Influencer marketing isn’t exactly a radically new concept as is portrayed on the social media. As a matter of fact, it has been there for years but it is only recently that we are beginning to see why it’s such an integral part of content marketing.
How do you describe influencer marketing? Well… It is simple really!
“Influencer marketing is a marketing style that focuses on using influential people to share a brand’s message with their chosen audience,” Anna-Marie Odubote and Nick Crompton – SocialChain.
And why is it so successful? The truth is your customers trust endorsements that come from real people (A recent Forrester Research study on the topic revealed that 70 percent of consumers are strongly affected by real-life user endorsements when making a decision to purchase a product or service.). People trust and relate with the influencers. It is this capacity of influencers to connect with people and influence them in a positive way is what makes influencer marketing so successful.
What is interesting is that influencers marketing is not just about tapping the folks with the largest follower count. In fact, brands and marketers are shifting their attention more and more towards a new breed of influencers called “micro influencers” who resonate better with their audience, due to the more personal and more authentic connections with their followers. More on that later.
Influencer marketing in 4 simple steps
Set a clear goal for your influencer campaign:
As obvious as it sounds, it is easy to lose your focus if you don’t have specific targets. For example, it probably does not make sense to chase around celebrity influencers if your goal is just to create initial buzz around your brand. Setting a clear goal allows you to plan your influencer campaign strategies in advance and proceed accordingly.
- The first step is to get a clarity on why you are doing this campaign before proceeding any further. Is it to grow your follower count? Is it to reach out to new audience? Or is it to launch a new product?
- It is always good to know what type of content you are looking to produce by the end of the campaign. It can just be the shoutouts and endorsements by fashion bloggers or it can be the high quality photos and videos created by professionals.
- Once you are clear with the basic aim of the campaign, it then makes sense to set tentative targets such as what results you are hoping to achieve (say 100% increase in the follower count), what budget you are going to allocate, your expected ROI, etc.
Find influencers relevant to your brand and your goal:
The next step is to find relevant influencers that are aligned with your brand and your goal. Depending on your target market, be it fashion, fitness, sports, lifestyle, travel, food; there are thousands of influencers within every category. Finding relevant influencers can be a tedious and time-consuming job but there are several platforms out there that ease your burden. More important thing, however, is to vet the influencers based on some specific parameters.
- Follower count: Number of followers is a basic parameter to judge the outreach of an influencer. However, focusing exclusively on the follower count can be dangerous. Many of the accounts artificially inflate their follower count and so their audience outreach is practically nil.
- Celebrity vs micro-influencer: You need to make this decision based on your campaign goal as well as your brand status. It probably makes more sense to activate 100 self-proclaimed athletes whose followers are actually interested in athletics rather than collaborating with a social celebrity with 2 million followers out of which 90 percent of may not be sports fans.
- Quality of content and engagement per post: It is worth investing time knowing what type of content the influencer produces, whether it is relevant to your brand and the number of likes / comments it receives. As a rule of thumb, the follower to engagement ratio should be at least 2-3%.
Remember that seemingly trivial aspects like sex, age, location also play a major role in selecting the influencers.
Recruit influencers and set clear collaboration terms
Once you are done vetting and shortlisting the relevant influencers, you should then reach out to them. Most of the influencers can be reached via email. In most cases, the contact information is available in their bios or you can simply send them a direct message on platforms like Instagram.
While giving them a brief about the post, it is always good to set clear collaboration terms.
- Type of content: It is good to be very clear about the type of content you want them to produce, be it simple shoutouts or high quality photos. It is important to give them specific guidelines about the content but at the same time offer them sufficient creative freedom.
- Content rights: Be clear about the ownership and usage rights and mention them clearly in the terms.
- Pricing and payment terms: Although there are some influencers who agree to give the endorsements in return of freebies and gifts, majority of them prefer monetary compensation. The price at which you close the deal depends on your ability to negotiate.
- Build long-term relationships: Remember that there will be several occasions when the same set of influencers can come handy to you for different campaigns. So it is always a good idea to build positive and long-term relationships with the influencers.
Leverage influencer content to build a social proof:
The basic purpose of influencer marketing is to utilize the endorsements of key leaders to create a strong community of users around your brand. Intelligent use of influencer generated content can significantly help you increase your sales. A photo gallery on your website showing the photos of the influencers using your product, can help you build a certain level of trust with your users (You can use Incent Social to easily create shoppable galleries). Repurposing the content in this way also stimulates your casual visitors to try the product. Influencer-generated content can inspire your customers to not only make the purchase but also become an active brand advocate. Integrating influencer content with your social media channels and traditional advertisements can boost your conversion rates significantly.
To sum it up influencer marketing can be an incredibly effective strategy to grow your brand, if done right.
Have you tried any influencer marketing campaigns? Any tips on building relationships with influencers?