It’s no secret that today’s brands are looking to get closer and closer to social media influencers for more reach on platforms like Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest.

The topic of influencers is popping up at every opportunity. Their uses, however, are subject to much less coverage, but a new study from affilinet has provided some interesting readings about how influencers are being used to drive a measurable return.

The network’s study of 500 e-commerce firms shows that 67% are looking to do more work with influential figures on social media, defined as people with sizeable followings on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest, and similar platforms.

It goes on to reveal that exclusive discounts and vouchers are the most popular method of driving sales from the audiences their market’s ‘influencers’ attract.

Incentivisation was on the menu for 71% of brands, with alternative methods in product reviews (39%), giveaways (14%) and competitions (11%) following behind, albeit at a far lower level of popularity. 

While it would be unfathomable to think of the well-followed accounts of influencers like Zoella as the go-to hubs for discounts, it’s clear that brands are looking to influencers as a way of driving hard, incentivised sales, rather than leveraging their content to drive reach and leads.  

Craving content

Also carrying their fair share of ‘influence’ are bloggers, and this year is set to see plenty more brands reaching out to well-respected and well-followed writers to see where they fit in.

Affilinet revealed that 51% of respondents are looking to ramp up their focus on blog managers – a move which may carry into the affiliate marketing space, with links placed on sites to provide commission-based monetisation.

Such a move should be pursued with caution, though, as Google has already announced its intention to clampdown on bloggers that do not disclose the commercial nature of their posts. 

Recommendations on its Webmaster blog dictate that “users want to know when they’re viewing sponsored content”, outlining a number of guidelines regarding links and disclaimers.

Pack leaders

The upshot of affilinet’s study is that influencers are set to represent big business, and when it came to listing the most popular profiles – with the caveat of “unlimited budget” – it was Zoella who came up trumps.

The fashion and beauty vlogger was listed as a desirable target for 21% of the group, leading the way in a female-dominated top ten.

Others fortunate enough to make the cut in a highly competitive arena included plus size model Tess Holliday (19%), heath and fitness advisor Kayla Itsines (17%), beauty blogger Sophie Hannah Richardson (15%) and Jessie Pavelka (14%) – a male fitness expert and television host.

The top ten influencers are as follows:

1.  Zoella – Fashion and beauty vlogger (21%)

2.  Tess Holliday – Plus size model (19%)

3.   Kayla Itsines – Health and fitness advisor (17%)

4.   Sophie Hannah Richardson – Beauty blogger (15%)

5.   Jessie Pavelka – Fitness expert and television host (14%)

6.   Katie Ellison – Parenting blogger of Mummy Daddy Me (13%)

7.   Jen Selter – Fitness blogger (11%)

8.   Ricky Warren – International calisthenics and fitness coach (9%)

9.    A Blonde Abroad – Travel blogger (6%)

10.  Eric Rutherford – Event planning and fashion (5%)