You can no longer take a relaxed scroll through Instagram without seeing an ad or a post marked “sponsored.” These seemingly annoying posts are proving very successful at furthering consumer engagement as well as product sales. They’re driving more business than typical advertisements because of the influencers who are posting them. Because influencers have loyal followings and powerful relationships with those followers, their influence makes for effective sales tactics and higher engagement.
In order to be considered a social media influencer, one generally needs at least 5,000 – 10,000 followers. And, those followers must be authentic (cannot be purchased.) Influencers usually use cohesive imagery and aesthetics with the messages they are trying to promote. Most have a central focus such as fitness, makeup or style and their followers look to them for advice and inspiration. Influencers engage in real conversations with their followers, whether on comments or posts, or through direct messages, which ultimately lead to more genuine and personal connections.
According to the Digital Marketing Institute, 70% of teens trust influencers more than traditional celebrities. Celebrities feel too distant and their messages less real for consumers to trust them. Instagram users know that celebrities get paid much larger sums to post advertisements, and their endorsements often come off as insincere. Fortunately, smaller-scale influencer marketing has the opposite effect and has proven much more successful. The Digital Marketing Institute also found that over 50% of women made purchases because of influencer posts on Facebook or Instagram.
FabFitFun is one of the greatest examples of successful influencer marketing. FabFitFun is a subscription-based service that sends out four seasonal boxes per year. Each box is filled with eight to ten full-size, premium health, beauty and lifestyle products for subscribers to try and use. The company grew from 2,000 subscribers to 1 million subscribers in just five years, a majority of which are thanks to their use of social media influencers. Influencers post videos of themselves opening their FabFitFun boxes and talking about the different products they are excited to try. The most important part of this process is how much the consumer trusts the influencer’s recommendation. Because each influencer is generally well-regarded in their respective industry, consumers trust their opinions and will often move forward with making a purchase. Another strong tactic Influencers use is offering a discount code for consumers to use on their first box purchase. Consumers view it as much safer an investment than a typical ad on their social media feed.
Brands aiming to grow and sell on Instagram should follow the example of companies like FabFitFun and push for an increase in social media influencer marketing. Because of their strong connections to their fans, influencers are growing exponentially successful than typical digital ads. Putting a human face to the brand’s name establishes a powerful connection with the consumer and will lead to positive results all around.
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