How do influencers help brands? Well, be it influencers, advocates, or ambassadors, brands are trying to get people to speak for them. Why? Today’s audiences are more skeptical about official brand messaging and ads, but they will trust the people they know.
What Influencers Do
Influencers help shape how audiences view a brand, product, service, issue or anything else of audience interest. However, brands are interested in influencers for their ability to evoke or bring about audience action. For example, encouraging people to buy a product.
Influencers build their capacity by growing their own audiences. They do it by solving problems, providing entertainment, or offering something else of value. These days, everyone is probably following an influencer of some kind, from YouTubers to thought leaders on LinkedIn.
A few years ago, we typically associated influencers with celebrities and other big personalities. But today, audiences value trust and authenticity the most. This actually positions regular folks like employees and customers as the strongest influencers today.
Why Influencers are Important
For audiences, influencers can be an authentic voice. Audiences trust what other people say more than brands.
For example, someone interested in applying to a company will check out its employees. They’ll look for how those employees feel about the company and their experiences. If that person likes what they see, they may apply to that company.
For brands, influencers are a way to reach audiences who are skeptical of ads and official brand messaging. In turn, brands have to lean on more authentic voices to speak on their behalf – i.e. employees and customers.
Moreover, influencers also have larger networks, which lets them reach more people than official brand accounts.
How Influencers Affect Consumer Behavior
Consumers and decision-makers can see influencers as authentic voices. But there’s a serious caveat. Relatability, trust, and natural interactions are key.
In other words, you can’t simply recruit someone with a large audience to promote your brand. That strategy may work at some level, but you’ll run into a wall eventually. If something seems manufactured, people will pick up on it.
The key is to spur the people your audience trusts to advocate for your brand. For example, in B2B, a customer who leaves a detailed review is a powerful force. It gives B2B decision-makers a clear idea of what to expect of your product and company from a peer they already trust.
Are Influencers Really Worth the Money?
Yes, but only if you build the right strategy.
The key to unlocking the benefits of influencers is to motivate people to advocate for your brand because they genuinely want to.
To achieve this, you’ll need to work through a few layers.
First, you need a great core element. For example, a great product, excellent customer service, strong employee experiences, and so on. These need to be things people like and would want to talk about and promote.
Second, motivate your target influencers or advocates to talk about these things with their audiences. For example, invest in strong internal marketing to inform and engage employees. Likewise, invest in customer marketing work to engage your users to think about your brand.
Third, build a program that mobilizes your influencers to advocate for your brand. You can tap into an entire system to rally employees (i.e. employee advocacy) and customers (i.e. customer advocacy) alike.