If this last year taught us anything, it is that no amount of planning or budgeting can account for the unprecedented. As we kick off the new year, digital marketers must continue to adapt their social media strategies in a world grappling with a global crisis, political unrest and an unknown economic future.
Within the past year, there has been a drastic shift in how brands communicate with their customers, largely as a result of the COVID pandemic. While brick and mortar locations shuttered and traditional in-person sales declined, e-commerce thrived as consumers turned to their smart phones, computers and tablets to place their grocery orders on Instacart, order household essentials on Amazon and more. With online sales as one of the main drivers of business growth, social media marketers will need to continually refine their strategies to reach millions of consumers across an ever-increasing number of digital mediums.
For the last decade, influencer marketing has been a successful strategy to drive awareness with key audiences, build trust and create customer loyalty. As businesses continue to focus on sales growth and demand ROI on marketing spend, the influencer marketing industry continues to evolve demonstrating that influencers can contribute at every phase of the consumer decision-making process.
Influencers are often associated with the awareness phase of the sales funnel, promoting product launches and largescale campaigns correlated to KPIS like reach and impressions. One of the biggest advantages to partnering with influencers is access to their followers. These audiences are typically made up of people who share similar demographics or interests, making them highly targetable.
A crucial component of influencer marketing is building relationships, evaluating backend analytics and selecting individuals with audiences who are aligned with your brand. Once this is established, marketers can reach their target audience directly, delivering tailored content to consumers who are actively seeking information, advice or inspiration from these influencers.
Taking into consideration that 52% of all online brand discovery still happens in public social feeds, it’s important to develop an influencer content strategy that will create the biggest impact. In addition to the well-established platforms like Facebook and YouTube, audiences on newer platforms like TikTok and Instagram Reels continue to increase, indicating that the social algorithm will continue to prioritize video content in 2021.
As brands continue to face mounting pressure from their online communities to be more authentic, marketers will need to continue to reformulate their content strategies, leaning away from sales-driven content to more purposeful content with deeper meaning. Selecting influencer partners who can assist with developing this authentic content will inspire consumer trust, drive broad awareness and ultimately push consumers into the consideration phase of the funnel.
The consideration phase is highly focused on repeated exposure. As customers are driven closer towards purchase, influencers can be activated as part of a mid-funnel strategy to generate engagement. Within this phase, there are a number of tactics that influencer marketers can execute to engage key audiences including long-term partnerships, interactive content, and retargeting.
In order to build consumer trust, consider shifting influencer programming away from one-off influencer posts and focusing in on developing ambassador programs. These multi-month programs offer consumers the chance to learn more about a product or service and envision how it could benefit them. Research has shown that people who are exposed to a product or service multiple times are much more likely to develop brand recognition and affinity.
Developing interactive content like Instagram Story polls or hosting co-branded giveaways with influencer partners is another unique way of bringing potential customers into the fold during this phase. In addition to driving followership on brand channels and encouraging user-generated content, these engagement tactics will get your audience excited about the brand or service, hopefully encouraging them to come back to learn more.
Knowing that the social media marketplace is becoming increasingly saturated, a successful influencer programming strategy will include retargeting those who recently engaged with branded influencer content. This is a key tactic in driving people down the funnel especially as 27% of internet users say they find new products and brands through paid social advertisements. Remind your prospective customers about your product or service and how it will benefit them to drive increased curiosity and awareness. Over the past year, consumer behavior has been wildly disrupted. Digital marketers must develop strategies to reinvigorate excitement about their brand or service in “the new normal.” Luckily, social media audiences are captivated like never before as they increasingly turn to social media to forge genuine connections and discover new products. Successful marketing strategies will not only look to influencers as drivers of engagement, but also as valuable brand partners who can provide insights on consumers through 1:1 interactions with their audiences and sampling opportunities.
Conversion: Swipe up… and shop!
Research shows that about 71% of consumers are more likely to make purchases based on social media referrals. While not necessarily peers, influencers are regarded as credible and trustworthy sources of information. With audiences primed for recommendations, these influencers can act as sales drivers influencing the final decision in the consumer buying process.
Activating influencers in the final phase of the funnel typically involves discount codes, digital coupons, coded swipe-up links or conversion ads. While creating unique discount codes for website sales is the most immediate way of tracking influencer ROI for sales, different tactics can be implemented to ladder up to specific brand goals. If you’re looking to increase foot traffic at a local retailer, influencers can activate their audiences to go in-store and purchase using digital coupons. If driving traffic to a website is a key priority, influencers can include coded swipe ups directing their audiences online.
When implemented correctly, influencer programming can guide consumers through an awareness-consideration-buying process ultimately producing brand loyal lifetime customers.
– Maggie Cereghino