Social Influencers: the next stage of marketing

How to create successful influencer marketing campaigns with Social Influencers

Instagram cannot be ignored or underestimated. Sporting millions of users, Instagram is a haven for inspiration and creativity where more and more people are being influenced every day. Why and how has Instagram reached this level of success? Who are Social Influencers and what motivates them, and how can brands authentically connect with users through them? Social Soup interviewed over one hundred Instagram power users to find out.

Instagram has had a meteoric rise. Only three months after its launch in 2010, Instagram boasted over one million users. Despite only having a dozen employees and not earning a single cent, Instagram was bought for one billion dollars. In the four years since, Instagram has doubled its user base – a comparatively higher growth to either Facebook or Twitter. As it stands today, 26% of Australians and half of 18-29 year olds are active on Instagram – 60% of which are women.

Graph showing growth of users on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter

The key to Instagram’s success is in creating a positive and creative environment for its users. Research on Instagram’s success finds four key motivations for use:

  • To create
  • To document
  • And to connect

There’s also the coolness factor which cannot be overlooked. According to social media researchers and sociologists, “the creative individual is … the new mainstream”, and this rise of creative power corresponds to the growth of Instagram. On a less conceptual level, 62% of users say they visit Instagram to be inspired and 58% say Instagram makes them laugh, dream, or think differently. It also helps that it’s seen as one of the least antagonistic or trolled places on the internet.

Trust is becoming an issue across all major industries, media especially. According to recent research, trust in media is the lowest of all industries at 41%.

Trust in media is the lowest of all industries

Conversely, we trust each other more than any brand message. Friends and family, consumer reviews, and social media are among the most trusted sources of information and opinions. The solution, therefore, is to tap into the people powered media channels and the people generating content that is influencing the masses – these are people we refer to as Social Influencers.

Friends, family and consumer reviews are the most trust channels

Social Influencers are individuals who have focused on developing a following through engaging and authentic content. They are usually up and coming people of influence who are creating content for passion and purpose over commercial value. Theme and identity are integral parts of their curated brand. Passion and interests are curated in a content ‘theme’. This could be anything from travel, to food, to fitness.

Social Influencers represent the perfect solution to the issue of declining trust in traditional media. They represent a crossover of both a trusted source and being open to brand involvement. We here at Social Soup gathered information from 125 Social Influencers to understand their motivations and the extent of their influence.

First of all, the number one motivation for having an Instagram account is to express their interests and passions. Comparatively, almost half see this as a way to help their career or business. The other major factor is that success and growth is reliant on interaction with others. You have to give to grow. This revolves around three interconnected and dependant facets:

  • Sharing: Instagrammers love sharing discoveries and connecting with like-minded people.
  • Inspiring: Instagram is a place for people to contribute and do their bit of good. Many accounts revolve around inspiring and encouraging others. Influence through inspiration.
  • Branding: Overall, an Instagram account is a carefully curated brand, portraying a user in a very specific light. An Instagram account needs to convey a point of difference, consistency, values and a purpose.

Despite not being primarily commercial, Social Influencers are open to brand involvement. However, 98% of Social Influencers say they must genuinely like the brand, 91% say they must believe in it and have it fit with their values and passions, and 82% would work with brands with good causes.

Building trust is key to engaging Social Influencers and their audience with branded content. Again and again, Social Influencers reinforce the need for control over how they incorporate branding into their posts. Users will recognise inauthentic material, and users don’t like being ‘sold to’. Influencers want a partnership, not a one-night content stand. An opportunity to work longer term gives audiences a sense of consistency – it shows that the brand is engaging with the person they are partnering with.

Social Influencers on Instagram can be the perfect avenue for branded content. However, they must be the right fit for your brand and message, and there must be the opportunity for a long term relationship. Overall, think beyond the influencer and who you are hoping to influence. Meeting these terms means Instagram and Social Influencers can instill a great deal of trust and authenticity into your brand. And you will directly engage with an audience who are in a mind-set to inspire and share with others.