We used to turn to friends or family for everything. From researching vacation ideas to the latest fashion trends for spring, we’d look to others for recommendations and trust an endorsement from our inner circle more than anything. But these days, we’ve come to trust a whole new crop of friends to help us make better purchase decisions. Friends we now fondly call “influencers.”

Influencers Can Be Your New Best Friends

PewDiePie- The World’s Top Influencer with 97.4 Million Followers Total.

Celebrities, bloggers, and social media personalities build a following over a long period of time by producing meticulously curated quality content to build trust from their audience. They’re relatable and their opinions become respected. They’re thought leaders who become experts, who drive engagement and results with credibility. And they have the power to amplify a brand with just one post, exponentially.

The Key to a Millennial’s Heart. And Wallet.

Zoella – a fashion and beauty blogger from England with 38.6 Million followers.

A whopping 6 out of 10 YouTube subscribers say they’d take advice from a favorite YouTuber on what to buy over the advice of a favorite celebrity. Which means that an endorsement for a makeup brand from YouTube star Zoella or a shout out from a former Bachelor contestant has the power to attract millions in both sales and advocacy.

 

The Best Way to Play (and Pay)

Conrad Benner’s StreetsDept.com, voted ‘Best Blogs for Travelers’ by The Guardian + ‘Most Influential Philadelphians’ by Philly Magazine, is a photo-blog that discovers art on the streets of Philadelphia. With 139k followers on Instagram, Streets Dept partners with many brands including:  3M, Timberland, Budweiser, Chevrolet, Uber, Urban Outfitters, Uniqlo, OpenTable, Honeygrow, NextFab, Saxbys, Covenant House PA, Mural Arts Philadelphia, Visit Philly and The Philadelphia Museum of Art. You can reach out to Conrad for special sponsorship opportunities through Koi-Fly Creative.

Sponsored posts provide a turn-key way for brands to work with influencers — bloggers in particular. By paying a blogger to publish about a brand on their own blog and in their own voice, you can supplement that influencer with all the important stuff and make sure your key points are articulated, too. Getting influencers to review products or give them away comes down to your credibility and negotiation technique because many are paid to stamp their approval on something before agreeing to talk about it. If an influencer wants to be paid in exchange for including your brand in a giveaway, recognize the work that goes into that promotion- he/she has to tease it, promote it, track responses, and pick a winner. All of this is a value to you and all of this is negotiable from the start.

 

What’s an Influencer?

Jenn Haskins- Jenn is only one half of this influencer duo; the other is her Shiba Inu, Rigby. A versatile influencer who has partnered with brands such as CVS, Clinique, Fossil and H&M to create fashion, beauty, and lifestyle content. Jenn has our human needs covered while Rigby is happy to taste-test Vita Bones and try out the latest BarkBox. The Hello Rigby Instagram is loaded with reviews of cool new products and pretty pictures in laid-back Seattle locales.

According to NeoReach, an influencer is “an individual with an online presence who has the potential to influence the opinions and behaviors of your target audience.” Because these folks, who are comprised of bloggers and social media personalities, build a following over a long period of time by producing interesting, quality content, people begin to trust them. They’re relatable, and their opinions are respected.

How do They/We Become Influencers?

Ruben and Rachel: This duo is the globetrotting power couple behind Gamintraveler, the travel blog and 107k  Instagram following that they built from the ground up. Their photos and written content have the authenticity social fans crave from micro-influencers.

Have you ever heard the phrase, You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with?’ Jim Rhon said it and it rings true in most cases. Savvy marketers know that one of the most effective ways to build an audience and create credibility is to collaborate with or become a relevant industry influencer. These influencers are considered thought leaders and experts in their fields who drive engagement and results with credibility. When your brand spends time with influencers it has a greater potential to get sticky.

 

The Super Power of Video

Lilly Singh  – The Canadian superstar is one of the most powerful women on the internet. Her self-deprecating humor has resulted in 29.2 Million followers.

When creating an influencer video, a YouTuber or Instagram star presents content in a creative wrapper that feels on brand with their own personality as well as the sponsoring brand’s overall positioning and aesthetic. This approach to sponsored content comes across as authentic and helps both the influencer and that brand connect in a relatable way with their similar target audience. The use of sponsored video nearly doubled between 2015 and 2016*, proving that brands are tapping into this approach to guide audiences through their marketing funnel, and finding endless new ways to connect with audiences on social media and engage them in a quick, captivating way.

 

Stay Relevant, Make News

Adidas is hip on the power of using micro-influencers in long-form video. This video series builds on the existing popularity of the Tango Squads, a network of hyper-connected football fans aged between 16 and 19 years living in 15 cities worldwide, who communicate with the brand via messaging apps like Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp. The squads are given exclusive access to Adidas football content, new product reveals and opportunities to work with its sponsored clubs and players. Then they share these experiences with their own followers online.

Video has the power to connect through tutorial or long form content. From sharing step by step instructions to offering a glimpse into how a product can be adapted to your lifestyle, snackable video or a web series works best when done well. Once you determine which video channels resonate most with your audience, you’ll need to upload fresh content frequently. The average American spends 5.6 hours each day on the Internet, so the more time you can dedicate to frequent video content, the more likely they are to pay attention and engage.

Lindsey a.k.a. The Motherchic – shares new posts from her blog giving style inspiration to the busy woman on the go. She has a following of 345,045 fans on Facebook and a resulting plethora of sponsored endorsements including CoverGirl, Kiehl’s, J.Crew, Nike, Nordstroms, Bare Minerals, ShopStyle, etc. You can reach out to Lindsey for special sponsorship opportunities through Koi-Fly Creative.

 

Set Expectations to Exceed Expectations

According to Instapage, By 2019, 80% of all internet traffic will be due to video content. While many brands are leveraging the use of video and competing for attention on social platforms like Snapchat, Instagram, and YouTube, we still all spend an incredible amount of time on Facebook. The social network is rivaling YouTube for video views, so make sure your brand is up­-to-­date on what’s trending and appealing to your Facebook audience. If you’re engaging a social media influencer on any level, understand their audience-following potential, make sure they have an affinity for your brand, and set key performance indicators the minute your negotiation begins.

So what else draws audiences to an influencer? More often than not, it is also his or her ability to provide high­ quality, actionable content. So if you are looking for a way to remain fresh in this noisy marketplace, and you feel like your brand could be bolstered by being showcased in an original way, influencers may hold the key to your kingdom.

 

*The 2017 State of the Creator Economy study (SOCE)

*Mary Meeker’s 2017 Internet Trends Report