In a time when women are fighting for pay equality, work-life balance and gender parity, there is one emerging industry where women dominate the scene: influencer marketing. Based on my experience casting influencers in campaigns as director of influencer strategy and talent partnerships at Hearst Digital Media, I’ve found that this is a field where women can oftentimes charge up to four times their male counterparts. Top-earning influencers are literally making millions of dollars to produce content on their social media platforms. And while you may think that you have to have the followings of people like Kendall Jenner, Selena Gomez and Gigi Hadid to make a career as a content creator, these days that’s not necessarily true. There are many influencers with a fraction of the followers who are making really good money.
So, why are women leading the pack in influencer marketing? And why might it be the best next move for you?
1. Social media audiences love personal stories.
Women on social media are more likely than men to share personal information and connect with family, friends and other like-minded individuals. They are, unsurprisingly, the majority of users on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram.
There are lots of factors that go into becoming a successful influencer, but at the top is authenticity. Can you connect with your audience through storytelling and will they engage with your content because it resonates with them? High-quality photos and videos are a very close second, but without the personal connection, they won't get you very far.
As Krystal Bick of @krystal_bick told to me in an interview, "A quick glance at gender breakdowns across different platforms will show women are far more active and engaged than men on social media, and the ability to connect meaningfully with this audience is a career path that wasn't necessarily available say, 10 years ago."
Figure out your three "whys": Why do you want to tell your story? Why do you want to do it through a blog or on YouTube/Instagram? Why are you the person to tell this particular story? Maybe you have seven children like Olya Hill of @livingnotes and want to talk about raising a large family, or maybe you feel underrepresented in a category like beauty influencer Jackie Aina of @jackieaina and want women who look like you to know they are beautiful. Whatever your "why," stick to it and let it guide your storytelling.
In an email to me, Joy Cho of @ohjoy noted, "We all have a story and a voice, and we live in a day where we have platforms to share our voice with the world if we want to."
2. Social proof is at the heart of influencer marketing.
Studies show that 86 percent of women consult social media before making a purchase, and who are they looking to? Their favorite influencer who has the same skin tone, body shape, aged child or taste.
Influencer marketing has evolved, and there are now dozens of metrics, but it really comes down to creators using products, giving authentic and honest reviews, and getting their audience's feedback. While you are unique, there are thousands, if not millions of women dealing with the same issues you face. Whether it's small (will this lipstick still be on at the end of the day?) or large (how can I deal with postpartum depression?) women are looking online to find social media content that answers their questions. By giving your reviews on products, and essentially co-signing items you post on your feed, you are giving your audience insight into your likes and dislikes.
In Q1 of 2017, 13 percent of all advertising dollars, including influencer marketing spends, was spent by the retail industry. And the referral traffic is worth it. In 2017, influencers that used RewardStyle affiliate links drove 80 percent of mobile visits to Nordstrom.com, 34 percent of the referral traffic to Revolve.com, 31 percent to net-a-porter.com, 22 percent to Sephora.com and 24 percent to Amazon-owned Shopbop.com.
"Realistically speaking, women use more products than men in their day-to-day,” noted influencer Jeanne Grey of @thegreylayers in an email to me. "Because of this, there is a strong interest in watching women test our new products and share their favorites."