March 22, 2017
Instagram: Under the Influence
By Rachel Geringer
My friends and I joke that “it’s Instagram’s world and we’re all just living in it.” How’s that for a classically Millennial observation? After a review of Instagram’s most recent stats, I’ve realized that statement may be more true than not. With 600 million Instagrammers worldwide—more than 400 million of whom use Instagram every single day—there’s no sign of its popularity declining. Its immense, engaged community makes Instagram a go-to place for marketers. In fact, emarketer.com projected that an astounding 70.7% of U.S. companies (with 100+ employees) will use Instagram for marketing by this year.
From running various ad types and contests, to utilizing brand specific hashtags, companies are proving that Instagram is a creative and effective platform for engaging campaigns. But with the ever-lurking perils of AdBlock, and the Millennials’ well-documented mistrust of institutions, it’s not easy to make sure even paid posts are seen, let alone relevant.
One way to overcome the obstacles stemming from this mistrust is through the use of social media “Influencers.” As the name implies, Influencers are people who have established credibility with a substantial audience—typically on Instagram, YouTube, Twitter and blogs. They make up a new generation of media stars, but instead of talk shows and newspaper columns, they gained enthusiastic fans and followers through the multifarious world of social media. For several years marketers have engaged (a.k.a. paid) these popular trendsetters to persuade others by “virtue of their trustworthiness and authenticity,” as well stated by pixlee.com. While not a new practice, it is growing and evolving as the importance of Instagram and the like increases.
Once more, there are Influencers in every category imaginable, and they come equipped with their own devoted audiences. They have proven (by way of their follower metrics) that they produce content people want to see. An endorsement from someone who aligns with the creative vision of your brand will put your message and brand front and center, with the segment you most want to engage. Even when the Influencer is transparent about paid endorsements, they can still drive views and build awareness. If it’s done right, that is.
So, where do you find the right Influencer for your brand and be sure you’re executing your efforts wisely? Just like traditional celebrity endorsements, there is always a possibility for unwelcome surprises once these posts start hitting the screens. While fate may be hard to predict, there are things you can control. With good groundwork, you can stack the odds in your favor and be confident your investment will pay off.
A great place to start looking is by closely reviewing and monitoring your brand’s existing social ecosystem. Look for those delightful social media mentions and you’ll likely find someone who’s already engaging with your brand. There are a number of tools we use for this process, including Google Alerts and Simply Measured. Review the data, but do so with a discerning eye—popular doesn’t always mean influential.
After you identify one of these gems, reach out and start a conversation. Think of ways your relationship could be mutually beneficial—like sharing their content and promoting their cause in some way. Some of this heavy lifting can, and in most cases should be, done by an agency with good social media chops.
When you’ve got the right Influencer on board, and you’re confident their audience is who you most want to reach, then comes the most important thing of all—having a great story. Your Brand is the story you have to tell—the mental movie you want to have play in people’s minds when they see your logo or hear your name. When this story is presented through eye-catching photos or fun video by a trusted Influencer, you can elevate your social media capital exponentially.
If you’re excited about the value a social media Influencer can bring to your marketing efforts, here’s some great data to share with your team.
Sources include: TapInfluence, RhythmOne, and Instagram
Yes, I admit, we Millennials live in Instagram’s party in many ways. But there are reasons for that, not the least of which is the high value we place on authenticity and seeing things for ourselves—on our smartphones—all the time. Branded content that’s relevant and compelling is always welcome at the party.