Social media is a wonderland of marketing potential. Virtually everyone is online in some capacity and so connecting with consumers and finding your audience has never been easier. As the holidays approach, finalizing your strategies for online campaigns and influencer partnerships is a must.
Social Styles sat with Upfluence’s senior vice president of sales, Paul Kahn, and Solutions Architect, Celena Danahy, to discuss trends in the e-commerce landscape and how brands can leverage influencers as part of a winning campaign for this upcoming holiday season.
Here are some of the highlights and useful tips for social media and influencer marketing success from our webinar:
Understanding Changing Consumer Habits
Online shopping and the world of e-commerce has revolutionized where we shop and how we do it. According to consumer data, 76% of consumers intend to shop online this holiday season, while 57% intend to shop early. Being able to skip long lines and shop when you want to from the comfort of your home is a win-win for brands offering online shopping and consumers alike.
This virtual space is especially important while we deal with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Maintaining social distancing and minimizing physical intersections are precautions that have driven everyday life online. “It will continue to be a season of peak demand and a critical time to connect with shoppers,” as Paul Kahn notes.
With 51% of consumers indicating that they plan on shipping gifts directly to family and friends, brands and influencers must take these changing consumer habits into account in their social media marketing campaigns as the busiest shopping season approaches.
How to Use Influencers This Season
There are multiple ways to utilize influencers and their following to succeed in the virtual and e-commerce space. Partnerships, shout-outs, and promotional, curated lists are some of the ways that big companies are working with influencers in navigating social media marketing.
However, one of the biggest trends in social media and influencer marketing is the emphasis on building deeper relationships and authenticity. Two ways brands are achieving this is through educational content and adopting philanthropic angles in their marketing.
Brands can elevate their presence online through educational campaigns that engage in social justice issues or involve the brand in conversations that need cultural or social awareness. These campaigns allow influencers to empower and educate their consumers on these issues while establishing a brand as more than just the sum of their products.
Likewise, brands can drive engagement through charity elements and campaigns for a cause. For trends like Giving Tuesday, micro and big scale influencers can participate in social media marketing focused on “giving back.”
Another important thing to consider this holiday season is that consumers want to know they are being charitable while they are in the giving (and spending) mood. Here, brand awareness can be tied to these charitable actions and build positive associations.
Perfect Planning and Winning Timelines
Developing a plan is vital in having a successful holiday campaign. Much preparation and research are required (ideally months ahead of time), even before influencers are involved. What are your competitors doing? What are your main objectives? How does the influencer fit with the overarching brand campaign? These are all questions you need to consider before influencer outreach.
For the influencer, there are specific milestones in their marketing campaign that they should follow to maximize success as well. Brands should be sourcing and in contact with desired influencers. During the holiday season, with defined strategies, influencers can begin posting and amplifying their marketing campaigns.
This preparation factors in enough time for negotiations and follow-through that maximizes effective consumer exposure to the products or brand as strategically intended. Here, influencers can balance the automation of content output and efficiency of their marketing plan while keeping the content personal and genuine.
With many brands vying for consumer attention online, having a well-prepared marketing campaign is crucial in determining success during this holiday season.
Finding Your Best Influential Partners
What goes into picking the right influencers for your brand? Social Styles emphasizes “looking beyond the numbers.”
Taking a more holistic approach to influencer marketing, it is important to first determine your objective and target market. This will allow brands to find where their consumers are and use keywords in finding desirable influencers for the campaign. In doing so, brands can determine how to position the right influencers strategically.
When it comes to actual influencer content, focusing on quality engagement is vital for a successful holiday campaign. This should come in the form of not only blog or photo content, but video content as well. Brands want to see consumers genuinely engaging with their influencers, and short-form videos have shown to be an increasingly valuable marketing tool.
For influencers big or small, this genuine engagement shows loyalty and authenticity, which makes for a more valuable long term partnership.
How to Leverage Influencers Who Really Fit Your Brand
Taking the time to research and understand who your audience is is vital for your online marketing campaign. Tools like live capture allow brands to see in real-time who is following them and what kind of demographic is interacting with their website. With this information, you can gain useful insight into how targeting the right customers can benefit your brand.
This method in leveraging your customers is through what we call, “the Snowball Effect.” Existing customers are the absolute best ambassadors, as they are already fans of your brand and know its value. Here, you can take the followers that already love your products and have them make content that drives new people to like your brand as well. Like a snowball effect, Influencers drive consumer traffic who then become influential consumers themselves.
When it comes to partnered influencers, you need to find those who already align with your brand mission and are in the brand’s orbit. Through social media scouting and research, you can also find those who should be connected to your brand but don’t know it yet.
Since influencers themselves have their own brand identity that they care deeply for, they too want to work with brands they respect and who their loyal fan base may also align with. Here, leveraging those who fit your brand is less about awareness and more about retention and customer lifetime value.
Where Is Influencer Marketing Headed in 2021?
While this virtual market space is constantly changing, these are a few of the biggest trends we intend on seeing as we enter into the new year:
- More Long-term Partnerships. Influencers want to represent brands they trust and really use. Here, establishing longer-term partnerships with their respected brands is vital in maintaining authentic brand identities and genuine engagement with followers. Consumers are smart and can sense when a one-off advertisement is just for money. This can be a turn-off and make the influencer seem disingenuous
- Increased Brand Alignment. Moving towards more brand ambassador type relationships aligns the influencer with its values as a part of the influencer’s world. If consumers continue to see specific products, they will believe the influencer genuinely advocates for them, which can be powerful marketing for the brand.
- “The Influential Consumer.” Social media is starting to see a shift in popularizing micro-influencers because they are so authentic and have extremely loyal followers. With smaller-scale actors having this type of influence, brands are working to nurture these relationships, which can have more lasting results.
Understanding the Relationship Between Brand and Consumer Goals
Ultimately, for a successful holiday campaign, brands need to really reflect on their brand image and mission for this season. What they want to convey or achieve has to be clear and crafted, so aligning with the right influencers and finding their desired consumer demographic is a streamlined process.
Also, following the shift to long term partnerships is important in maintaining influence in this digital space. At Social Styles, we know the importance of deep connections between influencers and brands that consumers trust are authentic and capture their values. Empowering brands to invest in these loyal, sometimes niche fan bases will breed more genuine engagement and longer consumer attraction even after the holidays.
Click here to watch the full webinar or book a call with us to continue the discussion on influencer marketing and how to optimize your social media marketing.