Unleashing the power of influencers has become popular among marketers – and for good reason. Social media has provided us with the ability to connect and engage with our audience, but having an influencer in your corner can broaden those connections exponentially. The enhanced reach comes with enhanced relevance. Influencers are providing their – and, potentially, your – audience with authentic, relevant content. When your brand meshes with that content or with its creator, the audience appeal is instant.

What are influencers?

The fundamental formula of using an influencer to endorse a product, service, or brand isn’t new. Check out any reel of classic ads and you’re bound to see a number of celebrity endorsements. The options and methods began to grow along with our entertainment and communication options. As cable TV evolved into more specialty channels, audiences could find the cooks, home-reno experts, income-property flippers, and fitness gurus they related to. Now the field has expanded further and become much more real.

Still, the traditional celebrity influencers remain – and, likely, always will. There is undeniable power in having a big-screen star or superstar athlete interacting with and endorsing your product. Where the evolution has really occurred is among the self-made influencers. Through their own expertise, style, and work, these individuals have found their niche and grown their audiences. Think of your local restaurant blogger. With consistent, informative, and insightful posts, their audience grows and they become a go-to source when determining the next restaurant to check out. The same goes for those looking to pull the most epic prank on their roommate, remix and layer music tracks, or learn ridiculous ways to put the puck in the net.

Influencers can help you get popular faster.

Every brand wants to grow their followers. A strong audience pays dividends in a couple very obvious ways. First, it’s an efficient pipeline to your target market. Getting your product or service in front of an audience that wants to hear from you can result in sales conversions. There are plenty of tactics – and just as many variables – that go into generating sales from your followers. At the very least, they’ve expressed interest in hearing what you have to offer. Plus, the snowball effect can occur when follower growth achieves some momentum. Now you have more people sharing your content which, theoretically, increases your followers. This is where influencers can be invaluable. Weaving your brand within content shared to their own followers, by sheer numbers, can give you a significant boost.

The right influencer for your brand will have a similar audience. Having User Personas (a personification of your customer base) on hand can be helpful when determining how aligned an influencer’s audience is with your audience. Getting in front of a few thousand people with similar demographics and interests can reap plenty of rewards.

That’s great, but does it work?

The influencer-marketing category has become a $13 billion dollar industry. As successful outcomes mount, the momentum will continue as more and more marketers jump on board. The numbers that support influencer marketing are dramatic to say the least:

86% of women use social media for purchasing advice.

Influencer marketing campaigns earn $5.78 for every dollar spent.

40% of Twitter users made a purchase based on an influencer recommendation.

Over 90% of consumers engage influencers on a weekly basis on Instagram, YouTube, TikTok, and Snapchat.

Whether you’re at the helm of a national brand, or you’re trying to make some audience inroads with a start up, including influencers in your strategy is well worth investigating. Don’t let a limited budget get in the way, either. The range of influencers out there is vast – from niche, “nano-influencers” with under 5,000 followers, to the big players – and costs will range accordingly. It is worth noting, though, that, according to Shopify.ca, the nano-influencers have the highest engagement rate at 5%, while the celebs clock in around 1.5%. This makes adding an influencer element to your strategy an approachable opportunity with the potential for a very appealing ROI.

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