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Student-athlete Influencers Work Like Magic for Meta-shoppers

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Student-athlete Influencers Work Like Magic for Meta-shoppers

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The past couple of years have accelerated some significant changes in the realm of commerce. First, because of COVID uncertainty, shoppers have gone phygital — mixing online and in-store shopping and expecting a seamless experience between the two. Second, in 2021, new NCAA rules finally emerged, giving student-athletes permission to monetize their name, image and likeness. So, just as more and more shoppers were spending at least part of their shopping time online, a sudden availability of fresh, high-impact influencer talent from student-athletes emerged. Like fresh lemonade squeezed from over a year of lemons, this new class of influencers dove into social commerce just as consumers started craving new ways of mid-pandemic shopping.

In surveys conducted by Inmar Intelligence, the growing importance of social commerce and phygital or cross-channel shopping became even more apparent. More specifically, shopping that lives alongside regular day-to-day social media experiences tops the charts for engagement and ROI.

  • 56% of shoppers spend over 7 hours per week on social media platforms, and 18% spend over 13 hours weekly.
  • 66% of all demographics have already begun purchasing through social media platforms. 
  • 46% of shoppers would perform at least half and up to 100% of their shopping online and/or through social platforms, technology permitting.

Influencers are — not surprisingly — dominating the omnichannel purchase funnel. After all, it’s an ecosystem that created the influencer role, and one that relies on their authority. 77% of Gen Z and Millennial shoppers admit being influenced by social media in their purchases. And, 70% of internet users in the United States already follow influencers on social media.

 

The introduction of student-athlete influencers initiated the second evolution of influencer marketing. Over 500,000 collegiate sports stars entered the influencer marketplace overnight, bringing with them large, loyal, pre-built audiences. These audiences are more localized, and surround personalities from all sports and events — some of the highest potential earners don’t even come from the most-watched sports, schools, conferences, or divisions.

And follower count on social media is one thing — the real measure of an influencers’ capability as a driving force behind purchase decisions is engagement. While the traditional influencer typically achieves between two and three percent engagement, the average student-athlete hits over 10% — some reaching 34% and beyond. When you consider the fact that almost 80% of young-to-mid-aged shoppers are buying based on influencer recommendations, the implications of the new athlete-influencer role are profound.

Marketers recognize the enormous potential of student-athlete influencers. Of 300 industry professionals surveyed:

  • 61% believe that student-athletes will be more effective at driving awareness than traditional influencers
  • 87% feel that student-athletes are capable of producing effective content as influencers
  • And 74% have activated, or are currently activating, student-athletes as influencers

Because such a massive opportunity can’t come without a small catch, activation of student-athletes does take a touch more effort than activation of traditional influencers. A complex system of rules and regulations at the state, school, and organizational level governs student-athlete implementation and is challenging to navigate without guidance. Engaging with a prepared partner solves this problem. Inmar Intelligence, for example, employs proactive, AI-enabled multi-layer compliance monitoring to make the complicated pre-activation steps a non-issue.

The stars of college sports are ready to get to work. Hundreds of thousands of loyal fan bases are ready to make purchases. All you have to do is prepare the playing field. Are you game?

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When you’re ready to give student-athlete influencers their shot at driving prime-time revenue, get in touch with Inmar!

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LinkedIn Adds New Features for Company Pages, Including Post Templates and Link Stickers

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LinkedIn has outlined its latest batch of updates for Company Pages, most of which had already been previewed in some capacity, but are now being rolled out on a broader basis.

First off, LinkedIn’s making its new post templates available to all company pages.

LinkedIn post templates

As you can see in these examples, LinkedIn’s post templates, as they sound, provide a range of visual enhancements for your LinkedIn updates, which could help to make them stand out in feeds.

LinkedIn originally launched post templates for individual users last month, but now, it’s making them available for Company Page updates as well.

As per LinkedIn:

Create engaging, actionable LinkedIn content easier than ever with customizable templates, available directly in the LinkedIn app, with no third-party tools required.”

I mean, I don’t know that these types of posts really fit with LinkedIn’s professional approach. But then again, as many have noted, LinkedIn is increasingly becoming more like Facebook anyway, with more personal posts and updates that are less focused on professional aspects.

And that seems to be working – LinkedIn’s parent company Microsoft keeps reporting ‘record levels of engagement’ in the app every quarter, so maybe this is actually a good, valuable addition.

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We’ll see how people feel about it when every other LinkedIn ‘thinkfluencer’ is posting using these templates. You can access post templates in the mobile app by tapping the ‘use template’ option in the post composer menu.

As an addition to this, LinkedIn’s also making its new link stickers available for Company Pages too, which could help to drive more direct response to your updates.

LinkedIn link sticker

On another front, LinkedIn will also now enable all Company Pages to pin comments beneath their brand posts.

LinkedIn Pinned Comments

The rollout for this feature also started last month, with some users seeing the option to pin comments in the app.

That could be a good way to spark more focused engagement, and highlight top fans, while you could also use this to simply boost interactions by pinning the comment with the most engagement at the top of the reply chain.  

As a reminder, LinkedIn Company Pages can also pin an update for similar purpose.

Finally, LinkedIn has also added a new Our featured commitments’ section for Company Pages, where brands will be able to showcase their most important values.

“Increasingly in today’s market, job seekers are evaluating potential employers based on their values. They’re interested in knowing where companies stand on issues that are important to them, such as DEI, work-life balance, sustainability, etc. To provide greater insight and connections, LinkedIn is enabling employers to highlight these commitments on their LinkedIn company page to define their talent brand and values.” 

Brands will be able to include up to five commitments in their featured commitments section, while you’ll also be able to host content that demonstrates the same, all of which will be displayed in a sub-panel in the ‘About’ section of your Page.

These are some potentially handy updates, with the link stickers and pinned comments standing out as likely the most valuable additions for LinkedIn page managers.

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Post templates I’m not as sold on, especially for brands – but then again, there may be ways to use these templates to improve the presentation of your posts, and maybe, that’ll increase overall engagement.

You can read about all of LinkedIn’s latest company page updates here.

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