How influential are influencers?

Celebrities, mums, average joes ... just how influential are influencers, and how can you pick the right one for your brand? Richard Spencer, CMO at Isentia, breaks it down in this guest post.

Richard Spencer - isentia

Richard Spencer

If you’ve heard the name King Bach chances are you’re a millennial.

The 28-year old influencer, otherwise known as Andrew Bachelor, boasts over 37 million social media followers – a number that climbs by 30 to 40 thousand each day. Bachelor forms part of the growing wave of influencers cashing in as brands are clambering to be featured in their social media feeds in the hope to generate sales. 

So, how much influence does an influencer really have?

Andrew Bachelor on Instagram - 'King Bach' gains 30K more followers every day

Andrew Bachelor on Instagram – ‘King Bach’ gains 30K more followers every day

A study released by Twitter earlier this year found that 40% of people purchased an item online after seeing it used by an influencer on Instagram, Vine, Twitter or YouTube.  

Half of this group went on to share the product on their social media feed. Furthermore, a report by GroupM found customers who see a brand on social media are 180% more likely to search for that brand on search engines such as Google.

Word of mouth

This shouldn’t come as a huge surprise as consumers have always valued opinions when it comes to purchasing decisions. Long before social media existed, word-of-mouth was considered one of the most powerful tools in influencing purchasing power.

But today, rather than debriefing at the school gates about which laundry powder removes tough stains best, mums are connecting online to share their secrets.

As such, brands are throwing money at ‘mumfluencers to voice their opinions via social media. If you ask me, a lot of this spend is misguided.

Friends of ‘famous’ people

As the influencer economy becomes a juggernaut in itself, the million-dollar question is: who holds the most power when it comes to online influence – celebrity influencers or friends and family?

The Twitter study mentioned earlier found that while 56% of users surveyed said they rely on recommendations from friends, 49% said they rely on influencers.

The take-home message: an influencer doesn’t have to be a celebrity or household name to drive people to buy stuff. Nor does he or she need millions of followers to create an impact. In fact, the number of social media followers means very little if it doesn’t correspond with engagement.andrew-malcolm-twitter-pedigree-tweet

The secret lies is in knowing your audience and hitting the mark with content. Take, for example one of Twitter’s most shared posts of all time. It came when an unlikely influencer in the pet world – political columnist Andrew Malcolm – prompted audiences to #tweetforbowls along with the promise that pet food company Pedigree would provide a bowl of dog food for dogs in need for every tweet.

The post was retweeted nearly 700,000 times, sending a very powerful brand message on behalf of Pedigree and feeding lots of hungry dogs along with way.

Chances are Malcolm wasn’t at the top of Pedigree’s potential influencers list, nor is it likely that he was paid for the tweet, but the result is a great example of how powerful an individual can be within their network.

Don’t be fooled

Many marketing and communications professionals are fooled into thinking their influencer campaigns will be effective because they’ve paid someone with a million followers to spruik their product.

Rather, success lies in a careful combination of listening to audiences and then handpicking influencers who resonate with a brand’s audience.

Potential brand influencers should by scored on content style and the diversity of their audience as much as the number of followers.

If you want to hit the influencer jackpot, expect to do a fair amount of digging. And don’t be surprised if you’re never heard of them before.

Richard Spencer is the CMO at Isentia 


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