For the latest authoritative marketing news, trends, and stats on social media stars and influencer marketing, subscribe to our industry digest newsletter!
75% of marketers said they partnered with a social media influencer in 2015, and an estimated 84% of brands are expected to employ an influencer marketing strategy in 2016 (Adweek). As the trend of collaborating with social media stars progresses and evolves with each new technological advancement and social media iteration, it’s worth exploring the reasons why people gravitate to, identify with, and take advice from today’s top social media influencers, and what the popularity of social media stars can tell us about the state of marketing today.
According to Social Media Today, the popularity of social media in our society comes down to a basic human desire to connect with others and to be part of a community. Social media platforms, which allow people to interact in a digital space rather than a physical one, are redefining what it means to be part of a community, and social media stars represent the nexus for this new type of social and cultural infrastructure.
By expressing the collective values of young people (like Millennials) and addressing the issues facing today’s youth, social media influencers provide a voice and a cohesive force for a generation that often feels displaced or separated from traditional forms of community and conventional social groups.
Not only do social media stars speak for their audiences, they also engage in actual dialogue with them. Social engagement, in fact, is one of the most important factors brands should consider when looking for a social media star to collaborate with, and the most successful social media influencers spend time facilitating conversations with their followers through YouTube and Instagram comments, tweets, and blog post threads.
To capitalize on engaged social media audiences, it’s important for brands to realize that social media platforms and digital influencers are not simply vehicles to distribute a brand’s message – they are actual communities with special sets of norms, values, and ways of communicating. Campaigns are most successful when companies recognize what makes every social community’s unique culture and niche interests.
In an article published by The Guardian, Nathan McDonald, co-founder of We Are Social, says that authenticity is one of the reasons why social media stars are so impactful and why social media marketing campaigns typically enjoy high rates of success. Audiences feel a genuine connection with the social media stars they follow, and part of the reason for their trust stems from the raw, authentic, unedited nature of social media platforms like Snapchat and Vine. See how DJ Khaled has leveraged his authenticity to amass a huge following on Snapchat here.
For marketers looking to partner with social media stars, it’s important that campaigns avoid compromising an Instagrammer, YouTuber, or Snapchatter’s authenticity. Violating the trust of a digital influencer’s audience, either by failing to appropriately label sponsored content or asking the influencer to do or say something out of character, may jeopardize the success of a campaign and damage a social media star’s reputation.
Unlike mainstream celebrities that make appearances weekly, monthly, or sometimes not at all, social media stars are constantly updating their channels with fresh content and dialogue. Because digital influencers post often, followers are constantly checking stars’ channels to see their latest video, Instagram photo, or Snapchat Story. This “Fear Of Missing Out” results in increased levels of engagement, and marketers can take advantage of digital stars’ attentive audiences by creating brand sponsored content or asking a social media star to do a Snapchat Takeover on their brand channel.