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How Influencers Can Improve Your Content Strategy

September 01, 2017
Brand, Agency

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A decade after social media transformed marketing, allowing brands to engage directly with their customers, content marketing has a nearly universal tactic, with more than 86% of marketers using it. And with more than 90% of consumers indicating they prefer to learn about a company through content rather than ads, brands are creating more content than they ever have before. But as many are finding, content is expensive and labor-intensive -- and there are limits to self-generated buzz. In a culture where most customers don’t buy a product before reading at least three reviews, a brand’s own assurances can ring hollow. Enter influencers.

If social media disrupted traditional advertising, Influencer Marketing has upended every part of the sales funnel, from customer acquisition to tracking a purchase. By allowing brands to reach new consumers through their own peers, Influencer Marketing harnesses the third-party endorsement of a media feature with the guaranteed visibility of a paid advertisement. Moreover, influencers produce high-quality content that fuels your own content marketing efforts, from your newsletter to your social channels.

If you haven’t incorporated influencers into your content strategy yet, here are four good reasons to start now:

1. Influencers produce high quality content for less spend. 

Between photographers, project managers, equipment, models and editing, creating professional in-house content is expensive. Influencers produce high-quality content at a fraction of the cost. Moreover, you can use that content across multiple channels, giving you fuel for your newsletter campaign, social media and even media outreach. As peers of their followers, influencers also understand what trends, events and themes will resonate with your audience in a way that can be difficult for marketing teams to emulate. 

2. Influencers expand your distribution efforts.

Although content creation can be time-consuming, for many marketers, distribution is even more difficult. You’re often limited to your existing followers or paid promotion, which requires some guesswork about your target demographics. Influencers give you another avenue for reaching consumers who are likely to be interested in your product. You also have the benefit of getting your brand in front of customers in a way that doesn’t feel like advertising, which increases the likelihood that the content will be shared and you will acquire new customers in the process. With this collaboration by Nicole Bernardes for MARKS & SPENCER France, for example, M&S can use this content across multiple channels while reaching up to 90k potential customers through her Instagram followers, and even more through her blog.  

3. Influencers improve your conversion rate.  

Not only do influencers expand your reach, but they can also improve conversion, whether you’re looking to boost your own social following or increase immediate sales. Influencer audiences are actively seeking advice and inspiration from the accounts they follow. Fashion enthusiasts want to know where to get that look. Business leaders want what to know where to find that time-saving software. Where you can only “push” content to your own subscribers, or hope your SEO efforts bring you new readers, an influencer is feeding an audience already seeking their advice. Your content is therefore more likely to receive a warm response when delivered to a new audience and using content from your influencer collaborations is more likely to elicit a sale from your existing customers.


4. Influencers provide a trusted endorsement of your brand.  

Although influencer collaborations are typically paid sponsorships, rather than earned media, influencers provide a level of credibility and endorsement for your brand that amplifies the value of their content. Our research has shown that disclosing your brand relationship according to FTC rules does not affect follower engagement or interest in a brand. What does affect the response is how well the brand fits with the rest of the influencers content and lifestyle. 

A staged Instagram post showcasing a brand that then disappears from the feed forever will unsurprisingly have about the same credibility as an advertisement. However, a series of images that show how a brand fits into an influencer’s regular routine will provide a credible endorsement, whether the content is tagged #sponsored or not. This is why selecting influencers who closely align with your brand is so important. The benefits of an influencer’s endorsement are powerful, but it only if they truly endorse your brand. Their content then becomes a testimonial in context, and one that you can then share on your own channels in a way that doesn’t feel self-promotional.

These are just a few of the ways that influencers can improve your overall content strategy. By recognizing the value of the content itself, the reach potential and the power of an independent endorsement, you can start to measure the real return that influencer content provides.