Online influencers have become a growing trend, particularly following the rise of YouTube, which came after Google purchased the platform in 2006. One key influencer who emerged from this trend was YouTube personality and vlogger Zoella, who now has over 11million subscribers and her own beauty range in major high street store, Boots. In 2015 alone, Zoella reportedly earned £50,000 per month from her vlog, product endorsements and from her own line of beauty products, and she isn’t unique – countless online influencers are now targeting customers through blogs or social media every single day.
One of the main areas where influencer marketing prevails is in the fashion and beauty industry. According to research by eConsultancy, 60% of fashion and beauty brands already have an influencer strategy in place, whilst a further 21% plan to implement one within the next 12 months. Marketers are working more closely than ever with influencers promoting products daily through various social channels, with many making a career out of it. With a raft of social channels to choose from, Instagram has become an increasingly popular medium used to promote products and seed brand messages. It has a user base of over half a billion, and 59% of micro-influencers believe that Instagram is the best way to target their preferred audience.
However, other social platforms have also proved just as popular. According to data released by Twitter, 40% of Twitter users have made a purchase as a direct result of a tweet from an influencer – an incredible figure considering the fact that 100million users log in to Twitter every day. This is perhaps not surprising, as 72% of people now rely on social media to help them make decisions when buying new products. And while users recognise these people as influencers, 88% of customers are also now said to trust online reviews posted by strangers just as much as they would rate recommendations from friends, which just goes to show the trust now placed in online influencers and social media channels as a whole as consumers.
So in a world where 47% of online users now also use ad blockers, online influencers can be seen as a newer way of targeting customers, particularly millennials. The trust customers place in paid advertising is said to have declined by 20% since 2007, with this figure expected to increase further over the next few years. Although we have traditionally used celebrities to promote brands and feature in adverts, 70% of teenage YouTube subscribers also claim they now relate to YouTubers more than traditional celebrities.
Another key benefit of the influencer marketing approach worth mentioning is that online influencers can create more loyal customers, increasing overall customer retention. Research has shown that customers converted through word of mouth in this way are 37% more likely to have a higher retention rate, meaning a more reliable source of income for your brand in the process. Those converted by social media are also more likely to be active social media users themselves, meaning that if they are impressed by your brand then they are more likely in turn to promote it on their own social media channels.
In essence, influencer marketing is a great way to build hype around your brand. By utilising the following of influencers, it is possible to create conversations and engagement around a brand which are more likely to result in customer conversions than traditional advertising tactics. Indeed, such positive figures cannot be ignored, with 84% of marketers claiming they are looking to launch at least one influencer campaign over the next 12 months.
Ultimately, the value of social media and influencer marketing can be demonstrated time and time again, with online influencers becoming the fastest growing online acquisition channel so far this year. To put it in perspective this result beat any organic search, paid search and email marketing figures in the process – meaning that for any consumer-led brand, the power of social media and influencers must not, and cannot, be underestimated.