It’s no secret that influencer marketing is everything when it comes to today’s most effective strategies for brand recognition and maintaining a strong digital presence (we even have an easy-to-use Influencer Onboarding Kit to prove it!). As big and small companies alike have come to utilize this powerful marketing tool, social media feeds across all platforms continue to be flooded more with brand-sponsored content.
In a digital world full of captions with “#ad” or “in partnership with,” it can become really confusing which influencers or brands to trust. Although the advent of influencer marketing initially fostered more familiarity and authenticity between brands and the consumer, the inundation of sponsored content, particularly from celebrities, has partially eroded those shifts in consumer culture.
Small businesses and up-and-coming influencers, however, are at an advantage. What makes small businesses and blossoming content creators so special are the stories and real-life experiences behind them, and the same goes for their PR and marketing strategies. Below are some ways that smaller businesses and influencers can remain true to their brands and to their audiences, as well as ways that consumers and social media users can identify businesses and influencers that they can trust.
Pros and Cons of Celebrity Endorsements
Celebrity endorsements are not new. In fact, brand deals are often a primary source of revenue for many celebrities. So, it should come as no surprise that celebrity endorsements and ambassadorships have entered the social media space as influencer marketing has taken off.
Household celebrity names such as Cardi B and Justin Bieber, to name a couple, have been known to use their personal social media platforms as part of their brand partnership deals, effectively blurring the lines between celebrity and influencer marketing. Celebrity endorsements — for companies that can afford them — are of course extremely attractive. They can help brands reach audiences that are not only large in size but also diverse in interest.
What is gained in magnitude and reach, however, is lost in the value of authenticity and relatability. No one expects A-list celebrities to be experts on product quality or consumer concerns, meaning their brand endorsements may be large in scale but are often lacking in substance or trustworthy content.
Social Media Influencers’ Expertise
Similar to small businesses, small-scale influencers occupy specific niches. Whether it’s fashion and beauty, health and wellness, food and drink, or other creative categories, up-and-coming influencers often stick to what they know in order to grow their followings. This makes influencers experts in their fields and reliable sources for their subscribers and followers.
Content creator Lucy Alston (or The Style Sponge, as her dedicated followers might better know her), for example, might fall under the category of “micro-influencers.” It’s hard to imagine that an influencer with over 18k Instagram followers would be considered “micro,” but compared to the celebrities who make multi-million brand deals, influencers like Lucy work on a much smaller, more intimate scale. Content creators in this category have dedicated their entire careers to testing out different products and brands and curating content that is specifically tailored to their audiences.
Influencers who follow this kind of content strategy are more primed to work with smaller businesses that have similar business philosophies. In Lucy’s case, the content creator has featured businesses on her social media like clean beauty and skincare brand Grown Alchemist, which has around 100k Instagram followers. Lucy’s partnership with Grown Alchemist is just one example of the compatibility between small businesses and small-scale social media influencers.
When you are signing on to work with a social media influencer to promote your business, you are also signing on to work with their followers. The benefit of working with social media influencers rather than celebrities is that they have often built a loyal and engaged following.
A survey conducted by Collective Bias showed that 30% of consumers would consider buying a product if it was sponsored by a social media influencer, while only 3% would be interested if that same product were promoted by a celebrity.
Consumers are used to seeing celebrities featured in ad campaigns and commercials, so there is not much of a difference when they see celebrities posting sponsored content on their social media platforms. Social media influencers, on the other hand, inspire active engagement from their followers that translates to more engagement for the businesses they are promoting.
In industries where the big guy almost always comes out on top, the benefits of small-scale social media marketing are both promising and inspiring. Small businesses and social media influencers can and should leverage their expertise and loyal followings to their advantage.