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Influencer marketing is one of the most buzzworthy digital marketing topics of the year. It seems like every brand is either already running an influencer campaign, or considering how they can implement one.

Influencer marketing has many benefits, but it’s a paid channel and the costs to work with well-known influencers can be significant. As more brands have begun to invest in influencer marketing and specific influencers have become more sought after, the amount that influencers can charge for an average buy is increasing. Higher costs mean the stakes for brands are significant. It’s essential to be aware of what benefits influencer marketing can deliver if you’re going to invest in the channel.

Key benefits of influencer marketing

Influencer marketing is a powerful tool for accomplishing a handful of common marketing goals. Below are five key reasons we see for recommending adding influencer marketing to our clients’ marketing strategies.

Be introduced to new audiences

One obvious reason to consider influencer marketing for your brand is that it has the power to introduce your company to new audiences that you would be otherwise unlikely to reach. Influencers spend their lives building up an audience of devoted followers who respect the influencer’s taste, sense of style, skill in a certain area, or advice, wisdom, or lifestyle.

If you’ve partnered with the right influencer, their audience will have interests and personal preferences that align to your brand, but they may never have heard of your brand specifically, or they’re aware of the brand but not of the benefits of your products. This is where influencer marketing comes in. By tapping their large and engaged followings, influencers can introduce your brand to tens of thousands (or even hundreds of thousands) of potential customers.

Acquire new followers

Though your long-term, overarching goal may be to drive sales, influencer marketing can help accomplish the smaller, intermediary goal of acquiring more social followers. Having an audience of social followers allows you to market to them on a continuous basis, educating them about your brand and encouraging them closer and closer toward a purchase.

Because most influencer marketing activity happens on social media, follower growth can happen quite naturally. Influencers tag your brand in their posts, and interested members of their audiences will click through to your brand channel. You’re virtually guaranteed to collect followers this way, which helps you build an engaged audience of your own.

Develop unique content

Any brand doing content marketing is familiar with the challenges that accompany the channel. Because virtually every brand with a digital presence is investing in content marketing, it can be very challenging to produce enough interesting and unique content to stand out. In fact, according to survey data, 43% of marketers say their greatest content marketing challenge is having the bandwidth available to create the content they need.

Influencer marketing can contribute to solving content marketing problems because it provides an influx of fresh content that can be repurposed across many different channels. Influencer content can be incorporated as part of a specific campaign or product launch, and used to support your marketing messages across many channels.

Get personal brand referrals

All marketers know that the most powerful form of marketing is word-of-mouth referrals. But word-of-mouth referrals are very difficult to acquire, and even harder to measure. Besides which, they require that you already have an existing, satisfied customer base who will recommend you. For many young brands, this customer base simply doesn’t exist yet.

Influencer marketing has the benefit of looking and feeling like a personal recommendation. Followers don’t actually know the influencer personally, but they respect the influencer’s opinion and trust their recommendations. Even if users know that influencers are paid by the brands they endorse, there’s an assumption that influencers won’t work with brands whose mission, purpose, or products they don’t support, so the power of the brand referral still stands.

Amplify branding power

Influencer marketing can help drive home your company’s message and brand values. The very decision to partner with a specific influencer says a lot about your brand and what’s important to you. Every influencer has his or her own personal aesthetic and set of values, and working with an influencer is a way of linking your brand to those values.

Because influencers are seen as unbiased, authentic sources of information by their followers, when you work with the right influencers, some of that authenticity is transferred to your brand. No matter how authentic your own company messaging may be, it’s still generated by your company and will always engender a certain level of wariness or skepticism from consumers. Influencers, who don’t work within your company itself, do not have the same problem, and thus can be a source of marketing messages that feel as genuine as possible.

While it’s clear that strategic influencer marketing campaigns can have many brand benefits, it’s important to weigh the value of those benefits against the cost of running the campaign and to ensure that the outcomes of the campaigns align to brand objectives. Influencer marketing isn’t a risk-free channel, and it needs to be strategized and managed properly in order to be successful.