AN INTRODUCTION to influencer marketing strategy
Those dreaded words: “influencer marketing”. They invoke images of inauthentic product plugs, difficult to manage outsourced creators and a marketing landscape that can feel almost too fast-paced to ever catch up to. Yet, those concerns are valid– influencer marketing CAN go wrong, but it can also go incredibly right. Effective influencer marketing strategies can provide avenues for increased reach and sales for your business that you’ve never seen before, at a Return On Investment (ROI) that far outperforms that of traditional marketing.
As of 2021, 89% of marketing experts stand by the effectiveness of social media influencer marketing, and why wouldn’t they? In multiple reports, up to 49% of consumers depend on social media influencer endorsement when forming an opinion of a product– in the teen market, that number is bumped up to a whopping 70%! For a fraction of the price, influencer marketing can lead you to an almost tripled return on investment for your spend as opposed to traditional advertising, which is probably why influencer marketing spending is predicted to increase substantially in 65% of global businesses. So, why not consider trying to make it work for your business?
We’ve compiled an introductory guide to influencer marketing here: what it is, why it works and your first steps to making it happen! This guide isn’t exhaustive, but if you have more questions about how to make influencer marketing strategies work for you, feel free to book a consultation call with us so we can fill you in on our fave tips and tricks!
What is Influencer Marketing?
Understanding what influencer marketing is means first understanding what it means to be an “influencer”. The definition is pretty broad, but in short, it’s an individual with a large, engaged, organic following on a social media platform, who has fostered a bond of trust and shared sentiment with their followers. ‘Micro-influencers’ are often defined as influencers with a following of less than 20k, often creating focused, niche content. ‘Macro-influencers’ are usually defined as influencers with a following of more than 20k, and can be even more widely recognized and revered than traditional media celebrities. As a smaller business doing your own social media influencer marketing, the likelihood of you being able to afford the services of some larger influencers is minimal, but ‘micro-influencers’ can be just as, if not more effective to get your brand recognized, because they usually have a larger percentage of engagement and follower loyalty.
This brings us to the second aspect (after followers) of what makes an ‘influencer’ and that’s loyalty. By definition, the influencer’s choices and tastes must be able to influence the purchases made by their followers. A follower is more likely to take up an influencer’s commercial call to action if they trust and like them as a person. How can you tell if an influencer is liked by their followers? Engagement. This is the amount of likes, comments, shares and interactions that are taken on the individual uploads made by each influencer. Since follower numbers vary from influencer to influencer, a person with millions of followers may be getting 10 thousand likes on a post, and a person with 10 thousand followers may be getting 1 thousand likes on a post. In this case, the smaller influencer would actually be a much better business partner for a potential micro-influencer marketing collaboration. When considering using an influencer to advertise your product, it’s important to make surer their follower base aligns with your target market. Their followers may not be so loyal if your product’s message is entirely outside of the influencer’s usual content scope. As an example, you probably wouldn’t get any sales click-throughs if you asked a young male sportsman to advertise your range of blouses for women in their 50s. In fact, it would likely be quite detrimental to both your brand and the influencer’s online presence. So, loyalty is important to consider when choosing the path of influencer marketing, both in the initial engagement the influencer has, and how to use your campaign to further boost the influencer’s loyalty and your sales, to both of your benefits.
An influencer is a person with lots of followers, and they can get those followers to buy the things they endorse. This is because, weirdly enough, according to Bright Local’s Consumer survey, 76% of people trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation, and according to Crowdriff, millennials find User Generated Content 50% more trustworthy than content created by corporations using traditional forms of advertising. Next up, you want the influencer to endorse your products. So how do you make that happen?
How to Get Started with Influencer Marketing
1. Establish your Campaign Objectives
The first thing to establish when devising an influencer marketing strategy is what you’re advertising. This sounds super simple, right? You want someone to sell your product, but the way influencer marketing works isn’t about just showing your product to people, it’s about establishing a message around your product that influencers and their audience resonate with. Selling your product shouldn’t feel like a shameless plug, but more of an integrated, trustworthy endorsement. If you’re having some trouble finding the message you want to be promoting, we encourage you to take a look through our free Brand Identity Questionnaire. Once you know what your overarching message is, with regards to the product you want to promote, whether it’s a lifestyle you’re selling, a problem you’re solving, or a niche you want to fill, you’re better equipped to choose the influencers you want to work with. Have these written down to keep on file going forward. At this time, it’s also important to establish a budget for your influencer marketing interaction.
2. Choose Your Influencers
There are a couple of steps you need to take in finding your ideal brand partners. The first among these is to establish the influencer marketing platform you ideally want to advertise on, and it’s worth looking at the demographics that use that platform for purchasing influence. Most people spend time on a range of different platforms, but user demographics vary in terms of time invested in them. Here, we can compare Facebook and Instagram. According to Sprout, only about 50% of teens spend time on Facebook, as opposed to 79% of 18-64 year olds. 72% of teens and 64% of 19-29 year olds spend most of their time on Instagram. Who are you trying to appeal to? Also, consider the nature of your product. Is your product one that lends itself to great visuals, a la Instagram? Is your product less physical and better explained, a la Facebook? Is your product something that taps into fast-moving trends and user integration a la Twitter? Are you someone who wants to promote a backend product through b2b influencer marketing, via niche LinkedIn users who actively search your service? Consider your audience and adjust your influencer search based on those criteria!
Once you’ve chosen your platform, you have to find the influencers who will, potentially, make a sales difference to you. You can do this through manual searching: finding hashtags that are pertinent to what you’re doing, looking at top posts in that field, and taking a look at their content to see if it aligns with your brand. You can see what your existing followers abide by to try and see what they continually comment on or engage with, and ultimately, to understand what they find enticing. You can enable Google search alerts for topics that are pertinent to your brand to see who people’s searches in your field send them towards. You can also utilize paid services like BuzzSumo and Meltwater to present you with lists of algorithmically curated influencers.
3. Reaching Out and Establishing a Campaign:
So now you know who you want to talk to– they have shared values with you, their audience seems similar to your target market, and the content they post is largely well received and responded to within your niche. What now?
As someone approaching an influencer off the bat, you need to make their posting, time, and alignment with your brand worthwhile – this is payment for the sales they facilitate for you. The tone of your initial interaction will most likely determine whether they will continue to interact with your brand or not. If you make an offer, rather than a request, to an influencer with more followers than your brand, you’re more likely to get their attention. You’ll be standing out from the massive amounts of requests they’re likely to get.
What doesn’t work:
“Hey there, we want you to promote us, please DM us back!”
What does work:
“Hey there! We loved your post about [brand message adjacent upload]. We’d love to send you some [relevant product] – if you’re up to it, please send us your shipping address and full name!”
That way, you’re establishing the premise for your chosen influencer to look at, experience, and identity with your product. This person can therefore earnestly know and experience what you have to offer and see if they align it with it. From there, you can be assured of a loyalty-based promotion on any further business deals. Though this method may end in some disappointing outcomes from those who do not post your product on their feed, your response rate will lead to a larger yield, in terms of outcomes and honest interactions, from people who really believe in what you’re doing!
Once you’ve found the influencers who are receptive to where you’re going, it’s time to create an influencer marketing campaign. This means telling them the budget you can pay them (in product or cash) for the posts that they make on your behalf. As much as we wish we could give you a guide for that, it’s incredibly value/follower/product/time/loyalty/currency/market based. This is going to have to be something you come up with for your influencer.
4.Your Campaign Going LIve
You’ve given your influencer money to go for it – what now?
Well, if this influencer has communicated with you well enough, and they’re properly aligned with you and your brand, you’ll see sparks! This should be a collaborative effort. Make sure they cross-post and credit your account and products, and for maximum reach, make sure you crosspost what they put out into the world, too! Unfortunately, an influencer marketing campaign doesn’t tend to take effect after one post. As proven by the team at SingleGrain, your audience establishes massive trust, and therefore call to action, after 4+ posts!
To track your return on investment, we’d recommend observing your storefront analytics and website traffic following their post. There is, unfortunately, no precise way to track the direct effect of your influencer marketing campaign, BUT you can look at case studies to see the long-term effects that these campaigns can have!
5. Campaign Reflection and Recon
You met someone, you associated them with your brand, and they posted your product– you did it! You’re an influencer marketing pro!
If you found success in their posts, why did you? And how did their posts speak to your audience? If their posts didn’t generate any sales for you, where did your strategy go wrong? In order to create an influencer marketing strategy that will make future campaigns more successful, you need to honestly reflect on where you won and where you lost, and make adjustments to your next campaign to make it better!
A Dawning Digital Example
1. Establish your Campaign Objectives
2. CHoose Your InFLUENCERS
We had a few people in mind, but @modern_day_esther interacted with us repeatedly. She wasn’t a huge influencer at the time, but she had a super loyal audience and really encapsulated the AriZona brand values:
3. Reaching Out and Establishing a Campaign:
After already posting some awesome AriZona content, we presented Esther with an offer that acted in her favour.
4: Your CAMPAIGN GOING LIVE
Esther created some content featuring us and it turned out awesome! We still use what she made to this day!
4: CAMPAIGN REFLECTION AND RECON
Having a look at the insights on the posts Esther made for us, as well as the way she interacts with fans of the brand on her own page, we’re gonna call this influencer marketing campaign a success! Check out the likes on what we cross-posted from her just last week!
So, influencer marketing isn’t as intimidating as it seems, right? It’s basically just connecting people and brands in ways that make sense, and reaping the benefits! For a very minimal cost, you can reach new, loyal consumers of your product without doing anything besides sending a small product package. The content that this generates is even created for you! We can’t wait to see what you do with this influencer marketing guide, and we’re open to any questions about what we’ve said in the comments below. If you’d like a more hands-on approach to influencer marketing strategies, or think we could be of help in creating an influencer campaign for your brand, we’re always free to chat and you can schedule a free consultation here!