In short, social media influencer marketing takes the best of two worlds and leverages them for great results. Marketers have been enjoying much success using one or more levels of influencers on social media, with between $2.3 to $8 billion in 2020 expected to be spent on influencer marketing on Instagram alone.
Although all social media sources, including YouTube, Twitter, and Pinterest are utilized, Instagram is by far the most popular platform for influencer marketing.
HOW MANY DIFFERENT TIERS ARE THERE?
Basically, there are three different tiers of social media influencers. At the top is the celebrity or mega-influencer. These are the famous people we know like actors, musicians and others with at least a million followers. Their appeal to marketers is in their sheer numbers but their engagement rate only averages between 2–5%.
While Instagram is by far the favored platform, the choice should also depend on demographics. According to Wax Marketing, eight out of 10 recognizable celebrities to teenagers are those with whom they identify on YouTube.
After mega come the macro-influencers, who average between 10,000 and a million followers. Besides being more affordable than celebrity influencers, marketers are also drawn to macros because they and their publics usually share the same interests.
Micro-influencers, with their 500 to 10,000 followers, make up the third level, They, like their followers, are generally more engaged than influencers in the other two tiers.
Baseball has its switch hitters, players who add value to their teams because they can bat from either side of the plate. Some influencers, like Italian model Chiara Ferragni do the same on social media. With more than 10 million followers on Instagram, she posts sponsored content there. But on her Twitter feed of 350,000 followers, Ferragni only posts personal stories.
THE OTHER SIDE
Social media influencer marketing is not immune to controversy. YouTube faced strong backlash after different posts, one of a dead body in a forest and another of racist and anti-Semitic remarks in 2017. A third incident involved celebrities, including influencer Kendall Jenner for failing to disclose that they were paid to endorse the Frye Festival. Federal Trade Commission requires transparency.
There have also been stories and investigations of some companies setting up fake influencers and then buying lists of fake followers. Instagram has thus far been unsuccessful in closing these sites.
The latest development is of virtual influencers. Lil Miquela was an Instagram robot model, artist and musician who amassed 1 million followers and endorsed products like Calvin Klein and Prada.
Marketers going forward with social media influencer marketing must consider several things, the first and most obvious is a budget. Two important factors in budgeting include the social media platform and the tier of influencer the brand wishes to collaborate with.
With a budget determined, approved and the above steps defined, the next critical step is identifying and recruiting an influencer. What’s increasingly important is finding one who truly embraces the brand. Influencer Marketing Hub predicts that the norm will be long-term influencer relationships and that influencers will produce more audio and video content.
Once an influencer is secured, agree on the frequency of posts and responsibilities, particularly around follower feedback. When will it become and what would make it necessary for the brand to respond to a follower instead of the influencer? Agree on a calendar with target dates to track and report on progress.