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Black Friday and the role of influencer marketing

Many brands for Black Friday this year are turning to influencer marketing on social media platforms as one of their leading methods to draw in customers. Facebook Insights suggest that 63% of consumers use Facebook for shopping activities, while 83% of Instagram users discover new products and services on the platform.  Brandon Brown, CEO and Co-Founder at GRIN – a creator management platform – discuss why Black Friday is the best time to capitalise on the opinions of content creators, why social media purchasing is more impulsive than in-store buying, features that make Instagram and Facebook ideal for BF marketing, and more.

Brands are playing a new game on Black Friday this year.

There was a time when consumers turned to companies and television stations for their source of product information. But that’s the old way. Now we tune into people. This changes the way the entire marketing team operates. The focus is on elevating social media creators as the new brand storytellers.

This new game is played in a space we call the Creator Economy. Within the Creator Economy, millions of everyday digital creators use social channels to build engaged online communities. These creators provide their followers with the kind of human touch that traditional, brand-controlled marketing can no longer compete with.

Influencer marketing sits at the head of the table in the Creator Economy. The stories that social media influencers tell about the products they love are proven to both drive sales and build lasting relationships with consumers. And will be key to a successful Black Friday marketing strategy.

In influencer marketing, trust and authenticity is everything

Too many brands – past and present – think they can bypass trust and authenticity to achieve their goals. But at the end of the day, no matter how much you pay someone, you’re either a part of the culture or you’re not.

The word “influencer” has a negative connotation to some. But the truth is, consumers don’t hate influencers – they just don’t like being lied to.

That’s why trust and authenticity is the secret to influencer marketing. When people trust an endorsement and sense a real relationship, they’ll believe what they hear.

So how can we build it?

Brands have to create honest connections with influencers by building strong personal relationships. To do this, an influencer must love the brand, use the product, and believe in both.

When influencers become true believers, they will gladly promote a brand’s products and services. They also become a spokesperson for the company, which helps it to share its brand story and make it more relatable on a human level.

​​Each of these relationships strengthen the brand’s overall influencer marketing program, creating a dynamic asset inside the organization and a rich network of authentic content creators to be used across the marketing mix.

Who are these influencers, anyway?

Not every creator is an influencer, and not every influencer manages 100,000-plus followers. In fact, influencers can have as few as 1,000 followers to be considered an “influencer.” That said, the Creator Economy is broad and always evolving. But there are several categories influencers can fall under.

Nano influencers (1,000-10,000 followers)

Nano influencers should have the highest engagement rates of any influencers. Because of their audience size, nano influencers have the deepest connection with their followers, which translates into high conversion rates.

Micro influencers (10,000-100,000 followers)

This is currently the most popular influencer size. Micro influencers are small enough to still maintain genuine connections with their audience and large enough to significantly raise brand awareness.

Macro influencers (100,000-1 million followers)

Macro influencers offer a wide reach for their brand partners. While their audience may not be as deeply engaged as those influencers with smaller followings, macro influencers are valuable for marketing objectives like increasing brand awareness, website traffic, and organic social growth.

Mega/celebrity influencers (1 million-plus followers)

Though expensive, celebrity influencers can create the biggest splash for brands that want to grow awareness quickly. Celebrities like professional athletes, movie stars, etc., often use social media to connect with their fans and create more in-real-life (IRL) content. The IRL content from celebrities often perceived as larger-than-life can be a great way to make them (and the brands they promote) appear more authentic.

Influencer marketing, by the numbers

The Creator Economy is currently estimated at more than $100 billion and is growing every day. This has made influencer marketing one of the fastest growing marketing trends in the world, with 48% of marketing professionals running at least one program in 2020. More than 70% of those companies said they plan to increase their influencer marketing budget next year.

The increase all comes down to the trust and credibility social media influencers have with their audience.

Because successful influencers are perceived as an honest and trustworthy source, 80% of consumers said they completed a purchase after seeing an influencer recommend a product or service on social media. When it comes to brand awareness, more than half of consumers said word-of-mouth and social media are their preferred way to discover new brands.

Where to find the right influencers

Overall, highly-visual platforms consistently outscore those that are less visual when it comes to leveraging social media commerce (s-commerce) and driving sales. These platforms are also where you will find the most effective creator partners.

A recent survey found that social media users are most active on the following channels:

  • Instagram (72%)
  • Facebook (71%)
  • Youtube (63%)
  • Snapchat (54%)
  • TikTok (49%)
  • Twitter (45%)

The power of social media as a selling tool is well documented. More than 92% of brands are expected to implement some form of social media into their marketing strategies by next year, with social network advertising spending expected to jump to more than $56 billion in the United States.

The reason is simple: Social media is where consumers (and influencers) live.

The value of social s-commerce sales is already at $732 billion worldwide. By 2026, forecasters expect that value to reach nearly $3 trillion.

The brands hoping to ride that sales wave will need help, and social media creators who can provide honest endorsements and generate positive buzz for the products and services they love will be their greatest allies.

Final thoughts

Black Friday is just as competitive for brands looking to cash in on the holiday sales rush as it is for the consumers who flood retail and ecommerce stores. The most successful brands have their Black Friday influencer marketing strategy ready months in advance because they recognize the time it takes to cultivate authentic creator partnerships and a clear set of campaign goals.

Influencers have already done the legwork of captivating engaged online followers. Now brands have to use them to bring honesty back to brand collaborations by creating authentic partnerships that benefit not only themselves, but the consumer first and foremost.

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