A study by Defy Media found that 60 percent of millennials say they are likely to purchase based on favorite YouTube personalities rather than from a famous television or big screen celebrity. But it’s not just the “Big M” generation that is reacting favorably to influencer marketing. Nearly half of consumers report discovering new products through favorite social media personalities every week, and 80 percent admit to purchasing based on the word of a micro-influencer. Once thought to be a quizzical phenomenon, influencer marketing is now deeply entrenched in the marketing strategies of both large and small brands. However, brands are not the only beneficiaries of this means of connecting marketers to buyers.
It’s important not to overlook that influencers, macro or micro, are themselves businesses that charge brands to attract consumer interest to a product that ultimately results in a purchase. Leading practitioners are generating impact on brands and taking enormous payments for services to the bank. Most influencers practice across multiple channels of social media, including; YouTube, Facebook, TikTok, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, and Pinterest, to name a few of the most notable. Often, creators start on one platform and continually expand onto other platforms to attract brands seeking additional market reach.
According to a recent survey by eMarketer, nearly 70% of influencers cited brand collaborations as the primary source of income. Relatively few reported that commissions from promo codes and affiliate links were a significant source of income. For influencers who are relying solely on Instagram as a source of revenue, a recent announcement from Instagram that it is developing a new suite of features and tools to assist influencers in making money is getting a lot of attention. The statements come after sustained criticism from influencers who were frustrated with the app’s casual attitude toward complaints about Instagram’s policies and confusing algorithm implementation.
Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook who owns Instagram, said to its influencers, “Our goal is to be the best platform for creators like you to make a living. And if you have an idea that you want to share with the world, you should be able to create it and get it out there easily and — across Facebook and Instagram — and then earn money for your work.” The company is also working on tools that allow influencers to sell products directly through social profiles and set up new shops via the app. The new devices may also help brands measure marketing efforts more accurately and generate a more reasonable return on investment (ROI).
For now, the new tools are only available to a limited number of brands and creators, but officials at Instagram say they will expand to more partners in the future. “In the coming months, we’ll begin testing a native affiliate tool that will allow creators to discover new products available on checkout, share them with their followers, and earn commissions for the purchases they drive — all within the Instagram app.”
Tweaking and adjusting will likely continue to perfect this critical marketing approach, not only at Instagram but with other social media channels. Regardless of the method, credibility, authenticity, and transparency will remain major factors that determine the continued viability of influencers’ future impact on consumers. Long-term relationships with brands, influencers, and audiences will only be achieved when confidence among all participants is reached.