Influencer marketing has been a hot topic these past few years, with numerous marketers and agencies using it regularly in their marketing mix. Yet, many of us are still baffled when hearing the term ‘influencer marketing’ and are trying to make sense of the overall concept.
Influencer marketing is a branch of online marketing. In simple words, influencer marketing means ordinary people like you and me who have an above-average online presence assist in pushing a business in front of the right people.
In this comprehensive guide, we’ll start by defining influencer marketing and discuss many other aspects, including; strategy, influencer discovery, campaign development, and more.
After reading this guide, we hope you will have a solid grasp of the concept to work through an influencer marketing strategy, implement it, and extract successful results.
So without further delay, let’s jump right in!
Influencer marketing is a modern marketing method where a business, brand, or company collaborates with an online influencer to drive their product or service awareness and/or sales. However, there can be more than one single definition of influencer marketing, depending on the purpose in mind.
One may define it as an effective online marketing strategy to create more brand exposure. At the same time, another person may think of it as a marketing method more focused on increasing sales. Both of these tactics are valid and can affect our expectations from influencer marketing.
We believe influencer marketing can be best described as a combination of traditional and modern marketing methods. It employs the idea of endorsements from influential online individuals and combines it with content-based marketing.
This marketing method involves a collaboration between a brand/business with an online influencer to promote one or more of its products or services. Instead of marketing what you have to offer yourself, you get help from leading niche creators on various online platforms to market them for you. This provides a more authentic and trusted way to get your message across to potential customers.
The primary advantage of influencer marketing is pushing your business in front of the right target audience. In other words, influencer marketing helps you boost brand awareness.
Influencer marketing enables you to improve sales and, as a result, generate more revenue. Collaborating with leading, niche-relevant influencers will drive more consideration and specific features of your business, in effect teaching people how to buy your product or service. This leads to more sales and revenues.
The third benefit of influencer marketing is that people will receive your offers more authentic, natural. People don’t appreciate intrusive ads screaming at them about a specific product or service. They want to organically through a trusted voice.
We get bombarded with annoying ads every day, and many of us have ad blockers while browsing online. Influencer marketing is an excellent alternative to ads and will let you naturally reach your target market. And it really doesn’t matter what type of ad we refer to. Google ads, banner ads, billboard ads, social video ads, etc., are undoubtedly annoying to confront.
Using influencer marketing will allow you to invest less in content marketing. This does not mean that you should ignore curating content.
However, when influencer marketing sits at the core of your business’s strategy, you could lower the budget for a content marketing plan.
Another benefit of influencer marketing is gaining the opportunity to create your own affiliate or ambassador program. This could help you even more with expanding your online authority.
Finally, your business website can experience a boost in traffic by incorporating influencer marketing. Influencers can leave a link to your website in their content. This will direct their followers to your site and leads to traffic growth.
Influencers are individuals with established authority in a particular niche and an above-average social media presence. Their followers are loyal and constantly kept engaged by the content influencers share with them.
As the word itself suggests, influencers are capable of influencing other people’s decision-making and driving perceptions. An influencers’ main job is to connect their audience with a brand by sharing content messaging and personal experiences.
Influencers can be anyone, anywhere, and don’t necessarily need to be a celebrity. In fact, most of them are regular people like you and me!
Initially, this form of marketing was primarily used by working with celebrities. Although celebrities are still a core element of influencer marketing, today, most brands and businesses tend to reach out to nano and micro-influencers to market what they want.
As we mentioned earlier, the reason for it is that these influencers have garnered a niche audience and share content within that niche. In other words, you’re able to reach a specific target audience when letting influencers promote you or your products or services.
So having a large following isn’t the only point to consider when identifying influencers, because just as we mentioned, even a person with approximately 1k followers could also be an influencer. It’s someone’s expertise that helps them emerge as an influential individual in a particular industry.
Think of them as built-in search engines within digital or social media platforms that only contain relevant answers to a sphere of expertise. Influencers are people who curate the most intriguing content and spark lively debates among their audience.
Influencers are typically categorized based on their social media following count. The reason is that most businesses usually tend to work with different social media influencers, especially those on Instagram. However, this does not mean we can’t count bloggers, for example, as influencers.
In general, there are 5 types of influencers if we categorize them based on their followers:
Besides classifying them based on their following count, we can also categorize influencers according to which online channel they use.
You may wonder why recognized platforms like Snapchat or LinkedIn aren’t on the list. As Mediakix’s survey suggests, marketers believe social media channels such as Snapchat or LinkedIn are the least significant platforms for influencer marketing.
These terms are often used interchangeably, but they differ in how they work with brands.
The main difference between brand ambassadors and influencers lies in their partnership type with businesses. Brand ambassadors are not just short-term partners willing to get paid for the content they share. They become the face of a brand and share the values of the company.
We can view them as paid spokespeople who build awareness of a brand and increase its sales.
Influencers, on the other hand, are generally hired for short-term collaboration and one-off projects.
They have no limits when it comes to working with multiple brands at the same time.
However, later in this article, you’ll find out that both brands and influencers favor long-term partnerships based on current trends.
This section will walk you through how you can effectively create your business’s influencer marketing strategy.
You already know that having a plan is vital for achieving success in every step of our lives.
That being said, a well-structured influencer marketing strategy will benefit your business in numerous ways, which I’ll discuss later.
But most importantly, it’ll allow you to define your relationship with the influencer(s) clearly.
The first step in any strategy is to outline clear goals. Goals that are set based on proper goal-setting frameworks help you determine a specific direction for your influencer marketing strategy and allow you to measure the overall performance later.
Regardless of your example for goal-setting, it would be best if you never forgot to include critical factors in it.
We recommend asking these three key questions when defining influencer marketing goals:
You’ve probably heard people talk about this step a thousand times. But it’s a contributing factor when it comes to developing any business plan.
Before you start any business, decide to run campaigns, or establish a social media presence, you need to designate the demographic you intend to reach.
In simple words, you should know who’s out there that may be interested in what you have to offer. The same thing happens when creating an influencer marketing strategy. It would help if you defined the target audience that you want to reach via influencer marketing campaigns.
A more advanced form of this is called developing buyer personas. This will help you identify and attract the ideal customers, leading to choosing the right influencers and relevant content to appeal to the right audience.
Next, you need to set a budget.
Knowing how much you want to spend for your influencer marketing plan helps you go through the next step: choosing the type of influencer(s).
Depending on the size of your business, you can work with any type you wish.
For instance, if you’re a small business with a low budget looking to boost your presence locally, then nano or micro-influencers are probably your ideal choices.
It’s difficult to determine how much influencers charge per post since the numbers vary too much.
Even so, to help you have an estimate of costs per post, you can check out digitalmarketing.org’s estimations of influencer marketing costs.
After your budget is set, it’s time for you to find influencers that closely match your expectations.
We discussed all the steps to finding the right influencer in another section.
So it’s best to offer you a list of key questions to ask yourself when searching for ideal influencers:
After taking all the steps above, it’s time you finalize your agreement with the influencer(s) and draw up a written contract.
This is where both sides should be crystal clear about their demands and add them to the contract.
For instance, some essential parts of the agreement must be:
You can include other terms as you wish.
Whatever information you decide to add to the agreement, you need to organize them and write them down.
Make sure you both agree to all the included terms and sign the contract at last.
Writing an influencer contract may seem a bit complicated at first, but it’s essential.
Also, if you wish to speed things up, you can use an influencer contract template.
Once the campaign is over and your influencer has published the content you wanted on their social media channels, you should complete the payment process.
We’ll talk in detail about how to pay influencers in a later section of this blog post.
Finally, you need to assess the outcomes of the campaign.
You can do this by reviewing your influencer marketing strategy and see whether or not you’ve achieved your goals.
Besides, there are always crucial metrics available for you to determine the campaign’s success level.
For example, suppose your business uses Instagram as the primary platform for its influencer marketing campaign.
In that case, you have access to valuable content insights.
You can analyze various metrics such as reach, impressions, profile visits, and so on to better evaluate the final results of your campaign.
Moreover, if your influencer was a blogger, using a tool like Google Analytics is a great option to measure critical success factors like clicks and conversion rates.
How you can compensate influencers and how much you should expect them to charge you per post are two common issues in influencer marketing.
Since influencers are not all the same, their compensation will vary.
Their service fees will be determined mainly by three factors:
You can choose from a range of options to compensate influencers, and there isn’t a one-size-fits-all method.
We believe you can use any of the six ways below to pay influencers:
The first method, which is by far the most popular one, is monetary compensation.
This way requires you to consider instant cash payment for the services you ask from an influencer.
You can check another section of this article where we introduce rough estimates of how much influencers charge to understand the payment amounts better.
Your second option is to provide them with cost-free products or services.
Whatever your business offers, you can give it to influencers and ask for an in-depth, creative review that perfectly resonates with their audience.
The third idea for compensation could be inviting the influencer to a unique, experiential event like product launches, grand openings, season festivals, etc.
Not just influencers, but most of us like participating in such events and acquiring unique experiences.
But, these would be even better for bringing influencers the opportunity to share their moments with their audience.
In short, offer them a chance to gain greater exposure.
Their fans would be even more delighted to see their favorite influencer take part in such special events.
Therefore we recommend inviting your ideal influencers to join you on specific occasions as it’s an excellent way of rewarding them.
For this to work, you should be willing to cover all their expenses (flight, hotel, etc.)
The next way is to consider forming a long-term partnership with the influencers you want to reach out to for collaboration.
In this form of agreement, they become your brand’s ambassadors.
As we mentioned earlier, the significant difference between influencers and brand ambassadors lies in the extent of the collaboration.
Although we’re seeing a change in how brands and influencers work, most often, business owners and marketers favor running short-term campaigns with influencers.
Whereas a brand ambassador will work dedicatedly for you over the entire course of an agreement by actively promoting content relevant to your brand’s message and objectives.
Your fifth option to compensate influencers is offering them the opportunity to feature your brand in a media program.
For example, in case you have a spot in a popular TV show or an online-streamed radio or podcast program, you can ask the influencer to be your brand’s representative in them.
This will help them gain massive exposure.
It works best for influencers trying to expand their followers and striving to achieve more recognition.
And finally, you can establish your business’s affiliate program and compensate each influencer by giving them commissions.
This kind of program means influencers will receive a percentage of each successful sale they make for you.
So far, our discussion has revolved around ‘what to do’ when using influencer marketing for your business.
Now it’s time to talk about ‘what not to do’ in your influencer marketing strategy.
First, don’t get in touch with influencers who don’t have a clue about your niche.
In other words, we suggest you avoid contacting those influencers that have zero awareness of your business.
Instead, get on their radar by being present on their channels and actively engaging with their content.
Be sure to make a connection with them before asking for any collaboration.
Second, don’t be authoritative as if you’re the one in control of everything.
Don’t ever forget that what’s happening between you and the influencer is a bilateral collaboration; it’s an agreement between two sides.
So they’re not your soldiers who you can order around.
You should be willing to work with influencers through a creative process and letting them present their suggestions.
It’s best to remind yourself of what your initial intentions were.
Did you decide to approach the influencer because of their clever storytelling?
Then, saddling with their creativity will lead to counter-productivity and negatively impact the overall performance of your campaign.
Even so, it’s entirely okay to assert a little bit of control over some aspects of the campaigns, like the way you wish your brand’s message to be delivered.
But ultimately, it’s the influencer who knows what will resonate best with their followers.
The third ‘don’t‘ is having an exceedingly promotional approach.
When presenting your products or services to an influencer, you should be straightforward in addressing its benefits and providing as much information as possible.
Just showing them a product or a service that you think is a good fit isn’t enough to provoke their interest.
You must give them reasons to understand the value of what you’re offering and be right on the button as to ‘how’ and ‘why’ your products are well-suited to both the influencers and their audience.
Do a bit of research to check if there’s any conflict of interest with what you’re selling and the products an influencer has promoted so far.
And finally, be friendly in your approach.
Don’t think of them as services, instead really act like you’re trying to contact a person.
After all, there’s a human on the other side of any influencer marketing collaboration.
Influencers actually want to be appreciated as partners and not just one-off services.
Therefore make sure to do your best to form and cement authentic relationships to generate better results in the long run.
Ideally, you want to keep the bridges with influencers and have them around as valued partners.
Perhaps finding the right influencers is the trickiest part of influencer marketing for most people.
It seems to be quite a challenge for many marketers and owners alike.
They’ve got their influencer marketing strategy all set up, and all of a sudden, the question pops into their heads that “How the heck do I find the person I want?”
In this section, we’ll go over some methods to help you ease the process of finding influencers.
Today, with the rise of influencer marketing agencies and platforms like Ainfluencer, the process has become easier for brands and businesses.
But let’s assume you’re not in favor of using platforms or agencies for finding influencers.
You can also find them using old-school methods.
Aside from signing up on influencer marketing websites, you can use Google and other Social Media platforms to search for influencers.
The first place to begin your search is the good old Google.
Like every other topic, Google can provide you with relevant answers to help you find the right influencers.
We can’t exactly tell you what to search for because that really depends on what you have in mind.
But here are some suggested search queries:
Just type them or similar phrases in Google’s search bar and check out some of the results that appear to be closely related to your needs.
You can also search for recognized blogs on the web by just Googling the topics on your mind and then checking out the top results.
Chances are, you may come across a website that’s actually run by an influencer.
Your second option is to use available social media hashtags to find the right influencers.
For this, hop on different social media channels like Instagram or Twitter, and begin your search by typing in some hashtags in each platform’s search section.
Since Instagram is still the powerhouse for influencer marketing, we suggest you focus your search around it.
All you have to do is open Instagram on your phone, go to the search box, and insert a couple of hashtags into the search bar.
Next, check out the surfaced posts to determine who’s putting the most engaging content out there.
By looking at some of the results, you can easily understand which accounts are attracted most.
In addition to hashtags, Instagram also allows you to perform a search using keywords.
The feature was introduced around the end of 2020, and using it is really simple. When you type in anything in Instagram’s search box, it’ll show you some relevant keywords under the ‘top’ tab.
Tapping on each keyword will then show you some results, which you can go through to discover the accounts sharing all the popular stuff.
After completing your search using hashtags and keywords, you can make a list of accounts you may wish to analyze and contact their owners later.
Nevertheless, for Instagram, we suggest taking a shortcut and making the whole process easy for yourself.
The platform’s services allow you to post an offer (post or story) on its marketplace and wait for influencers to reach out to you.
Or, you can discover influencers using the website’s ‘Find influencers’ feature.
Here you can use custom search filters such as hashtags and location to find the right influencers and invite them to your influencer marketing campaigns.
So you’ve got everything worked out, and you’re ready to fire up your influencer marketing campaign.
Although running campaigns is one of the key steps in influencer marketing, without the proper knowledge of managing them, you may waste your resources completely.
Use the following checklist to make sure you extract the best possible results from your influencer marketing campaign.
The steps in this checklist might seem similar to those we discussed before in another section about influencer marketing strategy, but going through each will help you structure your efforts and extract great results.
Your goals could include:
When your goals are set, you’ll be able to determine other factors such as the campaign budget, determine your requests from influencers, and formulate the appropriate call to action.
Now you’re ready for phase two, which is influencer outreach.
This step is all about getting in touch with the influencers you’ve already identified as a good fit to represent your business.
Find their Email address and contact them or message them directly via their social media accounts. What’s highly important here is that you need to be crystal clear about your brand’s identity, campaign goals, and campaign messaging. This will help both you and the influencers be on the same page about the campaign’s details.
This is where the fun part begins. You’re ready to kick off your campaign and put all your efforts into action in this phase.
For this step, it’s crucial to prepare a campaign calendar before starting it so that you can easily track each move and keep things in order.
Finally, you need to measure the results.
Once the campaign is over, it’s time to analyze all the metrics and evaluate the outcome.
In this phase, you should go over all the data you collected through the campaign, such as clicks, conversions, impressions, social media profile visits, and other available metrics.
That’s it for drawing up an influencer marketing checklist, handy and straightforward.
Although the rules of engagement continue to change, there are also some future trends we can point out in this rapidly evolving landscape.
First and foremost, we can expect more transparency and official regulations.
In 2017, the Federal Trade Commission released a statement warning brands and influencers to disclose their relationship clearly.
You know influencer marketing is officially mainstream when you see the government cracking down on it to protect consumer rights.
In addition to transparency and regulations, the evolution of influencer marketing continues to continue on one social media channel: Instagram.
As a study suggests, Instagram dominates the sphere, with over 60% of the respondents preferring to use it for influencer marketing.
This shouldn’t surprise anybody because Instagram has a wide array of features that allow the platform to reign supreme in influencer marketing.
We should also expect to see other platforms such as Tik Tok and YouTube joining Instagram; however, they’ve got a long way to becoming the leading channels.
Furthermore, fewer one-off partnerships will be, and we’ll see a shift to long-term relationships between brands and influencers.
The idea of influencer marketing as a one-time paid partnership is becoming less popular.
This is mainly because long-term collaborations prove to be more beneficial and lucrative for both sides.
So brands and influencers will be more interested in investing in consistent, lasting partnerships rather than one-offs.
Lastly, there seems to be an inevitable rise in artificial influencers.
Artificial Intelligence has become much more advanced in recent years.
It has led to computer-generated creations owned by companies.
For instance, on Instagram, we already have Shudu Gram and Lil Miquela, both AI-based creations.
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Shudu Gram claims to be the world’s first digital model with over 200k followers.
These two are just the beginning.
We can now agree that influencer marketing is no longer a passing fancy.
As mentioned at the beginning of this article, valid data supports the effectiveness of influencer marketing as a modern marketing method.
It’s gathered so much steam that now it’s an established marketing term.
Numerous marketers and business owners are more inclined to increase their budgets to run more influencer marketing campaigns.
They intend to achieve various goals such as boosting brand awareness, naturally connecting with their audience, and increasing conversions and sales.
So, why don’t you go ahead and take the first step by developing plans to include influencer marketing in your marketing efforts?
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This post was last modified on Sep 4, 2021 00:28