The unstoppable rise of the social media influencer

Over the past few years, social media influencers have crept into social marketing strategies the world over. The social media influencer movement is big business, and we’re often asked: ‘Are they worth it?’ and ‘Do I dare go down that road?’ We’re here to tell you that yes, it can work. It works exceptionally well for certain products and services (a little too well, if you ask some business owners who sold out of everything within minutes of an influencer’s Instagram post or story).

In this article, we give it to you straight about what a social media influencer is and whether they should form part of your marketing strategy. We also tell you how to go about selecting an influencer that’s right for your business – if at all.

Breaking down the role of the social media influencer

Basically, a social media influencer is a social media user who has established credibility in a specific industry. They have access to a large audience of highly engaged followers and can influence behaviour and purchasing decisions due to their reach and perceived authenticity.

In many cases, a social media influencer’s audience respects them, looks up to them and wants to be just like them. People put their faith in what the influencer says and does and, in a business sense, what helps them become successful, what products work for them, how they live their best life and so on.

Now you might be a sceptic and say, ‘No way that would never happen!’ But it has. Big time. Social media influencers make and break businesses every day. Here are three examples of influencers making BIG bucks and wielding tremendous influence.

Blog post on social media influencer marketing kylie jenner kayla itsines gary vaynerchuck by Sketch Corp.

Kylie Jenner (@kyliejenner)

We’re not Kardashian people here at the studio, but there’s no denying the enormous success of the youngest Kardashian sibling, Kylie Jenner. Considered Instagram’s most valuable influencer, just one sponsored post from Kylie is worth over a million dollars in ‘ad equivalent value’. It’s no wonder Kylie became the youngest billionaire ever (at age 21) earlier this year – a fortune amassed from her company, Kylie Cosmetics, which is marketed almost entirely on social media.

Kayla Itsines (@kayla_itsines)
Softly spoken Adelaide-born personal trainer, author and entrepreneur Kayla Itsines is the ultimate fitness social media influencer with a following of 11.4 million and a net worth of around $486 million – largely thanks to her Bikini Body Guides ebooks, clever use of hashtags and the meal-planning and workout app Sweat With Kayla.

Gary Vaynerchuk (@garyvee)

Our studio loves what Gary V has to say about pretty much anything – especially when it comes to social marketing strategy. With a comparatively humble Instagram following of 5.4 million, Gary has built up super-engaged social media audiences across Facebook and LinkedIn. The social media technology advocate also hosts his his own podcasts and vlogs. An early investor in Facebook, Snapchat, Venmo and Uber, Gary’s forcefully delivered, no-bullshit opinions have captivated the world. He often uses his thriving socials as ‘proof’ that content crushes in material for his company, VaynerMedia.

There are PLENTY more where these three came from, but they are prime examples of three wildly diverse characters killing it as social media influencers.

It’s indeed a lucrative business and a very attractive career path for young people finishing school and weighing up their options. To younger millennials, the perception is that social media influencers have it all and live the high life 24/7 at the hottest restaurants and nightclubs. They appear to have the best clothes, bodies, cars, friends, you name it. It’s easy to assume they’re having more fun than anybody. You can understand why taking a crack as a social media influencer is a more appealing option than starting in the mail room of a top tier company with 10+ years of grind ahead of you (if you even make it to the top). Us older millennials know it’s not that simple and the easy street of a social media influencer has to be too good to be true. Ironically, Gary Vee’s messaging teaches that you learn your best lessons during the grind phase of life.

Finding success as a social media influencer is actually much harder now than it used to be. These days you need a clear strategy on how your social account is going to wield influence. Influencing successfully requires a long-term, consistent commitment to content.

So what part can social media influencers play in your social marketing strategy?

Although there is more to it than this, we’ll put it crudely: you either pay them or do a contra deal (#gifted) to promote your business to their beloved followers.

There are many ways to go about this. One is cold hard cash – pure and simple. You propose an offer: ‘I’ll pay you $$ to post about my product x number of times using my handle and hashtag.’ Some influencers are also willing to receive free products/services/experience in exchange for posts, stories or a write-up. ‘Come and enjoy a free dinner at my venue. If you could please post a photo of yourself there and use these hashtags, that would be great too.’

Sounds easy enough, right? Well, it is and it isn’t. The problem is there are a gazillion social media influencers to choose from. How on earth do you find the right one for your brand? Some clever people have kindly stepped in and solved this dilemma. Cue a slew of new marketing platforms and dedicated social media influencing companies – firms established with the sole purpose of helping brands, businesses and marketers connect with social media influencers who are the right ‘fit’ for them. Check out some of these examples to get the gist.

AspireIQ (

A self-service platform with access to over 150,000 influencers across major social media platforms. This makes it a good fit for agencies or brands that create their own marketing campaigns in-house.

social media influencer marketing management tool AspireIQ blog post by Sketch Corp.

Mavrck (

The Mavrck influencer marketing platform provides end-to-end relationship management, workflow automation and measurement for integrated influencer, advocacy, referral and loyalty marketing programs.

social media influencer marketing management tool Mavrck blog post by Sketch Corp.

Lefty (

A content creation platform that helps brands and agencies identify relevant influencers and collaborate with them at scale.

social media influencer marketing management tool Lefty blog post by Sketch Corp.

Essentially these platforms connect your business with appropriate social media influencers using formulas. Many take it a step further and do the hard work for you in terms of negotiating pricing, requirements and all the Ts&Cs.

If this approach isn’t right for your social marketing strategy, you can also approach social media marketing agencies (yep, these are growing in numbers too). These agencies have their own black books of social media influencer contacts and preferences. Taking a more personal approach, they tap into platforms and handle all the complexities.

So the option is there, but is using social media influencers even a good idea?

Having read the above, you’re probably thinking it’s time that you at least looked into how social media influencer marketing could help your business. We should note at this point that it’s not right for every business. Some products and services are definitely more social media-friendly than others. Make-up and skincare = amazing fit. Fitness stuff = couldn’t be better. Plumbing and carpentry = hmmm, it has to be extremely well executed.

It also goes without saying that when you align your brand with an influencer, you’ve made a commitment. You’re effectively saying that this person’s values and attitude reflect yours.

The following industries are all extremely well suited to a social marketing strategy: fashion, accessories, baby products, pet products, tech, supplements, anything organic, luxury brands, travel, hospitality, motor vehicles and gaming. Social media influencing as part of your social marketing strategy is practically mandatory if any of the above describes what you do.

Other industries, for various reasons, just don’t seem to lend themselves to the influencer sphere (a la law, engineering). That could all change overnight of course! Socials still have a place for these businesses, but it must be approached differently.

Determining if a social media influencer is right for your business will come down to key metrics such as reach and engagement, as well as authenticity, values and personality. They all need to match up if you are to foster a positive working relationship with a social media influencer.

Need help with your social marketing strategy? Call our studio.

Why Google My Business is everybody’s business

When you’re a business owner with a website, we strongly recommend incorporating Google My Business (or ‘GMB’ as it is often called around the internet) into your digital marketing strategy.

Like it or not, people Google everything. Even if they receive a word-of-mouth recommendation, the first thing they’ll do is Google it.

Basically, Google My Business is what pops up (on the right hand side of your search) when people Google you – your map location, reviews, phone number and business hours. Keeping this information current, relevant and refreshed is most definitely in your business’s best interest.

A lot of business owners don’t realise that Google My Business is free and that they’re in control. It’s an easy-to-use tool for managing your online presence across Google – including Search and Maps. You can use it to verify and edit your business information, tell customers more about what you do and help them find you. It’s also a nifty activity to add to the mix in your digital marketing strategy. The benefits of keeping your Google My Business listing nice and tidy are huge for visibility and SEO.

Google My Business basics: why local search results are so important to your digital marketing strategy

The vast majority of online searches usually generate results based on location. Appearing in local search results is lucrative and makes it easy for customers to review your business. Google My Business is where all your business’s vital details can be seen at a glance on any device, including what time you close, what your phone number is and how long it takes to drive to your office.

The main thing is to get yourself a listing in Google My Business stat – it’s free, it’s easy to use and it’s a more effective marketing tool than it has any right to be. Simply maintaining an up-to-date and complete Google My Business page will do wonders for your local searchability.

Where do these Google My Business results appear?

You know when you type something into Google and three local search results (A, B and C) come up below a map? All are Google My Business listings. Your Google My Business listing comes up when someone in your local area searches for services you offer.

Why GMB is worth your while

Proactively taking charge of your Google My Business page puts you in the driver’s seat regarding what information you want to share. You can make sure all key information is correct and all descriptions are accurate.

Once you get all those details right, it’s time to share posts via your Google My Business account and scrutinise reviews. As it happens, we’ve seen SO MANY listings for perfectly wonderful businesses that have one standalone bad review bringing their whole rating down. If this is you, you can encourage your fans to leave reviews and drown out this lone naysayer.

One-star reviews are no indication that a business is bad, but of course random Googlers don’t know that. It’s human nature that people are more driven to vent about a negative experience than take the time to share a good one.

We recommend putting a strategy in place that encourages your repeat customers and clients to tell Google how much they love you. This is entirely worth adding to your digital marketing strategy because just a handful of strong reviews will crush one person’s not-so-good experience.

Don’t just do the bare minimum – optimise your listing

As with most pursuits in life and certainly with almost all digital marketing activity, you get out what you put in. Making an effort with your Google My Business listing by updating and tweaking it often will help you appear most frequently and prominently in local Google search results.

Optimising your page involves making sure all information and pictures are correct and appealing, and it also requires that you make sure your business is listed with those exact same details on places like Yelp, Trip Advisor, Zomato and other smaller, highly regarded consumer review sites.

Whatever works, right?

Look, this is an assumption, but GMB is a Google initiative and Google loves Google right? No doubt there’s a bigger strategy at play with Google My Business, and whatever it is, it’s not going anywhere

Want help optimising your Google My Business page? Contact Sketch Corp. and we’ll break it down for you.