Cathy Carter-Culp of Barrington, IL is an experienced senior executive of branding and marketing with an extensive background in sales, management, and product development. In the following article, Cathy Carter-Culp discusses how influencer marketing has emerged as a popular form of digital advertising in recent years, and how brands are leveraging the power of social media to reach new audiences and engage with consumers in more authentic ways.
Unless a person is an avid social media user, it may be hard to recognize the face that is selling you the latest makeup from Clinique, or the next laundry innovation from Tide, or the next revolutionary skin-firming lotion.
Cathy Carter-Culp of Barrington, IL explains that while that person may not be as recognizable as the brand they’re representing, they are invaluable to the company.
Influencer marketing has taken over the advertising industry — and it is just getting started.
The influencer market was worth $1.7 billion in 2016 and grew to $9.7 by 2020. It was worth $13.8 billion the following year and expanded to $16.4 billion in 2022.
Influencers come in all shapes and sizes, typically bringing large amounts of followers with them. With a constant rise in users across all social media platforms, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, influencers have become a go-to for companies that intend to reach the lucrative youth market tied to their phones whenever they are awake.
For many young consumers, Cathy Carter-Culp says that influencer marketing feels more authentic than traditional advertising.
The younger generation is far more inclined to listen to a familiar face suggesting a product or brand to them, such as a popular Instagrammer who posts makeup tutorials using a new brand of blush. A mom who shared great deals at Target through Snapchat is the perfect spokeswoman for a retail goods delivery service.
Whether the influencers have a small niche following or are bankable celebrities, marketers are increasingly looking toward social media to position their brand as the next big thing.
A Simple Approach
Part of the beauty of influencer marketing is its relative simplicity.
Cathy Carter-Culp of Barrington, IL says that through social media posts, notable personalities integrate product placements into their posts for full endorsements.
Actors, sports stars, and even those who are famous for no other reason than simply being famous are highly sought after to showcase a new lotion, a new bracelet, or a form of video therapy.
Some may have a relatively low amount of followers; those with a few thousand are usually referred to as “nano- or micro-influencers.” Others that have millions following their every tweet or video are called “macro-influencers.”
Either way, Cathy Carter-Culp of Barrington, IL maintains that even just a few seconds of an influencer endorsement can help a company quickly achieve name recognition and sales goals.
The level of the influencer and the platform both appear to make a difference. Many companies prefer working with smaller-level influencers, paying them for an endorsement rather than gifting them products to shill.
Instagram was once the unrivaled king of influencer marketing, but it has recently been overtaken by TikTok, where the messages are short and clear: “This product is great because I said so and you trust me and feel connected to me.”
Finding the Right Influencer
For marketers, it’s never as simple as finding any influencer to talk about a product, though. There needs to be a seamless fit, one that seems natural and unforced.
Despite tending to have as little as 1,000 followers, micro-influencers seem to be popular because the level of audience engagement is seen as more valuable than follower reach.
Smaller influencers are often seen as more relatable and authentic than those with massive followings or those who are social media celebrities. There’s also the fact that they cost less.
Cathy Carter-Culp of Barrington, IL says that the reputation of an influencer is as important as the reputation of the company. Being selective is key.
An influencer should not only have a stellar reputation with the general public, but also a good record of promoting or supporting products that are regarded as higher quality.
Companies also need to make sure that their influencer is actually influential. The trend of paying for fake followers has grown as influencer marketing has taken off. Seemingly anyone with a social media account could be considered “an influencer” – seeking out those who are genuine is essential.
In 2022, over 72% of marketers in the United States said they plan to use influencer marketing in some way.
Picking the best influencer is just the beginning. A strategy must be in place to grow a relationship with an influencer while also sticking to a company’s sales goals.
Cathy Carter-Culp of Barrington, IL says that marketers must start off a relationship correctly and maintain it genuinely in order to find success with influencers. They reach out to the influencer personally and privately, making sure they know that you are sincere about their content and would appreciate working with them.
A partnership is what many influencers are looking for, not a boss.
Know the influencer’s brand inside and out and listen to their feedback. A long advertising relationship is often the main goal.
Influencer marketing is a dynamic and constantly evolving field. It requires brands and influencers to stay up to date with the latest trends and best practices.
By building strong, authentic relationships with influencers and creating campaigns that speak to followers in meaningful ways, brands can tap into the power of social media to drive engagement, brand awareness, and ultimately, success.
As influencer marketing continues to grow and evolve, it will undoubtedly remain an important part of the digital marketing landscape, and those who approach it with a strategic, thoughtful mindset will be poised for success in the years to come.