The expected value of the influencer marketing sector in 2022 is $16.4 billion. This can easily seem like a lot, especially considering that the same industry was valued at just $13 billion in 2021.
The value of influencer marketing has increased in just a few years because brands are finding it increasingly difficult to garner attention on the internet these days. This is most likely because every business, regardless of size, has been making lots of noise online. With social media becoming a more popular source of news content, online marketing has become the “new normal.”
This article will look at steps to building relationships with influencers from scratch. Before we do that, we will dive into what influencer marketing is. We’ll also talk about the benefits of influencer marketing, and why companies need to use these strategies to gain traction in the digital realm.
What is influencer marketing?
Influencer marketing is a sort of marketing that relies on influential people to spread a brand’s message to a bigger audience. Instead of marketing directly to a massive group of consumers, companies inspire/hire/pay influencers to spread the word for them.
This form of marketing is frequently used in conjunction with two other types of marketing: social media marketing and content marketing. Most influencer initiatives have a social-media component, with influencers expected to spread the word via their social networks. Many influencer campaigns include a content component in which companies either provide material for the influencers or they create content for themselves. Though social media and content marketing are frequently used in influencer efforts, they are not the same.
These days, consumers tend to trust word-of-mouth advertising from friends, family, or trusted individuals more than brand-sponsored content. This means that influencer marketing is less about paid advertising and direct advertisements and more about developing genuine relationships between a company and its ideal customers. It is more about demonstrating a company’s authority, credibility, and thought leadership in their industry to their potential and existing consumers.
Simply put, influencers share content with their followers, with the intention of increasing brand recognition.
When brands are looking for an influencer, they look for individuals whose content is relevant to their product or service. To make the collaboration successful, influencers must identify with the brand they are working with and have an audience that can relate to the product.
Influencers are no longer just celebs. An influencer is anybody who has a huge following of people who respect their opinion. These individuals have established a reputation with their target audience and have the potential to influence not only their lifestyle but also their purchase decisions.
What is a social media influencer?
Now that we have a better understanding of influencer marketing, let us talk about the individuals who have made this form of marketing one that companies should consider using in their overall marketing strategy.
A social media influencer is generally someone who has built credibility in a specific niche. These individuals tend to have devoted followers of people who appreciate their opinions or tastes and love witnessing their lifestyles. As a result, they impact what their followers buy and have the ability to influence their followers’ purchasing decisions directly, hence the term influencer marketing. There are several platforms that are conducive to influencer marketing, including YouTube, Instagram, TikTok, and other social media platforms.
Benefits of influencer marketing
There is absolutely no questioning the success of influencer marketing at this point. In fact, powerful influencer marketing is precisely what the doctor prescribed for brands trying to increase consumer trust, brand awareness, and access to a variety of other benefits. These undeniable advantages should persuade any company trying to expand its reach to consider seriously implementing influencer marketing into its entire promotional strategy. Let’s look at the top ten benefits of influencer marketing for business growth.
1) Improves brand awareness
One of the most visible advantages of social media marketing is the role influencers play in increasing a company’s brand recognition. Influencer marketing broadens a company’s market reach and positioning. By interacting with influencers online, social media users can learn more about a company, its history, and its products or services. Furthermore, collaborating with an influencer who is capable of moving the needle communicates to people that a business is a leader in its industry.
2) Provides vast visibility & reach
Influencer marketing helps brands to overcome many of the challenges that other marketing platforms face today. Today’s online landscape is marked by the widespread use of ad blockers and people’s general dislike of blatant advertisements. Influencer marketing provides firms with a non-intrusive alternative to communicating with customers.
By collaborating with the appropriate influencers, marketers can create highly effective influencer campaigns that reach millions of customers. Tactfully screening influencers using qualitative and quantitative criteria helps brands to select the best prospects for their campaigns.
3) Helps brands build trust and show authority
The concept of influencer endorsements is straightforward. When a celebrity, social media personality, or industry expert uploads content about a brand on social media, the brand they represent gains instant credibility. In other words, if a corporation can get an individual with industry authority to acknowledge its brand, this paints the brand as a reliable company and an industry leader. By associating themselves with your brand, an influencer is essentially giving you social proof that you can use to earn public trust. In today’s business environment, developing trust and authority is crucial.
4) Helps brands reach target audiences and drive purchasing decisions
Without a doubt, social media influencers who mention a brand promote sales. Consumers are increasingly turning to influencers for advice on which products and services to buy. As social media has grown in popularity, so has its ability to reach a company’s intended demographic. If a firm wants to improve sales, influencer marketing can help to significantly increase its sales figures.
5) Connects brands to millennials & Gen-Z consumers
Millennials are increasingly consuming digital media and contributing to its popularity. In today’s digital-first world, businesses that want to appeal to the millennial or Gen-Z market must use influencer marketing. Attracting customers from these demographics adds enormous value to a company and provides invaluable access to one of the most profitable audiences.
6) Provides long-term benefits
Influencer marketing, like SEO, is a long-term strategy. It takes time to build trust between a brand and its customers; the same holds true for influencers and influencer marketing. Companies shouldn’t expect a significant rise in sales from a single influencer post (unless that influencer is very well-known). Instead, brands should view influencer marketing as a long-term strategy built on relationship building rather than a one-time promotion.
7) Develops strong relationships
An influencer campaign is about more than just numbers; it’s also about developing long-term relationships. A good relationship with an influencer establishes a bond for a long-term partnership that can deliver long-term results for both the influencer and the brand. Over 37% of influencers prefer long-term collaborations with brands over one-off collaborations.
8) Sets trends
Influencers are the go-to sources for new product knowledge in their field. Audiences appreciate and frequently worship the perspectives of the influencers they follow, whether in fashion, gaming, beauty, or fitness. This is one of the reasons why influencer marketing is so powerful and effective. Companies can design a campaign around an influencer’s review of their exciting new product to highlight their brand.
9) Drives conversions
Influencers have a natural capacity to steer their followers toward a brand’s products or services. As previously said, customers increasingly turn to influencers for advice on which products or services to invest in.
Nearly half of today’s consumers rely on ‘influencer’ suggestions. Moreover, 40% of these consumers have indicated they purchased a product after seeing it pushed or endorsed on Instagram, YouTube, or Twitter.
10) Helps with lead generation
Lead generation is a strategy that has evolved significantly in recent years, as the role of social media in linking brands with customers and clients has risen dramatically. Social media provides an accessible venue for consumers to show their interest in a company and its products or services.
Most social networks now include advertising formats specifically geared towards collecting leads and assisting firms in generating online traffic and social media presence.
The effectiveness of influencer marketing
We now understand how vital influencer marketing is and how many benefits it provides. Now it’s time to delve deeper into the details and examine how powerful influencer marketing may be.
Many are confused about the differences between influencer marketing, content marketing, and user-generated content. How does influencer marketing compare to other tried-and-true methods? We will compare influencer marketing to other methods of marketing to better understand its effectiveness.
You might be shocked to learn that influencer marketing easily outperforms other marketing methods.
Influencer marketing vs. content marketing
Content marketing is still the preferred technique for many brands, and with good reason. It’s a tried-and-true strategy with a solid track record.
First, it is essential to note that influencer and content marketing may be pretty powerful and should both be included in a company’s marketing mix. This is mainly because these two marketing styles help a business in different ways.
Influencer marketing increases brand exposure and social proof, but content marketing establishes authority and adds value.
However, if businesses are to get the most out of these two very distinct methods of marketing, they must balance them.
According to specific brands, influencer material performs better than in-house content. In one survey conducted by the influencer marketing business Linqia, 51% of respondents stated that their influencer content outperformed their own brand-created content.
Of course, this does not imply that marketers are abandoning content marketing altogether. It simply indicates that they are increasing their spending on influencer marketing. According to statistics, 93% of marketers incorporate influencer marketing into their marketing plans.
Influencer marketing and content marketing have a synergy that will only get stronger as influencer marketing becomes more popular. Marketers may not be eliminating content marketing spending to focus on influencer marketing, but it is apparent that the reported influencer marketing budgets across different companies are continuously expanding.
Influencer marketing vs. user-generated content
As we’ve seen, one of the significant advantages of influencer marketing is that businesses can have a regular individual promote their brand. It’s similar to user-generated material in this regard. User-generated content (UGC) has grown in popularity in recent years. UGC influences the purchase decisions of 90% of consumers.
For a long time, UGC was known for its dependability. There were a few other ways customers and their colleagues could generate and distribute content. Influencer marketing revolutionized everything by potentially outperforming UGC.
Customers’ sentiments toward influencer content are comparable to their attitudes toward UGC since influencers are approachable and trustworthy.
The fundamental distinction is that, whereas UGC can foster trust, influencer-created content fosters trust and spreads the word. Unless companies publish user-generated material on multiple channels, it is unlikely to have an extensive reach.
Influencer content may also be more trustworthy than user-generated content. Remember that many people believe influencers trust them more than they trust their friends. Thanks to this trust, individuals are more likely to believe an influencer’s opinion.
When researching products and purchasing, customers will look for influencer material and UGC.
As with the debate over influencer marketing versus content marketing, the answer is balance. Influencer-created content will not replace UGC. Therefore businesses should not dismiss the power of UGC.
Influencer marketing vs. social media marketing
It may seem paradoxical to compare influencer marketing to social media marketing. Isn’t influencer marketing just another form of social media marketing?
Yes, in some ways, but influencer marketing has developed so much that it can now be considered a different type of marketing.
While both types of marketing take place on social media, their techniques and outcomes are incredibly different.
For example, companies have complete control over their branded social media marketing campaigns. All of the messages they deliver are written in the tone of their brand. However, with influencer marketing, the material is in the hands of the influencers with whom they are collaborating. They’ll bring their distinct voices, approaches, and opinions to the table, and while companies may lose some control, they will gain attention and, hopefully, revenue.
Influencers also have much more to offer than traditional social media marketing.
Through influencer marketing, companies can quickly generate buzz, increase their reputation, and hopefully attract new brand advocates and customers. For one thing, they expose their brand to consumers who already believe what the influencers say. Often, these are entirely new audiences who have never heard of the brand. Social media marketing is still effective in general but cannot replace influencer marketing.
How to build relationships with influencers
With a more thorough understanding of influencer marketing, let us look at how to build relationships with influencers and where.
1) Find relevant influencers
The first stage in a company’s influencer marketing journey is to find the proper person to collaborate with. Influencers come in many shapes and sizes and finding the best ones should be a company’s top priority.
Before they even begin looking, they must determine their ideal influencer. Businesses must remember that their ultimate purpose is to connect with their audience, not make friends with an influencer. As a result, they must ensure that the influencer’s content is relevant to their industry.
For example, if they are a local business, partnering with a national influencer whose followers come from all over the country makes little sense. This influencer probably doesn’t even reside anywhere near the business. Alternatively, let’s assume a company is a large B2B firm with a specific reputation. In that case, dealing with an influencer who uses profanity or expresses radical beliefs may upset their primary audience and may be unwise.
One thing to keep in mind: be wary of fake influencers. Unfortunately, because there is such a high demand for influencer marketing, some people take advantage of it by creating false profiles and making a living out of them. Companies must take precautions to avoid falling into this trap.
2) Get on the influencer’s radar
The secret to cultivating relationships with influencers is straightforward:
Companies must get influencers to notice them before they ask any favors of them.
Some believe companies can simply contact influencers and expect them to do their bidding. Nothing could be farther from the truth.
Most influencers receive hundreds, if not thousands, of requests for assistance per day. Even if they are willing to say yes to the majority of them, there isn’t enough time in the day for them to follow through on their promises. As a result, most influencers have a refined selection procedure for examining and granting requests. This process can be summarized as:
Only working with people and causes they care about.
That means a company’s initial goal should be to find influencers who will care about the existence of the company. Sometimes it’s easier to find relevant influencers from the company’s list of followers. Companies have a much higher chance of enticing influencers to collaborate with their business if they already know them as longstanding fans.
Social media is the fastest route to getting on an influencer’s radar. At the very least, companies should follow influencers on Twitter and LinkedIn. They can also find these influencers if they are active on other networks.
Additionally, businesses should begin sharing their posts and social media updates, adding comments, and starting dialogues. A single retweet will not suffice—it will be lost in the flood of content that an influencer regularly sees on their profiles.
Companies should then comment on the influencer’s material. However, in order to be seen, their opinions must stand out. For this reason, it’s wise to avoid generic comments like “excellent point!” or “so true!” Instead, adding meaningful responses, asking questions, or expanding on the influencer’s advice can capture attention more effectively.
A witty remark will pique their interest. After they’ve linked it to the rest of a company’s social media activity, influencers will have a solid foundation for developing a connection and then building a relationship.
3) Connect with the influencer before you make a request for influencer marketing
Once an influencer knows about a specific company, it’s time to build that first connection.
They shouldn’t, however, send the influencer an email with a request for content immediately. Instead, businesses must establish a strategy and clarify what they need to tell influencers in order to hear “yes.”
Companies must first decide what they hope to gain from cooperation.
Companies should reach out with a clear vision of what they hope to gain from this collaboration. As a tip, businesses should make their first request simple to accomplish to establish a long-term partnership. They should only take a few minutes of the influencer’s time. They will be able to discuss more significant initiatives after establishing a solid relationship. Initially, they should try to keep it as brief as possible.
Make use of the rule of reciprocity. To reiterate, to be effective, a company’s connections with influencers must be mutually beneficial from the beginning. In other words, they should consider what the influencer can offer them and what they can offer the influencer in return.
The business should ideally provide the influencer with value before reaching out, but detailing anything they decide to do for the influencer in the future could also work. This might be as basic as mentioning an influencer’s perspective in their post or writing a full product review. They can also provide an influencer with exclusive samples or new versions of their items or dedicate a blog post to them.
4) Reach out
Contacting an influencer is by far the scariest step of the process for many people.
And quite validly so.
Businesses typically have only one opportunity to connect. If they make a mistake, the influencer will remember them for a long time, and not in a positive way. So, here are a few things to think about:
Do not utilize automated outreach software
Considering the margin of error (for example, a misspelled name tag that may display the erroneous name), specialists believe it is advisable to reach out manually first. This is well worth a company’s time, especially if they want to build a long-term relationship with the individual.
Write an enticing subject line
Influencers do not have the time to read every email they receive; they will most likely skim through subject lines and only open emails with catchy subject lines.
A subject line should also not make an email look like it was generated by an automated service. A generic subject line such as “Invitation to join our program” will do exactly that. Additionally, businesses should avoid utilizing words like “free,” “giveaway,” and so on. Emails using these words in the subject line may be filtered by spam filters. A great subject line tells the reader what the email is about right away.
While writing an email may seem easy enough, sometimes it can be challenging to compile all the necessary information and format it in a way that will attract readers. For that reason, sometimes hiring professionals can help make the process easier. PR agencies like Pressfarm help clients create newsworthy content like email pitches, press releases, guest posts, and press kits to distribute to relevant media professionals and influencers. In addition, their account executive creates a customized media list for each client. These lists are built from Pressfarm’s database of over one million journalists, bloggers, and influencers. With these lists, companies can connect with relevant influencers to boost their online visibility.
Mention common interests
It will assist businesses in breaking the ice and making their email sound more personable. Companies should not start their emails with “Hello!” especially if they intend to create a connection with the influencer. They should extensively study the influencer’s previous articles, speeches, and shares using technologies such as BuzzSumo.
5) Invite them to collaborate
Inviting an influencer to collaborate is another strategy to build a relationship with them. If an influencer is involved in creating the content, it is almost certain they will share it.
Interviews with experts, guest blogs, and webinars with guest specialists are ideal opportunities for brands to involve influencers in content development. Naturally, this type of collaboration needs time not just from the company but also from the influencer. It is critical to understand that practically any content can be enhanced with short statements, tips, and guidance from a relevant influencer.
6) Continue the relationship
Once a company has engaged an influencer in a small venture, it is time to go further.
Companies must continue cultivating their relationship until they and the influencer are ready to collaborate again. They should not assume that just because an influencer has worked with them once, they will do so again. And the simplest way to initiate a new collaboration is to go through the previously mentioned process repeatedly.
Companies should continue to share the influencer’s material, leave comments on their posts, and remain on their radar. They should never fail to say “thank you” once an influencer fulfills their request. They can express their gratitude through a private message or a public post —the latter is even more helpful because it introduces the influencer to their following, allowing them to increase their influence further.
It isn’t easy to establish relationships with influencers. Companies must remember that they will inevitably make mistakes and that not everything will operate as expected. What they must remember is that every failure teaches them something new. With this knowledge, developing their influencer marketing skills and seeking help from professionals is the best way to create an effective influencer marketing strategy.