Brand loyalty has always been somewhat of a gold standard among consumer products. When someone is loyal to your brand, you’re in a de facto partnership with that person, in hopes that the brand and that person’s tastes will remain close.
Ways that brands build loyalty include practices like:
Ensuring brand consistency
Having beautiful, eye-catching packaging and advertising
Focusing on what the brand does best
Offering periodic specials, coupons, or discounts
Providing outstanding customer service
Loyalty is essential to strong brand growth, because everyone knows it’s significantly less costly to retain existing customers than it is to create new ones. Of course, you don’t forget about drawing new consumers to your brand, but once you have, you want them to stay with you. With the rise of social media platforms has come the rise of influencer marketing, which is a new way of doing something brands have been doing for a long time.
Why Influencer Marketing Is Special
With the original rise of mass media in the 20th century, there were a handful of names that everyone in America knew, and when a brand could persuade one of these household names to endorse a product, they knew their ads would grab attention and boost their brand in public perception.
At the same time, people have always placed considerable weight on brand opinions of friends, families, and colleagues. If, for example, the neighbor with the immaculate lawn recommends a certain brand of mower, that carries significant influence.
Social media influencers combine the recognition factor with the trustworthiness of someone much closer. After all, many of us have interacted with influencers on social media, so we feel a sense of loyalty to them. Therefore, when they recommend a brand or demonstrate a new product, we pay attention if we regularly follow them.
From Mainstream Celebrities to Niche Influencers
One major thing that is different today than it was 50 years ago is that people’s interests are more specialized. People aren’t just interested in “movies,” but in specific categories of movies, like “animated science fiction” or “documentaries about the fashion industry.” Additionally, social media has developed its own “celebrities,” who may influence smaller demographic groups than did a Fred Astaire or a Farrah Fawcett, but who tend to have quite a strong influence on their followers.
Niche influencers elicit powerful loyalty, because when they present us with something new on Facebook or YouTube every few days, we feel as if they’re speaking to us, and not to some indefinable, mass audience. Brands have taken notice, and many of them have partnered with social media influencers to review, demonstrate, or otherwise incorporate the brands into their content.
Brands, Influencers Express Values and Identity
The influencers we choose to follow make a statement about our values and our identity—sometimes very specific statements. And people become strongly connected to their chosen influencers, and in some cases, almost protective of them. They feel much closer to us than whoever is starring in the latest blockbuster film because we know something important about them: we know that they share some fundamental common interest with us. They combine the qualities of the best friend who recommends a brand and the star power of the celebrity endorser.
It May Not Be Easy, but Effects Can Be Remarkable
Influencer marketing may be simple, but it’s not easy. Brands have to establish real partnerships with influencers, and they cannot do anything to detract from the authenticity that gives influencers their impact on followers. It’s worth the effort, however, because when it’s done well, influencer marketing not only retains existing customers, it draws in new consumers all while strengthening brand loyalty.
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