Social Media Relations: How Companies Use Influencers to Expand Their Marketing Efforts and Enhance Their Customer Relationships

People see your advertising for your product or service. They hear your claims. But are they buying it? Literally?

More than 90% of customers say they trust user-generated content more than your message. Yet currently less than 20% of companies are engaging with content creators.

It’s those sobering numbers that have companies scrambling to add it to their marketing mix, putting influencers in high demand.

To prove that point, let’s say you’re a candle company. Business is good, but you’d like it to be better. With a little digging, you find a 20-something on Instagram (or YouTube or TikTok) who adores candles, raving over her favorite scents and recommending the stores or sites that carry them. While you’re digging, you also find out she has several hundred thousand followers and receives thousands of likes and comments with every post.

Now, what do you think would happen if you got her to rave over your candle company?

Answer that, and you begin to understand how utilizing influencers could set your sales on fire (I mean, you’re a candle company, right?).

Look at any industry leader, and you’ll find they have enlisted an army of articulate, well-informed content creators. They’ve built their audience by being perceived as knowledgeable and credible. And they’ve achieved all this by positioning themselves as a “regular customer just like you.”

For years, companies relied on celebrity spokespeople to achieve the same thing. They still do. Because they knew when a popular athlete plugged their sports shoe, the cash register rang.

But, with the mass appeal of social media, combined with the power of the right influencer, that same company is now exposed to untold numbers of new customers who were previously unreachable or unmoved by traditional marketing efforts.

When your company brings in an influencer, you have a goodwill ambassador, an enthusiastic customer and an extension of your brand who can help carry your message to the masses.

Bring in a good one, and they can do it faster, more effectively, with bigger numbers and for less money than you ever could.

The top influencers on social media don’t simply share or post or tweet. They photo dump their latest experience. They produce watchable, relatable videos. While they entertain, they enlighten. And the floodgates of brand recognition, website visits and potential customers are opened wide.

One recent example is the dirty trend of “cleaning TikTok,” where influencers got rid of gunk and grime from their filthy appliances with “The Pink Stuff,” an all-purpose cleaner that, six months ago, was virtually unheard of. Viewers were amused. Word got around. Before long, casual searches for #thepinkstuff were sending you over 225 million videos.

Their followers follow them religiously and take their comments as gospel. And because influencers are still perceived as independent (though some certainly are not), their devotees are more apt to listen to them over some high-priced corporate shill.

The good ones get paid well. Very well, in fact. Depending on their level of influence, some can fetch anywhere from $100 to $500 per post. Those on Kardashian levels can command six figures and up.

The companies that procure just the right influencer for their product or service will tell you it’s still a bargain.

Wanting one is one thing. Finding one is another. Companies have come to rely on resources such as Followerwonk or Famebit to hone down their search for a perfect match.

But before you enlist your influencer, it’s critical to distinguish big numbers from loyal numbers.

An influencer with 350,000 followers sounds impressive, but if they can’t rack up an impressive number of comments or likes on any given post, they’re an influencer in name only.

Keep your eye on the per-post number of likes and comments. If they’re through the roof, then chances are so is their ability to engage, motivate and persuade their followers to sample your wares, share their experience and ultimately become life-long customers.

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