For the past few years, influencer marketing has been gaining momentum – so much so that it’s now a vast and indispensable piece of marketing’s landscape. In fact, you’d be hard-pressed to find a brand that isn’t using it. It one of the most unique and authentic approaches to marketing that allows you to powerfully reach your audience.
You might think this type of marketing sounds too flawless to be real. In reality, for every dollar spent on influencer marketing, businesses bring in $18.
Many brands felt this newer type of marketing was merely a fad – but it’s proven just how valuable it is. It isn’t just a short-term trend that soon will pass. Instead, influencer marketing completely transformed the way companies interact with their audience. Today, if you don’t have some type of influencer marketing in your brand’s toolbox, you’re inevitably going to fall behind.
That said, what you’ve probably heard in passing regarding influencer marketing might not be the real deal. The advice you’ve read probably sounds pretty conflicting.
This guide is meant to help you wade through the information and answer any questions you might have on the subject.
So, What is Influencer Marketing?
If you’re new to the term, you might be confused as to what exactly is entailed. You aren’t the only marketer who feels that way.
In fact, the term “influencer marketing” is thrown around a lot and, depending on the context, it’s not always clear what’s meant. And when you’re branding on social media, it’s important to know the lingo.
The short of it is that “influencers” work with brands to help promote products or services. That’s the simple definition, but it requires a bit of unboxing.
First, an influencer is anyone on social media who has a definitive influence over their followers. The influencer gains credibility within a specific niche – think Kylie Jenner and makeup or fashion. But the term influencer has several strains, so to speak. For instance, some influencers have a great following on YouTube, or Twitter, or Instagram.
Their followers value the opinions or tastes of the influencer, or they merely enjoy watching what happens in their lives. It is because of this strong connection that the influencer can then “influence” their following to make certain purchases. Sound like affiliate marketing? Not exactly. There’s a definite difference between influencer and affiliate marketing.
How Did Influencer Marketing Begin?
Today’s top companies are choosing influencer marketing as a go-to strategy – but it wasn’t always like this. For a long time, it was considered nothing more than a fad. Fast forward a few years, and it’s so popular it’s practically indispensable.
This marketing strategy first started gaining traction when social media platforms began replacing traditional outlets. People weren’t just following celebrities – any social media user that had entertaining content was worthy of a follow. Over time, these social media users began to garner sizable followings. Of course, they weren’t able to reach the same types of users that celebrities could – but their influence was considerable.
Fast forward to now, and these same users have just as much, if not more, influence than celebrities. They sometimes even have larger followings. In a sense, today’s influencers are celebrities. Their followers trust them immensely, and there are a lot of stats to back these claims. In a survey of Twitter users, 49% of consumers say they rely on influencers they follow for recommendations. Another survey says that nearly 75% of all consumers rely on social media platforms for their purchasing decisions. Over 40% of people who see an influencer’s recommendation decide to try the product.
Why’s Influencer Marketing So Important?
The above stats are pretty strong, and influencer marketing is definitely part of today’s marketing strategy – but is it really right for you and your brand? What are some of the real benefits?
Influencer marketing value
Are there sales goals you have for your brand that seem – well, a bit out of reach? Sales figures that at one time seemed unreachable are possible with influencer marketing. Think sales above a certain number are impenetrable? Think again.
While driving sales is the number one benefit of influencer marketing, it’s not the only one.
Influencer marketing can also help:
- Build your social “proof”
- Solidify a direct line to your target audience
And there are several ways you can achieve these things.
Influencer marketing methods
Your core goal is to get a chosen influencer to share your products or services with their audience – which is usually one that lines up with what you have to offer. There are several influencer marketing tools and methods, but the most familiar influencer marketing methods are:
- Sponsored content
- Links to discounts
- Contests or giveaways
- Brand ambassadors
Sponsored content is today’s celebrity endorsement. The influencer shares your content on their social accounts. This content usually has a short call-to-action at the end that invites their followers to make a purchase.
What’s better than a great discount? A discount offered by an influencer. And even if you don’t offer any discounts, you can still use referral codes to track the influencer who brought in the visitor. Discounts links are usually placed within sponsored content.
And even better than discounts is free stuff. Influencers’ audiences especially love contests or giveaways – i.e. getting free stuff. And this is because influencers are highly in tune with their audiences and will only provide a freebie that their audience would truly love.
Also, who said that the influencer is the only content publisher? You can turn the whole influencer method on its head by simply promoting the content of influencers you like. Or, you can take it a step further and allow a friendly influencer to take over the reins on your social channels for a day, such as a live Instagram Takeover.
Finally, there are influencers – and then there are influencers. Sometimes, you come across an influencer so in tune with your brand you could make them an ambassador.
Brand ambassadors are influencers that work with your company over an extended period. While the success of such methods as the reciprocity of a live takeover can be fantastic, they’re normally short-lived, whereas brand ambassadorships often create lasting relationships between audiences.
These aren’t the only methods available, but they are the most common. The majority of brands tend to choose more than just one method of influencer marketing to achieve the best results.
Steps of Influencer Marketing Implementation
Now that you’ve gotten a crash-course in Influencer Marketing 101, you need to know – how do you use it, and successfully? The following steps are the most simple way to begin:
- Choose the best social media platform(s)
- Create guidelines for your brand
- Seek relevant influencers
- Reach out to those influencers
- Learn how to work with the influencers you’ve chosen
- Track your campaign
Best social media platforms
Before you can choose the best social media for your campaign, it’s beneficial to understand each of the platforms and the different types of users you’ll encounter. For instance:
Instagram is for photos and video content – short and sweet. Instagram’s users’ average age range is 18-34.
YouTube is perfect for content that’s strictly video, and it doesn’t have to be under a minute like on Instagram. Also different than Instagram, YouTube’s age demographics are quite varied – it’s most notable users are 18-24 years of age, but over half of its users are 75 years old or older.
There are several different social media channels, but the above two are where you’ll discover the most active influencer marketing. It’s important to find the right influencer(s) for your brand, but first, you must find the platform that best speaks to you.
Influencers should be allowed to remain their creative selves – after all, it’s that creativity that you fell in love with – but you should also provide a set of brand guidelines. These guidelines highlight the types of content you do – and do not – want associated with your brand. It’s basically the heart of your style guide. After all, you want a positive social reputation, right?
As you develop these guidelines, be aware of the guidelines you also must follow. When it comes to influencer/brand relationships, the FTC’s Endorsement Guidelines illustrate how the relationship between influencers and brands must be properly disclosed to the buying public.
Seek relevant influencers
Once you’ve chosen social platforms and created your brand’s guidelines, now it’s time to find the influencers best for your message. First, decide what level of “celebrity” status you want in an influencer.
“Influencer” is quite broad and encompasses several different levels. The five main levels are:
- Mega – over a million followers, all posts drive engagement in a big way
- Macro – about a half-million followers, not the same reach as a Mega, but highly sought-after just the same
- Mid-tier – varies from 50,000 to a half-million subscribers
- Micro – varies from 10,000 to 50,000 followers
- Nano – varies from just a few hundred subscribers up to 10,000, but most have at least a thousand
You might be tempted to reach out only to the top two tiers – but wait. Each level has its good qualities. When you’re just beginning an influencer marketing campaign, reach out to influencers within all these tiers. Even nano influencers can have an incredible reach.
Begin by reaching out via each platform to the influencers most in line with what you offer. Searching by niche terms and checking out currently trending hashtags are just a couple methods.
This step is pretty self-explanatory. But don’t reach out without performing the requisite research beforehand. Many brands new to influencer marketing outreach are prone to making outreach mistakes. This doesn’t have to be your story!
Working with your influencers
After you’ve researched, reached out, and settled on your influencer(s), here are some campaign ideas:
- Offer a giveaway or freebies
- Take viewers behind-the-scenes or offer sneak-peaks at upcoming merchandise
- Have your influencer take over your account for a specified amount of time, such as an hour or a whole day
Track your campaign(s)
You can track your campaign with various influencer marketing tracking tools, such as Sprout Social, Hootsuite, or Traackr. Traackr is especially helpful – it was built for this specific purpose.
With Traackr, you can enjoy automated discovery and vetting of influencers, as well as automatic reports to let you know how your campaigns are performing. This allows you to focus on what’s most important – your influencer relationships and making incredible content.
Tier10 & Influencer Marketing
As discussed in “Reach Your Audience with Influencer Marketing,”
Tier10 facilitates these partnerships by first locating influencers that have the right audience, one that aligns with the brand’s target market. They then assess the influencer’s engagement levels and the quality of their content to make certain they are a good fit for the campaign.
One successful influencer partnership Tier10 facilitated was with their client, the Greater Twin Cities Honda Dealers Association (GTCHDA), and the influencer, Kim Ly Curry. She is a foodie influencer in the Minneapolis area that has excellent engagement within the Greater Twin Cities market and provides high-quality content that aligns with the GTCHDA brand. Tier10 created a 2019 Honda Odyssey TV commercial featuring Kim Ly Curry visiting a local Japanese restaurant, Kado No Mise. During the partnership, Kim Ly Curry also shared the commercial on her social media platforms, which generated an additional 10 thousand views. This type of local partnership has an immense impact on consumers who are already emotionally invested in the influencer.
Influencer Marketing = Massive Business Growth Potential
So, it’s probably pretty obvious by now – influencer marketing is huge, and it’s not going away anytime soon. It’s an entirely new way for brands to market. It’s transformed the way consumers interact with companies and brands across the board.
This style of marketing has become crucial to companies of all sizes, thus the potential for growing your business is exponential.
Follow the tips provided above – see how you can transform your brand. When approached correctly, influencer marketing can equate to hundreds – if not thousands – of new customers and sales.