What Is Influencer-Generated Content and How to Use It to Help Your Brand
GRIN also recommends this free guide: How to Get ROI from Influencer Marketing.
The influencer marketing industry has more than doubled between 2018 and 2020. More than ever before, social media savvy users are impacting what consumers buy. And if you’re like most brands, you want to know how influencer-generated content can help you connect with your target audience.
Image via Statista
The Value of Influencer-Generated Content
What is influencer-generated content?
As the name suggests, influencer-generated content is all content sourced from influencers that mentions your brand in a positive light. These posts don’t have to be brand sponsored. In fact, some of the best influencer-generated content occurs without you asking the influencer to do so.
Traditionally an influencer is a social media user with an online community of at least 1,000 followers on any given channel. The influencer is a trusted source to their community and actively engages with them. Audiences look to influencers for inspiration and information, to include purchase recommendations.
Image via eMarketer
The ongoing benefits of influencer content include:
- Brand credibility
- Lower costs (compared to in-house content creation costs)
- Increased social content
- Connection with engaged consumers (brand followers, brand communities, etc.)
- Informed customers
- Increased conversions
- Greater customer loyalty
What’s the difference between influencer-generated content and user-generated content?
Influencer-generated content is a type of user generated content, but user-generated content can come from anyone, regardless of how many followers that person has.
That said, marketers have discovered that a rising class of niche influencers are beginning to dominate the broader world of user generated content, even if those creators have fewer followers than one would expect. Neal Schaffer, author of The Age of Influence, noted in a recent interview:
“I don’t think an influencer has to be paid to become an influencer. I don’t think that an influencer needs to have 100,000 followers to be an influencer. But they’ve been constantly creating content around a subject. And they’ve been able to build a community around that.” – Neal Schaffer, GRIN Gets Real Podcast
Because of these trends, brands are taking all brand mentions seriously. Everyday users on social media are learning how to create vibrant communities, and even smaller communities can have an amazing impact on a brand’s bottom line.
Why is influencer-generated content so valuable?
“Moving the needle” on social media is increasingly more difficult as users flood platforms and paid ad ROI depreciates with repetition. To retain the authenticity that users demand, social platforms increasingly favor the efforts of creative experts.
These creative experts consistently publish compelling content and can curate a fan base around a particular lifestyle or set of values. Some of these users are photographers, videographers, and bloggers, but many of them are ordinary people with a unique voice that cuts through the “social noise.”
The demand for authenticity is such that brands can’t compete with influencer content on consumer newsfeeds without help from those influencers. Neal Schaffer continues:
“I believe that companies that don’t collaborate with influencers are going to be spending more and more money on paid social, and it becomes less and less effective over time.”
In short, consumers don’t trust a brand’s content or their paid advertising in the same way that they trust their favorite influencers. Any social media approach that ignores influencer-generated content is simply unsustainable.
Top Ways that Influencer-Generated Content Can Help Your Brand
Inform Your Audience
Influencers often assume dual roles of industry experts and friend recommendations. Consumers prefer to gather information for themselves and with the help of other consumers before believing what a brand has to say about its own products and services.
Leveraging influencers to convey information to your audience will not only help you build credibility, but it will also differentiate your products from your competitors.
Image via Statista
Examples of influencer-generated content that inform your audience include:
- Product reviews
- Before/after posts
- Influencer guest posts on your website
Promote Social Values and Lifestyle Choices
If you’re like most brands today, you do business a certain way and serve a particular audience. Both of these choices demonstrate that you have values and seek to reach consumers with a specific lifestyle.
Influencers frequently connect with consumers on social issues and lifestyle choices. When you achieve audience alignment with an influencer, you will build consumer excitement that is deeper than a surface appreciation for your products.
In other words, influencers help you achieve brand loyalty based on your brand’s unique DNA. Examples of this kind of influencer content include:
- Cause awareness posts
- Lifestyle images and videos
- “I love this brand because…” posts
- General industry or lifestyle guidance
Publicize Special Events or Announcements
If there’s one thing that influencers do very well, it’s getting the word out to niche audiences. Influencer posts that help you make relevant announcements receive far more impressions and engagements than if you’d tried to make those announcements yourself. While also driving traffic to your website.
Influencers can get the word out many different ways, including:
- Sharing brand hashtags
- Promoting RSVP links to events
- Ephemeral content (i.e., Instagram Stories)
- Joining or hosting Live video posts
- Influencer whitelisting posts
Blogger influencers can greatly contribute to your website’s search engine rankings. Not only will they drive traffic to your website, but if the influencer’s website has a high domain authority, then a backlink to your site could raise your domain authority, too.
“Behind the Scenes” Look
Brands are increasingly looking for ways to be authentic themselves. An influencer collaboration could help consumers get a “behind the scenes” look at your business. This tactic can endear audiences to your brand and raise awareness.
Product Best Case Uses
Some of the most popular influencer content features product best practices and case uses. If your influencer understands how your product works and can feature your product in a “how-to” video or blog, then you can increase conversions and reduce pressure on your customer service team.
The most common product use case influencer posts include:
- How-to tutorials
Top Types of Influencer-Generated Content to Use on Your Website
When most marketers think about influencer-generated content, they typically think about social media posts. And while it’s true that the vast majority of influencer content takes places on social media, many marketers are looking for ways to integrate influencer posts with their web content.
Image via eMarketer
This approach will help your brand in two ways:
- Integrating influencer content with your website will drive more traffic to your website; and,
- Calling out influencer content on your website helps your influencers.
For example, SlumberPod, illustrates some great ways to weave influencer-generated content throughout their website.
Image via SlumberPod
How-To and FAQ Content
Particularly on YouTube, “how-to” tutorials are among the most watched types of content online today. Additionally, instructions and product questions are frequent searches on Google.
After an influencer posts a tutorial or question-answer post on their social channel, you can embed that post or video into sections of your website.
Image via SlumberPod
Consumers love watching influencers unbox products or compare several products at once. These videos help your customers make a wise purchase, and they can also generate excitement at the prospect of having the product for themselves.
Similar to how you embed tutorials and FAQs, you can include these product reviews on your home page or turn a product review into a long-form blog post.
Image via SlumberPod
Anytime that you decide to host an event, you’ll want to provide details for others to learn about the event and join virtually. You can create a specific page for your event and then ask your influencers to share a link to that page in their content.
This event page should include any critical details, as well as sign-up instructions and ways to engage your brand during the event. If you’re co-hosting an event with your influencer, be sure to collaborate with that influencer when creating your event page.
After the event, you may want to upload the live event to your brand social pages and embed the video on your website.
Similar to your event page, it’s always a good idea to create a separate web page for your contests. Not only will this offer you a central location from which to share all the contest rules and prizes, but the web page link will be easy to share for your influencers.
Image via The Skin Games
At the end of the event, you can use a web page to declare the winner and promote your next contest.
If you publish blogs on your website, influencers make great guest bloggers. Influencers tend to be highly knowledgeable about your customer pain points. Additionally, featuring a post from a famous blogger can increase excitement about your blog.
Image via SlumberPod
When using influencers for guest blogs, make sure that they are qualified to speak to a particular topic. It’s often best to ask the influencer what they feel comfortable writing about and how the topic will benefit your audience.
Image via SlumberPod
Creating an Influencer-friendly Website
What is an influencer-friendly website?
An influencer-friendly website is one that does two things:
- It showcases your influencer content.
- It provides all necessary tools for your influencers to be a success.
To do both well means that you will need to have conversations with your influencers about how they feel about your website and how you can improve it to better connect with your audience.
How to Create an Influencer-friendly Website
Building an influencer-friendly website might look different depending on your product and industry. But the most common ways to do so are:
- Make sure that your website is search engine friendly. An SEO-friendly website is one that has a secure domain and has been indexed by Google. This step establishes your website’s credibility with both influencers and consumers.
- Make your website mobile friendly. It’s important to remember that most people access the Internet today from their mobile devices. Websites that are a challenge to scroll through on mobile can detract web visitors.
- Create an influencer/ambassador sign-up page. As your brand grows, you will have many influencers reaching out to you for a chance to join your influencer community. You can create an informational sign-up page to facilitate these requests.
- Make all your web content shareable on social media. When your web content is easy to share on social media, influencers and other users can easily promote content that they love.
- Use landing pages for every special event or promotion. Virtual events, contests, and promotions are just a few things that ought to be featured on a separate page of your website. This technique helps you centralize your information and helps social media users share the special event with their followers.
- Feature influencer content as much as possible. Influencers will often produce better product images and videos than you can create yourself. Additionally, repurposed influencer content saves you production costs. Lastly, influencers will be flattered that you would feature their content on your website. As a disclaimer, make sure that you have the rights to influencer content before you use it on your website.
Influencer-generated content can cut through the noise of digital ads and branded content to build trust with consumers. In addition to increasing your brand awareness and driving sales, influencers can give your brand credibility that would take years to achieve otherwise.
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