Why do you do the things you do? I'm being serious.
What made you want to wear the clothes you're wearing? Why did you decide to work in the industry you chose for a career? Why do you like the music you frequently listen to?
If you're like most people, you made these decisions as a result of watching influencers.
And I'm not talking about social media influencers… yet. I'm talking about the people in your life with good taste.
We dress like the people we believe to be well dressed. We get into the sort of music that our cutting-edge friends recommend to us. If we're lucky, we work in the same field as our heroes and mentors.
Importantly, we pick and choose traits from the influencers in our lives to craft our own personal lifestyle. We increasingly choose to follow influencers that represent what we want from life. Our interests eventually define who we are.
Humans are essentially herd animals. Consciously or not, we like to follow leaders, and that's nothing to be ashamed of. In fact, understanding human behavior in this way gives you a tremendous leg up as a marketer.
In our profession, everything depends on delivering the right message to the right person, and social media influencers – particularly on Instagram – are arguably the most effective way to do it.
Influencer marketing has been around for a long time. For hundreds of years, English businesses have flourished under a system where the Queen grants a special label to products she uses in her own household.
Consumers love the idea of using the same dish soap as the royal family, so they flock in droves to buy these specially appointed products.
Image Source: Barbour
I suspect that if you went back far enough in history, you'd even find that agriculture, grooming and education were all popularized by unusually charismatic cavemen.
Influencer marketing didn't realize it's full potential, however, until the advent of social media. Platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram allowed consumers to have a perpetual window into the lives of their favorite people.
Suddenly you didn't need a label on your products to show that important people used them – you could just pay for a social media post. The ultimate result was the same. People would buy the products.
Today, influencer marketing is the single fastest growing channel for customer acquisition in America. Don't expect it to slow down anytime soon.
We've established that humans are programmed to make buying decisions based on recommendations from influencers. Instagram makes it possible to reach those consumers in a personable, results-oriented way.
Good question. Facebook has millions more daily users. Snapchat regularly polls as more popular with young people. The answer is that Instagram lends itself perfectly to influencer marketing.
To pull off this kind of marketing successfully, you need to do more than just create impressions. Influencer marketing is about presenting an ideal lifestyle and then inviting consumers to participate in it by using certain products or services.
When it comes to this sort of thing, Instagram beats out all other social media channels. It's a visual experience. Consumers see perfect frozen frames of influencers at their best, enjoying this “ideal lifestyle.”
Image Source: Pixabay
Twitter and Facebook are primarily for sharing information. Instagram is about sharing experiences. Perhaps it's for this reason that the photo-sharing app boasts such incredible engagement statistics.
Instagram has a 4.21 percent engagement rate, more than 50 times that of Facebook. When your audience sees influencers using or endorsing products on Instagram, they are appreciably more likely to buy them.
There are thousands of marketable personalities on Instagram, each with a unique personal brand and following. These influencers allow you to target very specific groups of people in meaningful ways.
Demographics vs. Psychographics
It's commonly understood that you can't broadcast your message to the world at large and expect a response. Mass marketing just doesn't work. The best marketing is targeted, specific and personal.
There are hundreds of ways to isolate a target market, but the most common is demographics. This means that most marketers are segmenting their market by age, gender, race and income.
These indicators are certainly useful, but there's a growing feeling that they're being overused. Demographics are no longer the best way to determine whether someone will be interested in your product or not.
“…marketers that try to reach their audience solely on demographics risk missing more than 70 percent of potential mobile shoppers,” says Peter Roesler, President of Web Marketing Pros.
“It's just one of many data points that show why marketers need to move beyond simple demographics for choosing their target audiences.”
Roesler argues that what people do is more important than their ethnicity or age. This is where the study of psychographics comes in, and where Instagram influencer marketing shines.
Image Source: Pexels
Psychographics reflect what a population is interested in – what their hobbies and passions are. Psychographics will tell you whether a population watches sports, what they like for breakfast and where they tend to vacation. They're part of a new wave of deeper metrics that help marketers build an extremely detailed customer profile.
They're also the bread and butter of Instagram. We follow accounts that reflect our psychographics. This makes it incredibly easy to find people who are interested in a certain lifestyle and reach them with a specific marketing message.
Using Instagram to target niche groups
Have you ever scrolled through a friend's list of followers to see if you knew any of the same people? I know I have.
A search like that is the most basic sort of psychographic segmentation. You're identifying people that have a common interest – an acquaintance with a close friend.
Image Source: Instagram
Services offered by companies like Kickstagram allow you to perform more nuanced targeting, but the concept remains the same. Instagram makes it easy to see people's interests and easily group them together.
As I've mentioned, the narrower you can make your target market, the more successful you will be.
For the sake of example, let's say you're a marketer looking to sell chocolate chip cookies. You know that your primary customers are girls between the ages of 16 and 30.
The temptation at this point is to congratulate yourself on understanding your target market and run out to buy a bunch of targeted ad space.
Don't do it.
Instead, dig a little deeper. When you get into psychographics, you learn that your customers aren't living with parents or children, value independence and enjoy buying cookies for themselves.
A focus group reveals that many consumers see your cookies as a soul food to relieve stress, but they feel guilty for eating them.
See the difference? Now you're starting to get a clearer picture.
Your target market:
- Is female
- Is between 16 and 30 years of age
- Lives independently
- Takes health seriously
- Deals with a lot of stress
It isn't hard to find individuals that match these criteria on Instagram.
The traditional way to reach them would be through ads targeted at their demographic, but we can do better.
The next step is to figure out which influencers they follow.
Choosing the right influencer for your niche
With 500 million active monthly users, Instagram is the second most popular social media platform in the world. Virtually all of those users are influential to someone, but not all of them can help your business.
It can be tempting to reach out to the first account you find that's nominally relevant and features a lot of followers. Take it from me – this isn't the right approach
We're not interested in mass marketing, remember?
Believe it or not, a Kardashian might not be your best option for cookie sales. Find an influencer who would be believably interested in cookies. Influencers need to be earnest as much as they need to be popular.
A trusted account with only a few thousand followers could potentially be much more effective than a celebrity account with hundreds of thousands – cheaper, too.
Getting back to our example, you're looking for an influencer with lots of young female followers, preferably one that posts about practical fitness and body image.
Now the options are a bit narrower.
One of the best ways to find a good influencer is to work backwards. Rather than finding an influencer from a list or agency, start at the bottom with your consumers, working your way backwards.
Is there a particular account that's popular with your target group? Reach out and ask about working with them.
Image Source: Instagram
For the cookie example, you might choose to partner with @toohungrytobefit, an account with 14k followers that showcases cheat-day foods.
Image Source: Instagram
If you wanted to go in a different direction, you could partner with @healthy_fitmum, a hugely popular lifestyle account for women's fitness and dieting.
Image Source: Instagram
Or maybe @emlouisefitness, another popular account for women's fitness that frequently posts pictures of tempting food, is the right fit. This account is geared more towards single working women and less towards mothers.
Any of these accounts would effectively engage your very specific audience-and your message would be coming from one of the sources they rely on for lifestyle choices.
Good influencers know their followers. They can work with you to craft a message that will result in the most engagement. Whether it's a recipe for cookie sundaes or a casual photo of an opened cookie package in an office cubicle, influencers will know how to best present your product.
The best way to find new customers
Recent studies show that businesses earn an average of $6.50 for every $1 they invest on influencer marketing. Can digital ads give you those returns?
The difference is that well-executed influencer marketing is targeted smarter-by psychographics-and comes through a more reliable channel.
As ad blockers and marketing saturation wreak havoc on traditional advertising channels, working with influencers will quickly become an even more attractive option.
Success in marketing is determined by our ability to get the right message in front of the right people. Instagram influencer marketing allows you to target an audience, craft a message and engage users like no other method.
Given these numbers, it may be time to consider adding Instagram influencers to your digital marketing mix. If you don't adopt them now, you certainly will later when someone you look up to encourages you.
It's the way we work. That's all there is to it.
Guest Author: Lucas Miller is a Freelance Copywriter and Founder of Echelon Copy. When not writing, tweeting or attempting to play pickup basketball, he's working tirelessly to perfect what he claims is the “World's Greatest Pompadour.” To get more tips on how to start your own six-figure freelance copywriting business, join his free newsletter.
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