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The Rise on Influencer Marketing

Social media has given rise to personal brands and reputable products to a global online audience looking for new and interesting content. In the early 1920s, it was brands such as Cola-Cola that were endearing us to characters like Santa Claus and later, Kellogg with characters like Tony the Tiger. Now, with the advent of social media, individuals are getting the opportunity to design and create brands that are rivalling these giants. It’s also creating new marketshare for up and coming brands and concepts.

In its earlier days, influencer marketing was pretentious, highly unregulated and somewhat superficial. It would appeal to your needs and desires. Now, influencers on platforms such as Instagram and TikTok have allowed people to make real connections with their audience. Whether it be through interest, appeal, or a social connection, influencers are finding new and interesting ways to reach a global audience, which was previously out of reach. This phenomenon didn’t happen overnight. It’s been part of a series of evolutionary steps that have changed the way we market products, or brands, on a global scale.

The Road to Influence

To drive sales during the Great Depression in the 1930s, companies created “influencers” or personas and used images to drive consumer sales. Images of products and characters drew consumers to products and made them want to not only buy it, but be a part of the movement; to become a part of something bigger than themselves. Whether through emotion, imagery or perspective, brands such as Coca-Cola took the helm as a superior marketing engine; it’s still recognized as one of the biggest companies in the world today. I mean, they basically created Santa Claus!

Over the years, other brands such as Quaker Oats, Nike and Pepsi followed suit and started to form partnerships with celebrities and athletes. We all remember Michael Jordan’s impact as an influence marketer in the 80s and 90s when Nike started selling Jordan’s. Much of that same impact and connection with the world is what influencer marketing is all about today. Brands such as Instagram and TikTok have been able to thrive in a reality TV era, allowing brands and new personas to be embraced at an unbelievable rate.

Celebrity endorsements started to become less effective over time as people couldn’t always relate to their over-the-top lifestyles. But shows like Keeping Up with the Kardashians, the Bachelor, and to a lesser degree, Survivor, have helped to bridge the gap between real life and screen life. Attaching realistic situations and interactions to popularity and prestige gave socialites the opportunity to become overnight celebrities. Engagement from viewers around the world is at an all-time high and the products celebs such as Kim Kardashian and Kylie Jenner sell make billions of dollars annually.

Influencing the New Wave: The Numbers

While it is about product and style, it’s also about content. How you convey your message to the audience has to resonate in a way that not only gets you seen but allows you to influence. The ability to influence decisions or thought-process through your art is what takes you to the next level. Influencers are everyday people that have found success doing what they love. That in-turn makes them appealing — worth following. When you’re thinking about how to be engaging, authentic, and trustworthy to your audience without being cheesy, distant, and out-of-touch, considers some of these facts and tips.

  • According to a study from Nielsen.com, 92 per cent of consumers trust earned social media — word-of-mouth, recommendations from friends and family — above other forms of advertising.
  • There are more than 2 billion brand-related conversations happening in the U.S. Can you imagine what’s happening globally?
  • More than 82% of consumers seek referrals from peers before buying an online item.
  • Three out of five teens trust influencers over celebrities

As more millennials and Gen-Z’ers turn to social media platforms, influencer marketing will play a huge role in that. Content creators are understanding their audience and, in some cases, better than their friends. They are at the heart of what’s cool and drive the culture forward.

Creators such as James Charles, Ninja, Wuzzam Supa and Gary Vee all have a unique way of connecting with their audiences. By creating authentic content that can appeal to real-life users, influencers and content creators are building connections with their audience and shaping culture/thought-process.

Whether the brand is makeup, health, travel, food, sport, beauty, video games or entrepreneurship, always create content that is authentic to yourself and to your brand.

Tips for Content Creators

We’ve come a long way since the 1930s but the principles of online marketing still remain. As you navigate a mobile world influenced largely by social media, here are a few tips to take home with you to try out and boost your following. Always remember:

  • Relevance: What is it and how do I establish that visually?
  • Reach: Who is my audience and why? What will it look like in 5 years?
  • Resonance: Is what I’m portraying authentic to the everyday viewer?
  • Be consistent: What you show is what they’re going to expect. Consider things like tone, look, feel, values etc.
  • Non-paid content: Look for it where you can get it. Memes, images with messages… anything that suits the brand and free can be used to convey the message you’re trying to get across.
  • Research and learn: Get to know an influencer’s channels and who their audience is. Find out how they gain and maintain new audiences.
  • Plan a budget: I know it’s tempting to want to go big or go home but think about what works best for you and what you can manage consistently. Also, think about the different payment methods you can structure, including commission pay or affiliate fees.

The community controls the brand, its message, its platforms, its social stance and so much more. Creators will do well to remember that.

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