With the rising popularity of blogging, vlogging, and social media platforms, influencers have become a big part of many businesses’ online marketing strategies. Even though influencer marketing has existed long before social media even came into the picture (think of the Marlboro cowboy and celebrity endorsements), ever since the internet became commercial and a household commodity, influencer marketing has entered its digital phase.
Since influencer marketing only continues to grow while rapidly becoming the most important part of any online marketing strategy, we’ve decided to create this guide to take you through all you need to know about influencer marketing.
We’ll start with the basics: what influencer marketing actually is, why you need it for your business, and what type of influencers can be found out there. After this, we’ll give you advice and some tips on how to find the right influencers and run your influencer marketing campaign, so let’s begin.
What is Influencer Marketing
Influencer marketing is exactly what the name implies – businesses collaborating with people of influence in order to promote their products, services, and offerings. The person of influence, or the influencer, is someone who has a certain following online and is a part of an industry like fashion, photography, music, and so on.
The point of influencer marketing is to put your product in front of a new audience that aligns with your brand’s target audience – essentially people who are already interested in the industry that your business is a part of. By being marketed from an influencer’s point of view, your brand can generate positive PR and you can acquire many new potential customers.
Let’s do a small mental exercise and imagine that you’re an influencer. This way you can understand how this works for both sides.
Let’s say you’re in the fashion industry and have an Instagram profile with 50,000 followers. You want to post photos, videos, stories, and other material on your account that’s appealing to your audience. In order to do this efficiently every day, you want to turn this presence and influence into a full-time job. So, you either contact some brands that you think would be a good fit or you’re approached by businesses in the fashion industry who want to put their clothes in front of your followers. That way you can earn from the content you create in collaboration with a brand, but also give your followers what they signed up for.
Now, let’s say you’re a fashion retailer who’s interested in influencer marketing since your paid ads aren’t generating as many sales as you thought they would.
You know your audience and you’re aware that the majority of your customers and potential customers are following fashion bloggers and Instagram influencers. So, in order to get the direct attention of your target audience, you reach out to a fashion influencer to promote your products via posts/reviews/videos. By doing this, your products are seen by thousands, even millions of people who trust the influencer in question – and who watch their content for product recommendations anyway.
As you can see, influencer marketing is a win-win situation for both the business and the influencer.
Still not convinced that influencer marketing works like a charm? Let’s give you even more reasons why you should be on it.
Why Your Business Needs Influencer Marketing
Did you know that over 90% of consumers prefer other people’s recommendations as opposed to ads and other forms of marketing when they’re making a purchase?
Authenticity, Trust, and Loyalty are Appreciated
In today’s world full of ads and marketing tricks on every turn, people have stopped buying into marketing messages. In fact, this is the major reason why influencer marketing is growing by the minute.
Consumers turn to other consumers for more info on the products they’re interested in and extremely appreciate authenticity, which is where influencers come in. People are aware that celebrities would advertise those products that pay the most, but with influencers it’s a bit different. They trust these people not only because each post is personalized, but also because it’s directly aimed towards them.
In order to have an efficient and successful marketing strategy, every business needs to know who their target audience is. Influencers have this figured out, since their followers are the niche audience you’re looking for, especially micro-influencers.
Want to learn more about how to generate leads on social media? Check out our lead generation strategies guide.
In fact, your target audience may comprise of a few influencers’ niche audiences, meaning you’ll reach quality leads who are actually interested in what your business has to offer – and that’s a fail-proof recipe for conversions.
Good for SEO
Collaborating with influencers is a great way to improve your SEO ranking. By tagging your social media profiles or mentioning your website, you can generate a lot of quality backlinks to your website and increase your social reach.
Your Competition Is Already Doing It
Do we have to say anything else?
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Types of Influencers
There are different types of influencers, and when it comes to the ones that are the most popular, we can categorize them into five primary types.
Choosing which type of influencers you’re going to work with to promote your brand is essential for a successful influencer marketing campaign. By knowing the primary types of influencers you can gauge who’s going to be the best fit, so you can maximize the returns on your investment (ROI).
Celebrity influencers are the most popular type of influencers and that’s why they’re the hardest to reach. There are many famous influencers that all of us know, but there are also industries or even niche leaders that we may not know, although they are popular and known by almost everyone in that community.
An example of a celebrity influencer is Kevin Hart. He has worked with PokerStars (an online poker service) to promote their game. The top tech influencers like Marques Brownlee and Unbox Therapy are great examples of industry leaders. You may not know them, but most people who follow tech news and reviews have certainly heard about them – and value their opinion more than anyone else’s.
Authority influencers are listened to and respected by their audience which is why they have authority in a certain industry, hence the name. They’re active and engaging, and most probably do speaking events or create videos and podcasts online. They often write articles or even publish books on the topics they have authority on. Getting their attention may be hard, but there are strategies you can use to maximize your chances. Helping them increase their authority may help you get in touch with them.
Being published by PR influencers may be the best way to launch your new business or startup. Although they’re not the best way to promote your product, considering they’re not the largest drivers of traffic, they’ll help you increase your brand visibility and value.
Depending on the size of their audience and the publication they work with, PR influencers may be easy or very hard to get in touch with. When emailing them, be concise and direct. They’re interested in exclusive information because it will drive more traffic to their article. If you have that information to share with them, don’t forget to mention it in your email.
Connectors are the type of influencers that have good relationships with other influencers. They often engage themselves with different influencers, and you probably won’t hear them say that they’re connectors.
To find them, look for influencers that regularly do interviews with other influencers. Podcasts are a good way to build relationships, so it’s probable that they’ll have their own podcasts or are regular guests on other podcasts. They may also have a YouTube channel where they do interviews or events and invite other influencers to join them.
Connecting with micro-influencers may be the best way to approach influencers. This especially goes if you’re a new business or are just starting to use influencer marketing. As for a small business, it definitely makes most sense budget-wise. Micro-Influencers are the easiest to get in touch with. Although they have a smaller audience, they’ll probably have a much higher engagement rate. That’s why they’ll make you more sales for the same investment when compared to celebrities or connectors.
Depending on the industry you’re in, micro-influencers may be very beneficial to your business. Many startups regularly connect with this type of influencers to promote and sell their products successfully.
As there are different types of influencers, there are also different platforms that influencers use. Depending on the target market you’re trying to reach, you should choose the right platform where you’re going to promote your products and services.
Blogging influencers are great when you want to get more visibility via explaining what your products or services do and are helpful for. Finding blogging influencers is easy since all you have to do is find the most active blogs in your industry or niche and contact the creators.
Bloggers are interested in getting larger audiences since they often make money with advertising, so one thing you can offer them is exposure. Some of them may accept payment, but if you can guarantee them a boost of visitors by running ads or other means, you may have a better chance to get their attention.
Social Media Influencers
Social media influencers are very well-known in this day and age. They’re great for business-to-customer business and with only one post you may get thousands of visitors from them.
Most often than not they’re interested in pay-to-play, and the price depends on the industry and the number of followers they have. Depending on the influencer and the niche they’re active in, they may have the most engaging audience on one single social media profiles, so do your research before reaching out.
Influencers who are active in the media sphere are very popular nowadays, and their main means of communication are often videos and podcasts. They not only draw large audiences, but their audience is highly engaging as well.
Media influencers inspire greater trust when it comes to the relationship they have with their followers. You can find them on popular podcast services and networks like iTunes, Stitcher, Spotify, etc. But the heaven for media influencers is definitely YouTube where you can discover influencers for virtually any niche.
Events have smaller audiences when compared to the other platforms used by influencers. That being said, with the rise of online streaming, some events do reach larger audiences. Events like seminars, conferences, and conventions often have great speakers and depending on your industry, you can find them with a simple search on the web. Despite usually having smaller audiences, speakers at events have a high level of trustworthiness and engagement, so think whether or not they’re right for your brand.
Depending on your niche or industry, you may find it beneficial to get in touch with the top influencers active on answers networks or review sites. Many such networks give priority to the most active and upvoted reviewers and commentators. Examples of discussion platforms are Quora (the most popular Q&A network) and TrustRadius (mainly B2B software reviews).
How to Find the Right Influencers
The key to any influencer marketing strategy’s success is identifying and working with the right influencers.
Influencer marketing is very much similar to word of mouth, which is one of the most effective forms of marketing. In this day and age, electronic word of mouth is so popular that many famous social media individuals use it as a primary way to make profit, and you can use this very successful marketing tactic for your business as well.
Identify the Right Influencers: Relevance and Engagement
Initially, you’ll need to find the right influencers that can promote your product or service. To do that, you’ll first need to know what your target audience is, so you can try to find relevant influencers that will lead you to greater engagement. For example, if your industry is photography or fashion, then a good place to start looking for influencers to promote your product or service is social media, especially Instagram.
Depending on your niche or industry, you may want to use one or combine two or more platforms influencers use. In some cases, a written word is better than a photo or a short video, especially when you need to explain something about the product – how it works or how it’s made. For many businesses, blogging or PR is better than publishing a photo on Pinterest or Instagram.
Take your time and look at the platforms influencers use where your target market is most active and engaging, so you have the greatest benefit from the investment you’ll make.
If you found the platform where you’d like to market your products, then you’ll need to find the right influencer on that platform. This may be the most important part, and if the influencer is not relevant to the product in some way, then your ROI may be insignificant or nonexistent.
After you’ve selected a few influencers, carefully analyze the posts they’ve published and how their followers react. Do they comment, like, and share regularly? How do they react when a sponsored post is published?
Furthermore, you’ll need to choose if you’re going to work with micro or macro influencers.
For smaller businesses and startups, it’s mostly better to go after micro-influencers. They often have a lower fee for sponsored posts and better engagement from their audience.
If you’re trying to find a macro-influencer, find out if their audience’s demographics is compatible with your target market and if they share similar values and interests. Beware that the more money you plan to invest, the more careful you need to be when choosing the right influencers for your business.
Reach Out and Connect
When you’ve finally selected the right influencer(s) which will promote your product or service, it’s time to reach out and start a conversation about collaboration. Depending on the platform they use, you’ll need to write them a direct message on their social media or send them an email.
Depending on their popularity and number of followers, some influencers get more offers that they can respond to, so be direct and precise in your message. To draw attention to your message, you can even add an emoji in the title. In the message, ask them if they’d like to promote your product and give them a short explanation about it. If they don’t respond, be persistent and send them a message the following day again. If you can, don’t make them an offer without getting a reply, because maybe they’ll give you their price for a sponsored post.
Be sure to build a good relationship with the influencer you choose to market your products. Sometimes you’ll need to give them a prewritten text to pass to their audience, but it’s best to give them the freedom to use their own words. That way they’ll be more authentic with their audience, which leads to higher engagement and more trust. Check out what we have to say about successfully managing influencers, since in order to get results you need to build lasting relationships with your brand ambassadors, based on mutual respect.
How to Run Your Influencer Marketing Campaign
More than anything else, running a successful influencer marketing campaign requires two things: patience and presence.
Working with an agency or a digital marketing expert will speed things up, but you can do it yourself without the extra expenses. We actually have a whole guide on How to Set Up an Influencer Marketing Campaign, but here’s the gist of it for some quick reading:
- Negotiate pricing.
You can ask the influencer to give you a monthly offer and start from there. Factors that you need to take into consideration are: the quality of the influencer’s audience, the quality of the content, the consistency of the content, the influencer’s online reputation, the engagement their posts receive, and lastly, how the influencer in question fits your brand.
- Define what you want to accomplish and the main purpose of including an influencer in your marketing campaign.
- Make sure that you have a contract for the influencer you choose.
- Have a consistent and effective communication while the campaign lasts.
- Keep track of everything the influencer shares, and do screenshots of the posts where your brand is mentioned.
- Pay attention to your performance metrics.
- Ask the influencer for their post stats relating to your brand.
Being present and keeping track of the campaign is essential for its success. Keep track of the changes you see along the way in order to know what works and what doesn’t.
What to know more about how to effectively manage your influencer(s)? Check out our guide on how to manage influencers and micro-influencers to learn more.
Working with influential people online in order to promote your brand on different platforms is the new type of digital marketing. Remember, the right influencers can increase your conversions and create new customers better than a whole traditional marketing campaign. So, if you haven’t worked with influencers yet, now is the right time to at least think about this option.