By Sarah Curry, Associate Social Media Director
May 12, 2015
Consumers are most likely to trust content that comes from a source they already respect, trust and identify with. A 24-year-old woman is more likely to take fashion advice from Kendall Jenner’s Instagram page (along with her 24.6 million other followers), than from a magazine spread by H&M. Why? Because Kendall is cooler than H&M.
In an increasingly noisy digital world, it’s important for brands to understand the role that social media influencers can play in a successful campaign. Generally speaking, influencers are individuals who have a larger than average reach in a particular marketplace and have the unique ability to shape consumers’ purchasing decisions. Influencers can be journalists, celebrities, industry analysts, individual brand advocates or popular bloggers. It all depends on your target audience.
At this year’s SXSW, the discussion of influencers was never ending. From panel conversations to networking events, it was interesting to hear all of the different perspectives. Two key themes quickly became apparent—evaluating and understanding influence, and preserving the influencer’s authenticity.
Time to Reconsider Influence
There was a lot of discussion around what constitutes an influencer, how to find influencers and what metrics should be used to evaluate them. Obviously the typical quantitative metrics still apply, but numbers do not tell the whole story. When choosing an influencer to work with your brand, consider these three factors:
- Reach: How large is the influencer’s audience size?
- Relevance: Is the content being shared related to your business?
- Resonance: Is the content engaging to an audience that’s relevant to your brand?
Do they reflect your brand’s core values? Are they influential on a specific platform? Do they reach an audience that is valuable for your brand? These qualitative measures are often more important than reach alone.
Taking it one step further, Jonathan Perelman from BuzzFeed Videos proclaimed that BuzzFeed does not rely on influencers. Why? Because you are the influencer. If you can create content that sparks an emotional connection, then people will want to share that content with their peers. People want to share content because it says something better than they can say themselves. And that peer-to-peer endorsement is what generates the mass swell of sharing.
Influencers Are Not Billboards
Authenticity is what helps build and drive influence and it’s why brands seek to partner with these individuals. At the end of the day, social media influencers are just everyday individuals who have found a unique and interesting way to convey their passion online. Why then, would a brand want to take away that authenticity? Brands must let these influencers tell their brand story in their own way. That creative freedom preserves their authenticity and credibility—which will ultimately make your brand and your message resonate with their audience. Influencers know better than anyone how to communicate to their audience—so let them do so!
This is why it’s so important to consider those qualitative measures when selecting an influencer partner. You want to work with someone who wholeheartedly embodies your core values and reflects your brand voice. You want to find your brand advocate—not just a spokesperson of the day.
Influencers in Action
For the American Butter Institute, we work closely with influencers to feed their Go Bold With Butter website. The site targets men and women who enjoy cooking and baking from a variety of ages and life stages. It’s full of recipes, tips and photographs from some of today’s most creative and passionate food bloggers. When selecting influencer partners that will be smart additions to the site, we choose bloggers who reflect different segments of our target audience and who have a strong, active following of their own. In 2014, our Go Bold With Butter bloggers had a combined reach of more than 860,000 consumers.
To keep the site authentic and honest, we don’t tell our bloggers what to cook or how to write. We give broad guidelines to ensure a consistent look and feel of the site, but allow the unique voice and perspective of each blogger to shine. We’ve even included blogger bios to allow readers to better follow the influencers they relate most closely with.