Brand loyalty is something that all businesses aspire to. It is most obvious in big names such as Coca-Cola and their rival with Pepsi. Consumers tend to prefer one over the other and stick with that choice. It also occurs with fast-food chains, sports clothing brands, and Android v Apple.

Perhaps the first example of brand loyalty is when a child picks a sports team. This type of following lasts a lifetime and just cannot be bought. Businesses have used various forms of advertising and marketing for centuries but now with the advent of social media, there are new ways to connect to their consumers.

Knowing how to promote your brand on social media sites these days is vital for a successful digital marketing campaign, and one important aspect of this is influencers.

Why can influencers connect with audiences in a way that a brand cannot, and are the answer to improving your brand’s following? 

Why is social media so important?

Social media as a term covers dozens of different platforms that all operate within their own niche areas. The biggest social media platform is clearly Facebook with over 2.7 billion active users. Instagram has around 1 billion users, and other platforms are heavily used also.

This means that there is a huge potential market for businesses to tap into very easily. The main platforms such as Facebook and Instagram are fully aware of the business opportunities that their apps can offer. Because of this, they offer paid-for advertising on their sites and millions of businesses use this feature.

Social media allows brands to target specific demographics and this means that they can manage a marketing budget and campaign with much more control than ever before. Instead of general advertising campaigns being shown to the general public, ads can be literally ‘pushed’ towards users that have expressed interest in a particular product or service. 

What are influencers?

While targeted advertising is an important part of digital marketing, there is another way to promote brands and products that can be even more rewarding. That is by using influencers.

An influencer is someone who uses social media and blogs about areas that they have substantial knowledge of. Typically, an influencer will have a certain niche and will concentrate on one particular area, such as beauty and make-up, or fitness with top influencers such as Kayla Itsines earning millions of dollars for their content.

An influencer will have built up a strong, loyal following and be able to affect how their audience chooses products and services by their posts and recommendations. Advertising by a particular brand can influence consumers but it can’t reach audiences in the same way that an Instagram influencer can.

Why can’t brands influence their consumers in the same way?

When consumers see adverts they may be affected and interested enough to try out a new product or flavor drink. However, they are fully aware that companies advertise to make money and that is the primary concern of all businesses.

Influencers are seen very differently from brands. Some people aspire to be like their favorite influencers and treat them more like celebrities, which is what some of them have become. When an influencer recommends a particular mascara or financial product, his or her audience takes notice. When someone has millions of followers it has the potential to affect sales.

If there is a sudden boost in sales of a product that is recommended by an influencer then others sit up and take notice. It might get reported in the press or on the internet. Stories go viral, and the brand reaps the rewards. 

Are influencer recommendations genuine?

One of the reasons that brands cannot replicate influencers for their marketing appeal is trust. An influencer will have gained their audience organically and over a period of time, during which a level of trust has been developed.

An influencer isn’t obviously trying to make money from their audience, although they certainly can do, and so the relationship seems much more personal than that between a consumer and brand.

It is important to note there can be different types of recommendations by an influencer though. There are those posts that are genuine recommendations from someone who believes his or her audience would like a certain product and then there are sponsored posts. 

Are sponsored posts just paid for advertising then?

A sponsored post is where an influencer and a brand have a relationship and the business will provide certain products for the blogger to talk about. Although this is a form of paid-for advertising, the audience doesn’t always see it the same way.

The reason for this is once again, trust. Smart influencers will listen and engage with their audience and understand what their values are. This means they won’t promote any product or service that is likely to tarnish their reputation and relationship.

How do influencers build such a following?

A reputable and respected influencer will have built up their following over some time. Many individuals have failed to replicate these types of accounts by using bad methods such as buying followers. This will lead to Instagram closing or restricting accounts and is poor practice.

A good influencer will have organically gained followers. Meaning that word of mouth, engagement, following others, and growth service tools, are used. Influencers can gain more followers by putting out quality content regularly and interacting with other people on Instagram.

When they want to get Instagram followers they can use legitimate growth services for an extra boost. These are nothing like the services that offer paid-for followers or bots, but instead, allow accounts to grow organically through the use of dedicated account managers. 

Should you use influencers for your brand?

Guerilla marketing campaigns and the use of influencers have been proven time and again for boosting the visibility of a brand, and increasing sales.

Instant Pot is a great example of where a company used influencers and bloggers to launch a guerilla marketing campaign. Eschewing the usual marketing strategies, the company sent out around 200 of their devices to people they saw as being able to affect consumers. The result was that they ended up with the biggest selling product on Amazon, all without taking out any advertising.

When you are wondering what strategy to follow to make your social media account successful you will undoubtedly want to grow your audience. One of the best ways to do this might be to use an influencer whose own audience might start following yours too. By choosing the right influencer your company could become more visible very quickly. 

Summary

Influencers work in a different way to brand advertising or even product placement because the audience trusts the person they are following. There are aspirations to have a lifestyle like an influencer and so they want to buy the same products they use.

A brand cannot replicate this kind of loyalty or trust and so they use influencers to affect their sales and visibility through Instagram posts and blogs. The surprising thing is that an influencer doesn’t even need to have a huge following. Micro-influencers operating in niche fields can be highly effective too. So, if your business needs to be more visible, maybe an influencer can help.