What Is Influencer Marketing?
Influencer marketing isn’t a new concept — for years, brands have utilized celebrities and people with pull in their communities to talk up a product and bring in new customers. However, in today’s highly digital age, influencer marketing has changed quite a bit. It’s becoming more affordable and accessible for even the smallest businesses. Influencers aren’t always celebrities, although they do have a following in their industry.
Around 86 percent of marketers surveyed state they use influencer marketing sometime during the year. The form that marketing takes can vary, and many options exist. The best way to get the most from your influencer marketing is to study what others are doing successfully and looking at some of the ins and outs of influencer marketing and a few ways to get the most from working with influencers.
Here are eight ways your business can use influencer marketing.
1. Choose Non-Celebrities
Non-celebrity bloggers may be as much as 10 times more effective than celebrities when it comes to influencing consumers to purchase in physical stores. Even though stars may have millions of followers, those followers are diverse. However, when you seek out a social media influencer, they tend to focus on a niche topic and attract followers who are also interested in that topic. Working within a narrow niche becomes a much more effective way of reaching your specific target audience.
Sperry often uses micro-influencers on social media, such as with their Instagram campaign where they reached out to people already following their brand and invited them to submit high-quality images of themselves wearing Sperry’s in unusual locations. The campaign not only gave Sperry free content for their Instagram account, but it also highlighted their product to the micro-influencers’ followers.
2. Engage With the Influencer First
One thing newbies don’t always realize is that you can’t just jump in and start promoting your brand with an influencer. The reason people trust those they follow and listen to their product recommendations is that those influencers are selective about the products they recommend. You’ll need first to develop a relationship with the influencer, which means engaging on social media and sharing things they care about.
Next, reach out and offer a free sample of your product with no strings attached. The influencer may offer to work with you if they love your product.
3. Create a Specific Campaign
Keep in mind that the best influencer marketing is specific to the influencer and their audience. People want personalized experiences, and if they think you’re offering the same thing everywhere, they won’t be impressed. Create a campaign that is specifically geared to the influencer and their audience, and don’t offer that deal to anyone else.
Deliciously Ella often teams up with like-minded people who have something to offer Ella’s readers. For example, in the post above, the page talks about healthy living and happiness and shouts out to @mshelenrussell for sharing her research on happiness. By doing this, Deliciously Ella, who has a following of more than 300,000 people, puts Helen Russell in front of her followers and also reaches Helen’s readers.
4. Pay the Influencer
Should you pay an influencer to work with you? Paying is probably one of the easiest ways to work with an influencer, but you’re still going to have to develop a relationship first.
Most valid influencers won’t just take money without first trying your product and making sure they believe in it. However, when you pay a financial reward, you gain the ability to contract with the influencer and ensure you get the exposure you want rather than merely hoping the influencer might share info on your product.
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5. Tap Into Popular Trends
Working with influencers requires staying on top of trends and figuring out ways of tapping into people’s interests. Look at popular culture, such as what movies and music are hot right now. Keep an eye on trending activities with the younger generations and think of ways to tap into those trends online. Consider the types of information people share most often on social media, be it memes or videos.
Tinder started a social media campaign called #menprovement, which takes a funny look at issues such as how not to get ghosted, inspirational quotes and advice on how to spot the perfect guy or improve yourself. By utilizing influencers to share posts on these types of topics with the hashtag, Tinder uses social media influencer marketing in a unique way.
6. Strive for Authenticity
Even though you’re asking someone else to recommend your product or service, it should always come from a place of authenticity. While authenticity is still important, the target audience you have in mind may make it even more vital. For example, 90 percent of millennials indicated authenticity was one of the most critical factors in choosing who they do business with.
However, being open and honest was also crucial to Generation X at 85 percent and baby boomers at 80 percent. When working with influencers, look for ones who do have strict standards about who and what they promote. The choosier they are, the more impact their endorsement will have.
7. Gift Generously
If you want influencers with a high number of followers on social media to give your product a shout-out, don’t be afraid to gift them generously so they can fully try out your product and see what they think. Create a package for the influencer you’d send to the top buyer for one of the biggest retail chains around if you wanted to impress them and get their business. Remember that if the influencer mentions your product and gift, you gain access to their thousands of followers, so the gift is merely a marketing cost.
Jesse Driftwood is an example of an influencer with thousands of diverse followers. He isn’t exactly an A-list celebrity, but a photographer and filmmaker with a great personality and a lot of interesting information on his Instagram page — which is why he has more than 120,000 followers. Brands send him their products all the time, and when he’s impressed, he gives the product a shoutout. In the post above, he thanks Volcom for the warm winter jacket they sent and adds a photo of himself wearing the coat.
Sending the jacket to Driftwood was a brilliant move on Volcom’s part. It paid off in the form of a shoutout to his more than 100K followers.
8. Develop Your Own Influencers
Another idea is to develop your brand ambassadors and encourage them to expand their reach. Brand ambassadors get to try new products before they hit the stores and get unique goodies no one else receives. In return, they mention your products on social media to their family and friends. Keep in mind that there are numerous bots on social media. So don’t only look for ambassadors who seem to have a lot of followers. Instead, look for people who already adore your brand and talk about it to their family and friends.
9. Create Excitement
Get the Internet buzzing about an event by timing posts from influencers in a strategic manner. There are two different methods for accomplishing wide-reaching excitement about an event. First, you can gather all the influencers possible and get them chatting about an upcoming occasion at one time. The goal with this method is that every time a potential customer goes on social media, they see something about your event.
Another method involves spacing out influencer campaigns, so there is a steady drip of information about an upcoming event. Whatever method you choose, be strategic about where and when your influencers post and share your content.
If you haven’t yet seen the Fyre Festival documentaries on Hulu and Netflix — Fyre Fraud and FYRE: The Greatest Party that Never Happened — you’ve missed out on one of the greatest and scammiest social media influencer campaigns to happen in a decade.
Fyre Festival, organized by Billy McFarland and Ja Rule, had some true genius with their online advertising. Not only did they pull in big names such as Kendall Jenner, but some of the top supermodels in the world were invited to an exclusive event and asked to talk up the festival on social media.
Probably one of the most unique aspects of their promotions was the orange tile that people changed their profiles to and shared on social media through images. The tiles meant that social media feeds filled with the color orange, which created a lot of interest.
Unfortunately, the organizers are in serious trouble for not following through on promises, and some of the influencers received subpoenas. If you plan to use an aggressive social media campaign modeled after Fyre Festival’s success, make sure you can follow through on your promises, and everything remains transparent.
Mastering Influencer Marketing
With influencer marketing, you don’t always see the results of your efforts right away. Brand recognition is a fickle beast and requires months and sometimes years before you see a payoff from efforts.
The key to successful marketing with influencers is engaging enough to understand the platform and audience. Also be upfront and honest about your product and the deal between you and the influencer to market that product. Consumers appreciate reliable feedback and will make decisions based on this form of word-of-mouth advertising.
This article was originally published on 3/05/2019 and updated on 7/22/2019.
The Small Business Marketing Guide
Chapter 1: Successful Viral Marketing Campaigns
Chapter 2: Influencer Marketing
Chapter 3: Conversational Marketing
Chapter 4: CMS Marketing
Chapter 5: Brand Marketing
Chapter 6: Scarcity Marketing
Chapter 7: Transactional Marketing
Chapter 8: FOMO Marketing
Chapter 9: Neuromarketing
Chapter 10: Close Range Marketing
Chapter 11: Guerrilla Marketing
Chapter 12: Word-of-Mouth Marketing
Chapter 13: Target Marketing