Working with top social media influencers can help brands quickly connect with millions of engaged millennial consumers eager to try new products or attend exciting events hosted by their favorite YouTuber. Recent surveys have shown that more teens in the United States relate to, take advice from, and emulate top social media influencers as opposed to even the most well-known mainstream celebrities. In light of fast-declining TV viewership (based on 2015 Neilsen data) and the rapid ascent of online mobile video, major brands are now developing company-wide influencer strategies (WSJ).
Each social media publishing platform (i.e. YouTube, Instagram, Vine, Snapchat) not only has its own roster of top social media influencers, each also presents its own set of best practices, marketing strengths, and advertising weaknesses. Unless brands are well-equipped to adeptly navigate each platform, partnering with top social media influencers and marketing agencies that understand each medium is the best way to yield maximum returns (ROI), achieve high rates of engagement, and increase brand awareness.
Definitions may vary, but most marketing agencies define social media influencers as those who have built sizable followings and are regarded as top trendsetters in one or several niches (i.e. fashion, lifestyle, gaming, tech, healthy living, travel) primarily from creating original, enticing digital content. Though some celebrities do blog regularly (see our post “10 Top Celebrity Bloggers“) and may even pen sponsored blog posts, social media influencers are typically differentiated from traditional and/or mainstream celebrities.
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Top social media influencers amass large numbers of fans, followers, and subscribers due to their ability to produce enticing content and connect with followers in an authentic way. The best YouTubers, Instagrammers, Viners, Snapchatters, and bloggers are seen and wholly trusted as tastemakers, and fans frequent their social media channels to be immersed in the influencer’s lifestyle, latest finds, happenings, and rants. Because a social media star’s followers often develop a deep connection with their favorite influencers, the best collaborative brand opportunities occur when a company and a social media influencer’s aesthetic, messaging, and culture are synchronous.
Presently, a variety of companies (including consumer packaged goods companies, lifestyle brands, travel companies, tech/gaming firms, and fashion and beauty brands) are working with social media influencers to create highly successful marketing campaigns. Though these may frequently overlap, brands can work with social media influencers in one of three primary ways:
Usually direct-response in nature, one-off marketing with social media influencers typically involves a call-to-action (CTA) directing an influencer’s fan base toward a company’s latest product, service, or brand channels. These CTAs can be coupled with “reader-only” promo codes, contests, and giveaways, or the influencer can solicit their followers for valuable consumer feedback and engagement regarding a brand or product.
Usually devoid of specific CTAs, companies can partner with social media influencers to favorably co-brand new products or services or feature well-integrated product placements within the social media star’s content.
While working with top social media influencers necessitates some level of collaboration, partnerships are more in-depth, involve longer-term commitments across entire campaigns, and may feature the social media influencer as an official brand ambassador. For example, YouTuber and beauty vlogger Ingrid Nilsen (Miss Glamorazzi) was CoverGirl’s first social media “Glambassador,” and travel blogger Jessica Stein (Tuula Vintage) partnered with airline Cathay Pacific for their #LifeWellTraveled campaign.
Related Post: 5 Different Types Of Influencer Marketing Campaigns
A critical first step in creating a stellar influencer marketing campaign includes finding the right social media influencer. We’ve compiled all of our best resources to help find, research, and understand the burgeoning market of social media influencers. Additionally, check out our Spotlight series for dedicated, in-depth features, interviews and advice from top social media influencers in the space.
Here is a comprehensive listing of our top social media influencer resources broken down by platform:
Weekly in-depth interviews, campaign or career snapshots, and brand-influencer advice from prominent social media influencers.
Chris Ballinger – Family vlogger and YouTube magician shared his story on how he became a digital star and insights on what it takes to be a top content creator on YouTube today.
Oh Dear Drea – Started as a passion project by Andrea Duclos, Oh Dear Drea now blends vibrant photography with musings on natural living, vegan food, travel adventures, and home design.
The Stripe – This blog features top social media influencer Grace Atwood’s insights on DIY projects, beauty, home decorating, and wellness paired with gorgeous photographs.
Carrots N’ Cake – Fitness guru Christina Haupert shares detailed workouts, delicious recipes, parenting advice, and secrets to staying healthy in this popular lifestyle blog.
Thistlewood Farm – KariAnne Wood shares DIT tips and a dose of country living in this beautiful home decor and design blog.
Austin Evans – with over a million subscribers, top tech reviewer Austin Evans is one of the foremost YouTubers in the tech and gaming space.
Hungry Runner Girl – marathoner and mother, Janae Jacobs is one of the top fitness and lifestyle bloggers.
Casey Neistat – the enigmatic YouTuber has collaborated with the world’s largest companies including Nike, Mercedes Benz, J. Crew, and Vogue.
Bethany Mota – at 19, Bethany is among YouTube’s first breakout superstars. She has been featured on the cover of Seventeen magazine, and is an investor in BeautyCon. Her videos regularly receive millions of views.
Devin Super Tramp – travel/adventure filmmaker, Devin Graham frequently shoots tourism videos on-location.
Cassey Ho – founder of Blogilates, arguably the most well-known fitness vlogger.
If you would like an in-depth, step-by-step guide that concretely outlines how to orchestrate and conceptualize a complete influencer marketing campaign, please check out our white paper here. Since 2011, Mediakix has strategized and executed several of campaigns listed above for Nordstrom, Castrol, Hallmark, Blue Apron, BirchBox, and many more.