Whether you love them or hate them, ‘Influencers’ are here to stay. And, with that, ‘Influencer Marketing’ is too. Popular social media platforms like Instagram, YouTube, and of course, TikTok have given rise to a brave new world of referral marketing for businesses to bring their product, or services, to the attention of consumers.
While influencer marketing may not be perfect for every business, you may find that they work perfectly for you. We’re going to run through everything you need to know, how to work with influencers, whether it’s right for your business, and a few other bits, too. Let’s get started.
- What is an Influencer?
- What is Influencer Marketing?
- Do Consumers Trust Influencers?
- Different Types of Influencers
- How to Hire an Influencer
- How to Supercharge Your Influencer Marketing Strategy
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What is an Influencer?
An influencer is someone who can ‘influence’ consumers’ purchasing decisions because of their popularity, authority, knowledge, and relationship with their audience.
What is Influencer Marketing?
Influencer marketing is a type of social media, or referral marketing, where companies and brands will pay influencers for endorsements, product recommendations, paid sponsorships, and partnerships to promote products or services.
Influencers will normally focus on a specific industry such as fashion, makeup, or fitness as examples. They will often gain followers because they are seen on their platform as a trusted authority in the niche in which they operate.
Influencers can be found in every industry, whether you specialise in children’s fashion, healthy food, or DIY. And, that’s why influencer marketing is a lot more accessible to small and medium-sized businesses than some traditional marketing strategies.
Do Consumers Trust Influencers?
Well, it depends. If the influencer has been posting for quite some time, and they have never had much controversy when it comes to recommending poor, irrelevant products, or have ever tried to scam their audience, then they’re likely fairly trustworthy and consumers will respect their recommendations.
Consumers trust influencers that post content that matches their interest, too. If an influencer has the ‘relatability factor’ when it comes to their audience, and their interests, they can often be seen as experts in their fields, so their audience can have a great deal of trust in them. In general, small influencers are trusted more than influencers with larger audiences because they often have a closer relationship with their followers.
Influencers are a valuable marketing channel. But, only if you find the right ones to promote your products. If you do, then, their followers – and hopefully your target audience – will be more likely to show interest in your products.
There’s a few other things you need to think about, too. Trusting influencers also depends on your intended audience. How often do they use social media? Are they on multiple platforms or just one? What is their average age? What might they be interested in?
Think carefully about your target audience before taking your first steps into the world of influencer marketing. Depending on your audience, it may not be worth investing in.
Different Types of Influencers
Influencers come in all shapes and sizes. Some are bigger than others (and will be more expensive based on their reach), and some will be smaller (and perhaps more affordable or relevant to your business’ niche). If you’re interested in working with influencers, it’s helpful to classify them based on their followers and work out which type is right for you. These numbers vary, but a general classification of influencer levels is as follows:
- nano-influencers: 1,000 – 10,000 followers
- micro-influencers: 10,000 – 50,000 followers
- meso- or mid-tier influencers: 50,000 – 250,000 followers
- macro-influencers: 250,000 – 1,000,000 followers
- mega-influencers: 1,000,000+ followers
As we’ve said, the larger the influencer’s subscriber/follower list is, the more expensive they’re likely to be. So, you must bear that in mind before you start getting in touch with anyone.
How to Hire an Influencer
If you have decided influencer marketing is something you’re interested in, you can’t go jumping in head first. There are a number of different things you need to consider beforehand:
Determine Your Target Audience
You need to establish who your target audience is. You’ll likely already know a bit about who is typically buying your products, or at the very least, who is interested in them. This customer data can include their age, gender, income, education, location, life cycle (what stage they are at in life), psychological, and much, much more. We cover more about customer segmentation and how to gather customer data here.
You can find out who your target audience is by gathering customer data; either through your point-of-sale system, or using information gathered from marketing research, or data pulled from social media, or email marketing campaigns. You don’t need to know their life story. You just need a general idea of who your customers are. Once you’ve pulled this information together you can start looking for influencers that create content that your target audience (or customers) might be interested in.
Find an Influencer That Fits Your Target Audience
This is the most important part to get right. You can find influencers in many different ways. Here are some examples:
- Hashtags: Manually searching hashtags on Instagram, or TikTok, is an easy way to find influencers in your space. Try searching for industry terms, popular items you sell, or quite simply, ‘influencer’ or ‘ad’. This should help you get the wheels turning to find some influencers that may be relevant to your business.
- Google: Google never fails. And, searching for influencers is no exception. Search for your business type, followed by influencer’, followed by the size of your business. E.g. ‘fashion influencer for small business’, or ‘fitness influencer for medium sized business.’
- YouTube: Similar to Google, searching for your business type and ‘influencer’ can yield a lot of relevant results. Plus, you’ll be able to find influencers who actually showcase your product in greater depth, and explanation, than a simple photo with a caption.
Choose Your Niche and Desired Reach
Your niche is the specific area of the market in which your brand exists. Find influencers who are active in your niche so you can best reach your target audience.
If your goal is to reach as many people in your niche as possible, seek collaboration with a mid-tier influencer (>50,000 followers) or higher. If you just want some exposure, but don’t want to pay too much for it, then a smaller influencer will do the trick.
Analyse Followers and Engagement Rate
If you want to know how followers and engagement affect an influencer’s asking price, look at how many followers they have, and how much engagement they have with their followers.
The engagement rate measures the number of views, likes, comments, and shares of content. These metrics are usually available for any post on social media.
You should know that the engagement rate is not necessarily higher if an influencer has a lot of followers. Try to look for an engagement rate of 1% to 5%.
Find a Face for Your Brand
In your search for the right influencer, also consider your own brand. The person who recommends, promotes and demonstrates your product becomes the face of your brand. Therefore, choose an influencer who posts content who you’d like to attach your brand name to.
Check the Influencer’s Price
To get an idea of pricing, approach some influencers who you think will fit your brand and campaign. You can usually find the influencers’ contact information or their booking agencies on their profiles.
Approach influencers with a professional email (or a private message, if no other contact information is available) in which you provide information about your business, your campaigns, what you want to achieve, and your budget. If they are interested, they will get back to you with a quote of their rates.
Keep in mind that the price can vary depending on the nature of your campaign and the desired content. For example, one post with a picture of your product will cost less than a video or a campaign with multiple posts.
Choose Your Platform
Instagram, TikTok, YouTube, and Facebook offer different benefits. The ads on these platforms are also different in nature. TikTok and YouTube, for example, are limited to video. For maximum visibility of your brand, depending on your target audience and desired reach, you can use a combination of different social media platforms for your campaigns.
Next, decide what you want to achieve with your campaign. Do you want the campaign to go viral and reach as many people as possible for increased brand awareness; or are you looking for higher conversion from a specific customer type?
For any platform, it makes sense to analyse influencer content more closely, and see which posts worked well. Write down why you think some paid content performs better than others, and use that information for your own campaign.
Approach the Influencer
You will probably have to approach several influencers before you succeed in closing a deal with any of them. For each influencer, write a personal message that piques their interest (or that of their managers), and makes them curious about working with you.
Show how both the influencer and your brand can benefit from the collaboration. After all, you want them to represent your brand because they believe in your product or service.
As part of this phase, you can send free products. This way you give potential cooperation partners the opportunity to decide if they are interested in your product.
Pick influencers who only promote products they actually use as they can come across as more trustworthy, which is to your advantage, too, as their customers will see your brand, company, and products as good quality, and reliable.
Another important part of your outreach strategy is to also respond yourself to posts via your company’s social media account. With likes and comments, you show interest, and show that you make an effort to get to know influencers before formally approaching them.
Do Thorough Research
Before confirming a collaboration with an influencer, it is important to carefully research all content for any controversies. Find out if the influencer has ever had problems with other collaborations, to increase the chance of a seamless collaboration.
Choose influencers who communicate honestly and transparently about when their posts are sponsored or not. In fact, there are specific laws and regulations governing commercial collaborations between influencers and brands.
Be alert to the following points if you want to collaborate with an influencer:
- Inconsistent communication
- unexpected rate increases or changes to the terms of the agreement
- remarkably low engagement for the number of followers they have (which may indicate that they are buying followers)
- unusually many “bots” in comments, identified by spam-like texts (another indication that they may be buying followers)
- unusual increases in the number of followers
- excessive use of filters or other editing in sponsored posts (this can mislead customers and misrepresent products).
The Importance of Engagement
Before signing anything, make sure you know the influencer’s engagement rates. These rates indicate how successful an influencer is on a particular platform. Little engagement means that fewer people interact with the content and are therefore less likely to be “influenced.
Influencers with a high engagement rate reach a larger audience. The more people respond to the posts, the more beneficial this will be for your brand as well as the influencer. Keep in mind that high engagement influencers often charge a higher price to promote your products.
How to Supercharge Your Influencer Marketing Strategy
While that’s about the gist of how to hire an influencer, there are a few more tips and tricks you should be aware of to make sure your influencer marketing strategy gets off to a good start. Here’s what you should know:
Let Influencers Try Your Products for Free
Influencers are more likely to promote your product if they really like the product and would use it themselves. This way, they advertise your products without you paying for them.
Choose a Paid Partnership
Start with one sponsored post. Instruct the influencer on what photo or video to post, and what to include in the caption. At the same time, don’t impose too many style restrictions so that the message comes across as authentic. Consult with the influencer that you will approve the post for publication, so you can still make adjustments if necessary. Always make sure that sponsored posts are recognisable as such, and comply with all advertising rules.
Offer Discount Codes
A smart way to attract the attention of your audience is to have your influencers communicate a discount code. Discount codes quickly bring more visitors to your webshop, more sales, and greater visibility for your brand.
Use a Cross-Channel Strategy
Nowadays, there is a lot of choice and most influencers work on more than one platform. Therefore, spread your influencer marketing strategy across different platforms. This will increase your brand awareness and reach the maximum number of potential customers.
Give Influencers Creative Freedom
Of course, it’s good to brief your influencer partners on the outline of your campaign, but it’s also important that the message comes across as authentically as possible. Therefore, give influencers a free hand creatively. If they feel that something does not match the way they address their audience, they should be able to change it.
You’re paying for this unique expertise for a reason: influencers have managed to build a group of loyal followers with their personal brand and content, which will now start working in your favour. Followers are more likely to be interested in your brand if they feel that influencers make sincere recommendations.
Boost Your Sales with Influencer Marketing
Choosing the right influencer is crucial to increasing awareness of your brand, and reaching your target audience. If you make the right choice, influencer marketing can have a big impact on the success of your business.
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