Commerce Influencers Are a Powerful Force: 6 Brand Strategies for Doing It Right

vector of social media influencer likes

By Crystal Duncan, Senior Vice President, Partnership Marketing at Tinuiti.

Anyone who caught Amazon Prime Day this year couldn’t miss the thousands of social media influencers, according to this Fortune article, hawking products on their personal Amazon storefront and Instagram and TikTok accounts. But you don’t have to be a big box store or a splashy direct-to-consumer startup to work with commerce influencers.

Influencer marketing is set to surpass $4 billion this year because it works—really, really well as referenced here on Insider Intelligence. A recent study here on PR Newswire found that 37% of consumers trust social media influencers over brands, and 69% of marketers say their budgets for influencers represent a greater proportion of their overall marketing budgets now than pre-pandemic, according to this Takumi article.

But despite this success, too many brands still aren’t getting the most out of the influencers they are using—and many smaller brands are hanging back.

Here are some of the biggest do’s and don’ts for engaging ecommerce influencers and for getting your influencer strategy right:

Don’t choose an influencer just based on follower count. In the words of uber influencer Gary Vaynerchuk here on his own site, “Reach does not equal value and follower count doesn’t mean people are listening.” What really matters is influence. Micro and nano-influencers could potentially do more for your brand than someone with a huge reach, and the beauty of social media is that even small influencers can sometimes go viral, like the article about this woman on Narcity. Overall, you’ll see better performance or conversions from an influencer that is truly a brand fan. If an influencer has talked about a brand or a category in the past, you’ll see an audience with an appetite to take action. Choose the influencers (and platforms) who are the best fit for your brand.

Don’t use influencers to introduce, and sell, a brand new product. If an audience is learning about a product for the first time from an Influencer, it could be hard to get them to convert, especially depending upon the price and availability of the product. Instead, influencers should be a part of a larger marketing mix and if influencers are tasked with education and introducing a brand or product, where is the next touchpoint for the consumer?  What are the retargeting or remarketing strategies in place?  What other channels are supporting the messaging that Influencers have introduced?

Don’t art direct your influencers into creating an ad. For best results, let your influencers speak or create in their native format. If you try to jam too many brand messages and product benefits into the creative, everyone will be turned off. Let the influencers be themselves and do what they do best.  Remember, these Influencers have amassed followers for a reason, people are interested in what they have to say, so let them speak to their audience in a way that they know works – you will be happy with the outcome.

Don’t strand your influencers on an island. Influencer content should be part of a larger program, so when consumers see the messaging in multiple places it makes sense. If your influencer content is unrelated to all your other media, it will be confusing and limit recall.  Influencer Marketing has been a “bolt-on” tactic for too long. The move now is to continue building Influencer as a priority channel within media planning as a whole.

Do make it easy to see your content again. The best influencer campaigns use smart retargeting or remarketing strategies with influencers’ audiences. Once the audience has seen a product recommended by an influencer they’re already primed for additional touchpoints to close the deal.

Do start small (and then grow). You don’t need to stick with household names or usual suspects to start using influencers. In fact, those Influencers are often overexposed and expensive. You can approach an influencer directly or use an agency to engage them without spending a small fortune. When approaching influencers, show them you understand their audience and make sure you have a strategy and a process in place for measuring outcomes. This shows an appreciation for what they have to offer and sets realistic expectations for the relationship.

All this flexibility highlights the beauty of tapping influencers for your marketing: You’re not handcuffed by just one destination or one partner to attract a customer. You can find an influencer that works within your budget and helps achieve your goals. And you can grow your relationship and your business as they grow their influence. And that, as they say, is priceless.

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