Influencers have arrived on the Marketing battlefield, and how!
In a sea of brands constantly overloading viewers with waves of advertisements and sponsored content, it’s no longer a piece of cake to make yourself noticed by your target audience. Moreover, today’s digital users have wizened up and turn their noses up at any attempt made by companies to ‘sell’ them something.
Brand names are longer a guarantee of a quality or effective product, that is, unless it comes with a stamp of authenticity by someone your customers trust and value. And that’s where social media influencers become invaluable to your brand’s marketing and SEO strategy.
A 2016 joint study by Annalect and Twitter showed that users trust influencers almost as much as a friend or a neighbor. That statistic has only grown in the past 4 years, with users flocking to YouTube and Instagram to decide whether to take the plunge for the latest Mobile phone or TV launch, or what to wear or where to travel, or even what body care product to use.
Your brand cannot afford not having a fully-developed Influencer program in this day and age. The benefits in terms of reach, engagement and overall web authority are too sweet to pass up. Also, simply having an Influencer program isn't enough, you need to partner with people who are a good fit with your brand image and values and also highly regard quality content. The content you produce in collaboration with influencers needs to be unique, should tell a story and should preferably be evergreen.
Boost your SEO performance
A strong and quality link profile remains one of the topmost criteria for Google to rank your beloved content at the top. Collaborating with influencers having access to your target group will net you these high-quality backlinks - 'organic shout-outs' flowing to your website through guest posts on their blogs or a video on their YouTube channel or a mention on their Instagram post or story.
Backlinks not only increase your content's usefulness and authority but also ensures a steady stream of organic traffic to your website, which is another essential metric determining your rank on the SEO leaderboard. But you need to keep in mind that the backlinks you are earning, are from influencers and sites relevant to your own content otherwise it can negatively impact your whole SEO effort.
Producing content which is more than just a pushy puff piece for your brand leads to the influencer's existing audience becoming interested in what you have to say. Engaging and unique content benefits both you and your influencer partner in a win-win collaboration, considering that a blatant product promotion will put off their audience as well as do nothing for your brand.
Who is the right advocate for your brand?
Shelling big bucks and getting the most popular Insta celeb to direct that much-needed traffic to your side might not be the best idea. Choosing the right advocate for your brand is a make-or-break decision for your strategy that, if gone wrong, can have long-lasting and sometimes, irredeemable consequences for your brand image. You don't need to look further than the Logan Paul fisaco or PewDiePie's alleged racism scandal to gauge how wrong things can go if you rush into choosing the right influencer for your brand.
Your SEO ranking can take an adverse hit if you blindly run after backlinks and traffic from an influencer without ensuring a good fit. Your brand might not benefit from always honing in on the most popular or bold creators out there. You might see a greater fit with a safer option, maybe someone who's regarded as knowledgeable in his/her field or someone who's known for wholesome, uncontroversial content.
Another important factor to consider while choosing a brand advocate is engagement vs reach. An Instagram fashion blogger might have 500k followers but only 50k actual, engaged followers. On the other hand, a 200k-strong influencer having 160-170k engaged followers will mean much more in terms of value delivered for your brand. This is where 'micro-influencers' come in, people with a small but highly-focused and active community.
You need to determine where your campaign needs lie on the reach vs engagement spectrum and take your call accordingly. A highly engaged community may benefit your website authority more, as the interest and relevance is already ensured when you partner with a niche but engagement-driving influencer.
An influencer base that is still largely unexplored by brands is their own employees and existing customers. While your employees and customers might lack the reach of large influencers, their enthusiasm and acquired knowledge make up for it.
According to DSMN8, employee influencer programs can increase a brand's annual revenue by 26%. Effectively implemented employee influencer programs not only offer economical, efficient and highly authentic brand advocates but also boost your employee morale.
Your customers are the people who are already sold on your brand's promise and if incentivized correctly, they offer an equally trusted source of organic and economical influencers. Both employees and customers offer you a sure-shot trove of impressions and traffic that will drive your SEO rank up.
Brands are increasingly discovering the benefits of building lasting relationships with influencers, as opposed to one-off projects. It saves them both time and money as well as going through the entire effort of looking for a new influencer for every new campaign.
As we said before, posts or videos that are nothing more than a puff piece for your brand will most likely do nothing to increase your brand reach and are even capable of negatively affecting not only your brand value, but that of your influencer partner as well. What you need to keep in mind while crafting any content piece is that viewers connect with a story, not with an advertisement.
Your sole purpose while deciding on your content should be to find unique and useful ways to engage with your audience. A study by Tapinfluence found that influencer marketing content delivers an 11x higher ROI compared to traditional digital marketing. By creating fresh content that leverages the power of storytelling, you stand to reap the rewards of this superior ROI of influencer marketing and bolster your SEO performance.
Your SEO efforts are worthless even after choosing the best set of influencers and creating top-notch content, if it doesn't capture the attention of the audience. Influencers can help you create captivating content for your platform or more commonly, publish sponsored content on your behalf. They can also leverage their community of loyal fans to crowdsource content with a unique hashtag for your brand. This has the potential to blow up awareness for your brand with each follower automatically harnessing the power of his/her own network.
How do you make your content work for you months or years after it's posted or long after your campaign has ended? You do that by creating evergreen content that is not just captivating but solves a particular need of your target audience. By doing so, you put in place timeless content and also use your influencer network to its fullest, for as long as your influencers grow, it'll translate to new and engaged traffic steadily coming to your website as well.
Below are some stats which will further help you recognize the vitality of influencer marketing and their platforms, plus guide you in crafting the perfect influencer program for your brand.
According to a 2019 survey by Mediakix, Instagram reigns supreme among all social media channels, followed by YouTube, Facebook and Blogs. Over 2/3 of marketers plan to spend most of their budgets on Instagram. What's more, the most effective formats are also led by Instagram posts, followed by Insta stories, YouTube videos and Instagram videos.
With the paradigm shift in the lifestyle of influencers as well as the viewers brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, you need to be cognizant of the changing dynamic with respect to the unprecedented amounts of time spent online and formats like Live videos and Stories being favored more by the entire online community. The authenticity and raw feel of these formats are fast capturing user attention. Make sure to incorporate these changes in your SEO and Influencer Program Strategy.
A robust and well-thought-out Influencer program is one of the most effective and economical tools to boost your SEO efforts. So grab the bull by the horns and get to work on supercharging your brand!