SEO Lead at digital marketing agency in Hong Kong. Big on UX, analytics and conversions.
Nowadays, there are many ways to give your SEM (Search Engine Marketing) efforts a boost, and many of the latest go way beyond simply using keywords to your advantage. One of the most effective comes from your thumb. Well, maybe not your actual thumb, but from the hundreds, perhaps thousands of social media influencers you scroll through on a daily basis on such platforms as Instagram, YouTube, Facebook and even Snapchat.
Think about what it means to read a post by an influencer. It goes way beyond getting their opinion on a certain photo they’ve taken or a product they seem to be promoting. Click on their profile and you enter an entire universe of their making, subject to and defined by their rules and their perspectives, and supported by the thousands, sometimes hundreds of thousands, sometimes millions of followers.
People who tune in to their every move and every decision. People whose shopping habits, browsing patterns and everyday decisions are impacted by those they follow. That’s why they’re known as “influencers” and not merely the old-school term “celebrities.”
There are influencers in virtually every lifestyle category nowadays.
Top categories include:
Fashion & Beauty, including shopping hauls and how-to videos
Travel & Lifestyle, which gives rise to exotic selfies all over the world
Celebrity & Entertainment, which allows people to follow their favourite celebrities like never before
Sports, giving professional athletes a chance to expand their reach to the global scale
Health & Fitness, covering everything from exercise videos to alternative well-being content
Family, Home & Parenting, a category that’s particularly appealing to young mothers and fathers
Business & Tech, which is proving highly-successful amongst today’s burgeoning fintech industry
Why are influencers so valuable?
These influencers are seen as authorities in their fields simply because they’ve managed to appeal to such a wide range of people, garnering their trust and dedication by means of acquiring their following. Watching an influencer go about his or her daily routines, sharing personal stories and—from a more advertising-aligned angle—divulging their experiences using certain products gives followers a vicarious sense of participation and, as a result, belonging.
Say a certain tech influencer shows off his latest model drone, one out of thousands of new drones introduced that year. Any one of his followers who were on the fence about which drone to buy could feel more compelled to choose the drone chosen their favourite influencer, simply because they feel their choice has been validated. Hence the rise of influencer marketing.
Influencer-led marketing is doing more than just catching on—it’s eclipsing traditional advertising, as audiences now consider influencers to be a more authentic means of brand promotion than the brands themselves.
As a matter of fact, Business Insider Intelligence estimates that by 2022, influencer marketing will reach $10 billion—up from a measly $2 billion in 2017. Influencers by and large have tremendous power to improve brand awareness, generate leads and drum up interest in just about any topic with almost instantaneous results.
How does influencer marketing work?
Now that you know more about why influencer marketing exists, let’s take a look at how leveraging the reach of influencers may help your SEM strategy, and more specifically, your SEO efforts.
Influencers provide two-pronged approach to enhancing the efficacy of your search optimization campaign:
Providing backlinks: these links to your website from hot, authoritative influencer content is an extremely effective way to boost site traffic. Over time, it also helps to build a stronger arsenal of relative content as well as a solid SEO backlink profile.
Traffic itself: Google rankings will pick up on the increased traffic to your site that results from a successful influencer marketing campaign, ultimately increasing your search rankings.
The key to harnessing the power of influencers to drive traffic to your business is first to choose the right level of influencer, then to create a campaign that looks and feels as organic as possible.
It’s easy enough for anybody with access to a smartphone or computer to create content and call him or herself an influencer, but the quality of the content in which your campaign will be featured is of the utmost importance so you need to be litigious in choosing who to work with.
A-list, which includes major celebrities with the most social pull and which, as a result, would be the most difficult to acquire.
B-list, which includes specialists in a certain field, such as food bloggers or beauty experts. While those on the B-list are generally easier to contact, they tend to be very selective about which brands they feature, which could actually work in your favour because it implies integrity.
And then there’s the C-list, which comprises local experts in fields such as food, gaming, wellness, etc. who leverage their distinctive, outgoing personality to create instructional videos on anything from makeup tutorials to how to take proper photos with a smartphone.
While the C-list is loaded with many golden opportunities, it also can be loaded with opportunists who are willing to do anything for free products, so be careful in choosing to ensure a proper return on your investment.
Getting your influencer campaign up and running
First you need to choose an influencer! There are many ways to choose an influencer, ranging from basic keyword research that combines optimised keywords with such terms as blogger, YouTuber, Instagrammer or Influencer, to the fine art of “hashtagging,” which essentially requires you to translate key search terms into popular hashtags, then sort through the results that will include which influencers are using these hashtags, and in what way, frequency, etc.
You can also employ an influencer platform such as Revfluence, Primal, Traackr, Onalytica and Buzzoole. These massive databases list influencers as well as their various niches and within the scope of numerous SEO metrics, making it easy to gauge the potential collaboration value for your project.
Once you’ve chosen a proper influencer, it’s all about establishing a solid influencer marketing programme. As most platforms nowadays require sponsored content to be marked as such, this can have a diminishing effect on the credibility of your campaign by making potential clickers see it as little more than a regular advert. So they key is to create content-driven initiatives that give the influencer a chance to broadcast core elements of your brand in the visual style that’s made them so famous. Introduce the product or service you’re pushing to the influencer and allow them to take their own individual angle and relate your brand to their own relevant interests which will, therefore, be more relevant to their target audiences. Not only will this (in many cases) be a way to outmanoeuvre the sponsorship disclaimer, it’ll also be evergreen content you’ll be able to use in the future to continue building your backlink profile.
Put it this way: the more work you put into getting your chosen influencer to really relate to your product or service, the better it will sound overall to the audiences. Rather than hear the influencer say, “You should get this product!” you’d rather see him or her say, “I really like this product for the following reasons…” The latter not only sounds better and more organic, it builds a case for your brand overall, not just the product or service on which the influencer marketing campaign focuses.
Overall, leveraging social media influencers to boost your SEO efforts carries a great deal of powerful potential. It’s just important to do your homework when it comes to choosing the social vehicle and influencer, because when it comes down to it, you’re more or less nominating them to represent your brand to the entire world. But done right, the best partnerships can result in many years of strong content and growing brand engagement.