How to build your brand with social media and influencer marketing
Building your brand is all about building a reputation. It’s not a one-and-done thing, but instead an involved process, one that a good brand will engage in on an ongoing basis to stay fresh and relevant. This means that even the most successful brands never stop evolving and adapting. In fact, brand-building and revamping for established brands can be just as intense as getting a new brand off the ground.
Let’s take for instance Coca-Cola. Sorry, Pepsi fans! You’ve likely seen a myriad of Coca-Cola logos and slogans during your lifetime. All-in-all, the brand has a rich 130-year history that has seen many facelifts and marketing campaigns. Their most recent slogan is “taste the feeling” but we are all pretty familiar with the “share a Coke” campaign where, if you’re lucky enough to have a name that is fairly common, you may be able to find a bottle or can of Coke with your name on it. Even a household name like Coca-Cola has to evolve to stay relevant, otherwise people stop thinking and talking about it, and the brand ultimately fades into obscurity.
Whether you’re just starting out or looking to give your brand a much-needed overhaul, marketing is a huge part of building your brand. While identity comes first, brand identity by itself doesn’t accomplish much if it’s not crossing people’s minds or gracing the tips of their tongues. This holds true both for established brands looking to freshen up their identity, and for brands in their infancy with an emerging brand identity.
Why Social Media?
If you’re marketing your brand, you can’t write off social media. It’s fast-becoming a cornerstone of digital marketing, and if your brand isn’t engaging in digital or online marketing these days, it’s already behind in the game. Having a brand presence across social media networks increases brand recognition and brand awareness with very little associated cost. It’s also a great way to dip your toes into the engagement pool because you can start having conversations with your current or prospective customers. It increases your website traffic and improves your SEO as well.
What’s an influencer?
This may seem like a silly question, but if you ask anyone to define the term “influencer” they’ll likely either give you a nebulous answer or point to the infamous follower count of a prominent influencer. However, a common misconception is that a big following is indicative of an influencer. It’s an easy assumption to make considering one of the most common categorizations of influencers is based on the size of their following (i.e. mega-, macro-, micro-, nano-influencers). The truth is that these days anyone can amass a large number of followers with relatively little effort if they know what they’re doing. However, many social networks have caught on to people gaming the system and have begun to crack down on bots or fake accounts that are often used to pad follower counts. In another case of correlation but not causation, while many big-name influencers often have large followings, a large following does not an influencer make!
What makes influencers hugely influential is engagement. Influencers, no matter their follower count, have a higher percentage of likes, shares, and comments than their counterparts with audiences of a similar size. That’s because the content they create and share is engaging, meaning it resonates with their audience in a real way that motivates them to act. This is the true power of an influencer!
But why do influencers inspire these levels of engagement? Simply put, an influencer’s audience puts a lot of stock in what they have to say or share. Their audiences are loyal and trusting because influencers command a certain level of credibility and trustworthiness. Influencers are usually some sort of authority in a particular niche or industry.
When most people think of influencers, they immediately think of social media influencers. In all reality, while influencers certainly do have social networks, they aren’t always influencers on social networking websites. Influencers can be bloggers, journalists, or just popular personalities on the web in their respective circles. There’s a reason why almost all of us immediately think of influencers as social media influencers, and that’s because those are the most clear-cut examples of influencers we can think of. Their prowess is quantifiable in terms of publicly-viewable likes, followers, and shares. On top of it all, the most powerful, recognizable influencers exist on social media.
Social Media Marketing vs. Influencer Marketing
Let’s clear something up: social media marketing and influencer marketing are not the same thing. While social media marketing consists of having a brand presence and/or engaging in advertising on social media, influencer marketing is a completely different ball game. Influencer marketing can be a form of social media marketing if you’re restricting your influencer marketing solely to social media influencers, but in a more general sense influencer marketing is leveraging the immense engagement and reputation of influencers to market your brand.
If you’re already engaged in social media marketing for your brand, it can actually give you some really great insights to give you a head start on influencer marketing. By having presences on multiple social media platforms, you are able to figure out which platforms have the most promising audiences for your brand. Furthermore, it allows you a nice little playground to identify relevant hashtags and communities or groups on different platforms. Your social media accounts can also help you identify influencers that would be great partners for your brand. All of this will give you some great data on what content performs well, and what strategies won’t work in your future marketing endeavors, especially with influencers.
Pack a Punch with Influencer Marketing on Social Media
Influencer marketing on social media is a potent combination. As previously stated, there’s a reason why social media influencers are who we typically think of when most of us imagine an influencer. They’re the biggest players in the game! While you can certainly allocate some of your marketing budget to other types of influencers such as bloggers or journalists in your industry, if you’re looking to build your brand expeditiously, social media influencer marketing is the way to go.
Increased Brand Awareness
A defining characteristic of influencer marketing is its tremendous return on investment (ROI). Even with a relatively low up-front investment, you get a lot of bang for your buck in terms of engagement and reach. You can easily share content an influencer creates for you on one social media platform across other social media accounts, which is a fool-proof multi-pronged approach that drastically increases your reach. Another big bonus is that influencers can drive a lot of traffic to your brand’s social media accounts, which in turn increases your brand’s follower counts and its audience. This means that even after your influencer marketing campaign ends, you’ve retained some of their audience for future promotions at no additional cost.
While an active social media presence for your brand increases your brand’s reach, influencers are able to take it a step further. Influencer-created content for your brand is guaranteed to be engaging, meaning more likes and shares, which will ultimately make your content visible to more people. After all, influencers are master content creators and they already have tried-and-true approaches to appeal to their niche’s audience. This level of engagement functions like a magnifying glass: it amplifies reach exponentially.
Lends Laser Focus to Your Brand Identity
You never truly know who your brand will resonate with until you put it out there, and by out there, we don’t mean engaging in stale old marketing methods that pale in comparison in terms of effectiveness. With a comprehensive social media influencer marketing campaign, your brand will be exposed to novel audiences, and more of them, thanks to an influencer’s reach amplification. And those novel audiences? They give you novel feedback. While the purpose of influencer marketing isn’t necessarily to construct a brand identity, it can actually give you valuable feedback on what parts of your brand’s identity are particularly marketable and need to be centered in the spotlight.
Silly String isn’t so much an example of influencer marketing, but instead a great example of how a company can gain valuable insight from consumers in terms of innovative marketing of their product. Chances are, you’re familiar with Silly String, but if not, it’s an aerosol can that shoots out a brightly-colored continuous stream of plastic “string.” It’s marketed as a children’s novelty toy and used for a lot of special occasions like parties and even weddings. In the early 2000s, soldiers stationed in Iraq discovered it was highly effective for something else: detecting tripwires without setting them off. Soldiers began asking their family members to send them can in their care packages, even inspiring one military mom to donate a whopping 80,000 cans to the troops.
Needless to say, this was an unintended use for the novelty toy that the retailer would have never thought of, and their brand was instantly thrust into the spotlight. But let’s be real: your brand probably isn’t going to serendipitously stumble its way into public consciousness like Silly String did. That being said, exposing your brand to the masses may highlight certain aspects of your brand you’re not actively marketing, or even give you insight into exactly what aspects of your brand those masses find most appealing. With so many people talking about your brand via targeted influencer marketing on social media, you never know what kind of innovative feedback you might get!
Furthermore, influencers have an eye for what the people really want. They have a proven track record of making audiences pay attention to their message, which means they know how to distill the key marketable aspects of any product or service and broadcast it in an engaging way. They know their audience and they know what they will pay attention to because they’ve gotten that formula down, likely after a lot of trial and error! When an influencer produces content featuring your brand, it cuts straight to the chase, letting the core aspects of your brand shine through.
In a fiercely competitive global market, many consumers are making more of their purchasing decisions based on one major factor: trust. Does your brand need a little credibility? An influencer can lend you some. Any brand, whether in its infancy or not, can certainly benefit from an extra helping of consumer trust, and social media influencer marketing is a fantastic means by which to gain some. Influencers already have a degree of authority and trustworthiness that they’ve attained with their target audience. By pairing up with influencers, they lend some of their valuable credibility to your brand.
Just as you are judged by the company you keep, your brand is judged based on the influencers who decide to partner with it. It’s not uncommon for little-known beauty brands to grace the posts of popular beauty bloggers and prominent makeup artists on Instagram and be lauded as “must-have” essentials for any makeup-lover’s stash. It’s a simple formula that packs a punch because it immediately causes not only that brand’s recognition, but that’s budding brand’s credibility to grow exponentially in a short period of time. With the multitude of niche communities across social media platforms, you’re bound to find an audience with which your brand resonates and an influencer within it who can help you with that credibility factor.
Ready to Build Your Brand?
Social media influencers can create engaging content for your company to boost brand awareness, give you valuable insight on the most marketable aspects of your brand identity, and give consumers more reasons to trust your brand. It’s the content that keeps on giving because not only does it yield all these amazing benefits, it can be incorporated into other ad campaigns.
Evan is the CEO and Founder of Experience Advertising. He has more than 20 years experience and background with ecommerce website marketing. His skill sets include: search engine marketing, social media marketing, affiliate marketing, conversion rate optimization, and other traffic driving and community building strategies.
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