What Is Influencer Marketing & How Does It Work?
There is a lot of buzz at the moment about influencer marketing and the positive effects it can have on brand authority. Is this a genuine trend or just a flash in the pan, and is your business losing out by not engaging with it? In this article we delve into the influencer marketing phenomenon, explain how it works, and suggest ways in which you can assess whether it’s worth investing time and money in for your business.
What Is Influencer Marketing?
Influencer marketing involves persuading authoritative or influential people to promote your brand to their followers, using their trust and credibility as a means of increasing your own reputation, and thus securing new sales.
In influencer marketing, your marketing efforts are targeted at recruiting a small group of influencers, rather than marketing to a wider audience. It is, in other words a form of indirect marketing. Leads received through influencer marketing tend to be inbound approaches from people who have seen your brand endorsed by an influencer.
- A fast way to build trust and credibility, especially if your brand is not widely known, or you are expanding into a new market.
- The personal touch: People inherently trust other people more than companies or brands. With influencer marketing, your audience receives your marketing messages through an individual third party not directly connected to your brand, which removes any hostility people might feel to receiving a sales approach from you directly.
- Influencer marketing bypasses the crowded and competitive world of traditional media and press releases. If you have an established relationship with an influencer, you will be able to deliver your messages to market far quicker than through traditional channels.
- Using influencer marketing lets you reach potential customers who use ad blockers and VPNs to avoid other types of online marketing.
- A long-term partnership with an influencer has the potential for a very good return on investment.
- Influencers don’t provide their influence for free! You normally have to pay them a fee or ongoing commission to promote your brand to their audience. This can be expensive. Social media influencers charge different rates based on their popularity and potential impact.
- Results from influencer marketing are uncertain and difficult to measure objectively.
- If you ‘bet on the wrong horse’ by choosing the wrong influencer, you could spend a lot of money while failing to achieve the anticipated results. Worse still, your brand could be negatively affected by close association with an influencer who becomes smeared by wrongdoing or unethical practices – so choose very carefully.
How To Attract A Social Media Influencer
If, after reading about the pros and cons, you are keen to give influencer marketing a try, how do you go about attracting the right person(s)?
1) Start by identifying the social media influencers who are popular with your target buyer personas. There may be several, so assess each influencer based upon:
- How many followers do they have? Is this a large enough audience for your message?
- How popular is the influencer with your target audience?
- How engaged are people with the influencer’s videos, blogs, and social media posts? You can gauge this by the number of comments and likes, and also by the volume of return traffic to their blog/social media platforms.
- How much do they charge, and what coverage do you get for the money?
- Their reputation – do they have a reputation for honesty and integrity? Can they be relied upon to convey your brand messages accurately?
3) Decide what outcomes will constitute a successful campaign – in terms of new leads, conversions, website traffic, social media shares, or the monetary value of new sales. Put in place a system to measure and quantify these metrics.
4) Decide on the best medium for your content. Depending on the influencer, this could be a YouTube video, a blog article, Instagram post, or podcast.
2) Cultivate a relationship with the influencer. If they have a large following, it may not be sufficient to make a straight business approach. Nurture a relationship first by following their feeds, sharing their posts, and commenting on their content. You can then make a soft approach by asking them to take part in your content, before broaching the idea of a more formal business partnership.
5) Influencer marketing is currently unregulated, but there are nevertheless best practices to follow to retain credibility. Above all, be as honest and transparent as you would in any other form of advertising.
Our verdict: Does Influencer Marketing Have Substance As Well As Style?
If you’re lucky enough to have influential customers that have the potential to act as brand advocates, that’s great news! Influencer marketing is essentially network referrals, working through recommendations on social media.
It can definitely work, but we still recommend having an official marketing campaign running alongside it, because it’s difficult to regulate the marketing messages your influencers use when promoting your business.
Influencer marketing can also be replicated on a smaller scale, simply by keeping present customers engaged on social media, and provided with the content they need to promote your brand informally. In whatever way you approach it, influencer marketing is a good tool, but shouldn’t replace anything else in your toolkit.
To discuss the marketing approaches that will work best for your company, please give us a quick call today.
Image Source: DiggityMarketing