4 Tips for Using Influencers to Build Brand Loyalty
If you've spent any time on social media you’ve probably come across influencers sharing advice on where to go, what to wear and, most importantly, what to buy. Influencers and content creators are often viewed as more trustworthy and reliable than other paid spokespeople, and have become a collective force in digital marketing.
As influencers drive purchase decisions for 33 percent of Gen Z and 28 percent of millennial shoppers, there are practical ways for brands to make the most of influencer involvement and keep pace in this rapidly evolving industry. By ensuring an influencer or content creator is the right fit for the brand, you can continue to build loyalty and trust long term. Here are four tips to keep in mind when working with influencers to build brand loyalty:
1. Authenticity is key when promoting brands through influencers.
Consumers are increasingly wary of influencers promoting products they don’t authentically endorse. Brands are realizing that a big audience doesn’t always mean high engagement or enviable sales conversions.
Brands using influencer partnerships should continually evaluate the value proposition and fine-tune their strategies. Otherwise, they run the risk of an influencer partnership quickly turning into an inauthentic, unintentional — or even reputation-damaging — misalignment.
2. Micro-influencers with smaller follower counts should not be skipped.
Micro-influencers have smaller follower counts — typically 10,000 to 50,000 — and build expertise in their own niche with trusting, highly engaged relationships with followers.
Retail, fashion, beauty, travel, fitness, food and home decor all boast their own groups of micro-influencers; the financial investment for brands working with them is considerably lower than working with mega influencers.
The value proposition of working with a micro-influencer centers on the trust-based relationships they have with followers. While fewer people see their content, those who do are invested. Micro-influencers also offer opportunities for long-term partnerships that reach their authentic audiences rather than one-off promotions that could be viewed as opportunistic money grabs.
3. The “deinfluencing” trend is here, but results are mixed.
With more than 500 million views, #deinfluencing is trending on TikTok. As more brands join the platform, more influencers push branded content. The resulting oversaturation of monetized content, coupled with a growing backlash against consumerism, is driving the trend.
While the trend started as a push to encourage lower consumption and reduced waste, it's shifting to “buy this, not that” or promoting lower-cost “dupes” of luxury items. Rather than reducing consumption, some see it as a trend not to consume less, but simply to consume different products.
4. Evaluate brand loyalty and values before entering a partnership with influencers or content creators.
According to The Lacek Group’s research, 50 percent of consumers report that the importance of a brand’s values has increased in the past several years. The influencers and creators you choose to work with are an extension of your brand, so choose wisely. Here are some things to consider:
- Align on values. Only work with influencers and content creators whose personal brands and content are in step with your brand values.
- Do your homework. Before starting a partnership, research past behaviors and understand an influencer's stands on issues important to your customers.
- Select influencer partners based on more than numbers. Influencers must believe in your brand and its products to engage authentically with them.
- Set expectations that content is authentic. Identify creative opportunities that reflect an influencer’s or content creator’s genuine appreciation for your brand.
Trust has always been the driver of consumer loyalty. Engaging influencers as partners and respected extensions of your brand — and then holding them to high standards for authenticity, values and quality — can help you move the needle on building loyalty by genuinely connecting with today’s digital-savvy consumers.
Maeghen Krueger is director of strategic services for The Lacek Group, a Minneapolis-based data-driven loyalty, experience, and customer engagement agency.
Maeghen Krueger is director of strategic services for The Lacek Group, a Minneapolis-based data-driven loyalty, experience, and customer engagement agency that has been delivering personalization at scale for its world-class clients for 30 years. The Lacek Group is an Ogilvy Experience company.