Over the last few years, the explosion of social media being used to capture consumer attention has been both a challenge to keep pace but, it has also provided opportunities for many businesses to engage their audience in new ways, and generate exponential growth.
The power of social media is best understood in its massive reach potential. As of January 2022, it’s reported that over half of the world’s population uses social media, a staggering 58.4% or 4.62 billion people.
New marketing strategies also mean new ways to build, engage and grow audiences too, and one such method has proven to garner attention and build trust with dedicated followings, almost instantaneously.
We’re talking about Influencer Marketing.
What Is Influencer Marketing?
If we define an ‘influencer’ as someone with a large, dedicated online following who is deemed an expert in their niche; then influencer marketing is the act of a business collaborating with that person, to promote a product or service.
An influencer’s endorsement alone is often enough to reach more people and ultimately, increase sales of the product or service due to the trust they command with their followers, be it on social media, blogging or another marketing channel.
So how effective is influencer marketing? Well, influencer marketing has steadily built its value as a legitimate marketing tactic over the last few years and in 2022, it’s projected that the influencer marketing industry will earn around $16.4 billion.
How Does Influencer Marketing Work?
Rather than putting out content that your audience consumes organically, businesses will pay or hire an influencer to promote their content for them.
If we think about celebrities or high-profile public figures like Kim Kardashian or Dwayne Johnson, these people have millions of social media followers eager to find out what the next big thing is. And because they’re regarded as experts or ambassadors in their respective fields, people tend to automatically trust their recommendations.
There are, however, different categories of influencers (which we’ll touch on later) as not everyone has high-profile celebs on speed dial. At a basic level, influencer marketing can be compared to having a friend recommend an amazing restaurant to you, which in turn prompts you to book a visit the following weekend.
This highlights another marketing truth – Word of mouth is still the most powerful form of marketing, if, you trust the person referring you. With influencer marketing, that ‘friend’ is a highly respected figure telling thousands or even millions of fans that your product is the best thing out. There’s a lot of power in that, which is why so many brands and businesses adopt the influencer marketing strategy into their marketing mix.
In the next section, we’ll break down how to build an influencer marketing strategy step-by-step and provide answers to your burning questions.
How To Create an Influencer Marketing Strategy
As with all marketing approaches, you’ll need to take the time to understand the best way to connect with your target audience. And in the case of influencer marketing, determine who can do this best for your brand.
Determine your goals
But to be effective, it’s better to define what it is exactly you want to accomplish. It might be to reach more people from an existing audience or to find new ones. You might want to drive traffic to your page or increase sales. At one point or another, you’ll likely want all of these outcomes. But the key to succeeding in any one of them is to hone in on a specific goal and create a strategy around it.
Research your target audience
To help understand who will benefit most from the marketing strategy you can create buyer personas.A buyer persona will define your brand’s ideal customer; their characteristics, needs and desires, and the pain points your product or service is claiming to solve.
For example, you might want to use influencer marketing to target a new, younger demographic of say 18-25-year-olds and introduce them to your product to gain more followers on Instagram.
Finding an influencer and how much they cost
We made the point earlier that not everyone will have access to high-profile figures on speed dial and here we’ll elaborate on that.
Influencer types can be categorised by their total amount of online followers:
- Nano-influencers: 1,000 - 10,000 followers
- Micro-influencers: 10,000 - 50,000 followers
- Mid-tier influencers: 50,000 - 500,000 followers
- Macro-influencers: 500,000 - 1,000,000 followers
- Mega-influencers: 1,000,000+ followers
Depending on what it is you’re offering, there are different ways to approach hiring an influencer. In general, the bigger the following they have, the more you’re going to pay but that isn’t necessarily always the case. Some influencers will be happy to work on a commission structure, for example for every ‘x’ amount of followers or products sold, they take ‘x’ amount as a commission.
Or for the nano or micro types, you might strike a deal whereby you can offer free products or subscriptions to your service in exchange for content creation.
The key to choosing the right influencer is to make sure their goals align with yours. If they already advocate for similar brands, are considered an expert in your niche, and have consistent and dedicated online communities, these are the people that will fit your strategy best.
There are social listening tools available that can help you understand where and how your audience interacts with brands and topics too.
Once you have narrowed down your list of potentials, start reaching out directly and sharing your vision. Influencers are professional content creators so it’s a good idea to approach them with a collaborative attitude built on mutual respect.
Rates of pay can vary wildly as there are many factors involved but in the image below, we can see a typical guide for influencer costs, courtesy of Andrewmacarthy.com.
How to manage influencer marketing
As with any marketing effort, you’re expected to deliver results, and data, that support your campaign. It needs to work to justify the investment.
Influencer marketing differs from other strategies due to the direct partnership you share between your brand and the person promoting it. It’s not just a case of defining the goals, automating a process and measuring the results. It requires a more human touch.
Much like hiring an employee, you want to seek out collaborators that are in it for the long term. Both the business’ and influencer’s ideologies should align, and both parties need to feel value in the relationship. Many influencers will have plenty of options for other work, so if they feel a brand isn’t showing support or allowing them to do what they do best, making great content, they might be tempted to jump ship.
Which leads us to trust.
You have to trust that the influencer you’ve chosen will represent your brand values and create winning content to promote it. As with an employee, if you pay them fairly and communicate often and openly, so little is left to interpretation, they’re infinitely more likely to continue working for you.
When it comes to feedback, if you feel a piece of content has underperformed, tell them, and talk about it. Don’t leave it a few weeks and then go back carrying the blame. Remember, these people are experts at what they do but we all need constructive feedback and the ability to freely communicate ideas throughout the creative process without fear of reprisal.
By doing all of this, you can create brand ambassadors for your company who will be happy to continue the collaboration long term. There is of course the other side of the coin, in which if you find that an influencer is consistently missing company goals, even with collaborative input and direction, then it might be time to reevaluate and close that partnership.
Tracking and measuring influencer performance
Once your goals have been cemented and an influencer has come aboard, the process of getting content out there for the digital masses can begin. To track and measure how effective your influencer marketing campaign is, you’ll need access to data analytics tools that provide insights on conversions and growth.
A popular method of influencer marketing to drive sales is to offer a unique URL code (tracking link) or discount code, that is obtained exclusively through the influencer’s platform, for example on an Instagram story.
Using our analytics tool we can then accurately measure how many people obtained and used that specific link or code promoted by the influencer. Another example could be tracking the use of a specific hashtag you’ve created and measuring vanity metrics such as likes, engagement and impressions.
With all of this information to hand you’re fully equipped to interpret actionable insights from your campaign and plan what to do next.
The do’s and don’ts of influencer marketing
To round this article off, let’s recap what we’ve learnt with some do’s and don’ts of influencer marketing:
✅ Do Your Research and Define Goals
❌ Don’t Set Unreasonable Expectations
Get clear on the creative brief and what is expected of the influencer. Outline the goals and compensation structure from the outset so as not to cause any confusion down the road.
✅ Do Communicate Clearly and Collaboratively
Treat the professional relationship between your brand and the influencer like you would an employee. Let them know what’s working and speak constructively about what’s not and come up with ideas together on how to improve performance.
❌ Don’t Restrict Their Creativity
You’ve hired a professional content creator with a dedicated audience who trusts them. Allow the influencer the freedom to create and innovate for your brand.
✅ Do Track and Measure Performance
Utilise influencer tracking tools to understand the impact of your content. Track how people are reacting to it and measure the campaign’s trajectory.
93% of marketers have used influencer marketing and it’s no wonder. Influencer marketing is both powerful in conveying brand messages, as well as having the ability to reach potentially millions of people through a well-structured campaign.
We hope this article has given some useful insight into influencer marketing and how to go about creating a strategy that will take your company to the next level.