The authenticity of influencer marketing

With over 25 years of experience in direct marketing, it’s safe to say I know a thing or two about diversifying. The need to stand out in a crowded mailbox, inbox, and online has always resulted in amazing innovations and so many new ways to engage. But, I’ve also found one standard remains true: people trust paper. And, very often, people trust people. 

More pointedly, 76% of consumers trust direct mail when they want to make a purchase decision. For brands not currently considering print, take note. But that’s old news. What’s new now? For those who are looking to diversify with meaning (and get results), let’s go back to the idea of diversification and consider one additional statistic that has stuck with me lately.  

45% of people who follow influencers purchased a product they saw on their social media feed. 

Pretty dramatic, right? “What is your social media strategy?” wasn’t necessarily uttered by direct marketers in years past because we thrive on 1:1 results. For a long time, all social media was lumped together into softer metrics—likes, shares, follows, and clicks—and did not provide a direct impact on commerce… until now.  

Successful influencer marketing relies on trust 

Influencers bring their authenticity and enthusiasm in ways that engage followers; and in ways that brands themselves cannot. That’s why we’re seeing nearly half of their followers purchase products featured in their paid posts and another 39% using deals promoted on their posts.  

Not long ago I learned more specifically about social media influencers in the financial services space. The biggest takeaway for me? 

Over half of social media users follow influencersbut less than half follow brands.  

Then it all came together.  

People are following influencers over brands, and they’re not just looking, they’re sitting, and taking action based on what people post—action in the form of purchases. And 

Within financial services, where there is a battle for credibility, and there is a race to do it well since the payoff will be real.  

This social trend is ideal for financial services marketers   

As you can well imagine, attracting excitement and new followers on Instagram is no small feat for financial institutions. Of adults 18+, only 10% follow a financial services brand on social media (and let’s face it, most of those are probably agency advertising professionals).  

That’s why financial service institutions are jumping at the chance to partner with key influencers to help them reach an audience they’re not already reaching. In fact, brands like Chase, Wells Fargo, and AMEX are already leading the way, tapping Instagram influencers to reach specific audiences—and it’s working. For example, Chase (@chase) recently partnered with the founder of @BlackMirrorProject and travel blogger, Deddeh Howard (@secretofdd), amongst others, to share how the Sapphire Reserve card gives them #OneLessThing to worry about when traveling. A quick comparison of their Instagram stats shows Influencer, Secret of DD, has 213K followers, while Chase Bank attracts only 128K followers.

The reach is obviously significant, but so too was the relevance of partnership and, therefore, the story. Again, the name of the game is authenticity. People need to trust your message in order to continue down the path to purchase.  

Consider these basics for your social media strategy 

  • Start with being intentional about your goal and objectives. Relevance is EVERYTHING.  
     
  • Diversify your partnerships. There are micro (10K–100K followers) and macro (100K–1M followers) influencers in the Instagram world—leverage both to generate more awareness, engagement, and traffic.  
     
  • Go NOW! Influencer marketing is nearing its saturation point, so cultivating those long-lasting influencer relationships quickly will be key to driving long-lasting consumer trust.