Have you realized how effective influencer content can be to cut through the online noise? Consider the reality of today’s Internet user.
Every day, Internet users are bombarded with hundreds if not thousands of ads even if they don’t know it. From promoted content on social media to paid ads on search engines, there are hundreds of ways that companies attempt to reach their potential customers. When all that digital marketing and advertising is paired with all the other advertising that happens outside the online world, it can be overwhelming for consumers.
With so much content in every facet of life, the everyday consumer simply doesn’t notice nearly as many traditional methods of advertising anymore. Many people have become calloused and are too used to seeing these tactics, so much that hardly anyone can even remember physical ads, even ones they saw moments ago.
In fact, banner blindness – a pattern that shows people ignore ads entirely – is a real phenomenon. And it’s affecting businesses everywhere.
What to Do Now
Just because consumers are busier and less likely to absorb ads than ever doesn’t mean that businesses and brands can simply stop their marketing efforts. Quite the contrary – companies must now be more intentional than ever before in seeking out and utilizing new strategies.
This is where influencer-generated content, or IGC, comes into play. Influencers are individuals who have built a dedicated following on social media based on their interests or hobbies. They are considered experts by their audience, and that audience trusts them to deliver valuable opinions and, ultimately, products and services that they will love. User-generated content has been around since the dawn of social media; influencer-generated content is the next iteration, offering more control to brands.
Even on social media, consumers tend to roll their eyes at much of paid advertising. A report recently found that 76% of individuals said they trust other consumers’ products more than branded content, and 92% trust recommendations from others. IGC, as well as UGC (user-generated content) are what you might consider influencer marketing tools that brands and businesses have used to work around such a skepticism towards promotional content.
IGC (Influencer-Generated Content) vs. UGC (User-Generated Content)
User-generated content is content that users create on their own. It’s not posted by influencers; it’s just people excited about something and sharing it with their followers. It is definitely helpful for brands, as word-of-mouth recommendations have always been and will likely always be the number one way for a brand, business, or product to gain popularity. And in the digital age, getting a recommendation from someone you follow, like a friend or family, is huge when it comes to considering said brand. UGC has been a huge factor for marketing strategies on social media, as it is sort of like word-of-mouth marketing on steroids.
However, UGC is mostly helpful for companies who already have a large follower base, like Madewell, who encourages customers to share photos of their denim using the hashtag #denimmadewell. This one UGC campaign has led to over 30,000 Instagram posts. (examples are shown in the image at the top of this post)
For these brands, the buzz created is typically based on the existing popularity of the brand. UGC’s ability to drive (and measure) conversions is limited. Madewell has no way of knowing if anyone makes a purchase because of these posts.
Influencer-generated content, however, has been proven to generate substantial, measurable returns. An influencer marketing campaign as part of a comprehensive influencer marketing program is often the perfect balance between a traditional advertising campaign and word-of-mouth growth. Consumers follow influencers because they trust them and enjoy their content already. When influencers begin generating branded content, especially when a brand is genuinely partnered with that influencer, consumers pay attention.
Benefits of IGC
There are tons of benefits to both UGC and IGC, but like we said, UGC is much more difficult to control and nearly impossible to quantify at any helpful level. Meanwhile, IGC campaigns are a great way to build your brand’s audience, sourcing high-quality content with mass influence over consumers.
Influencer-generated content removes many of the pains and confusions of the influencer marketing space, reducing your risk as well as your overall costs as a company. We’ll discuss that more below, but the point is, there are a number of benefits for any brand utilizing influencers, especially if they are trying to gain more ground in the digital space.
Influencer-generated content is extremely helpful for a smaller brand or company, too. It’s easily scalable, so you can start small and work your way up as needed. As is always the case, influencer campaigns work best when brands work with the influencers to find a balance in the messaging so that the influencer(s) can be authentic while delivering the content.
Reduced Time and Costs
While it can feel scary to give someone control over the messaging when it comes to your product or service, it leads to less work on your end creating the actual content. For digital campaigns of any kind, the goal should always be to find someone you trust to create the content for you so you don’t end up doing all the legwork.
This is the same with your influencer-generated content. Finding someone you can trust to be transparent takes work off your plate and reduces legal risk. If you are partnering with an agency or influencer but you’re creating all the content yourself, you’re missing out on savings. All that content creation takes time and labor, both of which you can reduce by partnering with an influencer who can do the legwork for you.
Authenticity is Always Key
The reason word-of-mouth marketing works so well is that it’s entirely authentic. You wouldn’t share something with a friend or family member unless you trusted the product implicitly. The same goes for user- and influencer-generated content. When done properly, both express authentic love for the brand they are marketing.
However, while it’s always authentic, one of the problems with user-generated content is that your brand has virtually no control over it. While it’s technically free advertising, a user could end up spreading false information or inaccurate details, or worse: they could spread negative messaging. Meanwhile, influencer-generated content still enables the influencer to have control over the tone and branding, but you still get to make sure the information is correct and delivers a positive message about your brand.
Audiences follow influencers in large part because they value and admire the choices those influencers make, not only when it comes to the words and images they post, but also their lifestyle. With so much access to lives outside their own, people are always seeking better ways to live life, and influencers help them to achieve this goal, no matter what their field of interest.
Creating more authentic, sincere content leads to increased engagement. If an audience can tell that an influencer did not write or create their content, they’re going to be just as turned off as they would if they had just seen a promoted post. However, if the influencer is able to use their established voice and tone, audiences feel they can trust it.
Audiences are better than ever before at deciphering tone within text, and they can easily tell when a brand wrote copy or content instead of the person they know and love. Again, it can seem daunting to allow someone else control over your brand’s messaging, but it’s worth it – according to a study, 40% of people admit to purchasing items after seeing an influencer post it on social media.
Break the Mold
Whether it’s in fashion, food, or beauty, influencers are who people look to for recommendations in all areas of their lives. This gives influencers a unique advantage when it comes to marketing. It’s up to brands to find creative solutions to consumers’ blindness for traditional marketing, and influencer-generated content is an excellent way to start.
As the digital era continues to grow, consumers want to feel that they have control over their lives and their purchases, rather than companies having total control over them. Influencer-generated content creates an image that your brand is here for and genuinely cares about the people who would best fit their demographic and market.
Once the content is created, your brand can repurpose the content to revitalize your own platforms, which is crucial for brands who feel they have been stagnant on social media. Additionally, it can be extremely difficult for brands to create organic growth on their social media channels, as audiences are not particularly interested in following brands they’re not familiar with. But having an influencer generating content for you can help that as well, leading to more followers and engagement, especially from followers who try and like your product.
Don’t Break the Bank
Many brands have been hesitant to move towards influencer marketing because it can seem like an unpredictable cost, but the truth is that influencer-generated content is one of the more inexpensive forms of modern day marketing.
With only a small investment, you can obtain nearly guaranteed increases in traffic, sales and social engagement. You don’t need to partner with the biggest influencers online; instead, seek out successful influencers within their scope of interest, whose follower count meets the needs of your brand without breaking the bank.