What you don’t know about Influencer marketing…
It is very difficult today to talk a casual stroll through social media and not come face to face with a few influencers. Whether you want it or not, they are everywhere, giving plenty of earnest advice on trends you should follow and products you should use.
Younger brands know all too well the benefits of tapping into influencer marketing to reach their target audience – but did you know that influencer isn’t just for start-ups and millennials? Almost all businesses could benefit from the wonderful word of mouth that this kind of advertising can provide, and you would be surprised about what it can do for you.
The return on investment for influencer marketing can be massive. In fact, for every dollar spent on influencer marketing, businesses make around $5.20 in media value. This has resulted in over 63% of brands wanting to increase their budgets for this strategy in 2020.
What is Influencer Marketing?
If you’ve never heard about influencer marketing before, you might like to brush up on the basics of this kind of marketing in our article here.
In a nutshell, influencer marketing is using social media identities or ‘influencers’ to promote your product through their online platforms such as Instagram and Facebook. Anyone can be an influencer, there isn’t a skill or qualification required. Their influence comes from the number of people who follow them and respect their opinions.
Influencers come in many shapes and sizes and are active across all social media platforms. Some have followings in the millions while you can also connect with micro-influencers, who may have a following of anywhere between 2k and 200k people.
Influencer reach is expanding and can have a strong pull on newer platforms such as YouTube, TikTok and Twitch as well.
Influencer marketing is not paid endorsement necessarily, it happens when an influencer uses your brand and then gives you a shout out or a more ongoing collaboration online. Some are paid a fee or an ongoing wage, or influencers may receive a commission for any sales that happen through direct links they publish, but they should be upfront about disclosing this financial benefit.
These arrangements sometimes happen when businesses approach influencers directly with a gift or sample of their product, but not because of paid sponsorship. It can also happen by happy accident if an influencer just stumbles across your product organically and ends up raving about it on social media.
The benefits of using Influencer Marketing
Because of the sheer number of businesses and brands that are trying to get attention online, simple advertising and sales techniques are no longer enough. You can’t just easily buy air time as you used to because anyone can get that airtime for free.
Paid ads are not enough
While strategic paid digital marketing is still a wonderful way to bring in customers, just paying for ads is not enough on its own. More and more people are using software such as adblockers to stop ads from disrupting their internet or social media experience, making it essential for companies to find more creative and personalised ways to engage with their audience.
Your audience is more sophisticated in their research methods when looking to solve problems and buy products. They are more likely to buy from brands that they trust or that appear to have a reliable and authentic presence in their field.
Influencers evoke trust
People tend to listen to and respect the opinion of certain identities, and having the right face and name get behind your brand can do wonders for connecting with your target audience.
Influencer marketing is not the same as celebrity endorsement, it is actually quite different
Influencers aren’t respected because of their celebrity (or not just that), they are respected because of their reality.
They are real, accessible people who live the same lives with the same challenges as their followers, who build honest and authentic relationships with their following. They share personal moments and make people feel better about their lives because they aren’t alone. People look up to them, but more importantly, they relate to them.
And their following is usually more because of a shared interest in a specific hobby, role or kind of life. You could get George Clooney to promote your athletic wear, as he can reach millions of people – but how many of his followers are interested in athletics?
You would get a better engagement rate using smaller influencers such as Simone Biles or Brodie Smith who are known in the niche of sport and athletics, and who have smaller followings but all of whom have the same active interest in athletics as they do.
For this reason, when an influencer promotes a brand, it can carry far more meaningful weight than when a celebrity just does some paid ads. Followers don’t see influencers as just paid sponsors (although many of them will be) but as real people who use and recommend the product.
Most influencers will create and curate their own content and are very good at what they do
This isn’t just a one-time plug, it is a clever, thought-out campaign with them working collaboratively with your brand. They are talented, savvy people with great skills in weaving brand-related content genuinely into their feed.
People listen to influencers as they would respected family or friends
That’s because, in an online world, where we are spending more time on our screens than in face to face interactions, influencers carry the power of good family or friends.
It is still a strategic process however – you need to choose the right influencers for your audience and you also need to approach that person in the right way.
Because they get approached by businesses all the time, influencers will only get behind products that really stand out to them or that they love to use themselves.
It is cost-effective
One of the greatest benefits of this kind of marketing is the cost-effectiveness of it. If you choose the right influencer and craft your content well for that person, you could reach thousands and even millions of people with just one well-placed pitch and one free product.
It provides social proof for your brand
Endorsement from an influencer is social proof of the genuineness of your product and your brand. It is like a review or testimonial for your business, but on steroids and turned all the way up to 11. This ‘proof’ is important for new customers to develop trust in your brand and can speed up this process significantly.
Which businesses could use Influencer Marketing?
Some industries are naturally drawn to influencer marketing because of the visual or experiential aspect of their brand or the age of their audience. Fashion and beauty, children’s and baby products and video games have many influencers acting in their niche.
If you are a new brand just starting out, or an established brand looking to launch a new product or connect with a new audience, this area is well worth considering.
Research shows that over 80% of women make purchases based on social media advice, as do younger people.
But for Millennials and younger audiences, around 80% of them prefer brands that connect through smaller influencers than those endorsed by celebrities, and more than 90% of customers of this age group only buy from brands that they trust. They are more likely to respond to peer recommendations and user-generated content than ads and spam.
Generation X and Baby Boomers (so anyone born before 1980) come into the highest spending age brackets and respond very well to influencer marketing. They respond well to:
- video and to clever written content and blogs as well
- nostalgia styled posts and influencers who bring back a sense of childhood wonder or younger experience
- influencers who are active, health and fitness conscious
- those big in travel and anything that improves the quality of life
- those that tap into their social conscience and value for money.
Brands can connect with audiences of all ages, from children through to Boomers and seniors, through influencer marketing. The trick is to understand how your specific audience uses the internet and social media, and also what kind of content they respond to.
Tips for Influencer Marketing
The only constant thing about influencer marketing is change
If you are going to get on this wave then learn to ride the surfboard first. Be strategic about your choice of influencer and the pitch you give them.
The wrong approaches are easily ignored, and the wrong influencer may provide no results for your brand. Do your research and make the right choices for your brand.
Plan your influencer campaign as you would any solid marketing strategy
Set your goals, your audience, your message and media, your timeframe and budget. Then make sure your choice of influencer fits with all of this.
You should also track, analyse and review the results of your campaign
And adjust it as needed to make sure it achieves what you want. If it’s not working, tweak it – you could have the wrong message, platform or person and just need to make some adjustments to get things right.
You are looking for a great return on investment (ROI) and this marketing niche can produce some incredible figures when done well.
Approach your chosen influencer as you would any valued customer
It can really help to connect with them directly. Approach them from a personal angle and by telling them why your product is perfect to make a little part of their life easier.
Social media demographics is a great place to start
Choose ones with a strong following in your network and on the platforms that you would like to target (where most of your customers are). If you aren’t sure what platforms your customers hang out on, check out our blog on target buyer personas here.
You can also use social media analytics tools like Sprout Social for Twitter to look at which influencers have followings in your target audience.
Micro-influencers have the best engagement
Approaching influencers with a small to medium following can get more results as those with larger followings may throw brand names around a bit too often (leading their followers to be less likely to really sit up and pay attention to your name when it is in the mix).
Look for influencers that are really in your target audience or that fit your buyer persona beautifully, ideally those with followings between 5k and 25k. A survey from Markerly found that there is a ‘sweet spot’ in terms of following with the best engagement of between 3k and 10k.
You need to maintain a relationship with your influencer
One of the strengths of influencers is their humanity, but this can also be a drawback for some businesses dealing with them. It isn’t as simple or clear-cut as setting up an automated ad campaign.
You are dealing with a human being who may forget to post when they are supposed to, or may say the wrong thing. You need to maintain a relationship with your influencer as a business to stay on top of things and pay attention to what they are posting about your brand.
Many influencers are represented through networks or talent agencies
If you want to do less research and handling of the relationship, you could get an influencer marketing agency to be the middle party for you, helping you to work out your strategy and dealing with multiple influencers that they think might be a good match for your brand.
Influencer Marketing – Final Thoughts
Younger audiences trust micro-influencers and non-celebrities more than bigger names, so look for the right person with a smaller but stronger, more engaged audience.
Regardless of your own specific opinion of influencers, if your audience respects them then you should too. They don’t need to be experts in your industry or have qualifications in your field – they need to accurately represent your customers.
Let’s dispel the idea that influencer marketing is lightweight or only for Millennial companies and start-ups – it carries with it enormous weight and power for your brand. The right promotion from the right influencer could take a smaller company into the stratosphere of success.