What is influencer marketing?
Influencer marketing is a form of marketing that focuses on using key leaders to drive your brand’s message to the larger market. Rather than marketing directly to a large group of consumers, you instead inspire / hire / pay influencers to get the word out for you.
Influencer marketing often goes hand-in-hand with two other types of marketing: social-media marketing and content marketing. Most influencer campaigns have some sort of social-media component, whereby influencers spread the word through their personal social channels. Many influencer campaigns also carry a content element in which either you create content for the influencers, or they create the content themselves and upload it. Though social-media and content marketing often fit inside influencer campaigns, they are not same with influencer marketing.
The current state of the influencer marketing landscape
Instagram was easier 5-6 years back than today. If you were lucky enough to be featured on Instagram’s featured page or your look was just distinctive enough, then your chances of being tapped as an influencer were quite high. After bagging enough brand partnerships, some have turned influencer marketing into a full-time career.
We’re highly influenced by what we see and aesthetics are no different. Bright images, bold colors are more common now as well as carefully propped up food against interesting backgrounds.
To be a fashion influencer among this younger demographic, you may no longer need to rely solely on perfectly shot photos against a good backdrop. Instead, more casual poses and limited editing are now becoming more welcome on the feed.
Why is influencer marketing important??
The influence culture has changed the way we buy things—forever. Roughly 67 percent of brands report that they are engaged in some form of influencer marketing, a number that’s likely to grow as social media influencers gain more mainstream exposure and popularity. With demand on the rise, the influencer culture is shifting toward more streamlined solutions, embracing tools like influencer networks, match-making platforms services and even programmatic to help brands tap influencers more easily. Brands that aren’t part of it are losing control and visibility. Consumers now control the buyer’s journey, and they are getting harder to reach with just digital advertising:
Conventional digital marketing no longer has the same impact as it used to. A majority percentage of customers are overwhelmed by too many online marketing messages, and about 20 percent of consumers would boycott a brand because of excessive ads. Marketers should care about influencer content because it provides the perfect cure for “ad fatigue” and, unlike traditional ad campaigns, delivers authentic message.
Smart brands are combating this by using influencer marketing to create a rapport with consumers, recognizing that they are influenced by different people, at different times, in different ways. Instead of diminishing returns from digital advertising, brand social and content marketing, the influencer marketing goes past reach and clicks to engage continuously with consumers that drive commerce, giving you metrics that matter and align with your business goals, such as:
- Attracting new customers
- Increasing repeat purchases
- Driving customer loyalty
- Maximizing customer lifetime revenue
Consumers want authentic voices and face, not faceless sales executives who use the same old tricks. Marketers can’t ignore influencer marketing any more: content creators have the power to escalate the business and deliver authenticity that engages with audiences. Imagine—thousands of voices having authentic messages about your brand that hold sway in a way your voice alone never could. That’s the real power of influencer marketing.
How does influencer marketing work?
If you’re a marketer and you’re feeling the pressure to deliver more revenue while having less control over messaging, you’re not the only one. The landscape of marketing has changed considerably and consumers determine the messaging they want to see. Brands no longer have center stage, it’s the consumers. If you want to be a piece of consumer conversations, you have to play by their rules. Social media is where consumers are having conversations today, and one of the most powerful byproducts to emerge is that of influencer marketing.
At a high level, it is a form of branded engagement where marketers connect with those who boast high-flying social footprints. The objective is to plug into new communities and connect the brand/product to new audiences through the voice and trusted relationships of said influencer.
Authentic content forms trust. People are drawn towards digital influencers because they value the content that they create. Developing strategic relationships with these influencers permits brands to incorporate their messaging into that content, and share it with consumers through a trusted source. To make the most of this opportunity, brands must allow influencers the ability to stay true to themselves when working on sponsored content and give out the right message.
How to create an influencer marketing strategy
Like any marketing tactic, an influencer program takes deliberate targeting, planning and budgeting. You won’t find strategic success just by sending free things out to everyone or to your existing friends and acquaintances
- How to find and pay social media influencers
Research is the first step. Choose the platform you want to focus on first. You can always expand to other networks later .If you’re just starting out, stick with one. Ideally, the brand should already have a presence on this network or be looking to expand into it. Demographics differ on each network.
The industry you’re in also matters when you’re planning to execute an influencer marketing strategy. Beauty and fashion brands excel on Instagram and YouTube. The video game industry leads on Twitch.
During your research phase, figure out what type of influencers you’re interested in. Are you going for celebrities with massive followings or micro influencers with less than 10000 followers? Whatever you decide to focus on will determine the budget.
Be sure to look at common rates for those influencer types. Micro influencers tend to be focused on a few subjects and accept products. Some micro influencers work independently while others may be represented by an agency. Whereas, larger accounts and celebrities will need payment and might even go through a talent agency.
Brands need to think about the expected ROI of the influencer marketing campaign. It is important to gauge the contributions of influencer posts to your overall marketing goals. Research is key and you’ll find yourself returning to this step often in the whole process.
- Set a budget and management strategy
After brands have some idea of what to pay influencers, you need to create the budget. They need to factor in time for planning, executing and reviewing your strategy. Running a successful influencer marketing campaign is not an automated ad strategy. It also involves careful monitoring and follows up.
Unlike an automated ad strategy, influencers are human and frequently balancing multiple partnerships, so some may lag behind in their commitments to post on time or make mistakes in your requested tags or calls to action. Brands need to be more hands-on with these relationships to develop them, and refine your approach through experience about what works and what doesn’t in your niche.
- Decide on goals and message
The two most common reasons for using influencer marketing are to increase brand awareness and elevate sales. However, instead of setting these broad targets as your two goals start strategizing and honing in on what your brand’s needs are. Perhaps you want to increase your customer base to a younger audience.
Influencers have the ability to reach very precise audiences. Instead of you relying on thousands of followers, influencers will help you ensure a much targeted audience who is likely to be interested in your product reads and engages with your content.
Your message is as important as your goal. While you don’t want to smother an influencer’s creativity and uniqueness, you also don’t want them to post about something unrelated to your campaign.
- Find your influencers and contact them
Brands need to research and find the right influencers to work with.
During the research, keep in mind the below:
- Does the influencer already post about similar things as your product or service?
- Are they authentic? Scroll through their feed and click on their posts. A poor engagement ratio to follower count or a spam-like comment is a sign of a fake/fraudulent account.
- Do they work with similar brands before?
Next, reach out to them. For micro influencers, you could reach out directly in a private message on their handle. For more established they may list contact information for business inquiries in their bio on their profile.
- Review and change your strategy
If your influencer marketing campaign is ongoing, you should still have pre-determined dates where you’ll measure its progress. The next part of this guide will go into how to track the results. Not every campaign is successful but hopefully, you’ll learn with each one you create.
How to track your influencer marketing campaign
There are a few ways to measure the success of your campaign. You can create a specific hash tag, to track what your influencers are doing which makes it easy to see what’s being talked about with specific hash tags, or to watch for mentions of specific Twitter keywords.
If you’re aiming for increasing sales, giving out affiliate codes or tracking links is an easy way of seeing how much is being generated from influencers.