How and Why to Connect with Social Influencers

Influencer marketing might seem like pie in the sky — after all, not every brand can get a big-name celebrity like Demi Lovato on board. However, there are ways for brands big and small to leverage the potential of influencer marketing. Social influencers represent a powerful way to reach target audiences with a voice they trust on a platform they use, and they don’t need to be A-list actresses or headlining musicians to drive real business results.

Today’s post explores why influencer marketing works and how to get started.

3 Reasons Why Influencer Marketing Works

On the surface, it may seem obvious why audiences follow the advice of influencers — they like them and consider their opinion as that of a friend (albeit not an actual friend). However, there’s a lot more behind why influencer marketing works.

1. It Feels More Authentic and Personal

Transparency is important to consumers, and they tend to look to sources they can trust outside of a brand in order to learn if the brand is worth their time. They prefer the authentic opinion of real people rather than a sales pitch, and the more audiences know and respect the person giving a review, the greater the impact their endorsement provides.

Example: Pharmaceutical company Duchesnay USA tapped a fan favorite reality star from The Bachelor and The Bachelorette, Emily Maynard Johnson, for its morning sickness medication, Diclegis. As a reality star, she was able to appeal to everyday, expectant mothers and provide genuine insights into her experiences with the medication.

2. ROI is Trackable

Influencer marketing is unique in that a company is not telling its own brand story; it’s entrusting its story to someone else that isn’t directly under their control. On the surface, that may seem like tracking a campaign is difficult, but measuring impact is possible when a social influencer is posting about or on behalf of your brand. Reporting statistics like post engagement and link click-throughs are just the start. Analytics programs (like Google Analytics) can help you gauge the traffic and conversions coming from influencer channels, in conjunction with trackable URLs and your own landing pages. You can also utilize branded hashtags combined with social listening to gauge the impact on brand awareness and perception.

Example: Earlier this year, Kellogg’s partnered with numerous influencers to reposition Special K as a healthy option by promoting proactive efforts to complete New Year’s resolutions. This allowed them to extend their reach to a much wider variety of audiences, and using the hashtag #FuelYourResolution provided a simple and effective way to track reach and engagement.

3. There Are Plenty of Options

Instagram may be the most popular social platform for influencers right now, but it’s not the only option. Finding the right influencer on the right channel to reach your audience is achievable, especially when you can embrace micro-influencers. Yes, brands can make a huge impact by leveraging influencers with relatively small audiences. That’s because it’s not about going viral — it’s about reaching your ideal customers with a message they can trust and act on.

Example: Snapchat is a channel known for its raw authenticity — and that makes for unscripted and extremely engaging moments. When Stride Gum gave DJ Khaled their Snapchat account for a day (he controlled the content for their official channel), they were able to associate their new “mad intense gum” with fun spontaneity. DJ Khaled is another well-known artist, but think about what your brand could do with a “local celebrity” or community name following a similar approach.

4 Guidelines to Get Started

It can be difficult relinquishing some control of your brand story, but that’s what lies at the heart of influencer marketing — authentic, real people taking the wheel. Keep these guidelines in mind when kickstarting your social influencer initiatives.

1. Examine Your Options

As mentioned, you don’t need to restrict yourself to Instagram or feel pressure to partner with an A-lister. In fact, it’s smart to think outside the box, and focus on the local voices your audience knows.

For instance, radio personalities are extremely influential with their audiences. Like social media influencers, they’re viewed more like friends than celebrities, and more than half of listeners are influenced by their favorite personality’s opinion. This influence can also continue after the on-air show is over, when the radio personality switches to social media or shows up at a live community event.

2. Make Sure it’s a Good Fit for Your Audience

Popularity is one thing, but the person with the most followers may not actually resonate with who you’re trying to reach. You need to select someone that matches your audience.

For instance, DJ Khaled promoting Special K might not have been the right fit for Kellogg’s audience or the brand itself. Similarly, Maynard Johnson would not have the personality to support the kind of madcap adventure necessary to attract Stride’s targeted audience. Just as you need to select the right station for your targeted audience to hear a radio ad, you need the right influencer to reach your intended customers. That means you need to commit to doing the appropriate research before making your selection.

3. Make Sure it’s a Good Fit for the Influencer, Too

While particular social influencers may be a brand-safe choice that caters to your audience, your brand might not make sense for them. The influencer or influencers you select need to be able to speak about your brand out of genuine experience. What’s more, it needs to make sense to the influencer’s audience for them to use your product or service. If it’s forced or scripted, it will not only undermine your results, it could also damage the trust between your brand and the audience.

4. Be Clear and Transparent

If you partner up and compensate social influencers, it needs to be clear that the endorsement is sponsored by your brand. For one thing, you want to maintain customers’ trust and ensure they don’t feel tricked about the influencer’s sincerity. For another, it’s required by the FTC.

However, it’s also very important that you’re clear with the influencer. You need to know what they’re expecting in return, and they need to know what (if any) compensation you’re willing to give them. A mutual decision needs to be reached before the campaign begins in order to avoid miscommunication and mistakes that may cost you in the long run.

Social influencers can provide an authentic, personable, and trackable opportunity for your brand to reach target audiences. Use the tips we’ve outlined above in order to start your influencer marketing off on the right foot.

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