In a Fragmented Social World, Influencers Rule

With a strategic partnership and an honest conversation, it’s possible to create campaigns that build a brand’s audience and raise an influencer’s profile.

How long do you usually spend reading a social media post? It’s probably not more than a few seconds. A few minutes, at most. Most social media users are scattered across a handful of networks, switching between channels throughout the day. And for brands, that’s turned into a serious challenge.

Research shows the average lifespan of a Facebook post is between two to five hours. After that, 75 percent of the total engagement and impressions from a post will have already happened. On Twitter, a tweet’s lifetime is about eighteen minutes. Instagramers are perpetually scrolling, only stopping for a second to tap on their screens.

The social world is fragmented. No matter how hard companies try to build presences on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and beyond, a consumer’s attention is fleeting. To solve this engagement crisis, companies have tried paid promotions that surface content and campaigns. But that’s not helping the real problem: consumers are used to ignoring what they see on social media. They gravitate, instead, toward recognized public figures who are already established authorities.

Today, we depend on influencers to curate news and offer opinions about products, services, and current events—digital stars who have built audiences by being extremely relevant and helpful. Rather than dumping another thousand dollars into a Promoted Tweet, brands should consider working with influencers who hold a lot more authority than another flashing advertisement.

Because in a fragmented social world, influencers rule.

Influence that Lasts

When Ellen DeGeneres took a selfie with a group of Oscar celebrities with a Samsung phone in 2014, the move got a lot of press. The accompanying tweet set a record with 3.2 million retweets. Twitter estimated the selfie was seen more than 32 million times. Its marketing value for Samsung? As much as $1 billion.

People react a lot differently to celebrities than to brand advertising. That’s the magic of influencer marketing in a nutshell. By working with someone who’s a trusted resource in a field, you tap into a relevant audience that’s much more likely to pay attention. Influencers have effectively become channels unto themselves, cornerstones of specific and specialized content and insights.

Influencers aren’t just celebrities. They’re bloggers, consultants, thought leaders, and experts across all different industries. They’ve worked hard to build their followers’ trust. If they agree to partner with a brand, the brand itself is considered trustworthy—which can pay off big-time.

Birchbox recently partnered with lifestyle blogger Emily Schuman to curate a box of makeup on Instagram. By working with Emily, who has more than 280,000 followers, Birchbox’s campaign received more than 18,000 Likes and reached more than 550,000 consumers across five different photos.

Skype worked with YouTube stars who had channels about style, music, and food to share their passion via video for the Skype Passion Project. This resulted in 140,000 visits to the hub for the project and over 5,000 campaign shares. Around 10 percent of visitors went on to download the Skype mobile app.

To promote a new line of Cold Stone Creamery flavors, International Delight worked with food bloggers to promote recipes that used the products. One blogger alone got 28,000 pins on Pinterest for a milkshake recipe.

The Outreach

So it’s obvious that, by teaming up with influencers, your brand can reach new people and build new relationships. But how do you start?

First, identify the channels where your audience is highly engaged. While Pinterest works for a milkshake recipe, it’s not likely to work as well for a B2B analytics product.

Once you’ve determined where your audience is most engaged, think about how to work with influencers. Gauge your biggest existing brand advocates. If you see referral traffic from certain blogs, check them out for potential partnerships. If certain figures discuss similar trends to your product, talk with them. The influencers may even have their own ideas for campaigns because they often know their audiences better than any brand.

With a strategic partnership and an honest conversation, it’s possible to create campaigns that build a brand’s audience and raise an influencer’s profile. That means wins for both parties, and far more interesting content across a fragmented social landscape where people are far more likely to trust other people than paid promotions.

Blaise Lucey is the senior content strategist at Bitly.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.