Sales & Marketing

Why businesses need influencer marketing to survive in the future

10 min read

26 November 2018

Reporter, Real Business

These young entrepreneurs warn us that businesses who fail to engage with influencers won't survive in a future based on Gen Z audiences, and their thirst for reactive content.

Thought that the bright and shiny world of influencers and influencer marketing wasn’t the right fit for your business? Well, you thought wrong. But we don’t blame you for making this mistake.

After all, if your business offers more ‘traditional’ goods or services, you may have thought, ‘but why WOULD my business need the assistance of a trendy young social media star’?

But before dismissing the idea of influencers, think about what your business needs to survive and grow. For example, you need to have an ‘in-demand’ product or service to sell, and you need to make sure that your buyers want to keep buying that product or service in the future.

So let’s start by figuring out just what influencers are, because once you know what they stand for, you can see how they can become useful tools for boosting your business sales and consumer engagement online.

Read more about what influencers are below, or skip right to how and why you should be using them to boost your business, whatever industry you’re in…

What are influencers?

The clue’s in the name, being an influencer means that you need to be able to represent something. In turn, their followers are people who are influenced by whatever that influencer represents through their online presence and associated content.

So who exactly ARE these influencers? Well according to one panellist, and founder of Abstract PR, Am Golhar, there are an estimated “1.1 million influencers in the world.”

But how do businesses separate the useful influencers from the duds?

Find the right influencer for you

“Out of this vast number of influencers, there are businesses that fake their number of influencers. But there are also legitimate influencers that can add real value to a brand. It’s one thing looking at an influencer with a huge following, but what are they promoting and can it add value to your business? These are the questions you need to ask yourself first.”

According to Golhar, if a business is looking to try out the services of an influencer, they should look for one with a concentrated following as opposed to one who simply has a large following, but why?

“If you’re a UK based business, it’s better to look for an influencer with a smaller following but whose main audience is in the UK, as there’s no point going for a global influencer whose main audience is in the US if you’re a UK based SME.”

What makes influencers influential?

It’s all about the content they create, that’s what makes, or what should make influencers truly influential when it comes to boosting businesses.

Here’s what the second panellist and founder of UK influencer marketing company, Influencer’s Ben Jeffries, had to say on the subject…

“I prefer calling influencers influential content creators. They are influential because of the content they create, and attached to this is the level of user engagement, and the greater impact their content creates over the number of followers they have”.

According to Jeffries, it’s all about what level of impact your intended influencer has over a certain segment of the market, and if that segment of the market is useful to your business…

How businesses can leverage influencers to boost sales

CEO and founder of youth clothing brand Ratchet, Dhillan Bhardwaj, gives his two-cents on how retailers can best use influencers to their advantage:

“An estimated 2.96 billion people use social media around the world, any business worth their salt needs to tap into that.” – Dhillan Bhardwaj, Ratchet clothing

“It’s about the value and quality of the influencer and not just how many followers they have,” says Bhardwaj, echoing Jeffries’ earlier sentiments…

“You need to ensure that they stimulate active and regular engagement, and this includes things such as likes, comments and reshares online. Avoid getting seduced by influencers with large numbers of followers, there’s been a lot of coverage about influencers buying followers, so prioritise assessing the levels of active engagement they have with users instead.”

“It’s not possible for ANY brand to be successful in the future without social media” –Dhillan Bhardwaj

What’s your KPI?

Before your business collaborates with an influencer, you need to take the time to figure out what your end game is, do you want to boost your brand awareness, or do you want to drive clicks and sales? Depending on what your ultimate goal for using an influencer is, you then need to look at the four different types of influencers you can opt for, and decide which type is the right fit for your business…

 

These different types of influencers each have their own benefits and disadvantages, so choose wisely, says Jeffries:

“For example, hero and macro influencers are great for giving brand awareness and name affinity to a business because their audiences are so vast. However, you need to look at their audience and relate it to the outreach of your own business.”

“For example, it’s better to go for smaller influencer with a more concentrated audience and CPM (cost per mile) if you’re a smaller business too, as you’ll get a much more effective KPI driven campaign as a result.”

Do your research into the influencer

Youtube entrepreneur and podcast specialist Lauren Tickner says you need to put the time and effort into wooing influencers. This starts, she says, with doing your research on that individual influencer before you approach them:

“Avoid doing a copy and paste job when making contact with influencers, as that will turn them right off. If you find a great influencer, do some research into their content. For example, check out their youtube videos and see what they’ve been talking about.”

“Comment on the pieces of information your business found interesting and say why you liked it. This will make an influencer feel cared about and valued and will make them more likely to give you a better rate for their content.”

“Linked to this initial research is finding out who your customers are following online, whatever influencers they are following are the influencers that you should be making contact with.” – Lauren Tickner

Why it’s important for businesses to leverage influencers

In short, these influencers have spent years building up their audiences, this means they have established great amounts of trust with their followers. And if your research suggests that these followers are your ideal clients for your business, then why wouldn’t you want to use them, says Jeffries:

“It’s marketing 101, it’s about advertising your goods and services to people, but in a place where their main attention is.”

“People spend about 8 hours a week on social media on average. That’s a huge amount of our collective attention and businesses need to tap into that,” he continues.

Gen Z love influencers and they’re your future consumers

According to facts pulled up by the entire panel, about 71% of Gen Z’s digital users have a close relationship with at least one influencer.

This means that they have built up high levels of trust with these influencers and as a result are more likely to believe in the value of the goods and services that they recommend.

Furthermore, Gen Z are much more ‘reactive’ digital users than previous generations, they love youtube and watch content on this platform at much higher rates. This means that when influencers recommend goods and services on platforms such as Youtube, Facebook or Instagram, they’re more likely to be responsive, says vlogging specialist Tickner.

“Businesses need to transition into social media platforms such as LinkedIn Facebook and Instagram if they haven’t done so already.”

“They need to engage with these platforms, as this will be the way that businesses engage with the next generation of consumers. Without doing this, businesses can’t hope to grow and accelerate in the future.”