The popularity of social media has created a whole new job market that didn’t exist 10 years ago. Today, millennials have paying jobs as fashion bloggers and YouTube personalities. With their growing popularity, brands are opting to work with them as influencers to connect with younger audiences. These types of influencers can sometimes be more useful to brands than big celebrities with conventional careers, like actors and athletes. 

One of the key things brands look for in an influencer is a substantial and loyal following on social media. The reason for this is that it’s the perfect mix of aspiration and relatability. Regular people are more likely to trust someone they follow – who shop at the same places they do and just so happens to be moderately famous on social media – over a huge celeb who probably doesn’t even do their own shopping. Social media influencers are relatable because they make people feel like they’re being recommended something by a trusted friend.

The British YouTube sensation, Zoella, has made a career out of being an influencer. With over 11 million YouTube subscribers, she grew an online following with a lifestyle channel recommending her favourite products, from shampoo and shoes to easy cooking, makeup, and hair tutorials. Zoella has collaborated with brands like Unilever and Topshop. She is a personality who might not have global, cross-generational fame but still has a lot of influence on a specific platform – social media. Her followers engage with her content because they trust and like her.

Another reason why the social media marketing and influencer relationship is such a hit is that brands can pay a lot less and get a much larger return on investments. It is extremely convenient that these influencers aren’t as famous as traditional ambassadors like movie stars and musicians. They can pay influencers less and sometimes get more out of that deal as the audience relates to them better.

“Influencers are great because they can reach consumers via their blogs and social networks in a way that individual brands might not be able to,” says Julia Rhodes, head of social media at Stretch Marketing.

A company like Twisp e-cigarettes uses influencers of all types to get the right people to not only see their products, but buy them. They actually mix it up by enlisting traditional ambassadors like musicians Locnville as well as social media influencers like Nkanyezi Kubheka.

Kubheka has a large social media following on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. He is known for speaking his mind, no matter how controversial, and this is why he is so popular on social media. So when he posts about Twisp on social media, his followers will trust that it is a cool and quality product.

A McKinsey Study found that marketing-inspired word-of-mouth generates more than twice the sales of paid advertising, and these customers have a 37% higher retention rate. The beauty of social media is that it is like a sociological experiment that shows us how human beings think and operate.

These numbers from the McKinsey Study indicate that expensive, flashy campaigns won’t cut it anymore – especially since consumers are being bombarded with a plethora of them on a daily basis. To grow a loyal following, brands need to be creative and unconventional in their methods. Social media influencers are a great way to connect with the customer in a human, authentic way. 

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