Brands generally find influencers to promote them on social media. But influencer content doesn’t need to be limited to that. You can use it in your other channels to add an element of social proof to your user experience.
Social proof and the role influencers play in it
Social proof is when people who are unsure of how to act in a specific situation copy the behavior of others. It was coined by Robert Cialdini in his book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion.
Social proof affects us all the time, whether we’re conscious of it or not. We assume that unfamiliar restaurants must be good if they’re full of people eating. And when friends recommend something, whether it be a new film or a doctor they used, we’re more likely to give it a go than if we’d simply seen it in passing.
So where do influencers fit in social proof? Well, it’s important to know that consumers trust influencers more than brands: 61% are likely to trust a recommendation from family, friends, and influencers, while only 38% are likely to trust brands.
Influencers, and the content they create, offer ways to inject your brand with social proof. Their content provides consumers with a perspective on your brand that comes from outside your company. For consumers, this content is more relatable, more authentic and therefore, more trustworthy.
This being said, if you want influencer content to resonate with your target audience, you have to find the right influencer for your brand.
Finding the right influencers for your brand
In order for content to provide social proof to your audience, the influencer who creates it must align with your brand. This means that the connection between your brand and the influencer makes sense to others.
For example, it makes sense that a vegan influencer would be interested in trying out products from a new company that makes plant-based ice cream.
When reviewing influencers for collaborations, think about the following questions:
- Does their content logically mesh with my products or services?
- Does the influencer uphold my brand’s values?
- Is their voice and aesthetic style capable of transmitting my brand’s message?
It’s important here to understand your buyer personas so that you can choose influencers who can speak to them. If your target audience is between the ages of 35-45, for instance, you want to find an influencer who can communicate effectively with that age range.
Further, if your brand makes a point to commit to certain values, find influencers who share those. If your brand makes certain promises, but then doesn’t uphold them, consumers will notice. For instance, if you’re a proponent of racial diversity, your influencer selection should show that. Otherwise, you risk getting called out for saying one thing and doing another.
Finally, there are some performance metrics to evaluate to help you detect and avoid fake influencers. You’ll want to look at follower growth, engagement rate, audience demographics and audience authenticity to check that an influencer has a real, engaged audience and not a ton of bot followers.
Even if you’re just working with influencers for content production, you might as well take advantage of the relationship and have them post about your brand on their social channels. And if they have fake audiences, you’ll miss an opportunity to get some branding, sales or web traffic out of the social media side of the deal.
To analyze these metrics, you’ll have to either ask influencers for their media kits, subscribe to an influencer marketing platform, or hire an agency to discover and vet influencers for you.
Once you’ve identified influencers that fit the bill, it’s time to reach out and negotiate the content, incentive and publishing guidelines.
Negotiating content, incentive and publishing guidelines
When negotiating content and incentive with influencers, keep a few things in mind:
- Influencers’ fees generally increase as their number of followers does
- Certain types of content cost more than others (For example, an ephemeral Instagram story is cheaper than a post)
- You can work free products/services in as part of the compensation package
To get off on the right foot with influencer negotiations, make your first proposal as attractive as possible. Reach out to them, explain what you’re interested in, what you can offer, and why you think the influencer is the right fit for your brand.
Also, before you reach out, consider where you’ll want to republish this content so you have an idea of what media format you want. Do you want photos? Short-form videos? Long-form? Text?
And as part of the negotiations, make sure you get the okay from the influencer to republish their content on your own social media accounts and elsewhere.
Monitor and collect influencer content
As influencers start to publish their content, you have to keep track of collecting it. If possible, have the influencers send you hi-res versions of their work, so that you’re not limited later on with respect to sizing and formatting.
For campaigns that include many influencers, you may want to get a campaign monitoring software. This type of tool lets you plug in influencer handles and certain hashtags, and then tracks all the media related to those. The platform shows you data relevant to the media, like impressions, as well as automatically save the content for you to view later on.
This means you don’t potentially miss any media. Further, data like impressions or engagements could help you decide which content to prioritize for including in other places. For example, maybe you want to upload the images that got the most likes to the product pages on your e-commerce for the items featured by the influencers.
Embed influencer-created content in your user experience
Finally, once you have your influencer-created content, you can start putting it in the places where it will count for your users. Depending on your brand and it’s products, that may be on your website, in your stores or physical locations, or wherever else you may be trying to show potential customers examples of social proof.
If you’re an e-commerce company, for example, a great place to repost this content is your product pages, as we said above. Alternatively, you could designate a section of your site as a “social shop”, as seen in the example of Swedish e-commerce retailer Bubbleroom below.
In Bubbleroom’s case, it’s an Instashop. The shop features content from Instagram influencers, which when clicked, shows consumers exactly what pieces the influencer is wearing from Bubbleroom’s collection. They can then navigate directly to the product pages for those items.
Or, as another example, if you’re a restaurant, you may want to upload influencer-shot photos of your food to your website or social media pages. This way, potential diners don’t only see studio-style photos, but rather pictures of how your food actually looks when it’s served to real people.
Now, your product might be less tangible than clothes or meals. Maybe you sell software, or some type of service. Influencers can still add valuable content to your user experience. Maybe you could have expert users do a tutorial about how easy it is to use a certain feature of your program. Or, they could record testimonials about what they liked from your service.
All of these examples have one thing in common: they serve to help the user feel more comfortable when making the decision to purchase your product or service. Remember the stat from the beginning of this article: consumers trust influencers more than they trust your brand. So leverage that in your favor.
Influencers are great for social media promotions, but they can serve your brand in other ways too. When you find the right ones, and you use them as freelance content creators for your own properties, you offer your users an experience that includes an opinion that doesn’t explicitly come from your brand. And this may help unsure consumers feel confident enough to take the final step and click purchase.