Who are influencers and what do they do? Being an “influencer” isn’t really a job you can apply for. They’re people who have built huge followings, or very niche followings, on social media and can literally influence people’s opinions and purchasing decisions. They can get to a level where brands will pay them to showcase their brands or endorse them. Think of them as the modern day magazines!
Celebrities gain huge followings – Billie Eilish has 65.5 million followers on Instagram, and Kim Kardashian West a staggering 182m – however influencers are quite often ‘ordinary people’, who start up a channel based on their own specific interest, and gain followers who are also interested in that area.
Using their techniques, you can follow our useful guide to marketing yourself or your business just like an influencer.
WHAT CAN WE LEARN FROM INFLUENCERS?
An influencer has the power to affect the purchasing decisions of others, based on a relationship built on trust, through ongoing dialogue and engagement.
Just to put it into context, Coronation Street is the most watched soap on British TV, and attracts an average audience of 8 million in 2020. A YouTuber with 106 million subscribers is serving their content to 106 million people, ready for when they want to see it, and half hour episodes aren’t uncommon so it’s a fair comparison. That’s why digital advertising is becoming more and more important, over and above the traditional, and expensive, methods.
If you want people to notice you and follow you, it’s best to take a look at what they do. Here are some you may have heard of – or not!
Area of interest – Gaming
106 million subscribers on YouTube
PewDiePie, real name Felix Arvid Ulf Kjellberg, is a 30 year old Swedish YouTuber now living in Brighton, UK. He registered his channel in 2010, making him one of the longest serving of the new breed of celebrities. He has the highest number of subscribers on YouTube for an individual.
He started his content by filming himself playing video games and commenting along. He just did what he loved, and people found him natural and relatable – he’ll swear, get annoyed, he’s very ‘real’ and not polished, not being held within the constraints of TV broadcasting. In the early days he would upload a video every day.
He knows his audience – most of them are people like him, after all – and he pitches his content at them, not for ‘everyone’. His personality comes through in what he does. He also interacts with his audience live, something they appreciate. He doesn’t just broadcast out with no engagement.
Area of interest – Beauty videos
2.8 million subscribers on YouTube
Patricia Bright is from London, and started her YouTube channel while at university studying accounting and finance – to talk about her hobby, makeup, tutorials and styling. It was a niche area at the time but very targeted to her audience, who are now very loyal to her. Her bubbly personality makes it relatable and interesting.
After ten years, Patricia works on her various successful business ventures full time, has worked with brands including Amazon, Dior, and Coca-Cola, and employs several staff to manage her brand relationships and help her produce content. She’s also written a book, and runs a platform helping others to build businesses online.
Area of interest – Cleaning tips
3.6 million Instagram followers
Those of you who thought a blog about cleaning couldn’t possibly be of interest to anyone would be 3.6 million wrong, and that’s just on Instagram. Sophie Hinchcliffe, better known as Mrs Hinch, is a 30 year old from Essex with a very niche interest in cleaning. She describes herself as “just a normal girl who loves to clean her house”. Her house is certainly very very clean, and she shares methods, products and ways of working so you can achieve a wonderfully aspirational clean and tidy house just like hers, even though she has a baby, husband and dog to clean up after.
She only started her account in March 2018, and had over a million followers after the first 3 months. She makes cleaning fun and easy and is very relatable, gaining a very loyal following she calls her Hinch Army. She shops for bargains in Superdrug and Home Bargains just like they do.
Worth an estimated £1m, Mrs Hinch has been on Chris Evans, This Morning, is regularly interviewed in Hello, Heat and the newspapers, and has published 4 books.
The underlying success of these influencers in influencing purchasing decisions is a phenomenon known as Social Proof. The term was coined by Robert Cialdini in his 1984 book, Influence, so is nothing new but fits perfectly with influencers and why we follow them. Social proof means that you are more likely to trust a recommendation than you are to trust a direct sales message, to sum it up in a few words. If someone you know or trust recommends a product and says it really works, that’s proof for you and likely to make you respond more positively. If a restaurant has thousands of positive reviews on Tripadvisor, you’ll be confident in booking and expect a lovely meal and experience. If an advert says hey our product really works, well they would say that, wouldn’t they!
People will follow the actions of the masses
Consumers trust public opinion more than brands
Content from influencers earns more than 8 times the engagement rate of content shared directly from brands.
SO HOW CAN YOU MARKET JUST LIKE THEM?
#1 Consumers trust influencers
Peer recommendations are key. Give your content a personal touch, and invite comments, reviews, and interaction. Be real and have a personality, even if you’re writing as a brand.
#2 Influencers create quality content
Quality is important. Invest in some inexpensive equipment and make sure your output looks as good as it can within your budget. Perhaps you need a light for your YouTube videos, or a decent iPhone for your Instagram pictures. Also, be consistent. Don’t let standards fall – you can be quick in your replies, but take the time to plan out what you’re going to say in your content.
#3 Influencers prioritise personalisation
Make sure your posts are relatable. Mrs Hinch often shows her baby and her dog. The reason the influencers are so popular is because people relate to them, they feel they’re just like me, they face the same problems. Your brand or service is designed to solve the problem of someone, and many new potential customers. Don’t be too generic in the things you post. Make your audience feel like it’s written just for them.
#4 Authenticity is EVERYTHING
Show behind the scenes, the making of posts, not just the glossy finished product. That way people feel it’s real and have joined you on the journey. Things don’t always have to be perfect. Chrissy Teigen on Instagram shows the real side of her celebrity family life on a regular basis.
#5 The bond between brands and real life is crucial
Show your audience exactly how your brand, product or service will make an impact on their lives. What problem will you solve for them. How can you help them today, so that they will come back again for more useful content.
#6 Create fans – turn customers into advocates
Your customers like and appreciate what they purchased from you, right? You know this because you asked them and they told you. Share their experiences. Post your positive reviews and thank the person for taking the time out of their day. Don’t forget, this also gives you extra content! If you suit their needs exactly, they’ll grow to LOVE your brand. Sharing your posts means they like your content and they want their network to see it too. People recommend brands and services to each other all the time – all we’re doing is moving into their area and channeling that back through ourselves.
So get started. Create a presence. Decide on a personality based on what’s relatable to your audience, and true for you. Listen to your customers! They gave you money for a reason, and it’s very rarely because you have no competition. Speaking of which, check what they’re doing. If there’s something that works particularly well for them, it’ll probably work for you too.
Create a hashtag. Try some small giveaways to build users. Nurture your community and be prepared to invest time and effort into engaging them. Remember not to hard sell. Share other’s posts.
And finally, when you make it to the top, do give us a shout out for helping you along the way!