Have you ever noticed yourself scrolling through an Instagram feed and taking a screenshot of something that you want to buy and wear for the season? Or maybe a print that you want to purchase for your living room wall? Have you ever done the “one-tap” on an Instagram photo to find out where the jacket that @so-and-so is wearing came from? These behaviors are a result of the influence that sharing content across social media has on the way that we, as consumers, shop. To a certain extent, everyone that has a presence on social media is influencing their community in one way or another. Even more impressive than this relatively new behavior itself, is that a number of these social media users have found a way to grow their audiences beyond their own friends and family. They have built large communities from around the globe that follow them for fashion, lifestyle, fitness, and travel inspiration. These social media gurus are what we now consider “digital influencers.” They are capable of influencing a large audience by sharing content on their social platforms that comes from their everyday lives. 

There are certain digital influencers that are a right fit for every industry that you could imagine. If you’re trying to market a brand comparable to Anthropologie, you’re probably not going to choose to work with the same influencers as a brand such as HUF. Just because an influencer has a large number of followers, their audience may not be a fit for your brand. If you’re starting your search from scratch, finding the first influencer that is perfect for your brand is the toughest part. Once you find your ideal gal/guy, you can search through their “following” tab to find friends and other influencers that have a similar style and could also very well be a fit for your brand.

Working with digital influencers has become a popular tactic for brands across the board. From the beginning, social media was created to be inherently social (which brands often forget when planning campaigns and setting goals). Platforms such as Facebook and Twitter weren’t made so that brands could sell stuff. They were created so that people near and far could share and communicate with each other easily and in one place. When an influencer shares their favorite jacket from a new collection or a new piece of artwork hanging on their wall, they are sharing a moment attached to a feeling and relaying authentic approval for that piece. 

Consumers today are 71% more likely to make a purchase if someone that they trust has recommended that product (source). This is an amazing statistic for brands to remember when deciding whether or not they should work with influencers. A “follow” is an act of trust. If I follow an influencer, it means that I trust that the content they continue to share is going to be like the content that caught my attention in the first place. I may not have met this person I just recently started following IRL (in-real-life), but I sure as heck know a lot about them. I know what they ate for breakfast, where they had their first meeting over coffee, and what they’re wearing to dinner tonight. As a follower, you continue learning about this influencer and thus, building an even more sound sense of trust with them. 

Measuring an ROI that mirrors a dollar amount from working with an influencer can be a challenge. Social media wasn’t founded on the idea of monetary exchange. Social media was created as a place for people to share their thoughts, opinions, styles, and have conversations. Social media will always be SOCIAL FIRST. The most accurate return you can see from working with an influencer is in engagement. How did the influencers audience respond to the post that they made featuring your product? Did they get more likes than an average post? Did they get more comments? Comments are an incredibly valuable measuring tool (especially when the comment is more than your typical “cute!” or “i love it!”). When users take the time to comment on an image or ask a question, that is when they can really see themselves in that moment - in that place - with that feeling. That’s when someone from the influencer’s network turns from “slightly aware” of your brand to an actual “brand fan.” 

In the end, creating more brand fans (aka customers) is what you really want, not just a lonely “like.”