On a 1950s poster, Elizabeth Taylor smiles sweetly next to a picture of Whitman’s Chocolates and the words, “He remembered … and any girl loves any man for that! Why don’t you?” In 1992, Cindy Crawford drinks a Pepsi during a Super Bowl commercial, sparking a decades-long fascination with both the drink and the model. In 2016, Taylor Swift runs on a treadmill while singing and dancing, demonstrating the motivating power of Apple Music.
Since before most of us can remember, the faces and voices of well-known celebrities have been used as a cornerstone of modern marketing. The newest step in this evolution, however, is marked by the introduction of social media to the landscape, creating a new persona known as the “social media influencer.” On Instagram especially, “influencers” are gaining more and more traction, creating a new and more accessible form of celebrity with a huge impact on their audience.
The sudden and meteoric rise of social media influencers is a testament to how savvy they are when it comes to building, sustaining and evolving their personal brands. Their reach alone is staggering proof of this: According to CBS News, fitness guru Amanda Cerny boasts 19.5 million followers on Instagram, while comedian Andrew Bachelor has 14.8 million followers on Instagram and 9.5 million on Facebook. Those are just two of thousands.
Their impact has marketers wondering, what are they doing that our company isn’t? Here are a few of the crucial traits of influencer brands that can help your marketing team:
Unity in branding. Social media influencers often build their audiences around a lifestyle or personal brand that portrays their audience’s aspirations. In order to convey that particular feeling or image, they carefully select their photos, captions and partnerships to reflect that brand. This approach requires you to have a thorough and clear vision of who you are and how you are presenting your brand to your audience, and using it can make you recognizable right away. In the same way you create your brand to be distinctive outside of the digital realm, you carry that uniform approach into your online presence.
Scheduling and consistency. Influencers who have a steady and growing audience understand that people rely on them to post consistently. Keeping up with a frequent and steady schedule for when they post each type of content allows their audience to build trust with them and return to check in when they expect new content to be added. For instance, influencers might upload a video reviewing a product every Monday, one answering viewers’ questions every Wednesday, and one documenting their week every Friday.
Collaboration. Influencers across social media platforms often come together for projects, combining their audiences and doubling their reach. It gives them a chance to cross industries, grow their audience and make even more connections. Consider teaming up with someone else in your industry or sponsoring someone else’s event to increase visibility and reliability.
Evolution. The most successful content creators on the web are those who keep up with trends and work to adapt to the latest and most exciting developments. This might mean adopting new platforms into your social media strategy, looking into augmented reality marketing options, or partnering with up-and-coming or cutting-edge companies.
Audience engagement. Social media influencers build their audience almost exclusively by connecting with people. You can do this by engaging in comments sections, starting giveaways, liking your followers’ posts.
All of these activities make you more accessible, relatable and present in your own online personality — ultimately helping you more clearly define your brand and your audience.