What Are Social Media Influencers and How Do I Find Them?

Social media influencer takes a selfie on a phone.

What Are Social Media Influencers and How Do I Find Them?

Despite cries from baby boomers about the “kids these days,” times are indeed a changin’. And it’s not just in housing prices and tuition costs—marketing is feeling the effects just as acutely.

It takes very little convincing to prove why social media is an integral part of any successful marketing campaign, but we’ll do it anyway. This roundup of social media marketing stats is chock-full of interesting information, but here are the very best:

  • 71% of consumers who have a positive experience with a brand on social media are likely to recommend that brand to their circle of influence
  • Facebook posts with images receive twice the amount of engagement as posts without
  • Social media marketing budgets are expected to double over the next five years
  • Influencer marketing posts will grow to 6.12 million by 2020

 

The Big Two

Social media thrives on two main concepts: authenticity (a sense of being genuine, reliable, or original) and reach (how many impressions a post will receive). Any good marketing campaign will capitalize on authentic, well-reaching posts, but more and more organizations are turning to the experts to make it effective. That’s where social media influencers come in.

Social media influencers didn’t really exist until Instagram arrived on the scene, but their reach and their (albiet) curated sense of authenticity make them an attractive marketing option for companies big and small.

We’re going to break down what influencer marketing is, how it works, and why you may want to consider it for your business—and help you get that “influencer” feel for your brand at the same time.

 

What Are Social Media Influencers?

Social media “influencers” are those with accounts that drive traffic and sales to a product or service based on their recommendations. Their ability to influence stems from an apparent personal relationship with their followers and a sense of authority in their respective marketing spaces.

There are generally two types of influencers: celebrity and micro. While they both perform the same essential function, the former has access to a large audience across multiple demographic sections, while the latter has a much more limited scope. These influencers are generally settled into a particular niche, like beauty, travel, or food. But there are also “lifestyle” influencers, whose brand may cut across large swaths of these sections.

 

Why Social Media Influencers Work

Despite the impressive stats about brand impressions through social media, consumers’ trust in brands has steadily been decreasing. Nearly half of social media users are likely to unfollow a brand if they feel they’re pushing their product too heavily.

Influencers provide a workaround. Influencers’ brands are often built around a sense of intimacy with their followers, with products strategically showcased in a way that feels natural. While consumers may not like it when a company markets itself too heavily, they’re more than happy to hear about a product from a friend—or a social media star who has created a sense of friendship through their digital empire.

Influencer marketing ROI is comparable or higher to most other marketing tactics, especially since this kind of marketing functions the way word of mouth used to. Consumers still trust friends or friend-like personas to tell them what to buy or where to invest, and social media influencers have a lot more “friends” than the average consumer.

As GroupHigh put it, “Using social media influencers in your marketing is the practice of building relationships with the people who can build relationships for you.” That sounds pretty great.

 

How Do I Find My Own Social Media Influencers?

Now that you understand why influencers are generally a good marketing tactic, you’ve got to figure out how to leverage them. There are few things you need to consider:

  • Identify what influential topics speak to your target buyers. This is similar to identifying your buyer’s persona, but allows a little more wiggle room than your traditional market research. Ask yourself, “What are my consumers interested in, both business-related an otherwise?” Are they typically highly-educated golfers? Avid watchers of The Bachelor? Cake decorating binge-watchers? Finding the intersection of your target audience and their social media interests is key.
  • Explore social media as one of your customers. Act as a proverbial Lewis and Clarke and discover the social media landscape your followers are most likely to see. Following hashtag trails, and review the follower lists of your brand as well as your competitors. See what pops up in your Discover feeds based on these interests to find the right influencers for your market.
  • Decide between an influencer partner or a content collaboration. You may want to pay for a single post, or offer influencers something of value from your product line or service options.
  • Start forming relationships as soon as you can. Begin following influencers on your company-branded social media platforms and engaging with them appropriately. Reach out to potential influencers via email or social media. Ask them if they would be interested in partnering with your brand for compensation.

But what about. . .

We figured you’d have a few more questions, so we’ve got answers to your most frequent ones right here.

How much should I pay a social media influencer?

Before you bid, calculate both your brand’s and the influencer’s typical conversion rates. This will allow you to determine the potential ROI for a collaboration. Bear in mind that each influencer will provide you with a different value. Your compensation should be relative to the probable outcomes. Focus on potential reach to determine fair compensation.

To determine your budget, think about what you would pay for content through a different medium, such as social PPC or to create a professional video. You should be willing to pay the same to receive similar results from an influencer.

Will social media influencers work for me?

Market research should be able to answer this one for you. See what and who your competitors are using to get a feel for the market. But at the end of the day, establishing symbiotic relationships with influencers in your market area is key.

Should I use celebrity influencers or micro-influencers?

Again, that depends. Are you looking to make a splash on a national or global level, or are you looking for results that hit a little closer to home? SEO can be a good way to start. If you’re campaigns are generally focused on local optimization, a micro influencer might be best.

Although micro-influencers have a significantly smaller social media following (as in tens of thousands rather than millions), they do have the ability to influence purchases and product promotion. Whereas celebrity influencers may have 250,000 followers and boast high impressions, they may not be able to make the same impact in your geographic market area as a micro influencer could. As you should already know from your own social media accounts, followers are not everything. What truly matters is engagement—comments, likes, shares, etc.

How much does an influencer cost?

Determining the cost of a sponsored post will depend on the type of influencer you select, as well as the industry But here are a few quick stats, courtesy of tinuiti.

  • Instagram Influencers: $1,000 per 100,000 followers
  • Snapchat Influencers: Starts at $500 per campaign in 24 hours
  • YouTube Influencers: Roughly $2,000 per 100,000 followers

But again, this isn’t a hard and fast rule. And like all social media strategies, the landscape shifts and shifts quickly. Prices will certainly fluctuate—and most likely grow—as the platforms themselves become more ubiquitous.

Does using social media influencers work?

The studies linked earlier in this article all point to the affirmative, but you should keep this in mind: tracking is essential. Whether you use tracking links or a particular hashtag, you’ll need to carefully monitor how your campaign is performing. This will help you determine if you’re marketing in the right industry, using the right influencer, and showcasing the right products.

Can I create my own social media influencers?

Absolutely. Brand advocates and social media influencers can happen naturally. Before investing in a large social media influence campaign, try implementing an employee advocacy program.

What is an employee advocacy program?

An employee advocacy program utilizes employees to promote new ideas or products. An employee advocate is someone who generates positive exposure and raises awareness for a brand through digital media or offline channels. Employees can do this by recommending the company’s products or services to friends or family members as well as through their own social media influence. Employee advocacy programs usually offer benefits or incentives to participating workers, so explore an option that works best for your culture.

 

Now what?

Social media influencers take word-of-mouth marketing to the next level. If you want to present your brand, products, or services in an authentic way to a larger audience, a social media influencer could be right for you. Make sure you choose the right influencer for your brand by considering factors like budget, target audience, and how long you want the relationship to last.

SEO can be a great way to get started. Boostability’s award-winning services can provide you with research about your target audience and ways to reach them, ensuring you’re getting found online in all the right places before you expand your reach with the help of an influencer. Check out this page to get started.

Madeline Thatcher
[email protected]

Madeline works as the content specialist for Boostability's marketing team. When she’s not at the office, reading her ever-growing stack of library books, or watching NBC sitcoms, Madeline loves to act in local film and theater productions, as well as travel and try new restaurants, with a goal of finding the best donut in whatever city she’s in.