By Sib Santos
It depends. One thing is for sure, the media landscape has transformed over the past decade and end consumers are seeking new ways to find trustworthy information. New platforms to connect with potential customers are launching almost daily, and consumers of all demographics are engaged with social media and content on a daily (or hourly) basis. How do you stand out in a world overloaded with digital content? And furthermore, how do you stand out to those customers who will benefit from and possibly even fall in love with your brand? Up against these new challenges, a social media influencer could be just the right opportunity. In order to be done well, and reap the many benefits of a social influencer, it’s imperative to have a solid brand mission & messaging before engaging. This will help to ensure you remain core to your brand when embarking on this new medium. The filters to determine the right approach are not much different than what you’d use for any other other marketing or advertising executions. Considering a social influencer is ultimately creating a partnership between two “brands”.
Start with these filters:
Trust | Can you form an honest and open dialogue to build from?
Authenticity | Is this opportunity true to your core brand mission? Do you have shared values with your potential social influencer?
Partnership | Can you form a mutually beneficial partnership to add value to both brands?
Engagement | Does this create a unique way to connect with new customers?
Not only is partnering with an influencer more and more popular, but it’s becoming expected, especially by our younger generations – Millennials and Gen Z specifically. They actually want to know who endorses your brand, and the genuine perspective as to why they are endorsing it. This is becoming a standard part of the research process before any purchase, and can be an impactful tool. With the evolved media landscape, anyone with a passion, skill or craft can create, share and build their brand on social media. Through this seemingly organic & authentic brand growth, these personalities are now followed by masses, seen as creative, self-starters and influential leaders in setting trends, ideas and lifestyles. So much so, that larger brands are tapping into these networks to showcase their humble, more connectable side via social influencers. Amazon has an entire branch called “Amazon Live” where fitness, fashion, culinary and lifestyle personalities of all sorts are featured on this new platform. Amazon is tapping into the ~500K followers of fitness phenom @melissawoodhealth to boost their current 11K followers. Even if 1% of her followers became engaged with @amazonlive, that would almost double their current followership.
Another example, @cupofjo – Lifestyle, parenting, design and relationship blogger has 200K+ followers and is featured in our NYC Social Influencer category; shares her favorite products, experiences, stories, and engages with her audience in a way that encourages they to share their experiences on her platform. This type of personality has curated a unique audience based around shared ideals, choices and life experiences. If your brand fits within her domain, and you cultivate a partnership that shares your brand message & adds value to her brand, what a perfect harmony for her followers, and your potential new suitors. It’s a win (value add) for everyone and that’s your brand’s ultimate goal when partnering with a social influencer.
Millennials and Gen Z are more inclined to listen to a trusted source, a real person, over a brand. They feel more connected to and invested in someone they follow on social media over a brand whose relationship historically talked “to” them vs. “with” them. The “trick” again is to remain honest and true to your brand and create an authentic partnership. They can see through a B- effort and will simply continue scrolling. So, you can’t get away with just hiring someone to push out content for you, like the early days of social media when awareness was the primary goal. Now to be successful and sustainable, influencer’s need to be approached as valued partnerships, selected in a strategic, calculated and purposeful way. The goal should be authentic engagement for both sides.
That’s where the authenticity comes in, full circle. So, you can’t get around good old fashioned brand building; creating your brand story, mission, messaging and identifying strategies that align with your brand. Do the work upfront, ask the right questions, and see where that takes you. Approach some influencers you think are relevant to your audience base, and see what they have to say. You just might learn something. Remember, they have direct access to your audience and if they engage on a regular basis, this is a landmine of insights for your brand.
Sib Santos is an independent marketer with an emphasis in brand strategy, client management and creating experiences. From large brands like Nike, Google, Apple and Mattel to startups and local shops, Sib’s focus on client management, project management & empowering team building have been keys to success and growth. Sib’s work and life mantra is “courage over comfort.”