The digital marketplace changes more often than Kylie Jenner switches her hair color.
It’s not easy for entrepreneurs, small business owners, and marketing strategists to keep their marketing campaigns relevant and competitive.
Influencer marketing, if done right, can help your startup or small business grow your audience, improve sales, and expand brand awareness through social media.
Influencer marketing targets a smaller, more precise market for each business, thereby reducing the overconsumption and chaos of an otherwise confusing, overwhelming digital marketplace.
But for influencer marketing to succeed, there has to be a good fit between your brand and the influencer(s) that represent you.
Business owners and marketers regularly ask:
- What is influencer marketing?
- Why use influencer marketing?
- Who are the influencers in social media?
- What’s the best platform to find influencers?
- What are micro-influencers?
- How do I find a good fit between my brand and an influencer?
- What’s the best software to manage influencer marketing?
We’re here to answer those questions and help you succeed with influencer marketing.
What is influencer marketing and why should you care?
Influencer marketing is the cool, indie stepsister of traditional celebrity endorsements, and serves as a hybrid of conventional marketing strategies fused with a modern-day content-driven approach.
These fresh new marketing campaigns exist as more natural collaborations between brands and those who endorse them.
Virtually anyone can be an influencer if they have the right qualities and an audience that follows them.
Your neighbor, the girl you see on the subway, your Uncle Kevin – the best influencers for your business often aren’t celebrities; they’re relatable figures who are in touch with a large audience online.
These people might be influential because they are well respected in their field, or because they have a popular fashion blog – whatever the reason, what’s important is that they have the eyes and ears of a super-targeted niche audience primed to be interested in your business’ service or product.
That’s why it’s important to find an influencer or micro-influencer who fits your brand.
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How can influencer marketing benefit your business?
Here are the three clearest benefits of influencer marketing:
- You can connect with influencers and tap into an influencer’s knowledge of a platform. Use their proven understanding of what works and what doesn’t when curating or creating content for that specific platform.
- Linking your brand to an influencer provides you valuable access to their audience, creating a direct line of contact to a valuable, targeted niche base.
- Influencers can make the best customers. Embrace them as such and gain their feedback, perspective, and review of your product.
Are the most popular influencers best?
When it comes to influencers, bigger isn’t always better.
Larger scale influencers can help brands increase their exposure and spread brand awareness.
However, if the influencer is a poor match for the brand and doesn’t fit in with their existing brand identity, people are likely to dismiss their “influence” as a blatant money grab.
If you are a small business and don’t have the budget of a larger company, consider working with a micro-influencer (people who have between 10,000 and 100,000 followers). With high engagement rates and lower fees, micro-influencers are an excellent choice for businesses just starting to expand their brand’s reach.
Micro-influencers give smaller businesses another great advantage by allowing those businesses to target smaller, more unique audiences.
How do you find influencers?
When you ask brands and marketers for the best platform for influencer marketing, the vast majority of them will answer Instagram. Many surveys support this view – here’s one citing Instagram as the No. 1 platform for 92% influencers.
You would be unwise to limit yourself to Instagram alone, however. Plenty of influencers are also keeping up with their base on Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter, YouTube, and Pinterest.
- Pinterest – Pinfluencers have been known to attract as many as 1.8 million followers,
- YouTube – Google discovered that influencers on YouTube had 3x as many views and 2x as many actions on sponsored content posts as compared to celebrity posts,
- Blogs geared toward your market – Bloggers, as a group, tend to be trusted authorities in their niche groups who can attract customers while building community, and
- Other platforms where you’re likely to find your target audience – Think Twitter, Snapchat, and common interest communities across the web. On Twitter alone, almost 40% of the users bought something because an influencer tweeted about it – that’s a very impressive figure.
What should you pay influencers?
Influencers construct their prices based on three major factors:
- The size of their following,
- Their engagement rate, and
- How in demand they are.
If they’re a popular, well-known influencer on a platform like Instagram, they are likely to receive plenty of offers to promote brands on their Instagram posts. Consequently, the price that they charge for Instagram posts is going to be much higher.
Here’s where you can score a bargain: the same influencer who might have a massive demand for their Instagram marketing posts might be less in demand on Pinterest or Facebook. That means they may charge less for working on those platforms, giving you a way to reach at least part of their market for a fraction of the price.
It’s true that you may not reach as many people on Snapchat as you could on Instagram. However, if you are paying less and getting great conversions, you’re still generating a better ROI.
To get a better sense of pricing for influencers marketing, take a look at this post from Digiday.
Reality check: fake followers
The New York Times had a critically acclaimed article on fake followers that focused attention on a well-known “dirty secret” of influencer marketing
There has been a lot of media coverage about influencers using unethical means to bolster their follower count to look more influential than they actually are.
“Social media is a virtual world that is filled with half bots, half real people,” said Rami Essaid, the founder of Distil Networks, a cybersecurity company that specializes in eradicating bot networks. “You can’t take any tweet at face value. And not everything is what it seems.”
The idea that “things are not what they seem” seems even more applicable when it comes to follower counts and reach. Social sites like Twitter have made efforts to curb this by purging millions of fake and bot-driven accounts from their network, but this is (and continues to be) a thorny problem.
Make sure that the person you’re looking at has the reach they claim to have. You want to find a valued partner to work with, not throw money at a mirage.
Influencer marketing uses engagement as a metric to measure the level of interaction influencers receive with their content.
The percentage of an influencer’s audience who actively responds to their content can come in several forms:
- Post Likes/Reactions,
- Views, and
Engagement rate matters because it provides you with information about how well an influencer’s content performs on the platforms in which they are participating.
If an influencer has a high number of likes, generates valuable shares to broaden the reach of their brand, and has a steady influx of conversation in the comments section, you know you’re dealing with someone who can in turn substantially extend the reach of your brand.
When you understand the rate at which an influencer’s audience is engaging with the influencer, you can find out whether or not, and how much, that influencer can help deliver an adequate ROI (return on investment) if you work toward establishing a partnership with them.
What should you look for when searching for an influencer?
For all of its potential advantages, influencer marketing is a wasted investment if you pair yourself with an influencer who doesn’t fit your brand.
As we previously explained:
A brand is the sum total of the experience your prospects and customers have with your company. A strong brand communicates what your company does, how it does it, and at the same time, establishes trust and credibility with your prospects and customers. Your company’s brand is, in many ways, its personality. Your brand lives in everyday interactions your company has with its prospects and customers, including the images you share, the messages you post on your website, the content of your marketing materials, your presentations and booths at conferences, and your posts on social networks.
When deciding on an influencer, you need to keep in mind two critical questions: Is this influencer a good representation of your brand, and do they have a good engagement rate?
Consider how any potential influencer can best reflect a quality or aspect of your business that is a natural fit for you both.
An important way to evaluate fit is to consider about the influencer’s “voice” and whether that voice matches your own. Neil Waller, co-founder of Shore Projects and co-founder and CEO of Whalar offered a great analogy for how to choose a good fit for you:
At their best, influencers are like magazine publishers. If you picked up a magazine, you’d have a sense of voice and tone, what the magazine stands for, and what the magazine writes about. And with magazine publishing, that’s how you would choose whether to associate your brand with that magazine. Apply the same process to influencers.
It’s essential that when you evaluate an influencer that you take into consideration the entirety of their online presence, and that includes things they’ve said or done in the past.
Doing your due diligence with a new potential influencer means spending some time looking at things they’ve posted, and getting a feel for where they came from and what kind of person they were (or persona they adopted) in the past.
What you don’t need is finding out too late (after you’ve committed to someone and tied your brand to theirs) that they made offensive or inappropriate comments years ago, or they used to be someone whose attitudes or personality clashed with your brand.
How can you validate an influencer that you’re thinking about working with?
- Ask for a media kit. They should be able to provide you with some documentation that explains their audience and the kind of engagement they see. They should be able to give you an idea of how well their posts perform and what you can expect working with them.
- Spend some time following them yourself before and after you initiate contact. You should be able to validate what they tell you with your own eyes by observing their social feeds. Look for someone who is passionate about complementary things to your brand and your services.
- Talk to them. Spend a bit of time getting to know them, ask questions, and make sure they’re someone you can see yourself working with.
- Read their comments. You can often get a good idea of someone’s posting history and their values through their comments. This isn’t always true (as comments can be a total dumpster fire), but it can be helpful. For example, reading the comments of a hugely influential Instagram account like Humans of New York shows that, for the most part, the account has encouraged and cultivated a positive environment.
Take the time to ensure the people you’re considering are who they say they are, and you’ll potentially save yourself some serious pain later.
You found an influencer. Now what?
How to get started with an influencer
Once you have identified an influencer who would be a great fit to speak about your brand, reach out and connect with them.
There’s no shortage of ways to do this. You can:
- Reach out over social media – try tweeting at them!
- Take advantage of direct messaging available on social media.
- Email them.
- Call them.
The next part is simple. Start a conversation! Be friendly, be straightforward, be real.
Don’t beat around the bush about why you’re trying to connect – explain your goals, why you think they’re an excellent fit for your brand, and what you believe a mutually beneficial relationship might look like.
How to maintain the relationship
Just like with social media management, influencer marketing requires its own set of tools to keep things running smoothly and effectively.
It’s important to look into a variety of influencer marketing tools so that you can create workflows and processes for any marketing campaign.
Taking care to properly manage these things will both save you time and help you measure the performance of any marketing efforts you put forward.
With so many growing platforms and influencer marketing tools available, it won’t be hard to find an influencer and manage the relationship and its workflow. Take advantage of tools like Tapinfluence and Upfluence to help you find influencers and manage subsequent workflow.
Tools like Traackr focus on what they call Influencer Relationship Management. Traackr’s major goal is to give brands it works with “lasting influence.”
The platform lends a broad ear to influencers, allowing interested brands to engage with them and their audiences. The meaningful communication encourages familiarity between the brands, influencers, and readers – which in turn grows trust, which is priceless.
NeoReach is influencer marketing software that offers an option for “Managed Campaigns.” NeoReach will design and run full campaigns for their clients, who are welcome to check on their campaign at any time by viewing their project’s dashboard. Convenient!
Make influencer marketing work for you
Influencer marketing works well if done right. But for influencer marketing to benefit your business, you have to find influencers who fit your brand.
You never know – a new influencer just might be amongst your newly curated followers!
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