There were only a few dedicated bloggers and celebrities in the influencer marketing arena a decade ago. Now it seems that social media influencers are gaining popularity, saturating the market, and even being involved in fraud.
Those of you who have researched influencer marketing have likely found inconsistent results, ranging from recommending that you should definitely use social influencers to that they aren’t necessary.
The influencer marketing landscape has never been more complicated, but we’ve put together a guide to help you make sense of it all.
Here are some tips to help you decide whether influencer marketing is right for you.
What is Influencer Marketing?
So what exactly is influencer marketing and why does it excite marketers so much? Influencer marketing is the process of getting people who are influential online to share brand messages with their audience through sponsored content.
Advertisers have always used celebrity endorsements to raise awareness and improve perceptions of their brands, as people tend to trust celebrities they admire and want to emulate. With influencer marketing, a new way of defining celebrity has emerged that is similar in concept to traditional marketing.
In addition to TV and movie stars, athletes, and musicians. With a blog or Instagram account, for example, you can build a large, engaged audience.
Social media influencers exert a similar influence on their audience as celebrities. Brands then use social media influencers to create new types of celebrity endorsements.
For example, a new energy drink has just been launched and the company wants to market it as the “perfect energy booster for busy women.” The company decides to target influential female bloggers (and send them information about the new energy drink) with email letters, online ads, and in-person events. The energy drink’s marketing team will target these influencers through social media
- Find bloggers who match your target demographic.
- Contact the bloggers in an effective and professional manner to ensure both parties are happy and agreeable with the upcoming partnership.
- Send samples of the drink to the bloggers.
- See the results of a fantastic social media campaign! Blogger readers are excited to hear about their online friends’ positive experiences with this energy drink, and they comment that they will try it themselves.
Influencer marketing, of course, is not that easy and involves a lot of work and time, but the concept is solid. So why do influencer marketing? What makes it so difficult that it has not worked before, but is so hot now?
- With social media today, anyone can become an influencer; anyone who builds an audience can influence that audience. Consequently, there is a huge pool of influencers that brands can work with.
- Today, there are more tools than ever to help brands find and work with influencers. Now there are turnkey influencer programs that did not exist before.
- Influencers are not limited to a specific format or channel; they are present on all channels and platforms.
- Consumer trust in advertising is low. Few people click on banner ads anymore! However, consumers trust their friends and family when it comes to product recommendations and purchase decisions – and they consider social media acquaintances as friends.
- Influencer marketing programs have proven to be one of the most effective and cost-efficient tools in a marketer’s arsenal when used correctly.
The value of influencer marketing
Influencer marketing on Instagram is a well-known strategy, but there are other networks that are growing for influencers. By 2020, Adweek estimates the industry will be worth $10 billion. Influencers on other networks like Snapchat, YouTube, and TikTok are of a different demographic.
Marketers were surveyed by influencer marketing agency Mediakix at the end of 2018 to determine how they felt about influencers going into 2019.
In the survey, 89% of respondents said that ROI from influencer marketing was comparable to or better than other marketing channels. More than half of marketers say they plan to increase their marketing budgets in 2019.
Now that we know where we are in the industry, let’s look at how to create an influencer strategy.
How to create an influencer marketing strategy
An influencer program takes deliberate planning and targeting, just like any marketing tactic. Sending free stuff to everyone who asks or to existing friends and acquaintances will not lead to success in the long run
1. How to find influencers and what to pay them
As with any strategy, research is the first step. Pick the platform you want to target first. If you’re just getting started, don’t worry about expanding to other platforms later. You should already have a presence or be interested in expanding your brand’s reach on this network.
When you don’t know where to start, social listening can help you identify where people are talking about your industry and brand – and it can help you find the most influential voices in each platform. See our guide on social listening.
Implementing an influencer marketing strategy requires you to consider your industry. In the beauty and fashion industries, influencer marketing shines. Twitch dominates the video game industry.
You should look into the type of influencers you are looking for during your research phase. Will you work with celebrities who have large followings? Will you work with microinfluencers with fewer than 2000 followers? Your preference may be something between 5k and 10k followers. Your budget will depend on the number of followers you choose.
Learn more about how to find the right Instagram influencers for your brand.
Additionally, compensation for these influencer types varies greatly, so it’s a good idea to review common rates for them. A microinfluencer focuses on a few topics and accepts products. There are microinfluencers who work independently, as well as those who are represented by agencies and networks. A talent agency might be needed for larger accounts or celebrities.
How will you measure the contribution of influencer posts to your overall marketing goals? Think about how you would gauge the budget for a video production firm’s work in creating an ad for you versus the budget for an influencer creating a video. The process of judging influencers may seem unpredictable at first, but this type of approach will give you a familiar basis for comparison.
A study conducted by Influence.co on Instagram influencer payments was published in 2017. It revealed the following:
- In total, $271 per post was the average price.
- It cost an average of $83 per post for micro-influencers with fewer than 1,000 followers.
- A post with more than 100,000 followers averaged $763 per influencer.
- During the process, you’ll find yourself returning to this step often.
2. Develop a budgeting and management plan
Your next step is to create your budget based on the amount you will pay influencers. Don’t forget to plan, implement, and review your influencer program as well. Influencer marketing is not a set-it-and-forget-it type of thing. You need to monitor and follow up.
Influencers balance multiple partnerships and are human, so they may fall behind on their commitments to post on time or make mistakes in the tags they post or calls to action they post for you. The more hands-on you are with these relationships, the better your chances of cultivating them, as well as refining your approach based on your learning about what works and what doesn’t.
Consider setting up a formal ambassador program if you have the time and resources. In addition to launching new products, Fujifilm utilizes its ambassadors to enhance their content. They have access to a variety of photographers and videographers, so they can showcase their equipment’s capabilities through their feed.
Hiring an influencer marketing agency that will handle your research and coordination is a good choice for brands needing a wider pool of influencers.
3. Establish your goals and message
A brand’s awareness and sales are two of the most common reasons to utilize influencer marketing. You would be better off focusing on your brand’s needs rather than setting these broad targets as your two goals. For instance, you might want to attract younger customers. With a new product, you want to reach a new customer group. Or you want to talk about your brand values through influencers instead of trends.
Influencers can target very specific audiences. Influencers will help you ensure a very targeted audience—those who are likely to be interested in your product—reads and engages with your content instead of relying on thousands of followers.
Conversational content that features a narrative and conversational tone differentiates these posts from the sales- and feature-driven posts a brand might do for the same product on its own feed.
Both your message and your goal are equally important. Influencers should be encouraged to use their creativity without being stifled, but don’t allow them to post about things unrelated to your campaign. You should decide how you want to structure your influencer marketing campaign and message so that you can follow it later.
4. Outreach to influencers: How to contact them
Research is the first step. We then research how to find the right influencers to work with once we have identified your network, goals, and which types of influencers you want to target.
Keep the following in mind as you conduct your research:
Influencers often write about similar topics to yours, do they? You should be looking for influencers who post regularly about dining out and eating. Let’s say you’re a restaurant and you’re trying to promote a new menu.
They look legit, don’t they? Click through and scroll through their feed to find out for sure. The engagement ratio to follower count is low and spammy comments indicate a fraudulent account.
Do they have experience with similar brands? A seasoned influencer should be able to show you their work portfolio in a press kit, depending on what type of influencer you are looking for. Investing in an influencer means you’ll want to vet them more and more.
In addition, Twitter analytics tools can help you identify potential influencers for your campaigns.
Next, decide how you’ll get in touch with them. On the same platform, you can send microinfluencers a private message. When you click around their profile, you will find their contact information in the bio. For more established ones, you can view their contact information in their bio. There may also be a link to their corporate website.
Summer Rayne Oakes offers a multichannel presence to her brand partners, which is a huge advantage. She is giving away a product through the Gardener’s Supply Company in this video. She gets to keep her followers engaged with an interesting product while the brand gets increased visibility. Regardless of whether they win, they’ll have experienced a new product.
5. Examine your strategy and refine it
It is important to have pre-determined dates to measure the success of your influencer marketing campaign even if it is still running. We will cover tracking your results in the next section. Each campaign you create will teach you something, no matter whether it’s successful or not.
How to track influencer marketing campaigns
You can measure your campaign’s success in a few different ways. Track your influencers’ activity with a hashtag. It’s easy to see what’s being said about specific hashtags or to watch for mentions of specific Twitter keywords with Sprout Smart Inbox.
You can track how much sales are being generated by influencers easily by giving out affiliate codes or tracking links.
Influencers are here to stay, but how they look and operate has changed drastically in a relatively short period of time, and how they do business in five years may be drastically different. You can use this guide to get started, but just like any strategy, you should be ready for change.
However, while working with influencers involves some unique considerations, the process of creating a campaign is similar to that of any other marketing campaign: research, set a budget, determine your goals, find your influencers, review, and revise.