Social Media Influencers - Who Are They?

    March 30, 2019

    What or who is a social media influencer? A question that others may already have the answers too, but some may have just thought of asking it because of the viral posts that circulated in the past few days.

    Not everyone knows who they are and what they do and a trending post came to light about Siargao this week that made their role even more intriguing to others:
    • a Facebook post from a hotel who asked for help in declining ‘collaborations’ with Instagram influencers; and
    • an Instagram by a vlogger that went viral with claims that Siargao wouldn’t be famous if not for social media influencers. 
    There have been a lot of takes about this topic in the past few days. However, I’d still like to share my two cents on what influencer marketing is and how, when strategically used, help a brand reach its target market online. 

    Who are Social Media Influencers?

    I want to thoroughly discuss this point, mainly because I also missed some critical aspects when I was looking for local influencers, which I don't want you to miss out.

    So, sharing my thoughts also means I’m learning more about the topic which I firmly believe is an advantage for brands.

    Let’s answer the question, shall we?

    According to Fredberg (as cited in Glucksman 2017, 78), social media influencers are “third-party endorsers who shape an audience’s attitude through blogs, tweets, and use of the social media channels.”

    To put it simply, it’s defined as a person who can influence their audience using their social media channels. These individuals have built a community within their followers and can change the way they consume, what to consume, and what not to consume.

    Therefore, influencers are the doorway of brands to connect with their market; may it be existing or untapped markets. They interact and reach their audience in a personal manner that every average consumer can easily relate.

    How Do they Shape Consumer Purchasing Decisions?

    If you follow some of the influencers on Instagram or YouTube, you’d know that they don’t adhere to the standard form of promoting products.

    Instead, we see them using the products every day, tagging the brands on the clothes they’re wearing to the gym, or creating candid stories where they can incorporate the brands.

    Making Brands Relatable

    Influencers are people, and we follow them wherever they go. They are open and candid about their lives, and that’s what makes them great at what they do. They’re people who their audience resonates with, understands, and look up too.

    Therefore, if we see them incorporate a brand on their daily activities, the audience would also feel a relatable feeling towards the brand.

    Influencers know who their followers are and have a good grasp on what type of content their audience wants. Technically, if they use a product and one of their audience saw it in-store or online, they’ll recognize it.

    A “marketing the feeling” strategy where the audience will feel the same, good or bad, towards the brand as marketed by the influencers.

    Therefore, influencers help brands create connections to their audience by showing them that ‘hey, yes you can rock this top, too’ or ‘yes, you can be healthy by eating this!’

    Meaning, whatever the brand’s positioning is, influencers have their way persuading their audience to support the brand, too. That’s how powerful their influence on your market if you have the same target market.

    Relationship with Followers

    Social media channels allow direct communication between followers and influencers. Therefore, aside from advertising products, influencers also cultivate a relationship with their followers by conversing with them by commenting on their replies or, for example, using Instagram stories to get their opinion.

    Their audience feels that they are part of their lives and, with this, they build a relationship with the influencers. They create a feeling of belongingness in the community that influencer has established.

    This is a carefully planned approach by the majority of the most-paid influencers. Remember, they have to encourage the consumers to connect with the brand they are promoting and what better way to do it than to apply marketing strategies that work for their platform.

    Authenticity in the Online World

    Now, the question is how authentic influencers to their followers are? Another critical question to ask is, how can brands identify or assess whether or not the statistics that influencers show them are, indeed, true?

    Brands now understand the power of working with influencers to promote products or services. Nonetheless, it is critical that brands be able to assess authentic influencers through authentic reach and engagement.

    In a study conducted by Dinda Fahidla (2018) here are some things to avoid when looking for someone to promote your brand:
    • Always think of your target market first. Before reaching out to influencers, you should have a clear idea on who they embody, or they follow online. Remember, you may lose their trust if you work and promote with influencers whom the brand audience may consider as false or deceptive.
    • Do not focus on numbers. Make sure to work with people who have the same target market with your brand. Influencers should have a niche or expertise that aligns with your brand.
    • Before you decide to work with influencers, make sure to follow and engage with them, too. Get acquainted on the type of content they create, their online branding, and even how to interact with their followers. 
    • Lastly, as brands, ensure that influencers share honest content about your product and services. Encourage them to be reliable on what they love and don’t because, in the first place, that’s what they’re here for - to help your brand and reach the right market for you. Remember, honest opinions shared online are more effective than restrictive content. 

    Honestly, just like what I always end up saying, there is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to digital marketing. It’s essential for brands to identify strategies that are effective to them.

    Don’t limit yourself with influencers, followers, and likes. Build your community, influence your current audience, and reach your potential market with the help of others, too.

    Simplify your approach and be genuine with your audience. Always remember that the primary influence why people should love your brand is because they genuinely believe in you.

    What do you think about social media influencers? Share your thoughts below, I'd love to hear them.

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