Top brands spend a limited amount of time reaching out to influencers for marketing purposes, but these individuals—generally bloggers or social media users with a greater than average reach among consumers—still have a significant presence in the marketplace. And they are prized by marketers for their ability to spread the word about products or services they believe in.
According to a Technorati Media study from December 2012, 65% of top US brands reported participating in influencer marketing. And a similar 64% of those deemed influencers by Technorati Media—meaning they had greater than average reach in a particular marketplace—made revenue from blogging, whether from ads on their site or sponsored endorsements from brands.
However, while most brands devote some money to influencer marketing, the amount is limited. Brands spent only 12% of their social budgets on influencers and bloggers.
Still, consumers care about what other consumers think—and those with the widest reach have the potential to sway lots of friends and followers. According to the survey, blogs were considered more likely to influence an internet user’s purchase decision than any other social channels, including Facebook. Only brand and retailer’s sites ranked higher.
Blogs are the primary place where influencers engage with online fans: 86% of those individuals who Technorati Media deemed influencers blogged regularly, and more than half operated between two to five blogs.
Influencers also have some of the greatest potential to help brands achieve earned media goals, including gaining social media fans and website traffic. Facebook “likes” and fans, Twitter followers, web traffic and landing page visits were the top five earned media goals of top brand marketers. While social media offers among the best word-of-mouth opportunities to marketers, influencers’ ability to connect with a targeted group, who see these individuals as authority figures, can make the social media blow horn many times louder.
It is not easy for marketers to identify and target influencers, however. Facebook friends and “likes” and Twitter followers were among the most important metrics used by brands when evaluating these individuals. A blog’s unique users and blog page views were also extremely important.
As brands get better at identifying influencers, and as social budgets rise, the amount devoted to influencer marketing will likely grow alongside.