by Laiza Cors/guest columnist, co-founder and CEO of Embello
When companies think about being on social media, they view it as a mandatory marketing activity with questionable results. Outside of fashion, many other industries struggle to find their place on social media and lack the knowledge of how to use it to connect with their audience in an organic way.
Social ads perform well but, for brands, the real benefits of social media lie in the authentic connections and influence that can be leveraged to build lasting relationships with target customers. There are plenty of niche, pre-existing networks to tap into as a brand through influencer marketing.
In many instances, marketing teams we approach consider influencer marketing as a secondary marketing initiative and don’t quite understand the direct relation to their bottom line. The benefits to influencer marketing can seem vague but data says otherwise:
- 63 percent of Millennials trust influencers more than brand advertising.
- Influencer marketing gets you a 520 percent return on what you invest in earned media value.
- Eight out of every 10 consumers have purchased something after having seen it as a recommendation by an influencer.
- As a result, 67 percent of marketers increased their influencer marketing budget last year.
So, what kind of results can food and kitchen brands expect from influencer marketing?
Direct benefits of influencer marketing
You can effectively reach target audiences through influencer-established networks. Some brands falsely assume social media marketing is a gradual initiative with growth seen over a long period of time. But with influencer marketing, reaching target customers is possible “instantly” by tapping into influencer networks. Influencers have the trust and attention of their highly engaged audiences. You can leverage these large groups of potential consumers by working with influencers to create unique, authentic content introducing your products.
Companies need influencers to bring a sense of trustworthiness to their brand. Only 15 percent of consumers trust content created and shared by companies (Forrester), however, 88 percent say they find online reviews as trustworthy as personal recommendations. Influencer marketing has the power to affect brand recognition and purchasing decisions and we’ve seen first-hand how home, food and kitchenware brands are able to take advantage of the many social media platforms available to them: YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest being the most powerful.
Grow social following and brand awareness
Growing brand awareness is one of the top goals we see companies focus on with influencer marketing. It goes without saying, there is tremendous value in building brand awareness and a social following of your own. The number of consumers who research products and base their opinions of companies on social media presence has increased over the years. Fifty-four percent of social users utilize social media to research products (GlobalWebIndex).
Building brand and consumer awareness takes a considerable amount of investment but, similar to SEO, has long term ROI. Having quality content that builds your brand’s story, builds trust, and engages customers over the long run helps you attract the right customers organically. When consumers follow a brand on social media, 77 percent say they are more likely to buy from that brand over another (Sprout Social). Influencer marketing can help speed up the process by having influencers introduce and share your profile and brand with their dedicated audiences. When trying to build an audience, leveraging key leaders’ pages to get eyes to yours is key.
Backlink building and SEO
In addition to reaching new audiences, influencer marketing can help other areas of the digital marketing engine: increasing SEO and traffic. Social media can be a good source of traffic for company websites, not just social pages. Influencers can generate thousands of page views by directing their followings to links with engaging content across platforms. Pinterest and Facebook are easiest to share links on. Instagram is limited to links in bios but Instagram Story “swipe-up” links are an opportunity to drive direct traffic to a specific landing page from influencers’ content.
Many influencers, particularly in the food and home industries, have blogs and websites of their own. By cross promoting content and your website on their blogs, you can build significant and strong backlinks to drive long term traffic and boost search rank. The more backlinks, the better in the eyes of Google. Additionally, Google sees social following and presence as an indicator of authority and will reward you SEO-wise.
Effective, authentic content generation
Building brand awareness requires consistency in content creation and creativity in coming up with new, authentic concepts that resonate with your target audience. Influencer marketing can not only support brands in this area but can also largely scale your library of content. By incorporating products into their daily aspirational posts, influencers help brands generate unique, engaging content that brands can repurpose on their own social media accounts, websites and other marketing materials. This takes a lot of the work off of your marketing and creative teams, and in turn, saves you time and money creating this content yourself. In terms of content quality—producing, styling, shooting and editing is a strength influencers bring to the table. Influencers know what excites and drives their audience to engage with their posts and having influencers add their own style can help make your content more interesting and engaging for your target audiences. For food and kitchen brands, this is a particularly strong benefit as you can collaborate with influencers to use your products in recipes, kitchen shoots and lifestyle shoots for more authentic, organic and diverse content that would require a significant amount of planning and budget to get otherwise.
As you can see, influencer marketing has the ability to boost your entire marketing strategy; no other medium can make a positive impact on so many of your individual initiatives. There is massive potential to revamp marketing strategy and scale efforts within food and kitchenware companies through influencer marketing. Right now, only 12 percent of all sponsored posts from influencers on Instagram are related to the food industry, but that percentage is growing fast. There are infinite opportunities to present your brand and products in a way that is authentic and engaging, resulting in higher short- and long-term ROI by incorporating influencer marketing to your overall strategy.
Laiza Cors started her career in the home industry, working for the International Home + Housewares Show, the largest U.S. trade show for homewares held in Chicago. After relocating to California, Cors became director of brand development for Design Campus, an online education platform and conference series for the interior design community. In her most recent role as the marketing communications manager at Barclay Butera, she was responsible for the company’s digital brand development, as well as overseeing marketing, social media and events. Her passion for home and marketing expertise led Cors to start Embello, an influencer marketing platform that connects social media influencers with home and lifestyle brands. She also is a contributor to California Home + Design Magazine.