No matter how much you know about marketing trends, you’ve likely heard the term “influencer” referring to bloggers, YouTube stars, and social media celebrities who have built massive followings on their digital platforms.
As more people began to achieve Internet fame, brands and retailers are tapping into the potential to reach new audiences by leveraging partnerships with them. And there’s a good reason for it! Almost 55% of people trust online bloggers, compared to 47% who trust traditional advertising messages.
How does influencer marketing work?
Essentially, this type of marketing happens when brands pay or give free products to their chosen influencers to spread their message, whether it’s promoting a specific item or building buzz for a campaign. Done right, it can become the most effective advertising channel that generates trackable sales. And it can be done in many ways:
– sponsored blog posts: pay an influencer to write an article on his/her blog about your product, service, or brand;
– social posts: influencers will post about your products or service on their social media channels;
– banner ads: some influencers offer retailers the opportunity to pay for banner ads on their website;
– guest posts: hire an influencer to write a guest post for your own blog;
– events: drive traffic with an in-store meetup, speaker series, or special event launching your new collection or product. Invite industry influencers to be your special guests. There are plenty who would jump at the chance to meet with their favorite style blogger or YouTube persona and also do a little shopping.
Why use influencer marketing?
Traditional advertising is not as popular as it used to be because consumers no longer want to be “marketed to” by a faceless brand and instead rely on internet “research” by reading blogs and social accounts of people whom they find trustworthy.
Influencer marketing is respectful of the audience while delivering sales and, maybe more importantly, without annoying those who are not the target audience for your products.
As an online business professional you simply cannot afford to overlook influencer marketing as a trusted, new sales generation channel that generates unique third party content linked to your e-shop. And the catch? Doing your homework: aligning your products with the right influences takes more time and creativity than your good ole’ context ads.
Types of influencers
Macro-influencers are people that have hundreds of thousands of followers, though this often means engagement rates are lower. There’s also usually a greater likelihood that they have worked with brands in the past, which might not be ideal.
Micro-influencers might only have tens of thousands of followers, but engagement is often higher. They usually have a more loyal following and regularly engage with the followers they do have. There’s also less of a chance that they’ve worked with brands in the past.
Then you have everyone else online. Though your customers might not have large audiences, there’s no arguing the power of word-of-mouth marketing. If you encourage your customers to post online about your brand, this is its own form of influencer marketing. And it’s free.
How to pick the right influencers?
Just because someone has a large, engaged audience doesn’t mean they’re the right influencer for your brand. They must mesh with your objectives, your audience, and your brand.
When looking at their numbers, go beyond simply looking at the total of followers. What’s their engagement rate? If you want an easy calculation, take the total likes and comments on a post, then divide that by total number of followers. Multiply by 100 to get your engagement rate. The higher, the better.
And while this is insightful, understanding the people who make up those numbers are even more important. They need to match your target, otherwise you’ll put the right message in front of the wrong potential customers.
Furthermore, do a thorough research to make sure there’s nothing scandalous or potentially damaging to your brand hidden somewhere in the influencers digital footprint. There’s also a chance they’ve worked with your competitors in the past, in which case you might want to explore a different route.
Where can you find influencers?
Finding influencers to work with can be a time-consuming process. If you’re going the do it yourself route, search for related hashtags to your industry.
When you find popular posts, explore those hashtags as well. This will unearth a ton of influencers, and social media channels typically serve the more popular posts at the top of their search results.
Because influencer research can be super time-consuming and tedious, there are many tools and that can do all or some of this work for you. But keep in mind that these resources can be pricey.