beliefs or opinions.

In the influencer world, not everyone is the same, and when looking for someone to help market your business, it’s important to consider the type of engagement you’re looking for. Macro-influencers are ideal for getting your message out to as many people as possible. They typically have massive fan bases and large numbers of social media followers — usually more than 100,000.

Micro-influencers, on the other hand, have less than 100,000 followers. While they reach a smaller audience, studies have shown that micro-influencers have a higher rate of engagement than their counterparts. Markerly recently surveyed two million social media influencers and found that for unpaid posts, Instagram influencers with fewer than 1,000 followers have a like rate of about 8%, while those with 1,000 to 10,000 followers have a like rate of 4%.

Why Are Social Media Influencers Important?

Partnering with high-profile individuals is a great way to get your brand noticed.
According to Bloomberg, over $255 million are spent on influencer marketing every month by brands. A survey by Tomoson found that influencer marketing was rated as the fastest-growing online customer-acquisition channel, beating organic search, paid search, and email marketing. The study also revealed that influencer marketing returns were as much as $6.50 for every $1 spent.

The most significant advantages of using influencers for your brand is the domino effect they can have. Influencers follow each other—if one promotes a particular product, others can help spread your message even further. In fact, 88 percent of influencers tell friends about the brands that sponsor them.

How to Create an eCommerce Influencer Strategy

In 2019, working with influencers should not be a question of “should I?”, but rather a question of “how can I?”.

Fortunately, there are some simple steps that brands can take to effectively work with influencers online.

Start with Research

Before searching for influencers, be clear about the audience you will be targeting. How old are they? What websites do they visit? What is their educational level? If you are not already collecting this information, send out surveys to your current customers to gain insight into your target audience demographics and behavior.

Consider directly asking your customers what social networks are they active on and what kind of content they share.

Knowing your target audience will help you create the right message and secure the most effective influencer.

Solidify Your Brand Message

Now that you know your audience, you have to make sure you know what to say to them. As an eCommerce retailer, hone your brand message and identify who you are, what you’re all about, and what makes you different from the competition. Knowing what you’re all about will also get potential influencers excited about working with you.

Choose a Platform

The next critical step is deciding which platform you want to use. If you are a visually driven brand, consider Instagram, Facebook or Snapchat. If you are looking to share non-visual content, such as articles and added value pieces, look into posting on LinkedIn.

Determine which networks and apps are popular with your target audience. Then consider what the goal of your campaign will be — Do you want more followers? Do you want to increase brand awareness? Are you looking to generate online traffic and sales?

Some numbers to consider for each platform are:

  • A study by Twitter found that nearly 40% of users made a purchase directly after seeing a tweet from an influencer.
  • When asked about the most effective platform for influencer marketing, 37% chose blogs.
  • More than 90% of Instagram users are under age 35.
  • Sponsored Instagram posts generated about 1 billion total likes in 2017 alone.
  • Facebook is the most influential social channel, with 25% of consumers saying their purchase decisions have been influenced by Facebook posts.
  • If you’re trying to reach millennials, research has shown that people ages 25-44 watch the most YouTube videos, which provides both visual branding and the opportunity to drive traffic to your site.

Identify Influencers

Once you’ve identified your platform, it’s time to find the influencers. While the choice of a celebrity might be enticing, look at your social followers and identify people who are already talking about your brand and have an engaged audience. These users are typically more active online than the average person and they post, share, retweet, and like other posts at a higher frequency.

According to a recent survey, 60% of consumers said social content from friends and family impact their purchasing decisions, while only 23% said celebrity influencer content was impactful. Remember this information when contemplating if a celebrity endorsement is right for your business.

Once you have influencers in mind, make sure they align with your brand identity. The goal is to find an influencer that can authentically deliver your message to their vast network of followers. The more authentic the message, the more likely users are to convert.

Create Meaningful Content

Your eCommerce marketing strategy should always include in-depth, authentic content that sets you apart from your competition. Having an influencer won’t do you any good if you don’t deliver content that resonates with your audience.

Figure out what message you want to convey creatively, what story you want to tell and what benefits your audience should get from seeing the influencer with your brand. Working with influencers isn’t about getting them to make a purchase directly, but rather a way to build trust and loyalty with your audience.

Measure Your Results

The stats that you will track with your influencer marketing campaign will depend on the goals and objectives of your business. While many measure new followers or engagement, others value site traffic and sales.

Some metrics to consider include:

  • Reach and views
  • Likes
  • Follows
  • Clicks
  • Shares and referrals
  • Tracking tags
  • Comments
  • Traffic to eCommerce pages

The Final Word

Influencer marketing can yield tremendous results for eCommerce brands when done creatively and correctly. It can help you tell your story, get in front of a broader audience, and increase sales.

Simply paying someone with 100,000 followers to share your post on Instagram won’t bring you instant success. Implementing these tips and tricks can help you create more natural social interaction with your target audience, which in turn, can help you reach your eCommerce marketing goals.

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