What’s the best way to promote your business and what it sells? The answer to this question will vary greatly from one business to the next, and it will also have changed a massive amount over the years, won’t it?
Before there was the internet, television, radio, and even the printing press, businesses relied heavily on word of mouth to bring in new customers. People listened to other people, just like they do today. The more influence a person had, the more people they could sway towards buying from a particular brand.
That sounds familiar…
Although it wasn’t given the title of ‘influencer marketing’, techniques have been used throughout the years that are very similar to what we know as influencer marketing today.
What is influencer marketing?
Influencer marketing is the tactic of pairing your brand or its products with an influential person. The theory is that this person can reach more people and affect their choices better than a generic brand spokesperson.
In the past, brands tended to create their own influencers or adapt them to suit their products. The most famous example is probably Coca-Cola using Santa Claus to help them sell their drinks. Later, brands typically used celebrities as their influencers, such as Britney Spears promoting Pepsi. This placed influencer marketing as only being affordable by big brands with even bigger budgets.
Today, the widespread accessibility of the internet and social media has made influencer marketing something for everyone. Today’s influencers aren’t necessarily celebrities in the traditional sense of the word. Many of the best influencers are regular people who have put a lot of work into their personal brand on social media or their blog. Through this, they’ve built up a huge following of people who really care about what they have to say.
Brands can tap into the influence that these bloggers or Instagrammers hold over their audience, borrowing on it for their own promotion.
Is it really effective?
It might sound like one of the latest digital marketing fads, but you’ve seen how influencer marketing, in one form or the other, has lasted throughout the decades. Social media just makes it more accessible even for smaller brands, as long as they know how to tap into it.
A study performed by Tomoson showed that, on average, brands performing influencer marketing earned $6.50 for every $1 spent. That’s a 650% return on investment! Brands that really hit the nail on the head with influencer marketing were earning $20 or more per dollar spent – the top 13% of marketers in this study.
So, that seems like a resounding yes in response to whether or not influencer marketing is effective. And more and more marketers are starting to realize its potential, planning to increase their influencer marketing budget in the next year.
What are the benefits of influencer marketing?
Other than the potentially massive ROI mentioned above, influencer marketing has lots of benefits that your brand can enjoy.
- Increase exposure – If an influencer with 100,000 followers posts about your brand, that’s potentially 100,000 more people aware of your brand. If any of them have heard of you or even bought from you already, seeing this content will help to solidify your brand and its reputation in their minds. This exposure could stretch even further through social shares, reaching whole new audiences.
- Earn more sales – Influencer posts aren’t just great for brand awareness; they can actually drive sales, too. People trust the influencers that they follow. Seeing them using a particular product could sway them to seek it out and even buy it.
- People pay attention – Be honest, how often do you notice banner ads online, let alone take interest in them? We’re all prone to ‘banner blindness’, yet marketers continue to shovel money into this medium. The good thing about influencer posts is that they are natural content. They’re exactly like the content that influencer usually posts, except they refer to a brand, product, or service in them.
- Build trust and credibility – I’ve mentioned already that influencers are trusted by their followers. If that influencer sees fit to mention you in their content, then this tells their followers that your brand is also one that they can trust. This also helps to build authority in your industry.
Read even more benefits of influencer marketing if you’re still on the fence.
How can you do influencer marketing?
The big success that brands have achieved through influencer marketing doesn’t mean it’s a quick and easy way to boost your profits. Like any kind of marketing, it still takes work and it needs doing the right way. So, how can you tap into the success of influencers for your marketing?
The following 5 steps will help you get your influencer marketing campaign up and running.
Choosing the right influencers
You can’t just pick any influencer and ask them to partner with your brand. Relevancy is key here. You want to find an influencer whose audience is made up of your customers or people who belong in your target market. So, look for influencers in the same niche or industry as you, or at least with overlapping interests.
Not only will this give you better results by showing your content to the right audience, it will also make you more likely to win over the influencer in the first place. Influencers have put a lot of hard work into building their following and their own personal brand. Sharing something that is out of line with this brand could cause their audience to question their credibility.
Imagine you follow a fashion influencer and one day they post about this amazing accounting software that could help you save time and money in your business. It might be a great product, but the people following a fashion influencer are unlikely to be interested in it. It could even cause some people to unfollow that influencer.
The next question is how do you find influencers?
Firstly, it will depend on which platform you want to be promoted on. That Tomoson study found that blogs were the most effective platform for influencer marketing followed by Facebook.
On social sites, you can use their search tool to find popular accounts in a given industry. Enter a topic into the search and look at the top results that come up, both for accounts and posts. Look at the number of posts and followers that different accounts have to judge their level of influence.
Hashtags are another good way to find relevant social media influencers. You can follow the conversation around a particular hashtag to see who is active and influential. The amount of engagement someone gets on their posts is another good indicator of how influential they are.
To find influential bloggers, a simple Google search could be enough. Search for blogs related to your industry and Google will show you the top – i.e. most popular and influential – results.
Content curation sites like BuzzSumo are also good for finding popular blogs and bloggers. You can search for a specific topic and see different stats for posts, including the number of shares on different social sites.
Whatever platform you’re looking on, make a list of potential influencers that you could partner with, and then move onto the next step.
Now you’ve got your list of influencers, it’s time to reach out to them. The best way to do this is usually by email. If you’re contacting a social media influencer, then you could also send them a direct message on that platform, but remember that they probably get A LOT of these, so your message might not get seen.
Go to their website or blog if they have one, and you should be able to find their email address on there. Some may have their email in their social media bio. If you can’t find one, then a tool like hunter.io is handy for scouring different online sources to find an email address for that person.
You can write out a standard message to send to all your potential influencers, but make sure it doesn’t sound too generic or scripted. Try to add in details that are personal to each influencer wherever possible. For example, “I just watched your latest makeup tutorial on contouring. It was really easy to follow, thank you!”
Then you move onto your pitch. You need to explain what your product or service is and why you think that influencer and their followers will be interested. You should also offer to send the influencer your product for free, or give them access to your service. After all, if they’re going to be talking about how great it is online, then they probably should have tested it out first. This also allows Instagrammers or YouTubers to include your product in their post or video.
Some influencers are ‘paid’ in the free stuff they receive from brands, while others negotiate an actual fee for their influencer marketing. Take a look at this post from Collabary for more on how brands pay for influencer marketing.
Your email may also include some ideas on how the influencer can promote your product or service, i.e. how they will incorporate it into their content strategy. We’ll look at ideas and protocol for this in step 3…
Now that you’ve found the perfect influencer for your brand and they’re on board with the idea, it’s time to get your content together. This process will vary quite a bit depending on the medium your influencer uses and how much creative control they want over their content.
If you’ve got a clear image in your head of how your influencer posts should look or sound, then sharing this with the influencer takes out some of the hard work for them. However, not all influencers will like this method of doing things. They might want complete control over what they post and how. After all, they’ve done it pretty well until this point. Others may fall in between these extremes, with shared ideas coming from both sides.
So, in case your influencer doesn’t want to have to do it all, it’s good to come to the conversation with some ideas already planned out. Do your research and study your influencer’s previous posts. Understand their style and the voice that they use in their blogs or social posts. Then, think about how you can fit into this, whether it’s a blog, a YouTube video, an Instagram post, or a tweet.
It doesn’t all have to be online. Top influencers may also be invited to attend or speak at events and conferences in their field. For example, a notable YouTuber may attend VidCon. If you have a connection with this YouTuber, then they could mention you or use your product while at this event. Again, think about how they can do this in a way that seems natural.
Whatever the medium, you don’t want the mention of your brand to seem fake or forced. The fact that the content blends in seamlessly with everything around it is one of the things that makes influencer marketing so effective.
Engagement + measurement
Hopefully, your influencer’s post about your brand or product will take off and receive lots of likes, comments, and shares. You should keep an eye on this. Not just so you know how well your campaign is doing, but also so that you can join in the conversation wherever relevant.
If a follower comments complimenting your product or asking a question that you can answer, then make sure you respond. This can keep the conversation going and give your brand and your profile even more exposure. It can also further strengthen your relationship with that influencer and show their followers your excellent customer service.
Any links to your website within the influencer’s content should be made trackable so that you can monitor the number of people clicking the link and their activity once on your website. This helps you to measure the success and the ROI of your influencer marketing campaign.
Now it’s over to you! Be sure to do plenty of research rather than diving right in. It is also a good idea to follow your potential influencers and engage with them before reaching out to them. This way, they hopefully are aware of you before receiving your email.
Good luck with your influencer marketing!