Influencer marketing has been in the spotlight ever since social media and content marketing replaced traditional advertising. According to this State of Influencer Marketing 2020 report, this industry was all set to grow up to a whopping $9.7 billion in that year. This guide will help you decide if influencer marketing is meant for your business and how you can leverage it to meet your marketing objectives.
What is influencer marketing?
Influencers are people who enjoy authority and a loyal following in the media. They are either experts in a particular field and earn their following by crafting informative and entertaining content that appeals to a particular kind of audience, or they are celebrities who have amassed a large base of followers because of their fame.
Influencer marketing is a strategy through which businesses partner with such influencers in order to tap into their audience and grow awareness of their brand. The biggest advantage of influencer marketing is that it gives you the opportunity to reach an audience that has already been identified as your target customer segment through a medium that already enjoys an authoritative status among them. So, instead of talking up your brand to a new audience from scratch, you are letting some of the influencer’s magic rub off on you.
How to use influencer marketing to grow your business
This isn’t as simple as getting someone famous to talk about your brand. If you want to get influencer marketing right, you have to pay close attention to at least these 5 aspects.
1. Define your goals
Why do you need influencer marketing? It shouldn’t be because everyone else is doing it. Without specific goals in mind, every aspect of your marketing campaign will be in jeopardy, from the choice of your influencers to the kind of content you are putting out in collaboration with them.
Ultimately, your goals depend upon your overall brand objectives and your current position in the market, but here are a few of the most common goals that brands expect to achieve from influencer marketing:
- Increase brand awareness
- Increase sales
- Gain more followers on social media
- Engage with a previously untapped customer segment
- Promote a certain brand perception
- Launch a new product
2. Create a budget
Depending upon your choice of influencers and the nature of the campaigns that you are running, influencer marketing can be quite expensive. In 2020, the cost of influencer marketing ranged from $1,000 to $1million per post. Such a high range is not something that every business can afford, especially small and medium-sized businesses.
This is why it is extremely important that you do your own research and fix your own budget instead of just jumping on the influencer train. For instance, don’t opt for a celebrity influencer just because your competitor is. Not only will you be paying them through the nose, but you also might not even achieve your marketing goals because a large portion of a celebrity influencer’s audience is often indifferent. On the other hand, a micro-influencer who charges less money may have a smaller yet more dedicated following perfect for your niche.
Whatever you choose to do, make sure it’s within the limits of your budget and delivers the expected return on investment, if not higher.
3. Identify your influencers
We cannot stress enough how important it is to find an influencer who is the right fit for your brand and objectives, rather than just paying large sums of money to who is currently trending. Complete clarity will dawn upon you gradually during your interactions and as the campaign unfolds. But there are a few things that you must keep in mind to improve the likelihood of your campaign’s success.
Your influencer need not be an expert from your industry but they should exhibit an active interest and passion for it. The more connected they are to your industry, the more likelihood there is of their followers being passionate about it too. Moreover, you can be fairly certain that such an influencer will be more invested in your partnership and is not in it just for the rewards.
For instance, a mega or macro influencer may reach millions of people through a post about your new video game, but there is no guarantee that their followers care about video games. Whereas, an avid gamer may have 10,000 followers, but most of them are passionate gamers in the age group of 15-35 years, making them the perfect target for your campaign.
Don’t go just by the numbers. Really explore the type of posts they are putting up, the brands they are promoting, and the values they are signalling.
- Are they good, credible brands?
- Is the content they are posting of high quality?
- Do their posts align with your brand values?
- What kind of comments are their followers posting? Do the comments appear spammy or offensive?
Feel free to deep dive into the accounts of these followers to better assess them. Fake accounts are rampant on social media and the motivations behind them various, including ones created simply to boost their own popularity. Usually, such accounts will have few posts or followers. Do your due diligence and steer clear of such phony influencers.
A large number of followers does not mean high engagement, and high engagement doesn’t guarantee that your marketing objectives will be met. If a person has 1 million followers but very few comments on their recent posts, it means that their engagement is low. Similarly, if the comments are more about appreciation for the influencer and less about the content, then this kind of engagement will not do you any good. This is often the case with celebrity influencers.
Your influencer marketing campaigns must be consistent with your other marketing efforts, which means that your influencer needs to be the right personality fit for your brand as well as your audience. For instance, if you’re a witty brand that likes to take a stand on controversial issues, your influencer can be an artist or a stand-up comedian who does the same. But such an influencer may not work if your audience doesn’t really care about such issues.
4. Build your relationship with them
Your influencers may mean several things to you, but one thing that they aren’t are agencies that you hire to work for you, even though you are paying them. Influencers are more akin to a brand partners. While you’re getting to engage with their loyal followers, they stand to improve their own reputation by introducing a great product or brand to their audience.
Here are a few things to keep in mind when deciding upon your influencer partnership:
The more an influencer works with you, the better they will get to know your brand and the better content they can publish to promote you. Moreover, when their audience sees that the influencer is continuously vouching for your brand, they will begin to trust you more.
Focus on your own quality
A quality influencer will never vouch for a brand that they don’t believe in or simply because they are getting paid for it. By promoting something that is of poor quality or inauthentic, they are risking the relationship with their audience that they have taken so much time and effort to cultivate.
Sign an agreement
Be clear about the compensation and the expectations from the campaign right from the start. Put all the important details such as how many posts the influencer will publish, what kind of content those posts will have, and how you will compensate them—whether it’s through money, free products, or both—in an agreement.
Just because you are paying the influencer doesn’t mean that you can exercise complete control over the content. Remember that the influencer is a content expert and knows what will resonate best with their audience, probably better than you do. Heed their expertise, recommendations and decisions and, as far as possible, let them have creative control of the campaign.
5. Track the results
You should be clear about the metrics that you will use to track the success of your campaign. These metrics depend upon your goals. For instance, if your goal is to improve engagement on social media, you must compare the followers, likes, and comments you had before you began the influencer activity to where they stand after. Put processes in place that will help you keep rigorous track of activities and results in real-time, such as:
Assign a custom URL to the influencer that they can use whenever they mention your product or your brand. Such URLs, known as affiliate links, will help you track how much traffic you got from each of the mentions and how much of that converted into sales.
Here, you have the opportunity to brand these links so you can get a little more value out of this partnership. For example, if you’re promoting a beauty product, you could share a link such as www.beautybetter.store/lipgloss.
Here, your domain name is adding another layer of branding and meaning to your message. The .STORE domain extension clearly communicates that you’re an online store. Choosing a new and aligned domain extension such as .ONLINE, .TECH, .SITE, .SPACE can help your brand make an impression and be more memorable.
Lastly, come up with unique hashtags for your campaign to track what your influencers are doing and also to stay on top of any conversations around your influencer marketing campaigns, such as sharing of posts by the influencer’s followers, as well as responding to questions and comments.
It may take you a couple of campaigns to truly understand what you can expect influencer marketing to do for your business. But working with the right influencers can go a long way in building trust among people who are relatively unaware of your brand and engage with them through diverse, high-quality, and relatable content created by a credible and expert source.