There’s an on-going debate in the ecommerce world right now regarding social media influencers (yes, that’s me) and their efficacy. One side views influencers as essential marketing tools for reaching, retaining, and motivating potential shoppers. The opposition sees them as an ineffective and costly marketing fad.
So, are influencers worthwhile for your ecommerce business?
Let’s find out.
Social Media Influencers 101
Social media influencers are popular personalities commanding a dedicated audience, through which brands can promote themselves.
Consider this – ecommerce entrepreneurs selling electronics online would do well to partner with techies and electronics enthusiasts on YouTube. These folks can provide reviews or promos of your products, thus allowing you to tap into their audiences. The hope is the relationship will empower your brand to grow its customer base.
What’s the Downside?
Now that we have reviewed the concept, it’s important to point out the alleged cons of influencer marketing.
- Influencer marketing makes your brand appear spammy or low class.
- Influencer marketing is too costly to derive any reasonable benefit.
- The benefits are hard to track, if there are any at all.
- You risk opening yourself to controversies stemming from the influencers with which you associate.
We will address each of these criticisms below, but it’s important to point out these critiques are valid – if the campaign is executed poorly. For example, partnering with too many social media big wigs could leave you appearing spammy. If you choose someone known for their controversial humor, you shouldn’t be surprised if the reaction to an off-color comment hits your brand in the backlash.
In other words, you must know what you are doing before you do it.
Getting the Most Out of Your Influencers
If you want to get the most out of your influencers, you need to develop a marketing strategy that works for your e-store, the third-party influencer, and your customers. This can come in many forms.
For example, if your electronics retail brand is trying to sell computers to tech junkies, it wouldn’t make sense to employ an influencer specializing in cosmetics and makeup tutorials. Sure, they might have 600,000 followers, but if the voice doesn’t match your offerings (or your shoppers’ habits), it’s a complete waste of time.
In other words, you need to research the influencers to see if they’ll be a good fit for your brand. A popular tech guru on YouTube might be a good connection for your e-store. But if they simultaneously operate a political page on Facebook, you could be courting controversies you’d rather not handle. The key here is to determine a brand identity and ensure a coherent and logical continuum through your social media influencers.
For these reasons (and others), many ecommerce entrepreneurs are preferring to work with micro-influencers. A micro-influencer generally holds between 1,000 and 100,000 followers; many of whom are highly engaged. Studies show 82 percent of people are likely to follow the recommendations of micro-influencers.
You don’t need a massive audience to win big, just an engaged one.
Another benefit of micro-influencers is these folks are more likely to work with your brand pro-bono than mega-influencers who usually want a cash payout. Smaller social media personalities will often trade “promo for promo” or are happy to promote your brand in exchange for free merch to test. Don’t be too pushy in your messaging requirements. These influencers understand their audience better than you ever could. Let them speak to their followers on your behalf.
Finally, it’s easy to track the efficacy of social marketing programs by giving specialized URLs or unique coupon codes to your influencers. You can then track referrals to see which influencers are driving the greatest growth for your brands.
Yes, social media influencers are worthwhile for your ecommerce business. But like any other marketing tool or program, they need to be leveraged in a strategic and intelligent manner.