Social Media Influencers Drive Trends–But How? And Why?
For the latest influencer marketing news, resources, and case studies, subscribe to our weekly newsletter!
The Shift From Celebrities To The Power Of Social Media Influencers
- Through social media, influencers generate conversation, drive engagement, and set cultural trends.
- Audiences are more receptive of social media influencers than celebrities.
- Influencers are early adopters of new products and services, creating desire amongst their audiences.
Celebrity influencers have been around nearly as long as there have been celebrities. The first instances of celebrity product endorsement occurred in centuries past when royalty advertised the prestige of luxury goods. A new breed of celebrity influencers evolved in the 20th Century with people leisurely following the activities of famous actors, musicians, and professional athletes. In many ways, celebrities initiated trends.
As people have moved away from traditional media and spent more time on social media, trendsetters have molded into more relatable “influencers.” It is no longer just celebrities who influence society’s tastes; social media stars play an increasingly larger role. These modern influencers are social media personalities with loyal audiences built through regular, direct communication with their followers.
Related Post: The Top 25 Influencers Dominating Social Media
How Social Media Stardom Transformed Into Influence & Trendsetting
Brands have been quick to notice the power of social media influencers on their target markets. A recent study by WhoSay indicates that 70% of US agency and brand marketers said they “agree” or “strongly agree” that influencer marketing budgets would increase in 2018. Spending on influencer marketing has risen rapidly over the last few years, and we predict influencer marketing to be a $5-10 billion market by 2020.
At the heart of influencer marketing are the influencers who are, well, influential. They are not mere marketing mouthpieces. Influencers are thought leaders who generate conversations, drive engagement, and set trends amongst a receptive audience, positioning them well to partner with brands on sponsored content. Influencers can break through the noise of traditional advertising and spread a brand’s message to the intended audience in an authentic, natural way.
Because influencers come across as more genuine, they can deliver brand messages in ways that advertisers can’t. The rise in the use of ad blockers has blunted the effectiveness of online advertising. Yet, ad blocking does not harm influencers as their messages make it through the cordon, and people follow them.
Why Audiences Are More Receptive Of Social Media Influencers
There is a paradigm shift occurring in how different generations spend their leisure time. Baby Boomers and Generation X have always loved their television. For years, businesses saw TV advertising as the pinnacle of marketing–the most expensive way to advertise, but generating the best results. However, today’s teenagers are less interested in the big box in the corner of the living room. Generation Z, in particular, has an entirely new outlook on who they view as a celebrity. Teens like and recognize online influencers more than they do traditional celebrities.
YouTube is the venue of choice for today’s teens. ComScore and YouTube surveyed 2,940 YouTube fans about their video engagement, and when asked for their favorite video provider, 35% stated YouTube, compared to 19% who opted for traditional TV. The Millennials in the survey preferred to watch videos uploaded by people, rather than those uploaded directly by brands, companies, or institutions.
The reason influencers are so influential is because they speak to an audience that accepts them and receives their thoughts well. Audiences like influencers who are authentic and relatable, thus generating positive engagement. Successful influencers often boast engagement rates upwards of 2.5-5% (based on our analyses through various case studies). Brands that aim to resonate with audiences more genuinely recognize the power of social media influencers; therefore, they invest in them.
How Influencers Act As Tastemakers
Influencers As Experts Within Their Niche
One of the reasons influencers have such outstanding rapport with their followers is because they establish expertise in niches that appeal to a hyper-targeted audience. Influencers drive the language of the niche–the jargon used regularly, the hashtags favored, the critical conversations, and the overall trends.
Followers recognize influencers’ expertise within the niche and follow their social media updates with avid interest. In turn, influencers aim to cater to the fervid interests of their followers and tailor their posts accordingly, while sticking to that which represents their own values and personality.
Early Adopters For Products And Trends
In addition, social media influencers act as early adopters of products that set trends within the broader consumer population. They use their social media platforms to help amplify the message. Kamiu Lee in Adweek sees a clear distinction between the aims of influencer marketing and traditional advertising: “While traditional advertising aims to attract the trendsetters, who will then attract the early majority, influencer marketing goes straight to the source, helping the innovators and early adopters tell their story directly to the masses, with the help of social media.”
How Influencers Create Desire for Products
The loyalty an influencer builds with his or her audience often translates into increased product sales. Below are a couple examples of influencer trendsetting in action:
Influencer Launches Collaborative Fashion Line
Some influencers establish sufficient influence on product lines that businesses give them the opportunity to launch their own range of products. Fashion and lifestyle blogger Emily Schuman managed this with her Cupcakes and Cashmere blog. She collaborated with BB Dakota to launch the Cupcakes and Cashmere fashion collection. BB Dakota offered her complete control over everything from patterns to pricing.
Influencer Drives Foot Traffic To Storefront
Becky Li, a top Chinese fashion influencer, explains the fervent support influencers often have from their followers. “Since our followers are our consumers, influencer brands don’t need to budget resources for marketing, allowing us to spend more time, energy and money on optimizing products. I remember this one time, before any items were for sale, we put out a post telling readers that the storefront was up, and even though we weren’t selling anything yet, it received 300,000 visits that day alone.”
Influencer Branding Remains Paramount
Influencers enjoy a strong personal brand, regardless of whether they sell anything. They spend as much time building a brand image as many more traditional corporate brands. Any work they do to promote other brands must be congruent with their personal brand.
Businesses have to understand–an influencer’s followers care about the influencer, not about the external brand. Influencers do not accept being a brand’s puppet. To remain successful, they need to act independently and stay authentic in all their messaging. Influencers and brands who rush into partnerships without careful research risk alienating the audience and being lambasted for inauthentic or fake content.
Why Brands Need To Activate Influencer Partnerships
Social media influencers have incredible power to affect consumer decision-making, fueling business development by setting trends that determine what products or services the masses buy into. Traditional advertising still has a place in overall marketing strategy, particularly for businesses targeting an older clientele. However, the digital marketing landscape is shifting in favor of authenticity, which is something that influencers have to offer.
Also See Our Posts On:
November 9, 2018 By Mediakix Team