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Technology Open Mic Influencer Marketing

Influencers are changing how we buy - is your brand ready?

By Scott Morris, CMO, Sprout Social

Tagger by Sprout Social


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May 1, 2024 | 4 min read

New research from Sprout Social found that almost half of consumers indicate that they make daily, weekly or monthly purchases because of content they saw influencers post.

For as long as social media has been around, marketers have struggled to articulate its impact on revenue. Many brands still quantify social media in terms of metrics like reach, engagement and sentiment—and in the most sophisticated cases, revenue. So it's no surprise that when we think about influencer marketing, our conversations default to KPIs like views, comments and impressions.

But the truth is this: Influencer marketing has a greater impact on conversion and sales than we give it credit for. New research from Sprout Social found that almost half of consumers indicate that they make daily, weekly or monthly purchases because of content they saw influencers post.

In the same way we turn to friends, family and coworkers for product recommendations, our spending habits are increasingly shaped by influencers.

Even among changing consumer preferences, trust remains a priceless commodity that every brand must build in order to compete. It’s now clear that influencers are not only viable but necessary partners to tap into consumer trust, especially among younger generations in a market with seemingly endless purchasing options. Brands who put influencers at the core of their strategies, on and off social, will reap the benefits.

Social fuels the discovery-to-purchase pipeline

Pigeon-holing social as an awareness mechanism only underscores the undeniable role it plays in product discovery.

Eight in 10 consumers say social media is their primary channel for learning about new products and services, according to a Q1 2024 Sprout Pulse Survey - ranking significantly higher than TV / streaming, digital and print media. Unlike traditional media where paid ads and product placements reign, social offers a breadth of ways to hear about new brands: company-published content, mentions from peers we follow and, of course, influencers.

Over the last few years, the influencer economy has expanded from a nascent byproduct of social media to an industry in and of itself. At the same time, consumer trust in influencers has held steady and—in some pockets—grown. Nearly half of consumers trust influencers as much as they did six months ago, and another 30% trust them more, according to our Influencer Marketing Report. Millennials and Gen Z are the most trusting, largely because they grew up consuming influencer content and know they’re sometimes being sold to (and they’re generally okay with it).

Yes, brands that partner with relevant social media influencers benefit from a reach and engagement boost. But we can’t deny the impact these partnerships also have on product recall and purchasing once consumers are ready to buy.

Influencer partnerships don’t end once the content goes live

As influencers become more entwined with our shopping habits, it’s important to consider how they’ll factor into our post-purchase experience as well.

Though our research found that only 29% of all consumers are likely to share product feedback with influencers, this rises to 41% for Gen Z and 62% among people who already make daily or weekly purchases based on influencers’ recommendations.

Many brands’ social customer care operations are still a work in progress, especially compared to traditional service and support channels. The influencer marketing boom will add a new layer of complexity to social care, forcing brands to develop ways of capturing questions and concerns that bypass company-owned channels completely. This will only become more vital as the purchasing power of younger generations grows.

But this also presents an opportunity for brand-influencer relationships to become richer, more mutually beneficial collaborations. The influencers you partner with have an even more direct view into your customers’ sentiment and feedback—insights that can help your brand pivot in real-time and grow long-term.

Don’t underestimate the impact of influence

Influencer marketing is a full-funnel activation, not just an awareness play. As influencers continue to impact buying decisions, marketing leaders have to ask:

  • Are we allocating enough resources to growing our influencer program? If not, what’s blocking us?
  • Is our tech stack set up to draw the line between influencer efforts and revenue?
  • Do we have a customer care strategy in place that encompasses product feedback influencers receive?

It’s time to let go of preconceived notions about how influencer marketing can affect your business. The consumer trends emerging now are only a preview of how intertwined influencers and commerce will become.

Technology Open Mic Influencer Marketing


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