By: Zaid Al-Sahlani, Brand Strategist at ApexDrop Influence Marketing
Don’t let a lack of awareness be a barrier to your brand's successful expansion into the United States. It might sound overwhelming, but with the right resources and marketing strategy, you can get Americans talking about your brand within their communities.
When looking to expand your international footprint, earning trust is vital. Influencer marketing can help you earn trust in your new market. Google ads or social media ads simply don't build that trust. If you want to earn credibility, get real people to create content about your product and share it with their community. Not only will your content be customized for each influencer's audience, but the content -- unlike ads -- lives forever and can be repurposed for all your marketing needs.
If you're unfamiliar with what “influencers” are, don't worry. We'll break it down in this piece. We’ll go over why their content is like jet fuel for brand awareness, and how you can increase sales opportunities in the U.S organically.
What’s an “Influencer” and Why are they Important?
Influencers -- or what we like to call them, lifestyle experts and authentic content creators -- are real people who create and share popular, genuine content. This content can be in the form of photos, videos, blogs, and/or commentary.
So why are they called “influencers”? Because by creating content that resonates well with their sizable and engaged audience, these lifestyle experts can use their opinions and reviews of products to impact purchase decisions.
When brands work with influencers to review or mention products or services on social media platforms (e.g., Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, Pinterest, etc.), this strategy is called influencer marketing.
Marketers consider influencer content to be digital word-of-mouth. And we all know word-of-mouth is the most effective form of marketing for many brands. When people truly love your product, or have a better than expected experience, they naturally want to talk about it. That's very powerful for a brand.
Can these Creators Reach Your Target Market?
For effective influencer marketing, it’s vital to know your target audience. Because most influencers have a specific interest area, we can reach your target audience through proper selection of influencers.
Examples of popular influencer niches include: fashion, fitness, beauty, mommies, pets, lifestyle, LGBTQ, travel, outdoors, and food. Some influencers are even hyper-targeted, with a very narrowly defined interest. A fitness influencer, for example, may focus specifically on crossfit, marathon running, yoga or bodybuilding. Naturally, the followers of an influencer are also interested in the niche. This enables brands to target their messages to relevant segments.
Selecting influencers depends, in part, on your goals. If your goal is to drive brand awareness, cast a wide net. If your goal is only to increase conversions, then take a more hyper-focused approach about your influencers. However, don’t make the common mistake of selecting influencers based on the way they look.
Instead, focus on the quality of their content and their audience. Remember to give content creators the freedom to craft their images and messages for best results. They know how to connect with their community.
Keep your mind open when selecting influencers. Consider testing a few types of influencers to see which works the best. Testing can be a fun and beneficial way to discover a relevant niche. Pet influencers, for example, are not just effective for pet products. They're often used with human products to add stopping power and joy.
“Millennials are three times more likely to research products on social media when deciding which brand/product to buy.”
Why more followers isn’t better
“Influencers” are often categorized by the size of their audience. ApexDrop categorizes them into five tiers by number of followers:
- Celebrity: 1,000,001 + followers
- Maven: 100,001-1,000,000 followers
- Prosumer: 20,001-100,000 followers
- Up-and-Comer: 5,000-20,000 followers
- Nano: up to 5,000 followers
While audience size is often used to define types of influencers, engagement rate is a far more important measure. More often than not, those with 100,000 or fewer followers have more highly engaged followers and more credibility than their celebrity counterparts. With a smaller audience that has been built over time, influencers can respond and interact with followers. This engagement builds trust.
“Social media is the top information source in a consumer's decision-making process.”
Telling Your Story Through User-Generated-Content
User-Generated-Content (UGC) is exceptional for storytelling. It not only helps tell your story but the people making the content weave it into their personal narrative in a very attractive and natural manner. For a foreign company looking for a foothold in the U.S., this kind of third-party validation builds trust with a new audience.
While you can buy advertising, high-quality micro-influencers won’t endorse products and services unless they genuinely believe in them. When these creators stay true to their values, they retain a faithful audience. As a result, a content creator can build a brand’s credibility.
From Storytelling To Sales Lift
Brands must create a significant amount of content and build consumer trust before they can become a household name. One of the best ways to do both is by gaining positive, content-rich, social media reviews.
“Research shows that influencer content is even more powerful than general user-generated content.”
Research by Salesforce suggests that, on average, consumers engage with 11.4 pieces of content before purchasing a product. Furthermore, SKIMgroup found that millennials are three times more likely to research products on social media when deciding which brand/product to buy.
While it may seem like Google reviews are the be-all and end-all, Nielsen suggests that social media is the top information source in a consumer's decision-making process. They also found that adults spend a staggering 5.5 hours on social media a week, equating to 36% of their overall weekly media time.
Between the amount of time consumers spend on social and consuming content, brands have the best chance of breaking into the U.S. market if they're active on social media. Brands significantly strengthen their social media impact when they align with influential content creators.
But why not go with your regular Joe or Jane? Research shows that influencer content is even more powerful than general UGC. A study by Nielsen found that expert content:
- Increased purchase intent by 83% more than user reviews
- Lifted brand familiarity 50% more than user reviews
- Amplified brand affinity 20% more than user reviews
Be the Brand Americans Want to Buy From
Cone Communications found that 87% of American consumers will purchase products from a business if that business advocates for an issue they cared about. What’s more, nine in 10 Americans said, given similar prices and quality, they would switch to a new brand if they were associated with a good cause. For instance, ApexDrop has worked with an array of mission-focused brands such as Dropps (eco-friendly), Abby & Finn (charitable), and Universal Standard (inclusivity).
U.S. consumers want to know about your company culture, values, and mission—not just your products and services. Find influencers that help highlight your company's beliefs because their followers often have similar sets of interests and values. Expose your positive mission with relevant influencers, and American consumers will be more willing to explore your brand.
Red, White, and Brands
If you’re looking to make it in the American market, influencer marketing should be part of your digital marketing strategy. At ApexDrop, our vetted content creators are excited to try new brands and show them to their friends, families, and followers.
Ready to learn more about influencer marketing? Check out the case studies and articles below.
When you’re ready to bring your brand to the States, ApexDrop is here to help. To learn more about what we can do for you, schedule a call page and talk with one of our brand strategists.
About the Author
Zaid Al-Sahlani is a brand strategist with ApexDrop. A self-proclaimed marketing nerd, Zaid formerly headed up the Small Business Development Center in Indiana, Pennsylvania. He also has a passion for the jewelry industry, having worked for a custom jeweler for several years (and still does in his free time).
His upbringing in an immigrant family gives Zaid an authentic interest and understanding of world cultures. He is an exceptional communicator and is bilingual in English and Arabic. Connect with Zaid on LinkedIn or reach out to him with your thoughts and questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.