Youtubers, Instagramers, Tik Tokers. What do they all have in common? They are what we all know as social media influencers. Merely a decade ago, influencer marketing was limited to celebrities and a handful of dedicated bloggers. However, the rise of the influencers has saturated the market.
Whatever business or company you may have, it is very possible that you will find someone influential in that market to promote your product or service. For this reason, many companies are using these leading niche content creators to improve brand awareness, increase traffic, and drive their brand’s message to their target audience.
This guide will provide an in-depth look at:
- What is influencer marketing?
- What it is not
- Why is influencer marketing so powerful?
- Types of influencers and how to find them
- How to build your influencer strategy
- Examples of successful influence marketing campaigns
What is influencer marketing?
Influencer marketing can be described in many different ways, but ultimately as described, it is a way that businesses and brands use the reach of existing influencers that have built a strong brand reputation in their particular niche to support their brand, endorse their product, or even co-create with them with the intent to increase brand awareness and drive sales.
This type of marketing has become increasingly more popular among businesses at this point in time because research has shown that traditional advertising has become less effective in attracting leads and customers. Influencer marketing works to a better degree than traditional marketing because it uses tactics like word-of-mouth marketing and social proof, which have become very critical parts of any successful marketing strategy. It is accurate to state that customers trust their peers, friends, and people that they admire over companies that are just merely trying to sell them things.
This form of marketing can be unique because it generally appeals to the needs of the influencer rather than the customer because they are the ones that are ultimately promoting your product. So, to follow that ideal, customers give influencers respect and form open and organic relationships with them to endorse the product or service. They do that by giving influencers early access to the upcoming product launch, or inviting the influencer to visit the company in person.
The only major drawback behind influencer marketing is that it is not as controllable as traditional marketing. While the main intention of influencer is to provide a positive image of a product or service, other factor can come into the situation that might make their publicity go from negative to positive.
What Influencer Marketing is not
Influencer marketing is not just about finding someone with a huge following, offering them money and exposure to say good things about you. Influencers are people that have spent time building up their own brand and getting earned media. They generally have the patiece to focus and succeed in social media and are quite protective of their reputation because people trust them. Most of the time, proper influencers are not just in it for the money.
It is not about quick results. Much like other marketing, it is about to slow-and-steady approach. It is about demonstrating your authority, credibility, and thought leadership within your industry. The whole point of marketing is to acquire followers that are loyal and engaged. Of course it is very common to think that joining forces with an influencer is the easy way out because they already have the hearts and minds of their followers. But, at the end of the day you also need to earn their trust and respect.
What does not work
Before you start your Influencer Marketing campaign, you need to understand that you cannot generalize your approach when it comes to different influencers because not all are the same. Much like pitching to media outlets, you need to tailor your approach to the specific influencer. Secondly, do not just solely look at the popularity of the influencer. Your goal is to get a particular action from your customers, so do not automatically assume that people with the most followers are influencers of your target market.
Why is Influencer Marketing so powerful?
Now that we have taken a look at the definition of Influencer Marketing and why is it important, let us take a look at why and how it has become one of the most powerful marketing strategies because
- Its influential
- Its engaging and social
- Its trendy
- Its profitable
1) It is influential
Much like the actual type of marketing, it enables brands to leverage the power of word-of-mouth and can possibly generate 10x ROI than traditional marketing. For everyone that spends countless hours scrolling through any social media platforms, it is very clear that companies use Influencer Marketing because influencers are highly trusted and respected by their followers.
They’re cool, they’’re hip, they’re powerful thought leaders in their community and they utilize social media to their advantage which gives them a wide reach and large audience.
2) It is engaging and social
By working with an influencer, brands are engaging indirectly with their audience, sparking conversation, and getting some free product promotion. These days, people are not expecting brands to actually hard sell them anymore. They want brands to engage with them, entertain them and inform them which is where influencer come in because they provide their audience with entertaining content and high value.
3) It is trendy
You have heard of “Keeping Up with the Jones, right? I mean nowadays the last name can be changed to Kardashian, but the concept is similar. People want what they see other people having. These days, influencers have the power to help convince people that your brand/product is the next big thing because they have the ability to influence.
4) It is profitable
In 2016, research showed that businesses generated about $6.50 for every $1 they invested in influencer marketing and because of that, a large majority allocated budgets for influencer marketing the following year. If you are aware of the influencers that exist, but working with them definitely do not come cheap these days, but the benefits definitely outweigh the monetary issues.
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Types of influencers
Before you start figuring out your marketing strategy, you need to figure out the type of influencers you want promoting your brand. Let’s take a look at the different types you can engage with:
- Celebrity Influencer
- Blog Influencer
- Social Media Influencer
- Key Opinion Leaders
These influencers have a relatively modest following within their niche. They like other influencers create relevant content for their audience and communicate with them through various platforms. Having a smaller audience allows them to bond with the people who follow them regularly. Working with them is more appealing for businesses who are trying to develop personal relationships within their target audience.
How to work with them
Due to their manageable size of followers, they are able to communicate with your target audience. When you have chosen the right micro-influencer for you, you can ask them to write a post about your service, share a review, post a photo on Instagram with your product, etc. After that, they can talk about their experience with your product, direct audience members to your website, etc.
2) Celebrity influencers
Celebrity influencers generally have large following and are known across many industries. They are widely recognized and have the potential to be very successful in influencing your target audience. Even if their fans don’t overlap with your target audience, having them promote and/or use your product or service is a very powerful form of social proof.
How to work with them
Celebrities are a bit harder to engage with, but with you do, there are many ways to work with them. You can start by focusing on social media, print or online ads, TV commercials, blogs, etc.
From there, depending on your budget, you can ask them to pose for pictures promoting you product, explain why their audience members would love your product, provide coupons and discount codes. You can even sponsor an event that they are hosting or attending.
3) Blog Influencer
They already have their established blogs and have plenty of subscribers and readers. Their influence and reach sets them apart from other bloggers and they are able to promote your product and service through their websites and writing.
How to work with them
To work with them, you can start by writing a guest post for them on their blog. You can ask to be mentioned in one of their posts or sponsor a post on the influencer’s blog and provide images of products for them to share.
4) Social Media influencer
These influencers are the ones that we know well through their social media platforms. Thousands and even millions of people follows them and they share content through a wide range of topics like health, workouts, cars, diet, travel, etc.
How to work with them
Much like any other influencers, you should find the ones that already have an established imager on social media platforms that work with your brand, posts content that might complement your products or services, and have followers that are already members of your target audience. From there you can determine the type of content that you want them to promote.
If the influencer is on Instagram, you can get them to post a picture with your product and tag your social account. If they are on Facebook, you can ask them to do an unboxing through live video. The same concept applies with Twitter and Youtube. You can even get them to host a contest or giveaway with your products.
5) Key Opinion Leaders
They are trusted contributors in their industries because of their expert knowledge. They are a great opinion to work with because their followers are people that are also invested in their subject.
How to work with them
You can most likely find these influencers through social media and even through more academic means like journals. This means that your business has more options to work with if you decide to go with a KOL. Ask them to give their expert advice about your product and mention you in their column, share, pose, etc.
How to create an Influencer Marketing Strategy
Now that we have an idea of what influencer marketing is and the different types of influencers, let us dive into how to create a successful strategy.
- Determine your campaign goals
- Define your campaign audience
- Set your budget and choose your influencer type
- Choose your influence and review their work
- Develop your campaign messaging for your influencer
- Finalize campaign expectations with your influencer
- Reward your influencer
- Measure your results
1) Determine your campaign goals
Like every other marketing strategy, it is important to create achievable goals to measure the success of your campaign. When you are working to develop your SMART goals, there are 3 things that you need to keep in mind; reach, relevance, and resonance.
Reach: The ability to deliver content to your audience through an influencer. How many people on social media platforms are going to see the content that the influence is going to be posting about your product?
Relevance: The level of connection that your audience feels to your brand, product or service because of the work done by the influencer. If your audience sees that someone they love and admire likes and uses your product, they will feel a strong connection to it.
Resonance: The ability to drive audience members to a specific action because of an influencer’s content. It helps you increase your follower count, drive traffic to your site, and boost conversions.
2) Define your campaign audience
No matter the type of influence that you decide to work with, your target audience should remain the same even if different influencers have different ways of connecting with your audience. You need to develop and learn about your buyer persona so that you can identify the exact type of customer that are you are trying to go for and from there figure out the type of influencer and content that will appeal to them more.
3) Set your budget and choose your influencer type
It is very important to consider your budget which ties in to the type of influencer works best for your business’s goals and target audience. It all depends on the amount of money your company has, if you are a startup with a low budget, you would most likely choose to work with a micro-influencer. The longer you are in the market and start gaining more resources, you might choose to engage an influencer with more reach.
4) Choose your influencer and review his or her work
Once you have figured the type of influencer you want to engage it, it is time to find the right individual for your company. Ask yourself and the influencer these questions so you know that they are the right fit.
- Do they and their lifestyle fit your brand image?
- Have they worked with any of your competitors?
- Who is the influencer’s current audience?
- Is your target audience active on the platform/channel used by the influencer?
- Does working with the influencer make sense for your budget?
- Have they used any of your products or services before?
- Do they have the right personality?
- What will the influencer expect of you?
5) Develop your campaign messaging for your influencer
After you have chosen your influencer, starting clueing them into your campaign and figure out what content your influencer should and should not publish. Make sure that you share your brand guidelines so that they can remain on-brand with their content. They are ultimately representing your brand and business, so make sure that they have the tools to do so.
You should also determine whether the influencer will be creating content for your campaign or whether you will be providing the content for them to post.
6) Finalize campaign expectations with the influencer
You need to remember that the influencer may have worked with other brands before yours, so they may already have their own way of doing things when it comes to business. So, have a chat of the expectations that you may have of them, but remember to discuss the expectations they may have of you.
Each influencer is different so they may communicate and act differently depending on the type of influencer they are.
7) Reward your influencer
Influencers do not work for free. You need to discuss the form of payment when you finalize the campaign. There are several ways you can reward an influencer:
- Money: payment before or after the content is created and shared
- Swag: clothes, accessories, product samples, etc
- Free product
- Access to discount codes and coupons
- Promotion on your website, blog, and/or social media platforms
8) Measure your campaign results
Finally, it is important to measure the results you obtained through your campaign. This is how you figure out the level of success you have had reaching your market through using influencers. Think back to the SMART goals that you set when you started your campaign and see if you achieved your objectives.
Things to measure include:
- Engagement: Likes, shares, comments, Retweets, Mentions, Direct Messages, and Reposts on channels like social media, blogs, and forums
- Reach: how many people are actually seeing the content your influencer is sharing about your brand.
- Resonance: The actions that were completed by your audience members after they consume and/or interact with the influencer’s content involving your brand.
- Brand Awareness: Quantitave brand awareness; direct traffic and social engagement and qualitative; social listening and awareness surveys
- Clicks: Number of clicks on the content the influencer shares about your brand.
- Conversions: The number of leads who become customers
- Return on Investment: calculate ROI by dividing the return by the cost of influencer marketing investment.
- Follow Count: Track the increase and decrease of your number of social media follows over time to see whether the influencer is help or hindering you.
Successful Influencer Marketing Campaigns
1) Celebrity Influencer: Nespresso and George Clooney
Nespresso brought George Clooney on for their Cup Above campaign because he is a globally-recognized celebrity and he fit their brand of being sophicasted, elegant, and had a high-end image. They now have print ads, digital ads, social media posts, and television commercials starring him.
2) Social media Influencer: Turkish Airlines and Jerome Jarre
Anyone that has Instagram, Snapchat, etc will know about Jerome Jarre. He partnered up with Turkish Airlines, which happens to be the only international airline flying to Somalia to bring humanitarian aid to the people there. His plan was to fill a plane full of food and water to help the cause and within the first few days, his post was reposted 83,000+ times and like 58,000+ times on Instagram. He also had the help of his influencer friends and celebrities to raise 1 million dollars in just 24 hours.
3) Blog Influencers: Bigelow tea and Ashley from Cherished Bliss
Their plan is to retain customers and hold its position in the tea market, they decided that they need to differentiate and adapt to the times so, they partnered with lifestyle bloggers like Ashley from Cherished Bliss. Her blog post made them the top of the Google search chain when people looked them up through keywords.
It is very important for businesses these days to understand the Influencer marketing is becoming a very real and successful strategy to stay relevant in the market. Work on creating relationships with influencers and make sure that you make it worthwhile for them to promote your product and service as well. Influencer marketing is definitely here to stay.