According to studies conducted by Tomoson, “marketers rank influencer marketing as their fastest-growing online customer-acquisition channel, outpacing organic search and email marketing.”
But what is influencer marketing, and why is it so effective?
We like the way Semrush defines it:
“This marketing method involves getting influential people to sway consumers to choosing your brand and making a purchase. It’s somewhat similar to word-of-mouth marketing because they both make use of explicit recommendations, but influencer marketing doesn’t strictly rely on this tactic.
Any individual, group, or brand can be an influencer as long as they have the ability to influence people’s purchase decisions. Influencers could be anyone from famous celebrities to popular bloggers and existing company customers.”
A Look at Influencer Marketing In The Past…Yes, It’s Been Around For A While
While the term “influencer marketing” may be fairly recent, it’s a concept that’s actually been around for years. One of the most notable examples of influencer marketing in the 1950’s, for example, was the use of Liberace’s insane popularity in persuading consumers to purchase products and services from sponsors.
After Liberace announced on national television that anyone who opened a savings account at Citizens National Trust and Savings Bank (with a minimum of $10), would receive one of his records free of charge, the bank generated $600,000 in new accounts within three months. Liberace’s influence was so powerful, that when he advertised canned crab meat on his show, the manufacturer sold out of its entire supply almost immediately, even in areas where fresh crab meat was readily available (Source: Liberace, by Isabelle Alston).
Liberace himself understood the power of influence and frequently used the principle to keep his shows fresh and exciting, according to author, Isabelle Alston. On one occasion, the musician noticed a nun in the audience and brought her on stage to kneel and pray while he played “Ave Maria” on the piano. What effect do you think that had on the audience, the popularity of the show, and the song itself?
A Look At Influencer Marketing Now
Of course, the face of influencer marketing looks a lot different than it did in the 1950’s, or even in the 1990’s. In fact, the emergence and growing popularity of social media has had a lot to do with that.
Today, brands like Skinnymint are leveraging the power of social media with celebrity influencers such as Kylie Jenner and Vanessa Hudgens. After the celebrities posted their experiences with tea-tox diets via Instagram, it became a huge hit and the trend exploded all over the internet for the entire year of 2015, as cited by Referral Candy.
Recognizing an opportunity to capitalize on the popularity of celebrity influencers, Skinnymint shipped their products to famous ‘fitness gurus’ and models who post health and fitness related topics on Instagram. Needless to say, Skinnymint became associated with the two topics—as well as the influencers—almost immediately. Not only did they increase brand awareness and credibility, their Instagram account saw a marked increase in popularity as well.
Source: Referral Candy
“As the world has shifted to social media, consumers look at fellow consumers to inform their purchasing decisions. Instead of looking at companies, as they did in the past, they now look at each other and at their favorite personalities, who are consolidating massive followings on YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat, Pinterest, and other platforms.”
Source: Social Times.
Social Times points out that influencer marketing “opens up a new channel for brands to connect with consumers more directly, more organically, and at scale. By creating branded content with social media influencers, brands can amplify their message while seducing their target audience.”
Few things are more effective at “seducing” consumers and driving sales than word of mouth endorsements, suggests Social Times, a point they back up with statistics from a McKinsey study which states that “marketing-induced consumer-to-consumer word of mouth generates more than twice the sales of paid advertising.” The same study also discovered that customers acquired through word-of-mouth had a 37% higher retention rate.
The Time to Leverage the Power of Influencer Marketing is Now
While influencer marketing has been around for years, social media has expanded opportunities for brands to capitalize on the power of word-of-mouth marketing using the prestige and popularity of persons that consumers connect with, follow, and respect.
In today’s competitive social advertising arena, marketers are recognizing the value of word-of-mouth testimonials in increasing brand awareness and authenticity, as well as driving sales, and retaining customers. And because social influencers already have audiences that marketers can potentially acquire, there is less time and money spent on researching target audiences.
Influencer Marketing isn’t going away. If anything, it will grow and adapt as social media continues to evolve and flourish. Liberace may not be around anymore, but there are plenty of other social influencers out there who can help you create brand awareness, “seduce” consumers with your products and services, and drive sales.