Social media influencers are proving to be a great asset to brands–large and small–and are likely here to stay. Marketers have grown accustomed to strategically partnering with content creators to reach new audience segments on social platforms like YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok. 2020 was a year that couldn’t possibly be predicted, and this mentality also applies to the world of social media. With TikTok dance trends and challenges and faces across cities joining together virtually to shine light through music during nation-wide lockdowns, social media introduced us to a bunch of unlikely influencers. In the last few weeks alone, we have been introduced to grandmas who cook, and witnessed WWII-era British Prime Minister Winston Churchill propel into headlines as an unlikely beauty influencer.
With changes in our society, it’s time for brands to adapt and bolster influencer rosters and social media strategies. Here are three actions brands can take to stand out from competitors, drive sales and engage with new audiences through influencer partnerships:
- It’s Okay to Be Different
Similar to the mysterious world of online dating, there’s no formula to success with influencer partnerships. It’s okay to make the first move and reach out to creators you’re interested in. It’s also important to know not every influencer you come across is going to be a fit, but there are diamonds in the rough. As a rule of thumb, if the influencer you’re targeting seems a bit too far away from your brand’s roots, it’s likely the creator’s audience isn’t a fit for yours either. However, if you’re planning on expanding your audience segment, it might be wise to stray away from your norm.
Through maintaining open dialogue with targeted influencers, you can collect feedback on the needs and wants of their followers. This valuable insight can lead to more impactful marketing efforts and help drive sales in new audience segments you previously hadn’t been targeting. Influencers are known for their power to motivate change and inspire action and can be the key to starting new trends to drive engagements, purchases and awareness within these groups.
- Enable and Encourage Creativity within Your Campaigns
Who could ever forget the iconic TikTok video of user Doggface208 skateboarding down a street drinking out of a bottle of Ocean Spray cranberry juice while playing Fleetwood Mac’s “Dreams”? This viral video not only elevated Doggface208, better known as Nathan Apodaca, as an influencer, it also created a soundtrack for juice he was drinking, lifting the brand to the top of consumers’ minds everywhere. Moments like these cannot be produced, and while there’s no real formula for what makes videos go viral, brands can focus less on trying to force viral content. Instead, they should focus on fostering their brand as one where consumers can openly and creatively express their voices and feature products they enjoy using in their own unique ways.
This means turning to the cooking grandmas and changemakers (i.e., dancers, actors, or other viral creators) of the world who on the surface appear to be the most unlikely of influencers. Collaborating with these authentic voices not only allows for more creativity, but also provides valuable insights into culture on apps like TikTok, Instagram and Snapchat. Put simply, these creators have a greater understanding of what silly, seemingly innocuous concepts can make their followers tick. They can help you strategize ways to get involved in trends which help position your brand for viral success.
- Look Closely at Your Audience Profile
Most brands are aware of who their primary consumers are, and likely have targeted marketing strategies to appeal to their audiences. Brands looking to revamp their strategies and expand their awareness footprint should explore the fringes of their traditional customer profiles in order to identify untapped customer segments. You’re likely to uncover other hidden sub sectors poised for growth. Through understanding and identifying these subgroups, organizations can strategically select influencers to make an impact with new audiences. When considering influencers, it’s important to remember quality is better than quantity. Target influencers with authentic voices that match your brand who receive high audience engagement.
Adapting your marketing strategy to reach new audiences means thinking outside of the box, and sometimes this means stepping out of your brand’s comfort zone. Through making moves in new consumer channels that spark conversations, you’re not only bolstering your brand’s recognition, but you’re also positioning yourself as a pioneer. However, don’t stray too far away from your roots or position yourself in a way that’s off-brand. It’s crucial to consult with the rest of your team to ensure goals and efforts to reach new audiences are aligned with your broader mission.
When trying new strategies, continuously evaluate and monitor engagement to ensure you’re making the most of the budget you’ve dedicated to these efforts. If the volume of likes, shares, comments, clicks and purchases isn’t on track with your goals and expectations or you receive negative feedback from customers, look for ways to adjust your approach sooner rather than later.
Taking a leap of faith with your brand can be scary, especially if you’re confident about your core audience segments. However, in a time filled with innovation and flexibility, brands willing to take chances on influencers they might not normally turn to could find this strategy quite effective. New faces keep content fresh, and authentic viral moments help establish stable customer relationships in an environment where pop culture blends with advertising. This approach creates genuine, impactful campaigns which will help improve brand awareness and drive sales.
Sarah Ware is Co-founder of Markerly, an influencer marketing technology partner and platform working with some of the largest consumer brands in the world.