Today’s new and rising businesses have a unique opportunity to organically grow their brand by partnering with social media influencers, explains Danielle Wiley, founder and CEO of Sway Group.

Scale-up brands

This article is part of a series of articles from the WARC Guide to scale-up brands.

Influencer marketing has become an increasingly mainstream marketing strategy in recent years, featuring a dramatic rise in popularity during the pandemic. Businesses can now collaborate with popular content creators and social media personalities to reach wider audiences and promote products through endorsements or recommendations.

Influencers can help your business reach more people, increase your website traffic, and encourage direct action like sales and downloads.

However, the real value of partnering with influencers – especially for smaller businesses looking to grow – is one that’s all too often overlooked.

By aligning with the right influencers and sharing the right kinds of content, businesses can encourage audiences to shape and contribute to their developing brand.

Partnering with influencers for brand-building

Why use influencers to build a brand? Properly vetted creators who are a strong fit with your business can help organically expand and deepen brand identities. Since they represent and are connected to your target audience, influencers encourage the genuine consumer connections and points of engagement that contribute to a brand’s overall presence.

Brand awareness is one of the most important aspects of growing a business in the right way. Not just making people aware of your business and products, but building the kind of meaningful brand identity that can foster lifelong loyalty.

With influencer marketing, your brand can be encouraged to come to life in a way that’s organic and true to the people it serves: your target audience.

Your brand is how people identify and relate to your business. Being reviewed and recommended by someone that people trust goes a long way towards offering that relatability and relevance.

Brand identity that reflects real sentiments

Your brand is more than the income that your business makes or the products that it sells. Branding can be thought of as the expression of your company values, views, and goals. It’s more about public perception and sentiment than actual services and products.

Essentially, branding comes down to what people think of when they think of your business.

How does your business stand out in people’s minds? How can you best encourage the kind of positive branding associations that leverage real emotional connections? How can your brand set the stage to enable and support growth in your company?

When it comes to answering all of these questions and more, what if you let consumers lead the charge?

Today’s new and growing businesses have the unique opportunity to collaboratively build their brand with the consumers they most want to reach. When brand identity is authentically shaped and contributed to by target audiences, brand superiority and differentiation emerge naturally.

In this way, consumers can better identify and relate to your business – because their interests and needs have been fundamentally built into the core brand value proposition.

Influencer marketing tactics for growing brands

While influencer marketing trends come and go, the main reason this strategy works so well is because of how influencers are perceived.

Influencers are often viewed favorably by their followers and considered to be authorities in their respective niches. Unlike traditional celebrities, social media influencers (especially nano or micro-influencers) tend to be more relatable and trusted by their audiences. Over time, influencers’ recommendations and endorsements can lead to a mountain of social proof for all your potential customers, 

How can businesses that are in growth stages encourage influencer-driven brand collaboration? It all starts with identifying the right people for the job, then executing the right kinds of content strategies.

A few examples:

  • A hair care brand partnering with a Black content creator to showcase how the product protects curled and textured hair, while also sparking a positive discussion around the natural hairstyle movement.
  • A craft glue brand partnering with a DIY enthusiast in order to highlight a number of different projects that successfully incorporate the promoted product, helping audiences expand their usage associations and deepen brand loyalty.
  • A vegan food brand partnering with a nutrition/fitness influencer to emphasize the health aspects of their product with performance in mind, reaching overlap audiences and establishing brand identity within the wellness space.

You know bad influencer marketing when you see it: flat, uninspired posts that are nothing more than parroting existing brand messaging. In comparison, the best kind of sponsored content feels like a natural extension of an influencer’s typical posts, and ideally prompts audiences to engage.

In other words, don’t tell influencers what to say and how to say it. Give them the flexibility to tell audiences about your business in their own way, while also encouraging followers to contribute.

The final word

With the right planning and research, just about every business can benefit from influencer marketing. However, for businesses in the process of developing and refining their growing brands, influencers offer a real benefit over traditional advertising tactics.

Don’t pigeonhole influencer marketing as a strategy for well-established brands. Influential content creators can help shape your brand story in 2022 and beyond.

Read more articles from the WARC Guide to scale-up brands.