By Melony Roy

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Marketers and advertisers from all industries are realizing the importance of social media influencers for driving traffic, awareness, visibility, and engagement. Studies suggest people now spend more time on social media apps than watching television.

So, how do you find and work with people whose office is on the pages of Facebook, Instagram, and the like?

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Brands and businesses are discovering that one of the best ways to target audience groups, drive awareness, and increase engagement is by creating partnerships with select social media influencers.

“Digital influencers can lead the way for larger segments of the population to embrace brands. Certain digital influencers can set a tone and introduce product,” said Matthew Ray, one of the founders of Chatterblast Media. “Paying somebody to tweet for you is a little passé, but enlisting someone to experience your brand, wear your clothing, go on a retreat with you, and showing your brand off in that way through influencers tells a stronger story to the people who are following the influencers.”

He says brands should hire influencers more as a spokesperson than a salesperson.

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“Some of the greatest ones being done now are when certain car companies offer their cars to digital influencers, they offer product,” Ray said. “They give these people an experiential moment that they can share with their followers.”

Another advantage of working with influencers is that they are usually cheaper than celebrities.

“At the end of the day you want to look carefully at what the value is versus the return,” Ray said. “What are you getting for the amount that you’re paying?”

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By working with digital influencers brands are able to connect and create unique content that is seen shared liked or followed by millions.