Tech Tuesdays: Understanding the New Digital Influencer Guidelines for E-Commerce Brands

This is the latest installment in FN’s new series, Tech Tuesdays. Each week, FN will take a closer look at one area of digital innovation and explore how these technologies are changing the way footwear operates. The shoe industry is known for combining heritage craftsmanship with the latest advances: This column will examine that intersection.

Retail has moved online, following consumers’ desire for convenience and accessibility, so unsurprisingly brand marketing efforts have had to do the same. Shoppers are increasingly beginning their purchasing journeys online, through social media and digital content, which makes those sites the ideal place for brands to position themselves online. But each of these media landscapes requires a specific kind of content in order to succeed – and many brands are still struggling to understand just what the new rules are.

“With the landscape of digital evolving at such a rapid pace it can be a challenge for brands to keep up,” said Brandon Brown, CEO of e-commerce influencer marketing platform GRIN. “And more importantly, it’s getting harder to get the attention of consumers, let alone keep the attention of consumers.”

In order to succeed online, it’s critical for e-commerce brands to match their content to the style of the platform on which they’re marketing. One thing that many of these social platforms have in common, from TikTok to Instagram to lifestyle blogs, is the role of the tastemaker. Users flock to social media to express themselves creatively, explore the creations of their friends, and be inspired – when done right, brands can provide that inspiration.

But the key word is authenticity. Most consumers are very discerning on social media, only following the accounts and creators that they feel they can trust. If a brand is able to work with someone who has already built a loyal following, in the form of an influence partnership, then this can provide a gateway into a new area of the digital world that the brand might not yet have a foothold in.

Woman looking at social media on smartphone and seeing reactions engagement
Shoppers are more likely to follow the recommendations of a source they trust, which is why the right influencer partnership can boost a brand’s performance.
CREDIT: PhotoPlus+ - Adobe

“When an influencer recommends something they are providing social proof for a brand and their loyal community takes notice, said Brown. “A successful influencer program is essentially customer advocacy amplified, and can provide a major revenue stream for brands across all sectors.”

For an e-commerce brand especially, building these relationships through the endorsement of a popular internet figure can help make up for a lack of in-person interaction. Online-only businesses can’t engage with their customers in-store, so their digital presence has to make up for this. But not every influencer is the right match for a brand; customers can detect when an alliance makes sense and when it doesn’t.

“Focusing on vanity metrics like follower count has a higher potential of producing content that is disingenuous,” said Brown. “Success with influencer marketing is not just about getting many eyes on your brands, it’s about getting the right eyes on your brand. Look at the audience and content of who you are considering partnering with, and prioritize quality over quantity.”

These digital spheres also provide a way for companies to demonstrate that they are living their mission, which is increasingly important to shoppers. Data has revealed that consumers want to purchase from brands that share their values – and they turn to social media for evidence of this. By investing in brand ambassadors that reflect the business’ broader ethos, brands can build their credibility.

This is also critical when marketing products that can be worn or styled; shoppers want to see people like themselves in the marketing. Not only does this suggest that the brand is interested in winning their business, but it can be a useful way for consumers to see what a product might look like on their skin tone or body type.

“Making sure that you’re working with a group of influencers of varying races, ages, shapes, sizes, and genders is not only a wise marketing move, but it also reflects that a brand supports and fosters diversity and inclusion,” said Brown. “Look beyond the brand persona you created when your company was launched, and think about all of the different consumers who may use your products. From there, find partners who will speak to them.”

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