Over the years, social media platforms have amazingly solidified their integration into the daily lives of multitudes of people. In fact, the London School of Economics and Political Science shares that as of June 2017, 2.89 billion out of 3.81 billion Internet users actively engage in social media, giving it a penetration rate of 36%.
Due to these impressive figures, a lot of individuals have chosen to capitalise on social network usage, leading to the recent growth of full-time social media influencers.
Accordingly, the term influencer is often associated with fame, online trends, and the millennial generation. However, influencers aren’t merely concerned with superficially garnering attention from their followers. They also have a lot to offer to the brands they collaborate with.
Below, we’ll provide an in-depth discussion on influencer marketing and how you can make this strategy work for your business.
What is Influencer Marketing?
Usually, marketing strategies can be categorised into traditional or digital. However, influencer marketing is unique in the sense that it’s a hybrid between conventional and new tools. It takes the concept of celebrity endorsement but places it into a modern channel—social media—as part of the design of a content-driven campaign.
Moreover, according to digital marketing consultant Shane Barker, influencer marketing pertains to the practice of partnering with social media influencers for promoting a brand and its offered products and services. It entails finding the right influencers and collaborating with them to craft compelling marketing campaigns that help you reach your marketing goal aligned to your brand.
But, Who is an Influencer?
An influencer is a social media user who has successfully established a strong following in his chosen platform/s. Additionally, social media influencers are perceived by their audience as credible experts in their respective industries.
For instance, enthusiasts who share their fitness progress and post fitness-related content on social media have a substantial influence on their fans’ decisions and opinions with regards to the subject of fitness. This means that if you’re a supplier of fitness supplements and an influencer uses your products, there’s a high chance that his followers will be persuaded to purchase your items.
To put it simply, influencer marketing enables you to leverage the influencer-follower relationship to promote your brand in a personal and authentic manner.
Such results can be harder to accomplish with the help of traditional celebrities. This is because unlike celebrities who live under mysterious veils of glamour and secrecy, influencers are ordinary people who maintain connections with digital media outlets and utilise these to interact with their fans in a more intimate and personal environment.
Therefore, they can grow a community of loyal followers who look up to them and value their recommendations. Moreover, they have successfully struck the right balance between being “trusted friends” and “credible authorities” of their online supporters.
Steps to Success: Influencer Marketing
An influencer marketing campaign can yield significant results in boosting brand awareness and financial performance. It also reportedly provides an impressively high return on investment (ROI). However, despite its advantages, an influencer campaign is not entirely fail-proof—you must execute it properly and strategically to heighten the likelihood of success. Here are some guidelines that you can follow to do so:
- Do your research
Research is a critical step in every corporate venture, and influencer marketing is no exception. Conduct extensive examination to tap into relevant audience data. This allows you to determine which social media platform is most preferred and frequently used by your defined market.
- Set a budget
Before you start searching for the “right” influencer, you must establish how much you are willing to spend. The amount that influencers charge varies depending on the scope, type, and duration of the campaign, as well as their level of popularity. Although bartering with gifts works, a lot of influencers nowadays demand monetary compensation, so set a budget and use it as a reference.
- Establish goals
To effectively measure the success of your influencer marketing campaign, you must have a clear guide of expectations. Here are a few questions that you need to ponder on:
- Do you want to boost engagement on your brand’s social media pages and profiles?
- Is earning quality backlinks and driving traffic to your company’s website part of your objectives?
- Do you want to elicit lead conversions and heighten sales?
Your answers will broadly impact which influencers are ideal for you to work with. In addition, your main goal also influences the type of content that will be created. Therefore, prepare a list of concise and well-defined goals before approaching a social media influencer.
- Have a clear message
Consider your desired end goal when choosing the content type. Additionally, be sure to have a suitable CTA that is communicated clearly. Smartphone screens have a lot going on, with ads and recommendations just a click or swipe away.
This constant activity disrupts the focus and shortens the attention span of social media users. Thus, be succinct with what you want to say and use captivating elements, such as promotional codes and compelling advocacies to draw your audience in.
- Look for relevant influencers
Popularity is not nearly as important as relevance. Choose an influencer that is well-versed in your specific niche so you can reach the right people. Remember, social media is a vast world, and you’re more likely to succeed when you narrow down the scope to your target audience.
Listed below are other aspects that you must assess when looking for an influencer:
- Level of Engagement
Aside from the follower count, evaluate the level of engagement by scanning through the comments section. You should also consider how often the posts are liked and shared by the followers, as well as how responsive the influencer is to the questions and remarks of his audience. You may also use software programs or platform-specific engagement calculators to get a more precise idea.
As stated previously, influencers have particular niches in which they are famous for, such as fitness, travel, beauty, and fashion. Choose an influencer who’s popular in the niche relevant to your industry.
There are two factors to assess here: follower count and suitability of the platform. Some influencers have superior impact and more followers on specific social media platforms. For example, a beauty influencer may have more influence on Instagram, while a travel influencer may have more subscribers on YouTube. Determine which platform is more appropriate for your campaign and target market.
It’s essential to collaborate with an individual who has significant similarities with your brand’s buyer persona. Make sure that he is relatable to the prospective customers that you have in mind.
With regards to the influencer’s reputation and image, determine how well-liked he is. Fame does not always result from admiration, and negative feedback can also make a person famous. Choose an individual with mass appeal and who sustains a friendly rapport with his followers.
- Related Experience
Consider the previous projects that the influencer has been involved in. Influencers who have handled similar brands or projects can extend further insights that make your content more valuable.
- Evaluate your strategy
Before putting your campaign plan to action, scrutinise its details and assess its feasibility. You may also work with a marketing specialist or a digital marketing agency that provides influencer marketing services.
Tips to Do: Influencer Marketing
- Value micro-influencers
Popularity or follower count is not the sole indicator that an influencer’s assistance will be relevant to your company. To add, most macro-influencers (those with millions of followers) charge hefty amounts in exchange of their promotional service. Therefore, you should consider collaborating with micro-influencers.
The fan base of micro-influencers may be smaller, but their audience is often more highly engaged. Easyship shares that, according to Scrunch, a micro-influencer has a follower count that ranges from 2,000 to 50,000. However, Forbes reports that a follower count of at least 10,000 to 500,000 is required to be deemed as a micro-influencer.
In terms of engagement, Shane Barker affirms that based on a study conducted by SocialPubli, micro-influencers can induce engagement that is seven times more substantial than what most macro-influencers generate. Additionally, their followers are genuinely interested in their content and have a higher potential to engage with sponsored posts.
Another study published by Markerly in 2016 showed that the rate of engagement tends to decrease as followers increase in number. In addition, the study found that social media influencers with approximately 1,000 followers or fewer can garner likes on the content they post at an 8% frequency rate.
In comparison, posts from macro-influencers with more than 10 million followers acquire likes only about 1.6% of the time. Shockingly, it’s also been reported that micro-influencers get 13 times more comments on their Instagram posts than their macro-influencer counterparts.
- Think about the users when you make content
Just as how audiences of different age groups have their preferred social media platforms, there are also certain content types that are more appreciated by your demographic. Particular examples of popular content styles include product reviews and testimonials, contests and giveaways, Q&A, and podcasts.
It’s also crucial to ensure that your content is meaningful or adds value to the lives of your viewers or readers. Even with the most famous influencers, your campaign will not yield the desired results if it lacks topnotch content.
With that being said, it’s best to give the influencers full creative control when it comes to crafting content. After all, they interact with their audience regularly and have a deeper understanding as to what kind of content is more likely to be rejected or accepted by their followers.
- Stay within legal measures
It’s indispensable to ensure that both you and the influencer you plan to work with are adhering to the guidelines set by the Competition and Markets Authority, as well as the legal codes of the Advertising Standards Authority and Committee of Advertising Practice so that you can avoid any undesirable legal repercussions.
Although these guidelines vary, the general takeaway is to be consistent in maintaining transparency through a full sponsorship disclosure.
It’s also necessary to write and sign a legally binding contract with the influencers you collaborate with. Include all essential details, such as the deliverables, project timelines, and payment conditions and terms. This allows you to have a document to refer to in case of miscommunication, especially during the later stages of campaign implementation.
Advantages of Doing Influencer Marketing
- Build credibility and trust
According to a 2014 report, 88% of consumers trust product reviews that they find online as much as recommendations from their friends and personal contacts. With the impact of an influencer’s voice, you can further intensify this trust and increase the credibility of your campaign.
Ads communicated through traditional media tend to be overly promotional, making the consumers quite sceptical with trusting the messages being conveyed. However, influencer-created content is considered more authentic because it comes from a spokesperson who is not just an authority figure or a celebrated name, but also a real consumer.
As for your brand’s overall corporate reputation, recommendations from influencers can impact it positively. This is because when a publicly trusted influencer shares a commendable experience with your products or services, his followers will naturally get captivated by your brand, resulting in increased leads and hopefully, sales.
To add, you can benefit more by nurturing a long-term partnership with the right influencer, compared to a one-time collaboration or sponsorship.
- Non-invasive marketing
Ads that are too promotional can end up upsetting the audience. Plus, with a viewership extent that is randomised or excessively large (includes people who may or may not be part of your demographic), your content can go unnoticed or even deemed as annoying by social media users.
However, with influencer marketing, you can create non-intrusive campaigns that are welcomed by a strategically targeted audience, at the right format, platform, and time.
- Widen brand reach
It’s been reported that a whopping 71% of marketers find influencer marketing effective in generating high-quality traffic to their platforms. This is because having strong partnerships with influencers enables your website to place significantly on search engine rankings, leading to increased site traffic.
Furthermore, influencer marketing can help you improve your company’s inbound link profile and earn relevant backlinks.
Other than drawing prospects to your brand, you can also reach a substantial population by tapping into the networks of the influencer’s fan community. It works this way: when the followers of the influencer like your content, they may share it within their own set of followers and online friends. As a result, brand awareness can be further enhanced.
Metrics You Should Check
Measuring the accurate ROI of your influencer marketing campaign can be challenging. However, it’s required for determining its level of success and the likelihood of developing another collaborative project with the same social media influencer. Here are some areas that you should meticulously assess:
- Social media following
Has there been a timely increase in your social media profile’s follower count that can be attributed to the campaign?
- Increase in traffic
This can be easily evaluated through the number of website visitors you have had during the month of the campaign’s implementation. You can create a specific landing page to direct all traffic generated from influencer-created posts.
- Organic reach
Indicators include the accurate number of likes, shares, comments, and mentions that the posts have garnered during a set period.
- Hashtag mentions
Simply run a hashtag search to know the number of hashtag mentions that your influencer marketing campaign has acquired. To make this process easier, use unique hashtags for every influencer.
- Direct conversions or sales
You can assign a trackable link that has been customised for each influencer you work with. You can also provide the influencers with customised promotional codes so you can identify whose fan community used the code for a purchase.
Influence from One to Thousand
Knowing a variety of marketing strategies is imperative for brands, especially in this digital age, where new tools and tactics appear regularly. Moreover, influencer marketing is a specific strategy that can deliver fantastic results if executed correctly and with the help of the right person.
In addition, while content is the central focus of influencer marketing campaigns, you should also be educated about applicable legal guidelines to ensure full compliance. Developing appropriate parameters and determinants is also necessary for evaluating the campaign’s success.
If you want to increase sales while simultaneously elevating brand awareness and improving customer engagement, design an influencer marketing campaign for your business. Contact a marketing specialist or company that provides influencer marketing services for a higher guarantee of a fruitful campaign. These professionals will guide you throughout the process, from finding a suitable influencer to devising a comprehensive campaign plan.