By Kayla Matthews (Guest Author)
The concept of influencer marketing is far from new. In fact, modern influencer marketing dates back to 1920 when Coco Chanel became one of the most transformative influencers on fashion. However, this branding strategy didn’t experience a rise in popularity until the late 1990s and early 2000s as bloggers and content creators grew in number.
Now, brands are connecting with popular social media influencers on any and every platform in a rather successful attempt to promote their services and products. As more people flock to social media, especially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, brands will likely invest even more in this marketing strategy. For influencers, the future is bright, to say the least.
People Hate Ads
Advertisements have been bombarding consumers for years. From commercials on TV to billboards to ads on Facebook and Instagram, brands are vying for your attention. Meanwhile, most consumers are actively blocking these ads or completely ignoring them, even when the algorithm uses a person’s browsing history to target them and pique their interest. These traditional ads simply don’t work like they used to. Why you might ask? Consumers don’t trust brands that self-promote and they’re tired of all the noise.
Enter the Influencer
Then, influencers entered the scene. Popular people — like Kim Kardashian and Donald Millner— with huge social media followings began to partner with both small and large brands to promote their products. This marketing strategy proved quite effective since followers viewed their recommendation as authentic and trustworthy. On Twitter, nearly 40% of users report purchasing a product because of an influencer and 60% of YouTube subscribers would follow the advice of their favorite creator. Evidently, influencer marketing is working.
Even those without huge followings, like TikToker Lauren Godwin and beauty Instagrammer Daniel Jewels, boast an impressive engagement rate and frequently partner with brands. While some most enter these partnerships as a way to make money, many are choosy about which products they endorse. After all, they want the brands they tout to be trustworthy and legitimate so as not to tarnish their reputation and lose followers.
COVID-19 and Online Engagement
The coronavirus has changed influencer marketing in huge ways. When the pandemic first hit America, ad budgets decreased and, with them, the financial compensation to many influencers. However, since then, budgets have increased and some are making even more off promotional posts than ever before. This increase is largely due to the rise in social media consumption during shelter-in-place orders and quarantine.
Since the pandemic, web browsing has risen by 70% and social media engagement has increased by 61%. Of course, this level of online interaction has lent itself well to influencer marketing. Content creators have more time to increase their output, connect with followers and experiment with new platforms while followers now have the opportunity to engage more than ever. Consequently, many ad agencies and brands are investing more in this effective marketing strategy.
The Future of Influencer Marketing and How to Get Involved
As the pandemic drags on and social media continues to surge in popularity, it’s likely brands will invest even more in influencer marketing. Thus, since celebrities and macro-influencers can only rep a few brands without losing engagement, companies will likely begin partnering with more micro-influencers and those with only a few hundred followers.
If you’re one of these creators who has a smaller, dedicated following, it may be time to seek out a partnership with one or two of your favorite brands. Odds are your audience will love them, too and you might be able to make a commission from affiliate links and posts. Begin by creating genuine relationships with your followers. Then, reach out to brands and explore new platforms, sharing your for different products and services wherever you go.
About the Author: Kayla Matthews writes about communication and workplace productivity on her blog, Productivity Theory. Her work has also appeared on Talent Culture, MakeUseOf, The Muse and Fast Company.