Influencer marketing is a hot subject for businesses these days. Major brands regularly engage social media celebrities to help them promote their products. But, most small businesses don’t have the big bucks to invest in it.
So, does influencer marketing work?
Let’s take a look at how influencer marketing works
Influencer marketing is a marketing method that involves reaching out to an influential online personality/content creator who has a large fan following in a specific niche industry, and then paying them (or compensating them with free materials) to promote your products or services.
By sponsoring the influencer to create unique content around your product or service, you get to increase your promotional reach through their base.
The practice is similar to what happens when major brands partner with A-list celebrities and models to be the face of the brand and endorse them.
Influencer marketing does something akin but on a much smaller scale. Additionally, an online influencer would charge much less than an A-list celebrity, making the influencer marketing campaign much more affordable.
What does influencer marketing look like?
Almost all social media platforms can host some form of influencer marketing, but the main three are YouTube, Instagram and Blogs. The marketing component of the sponsored content generally takes on one of two popular formats.
1 Content produced by the influencer that talks exclusively about the product or service―this could be in the form of a review.
2 Content produced by the influencer that looks like one of their normal creations, but includes a short advertisement about the product within the piece.
How do you go about with a paid influencer marketing campaign?
Obviously, this process can differ depending on what you’re trying to achieve, and influencer in question, but here’s a general idea of how it works.
1 Which social channel do you want to promote on?
Like any marketing campaign, it starts with ‘who are my ideal customers and where are they’? Do a survey of all your social channels; find out what peaks your audience interest, which channels are they active on and compare the data with your brand, the products or services you want to offer.
Different social platforms attract different types of audiences, so make sure the product you’re trying to promote reaches the right audience on the right channel. If you already have a social media strategy in place, try and align your influencer campaign with your social media goals.
2 Search for an influencer that fits your brand voice
Once you’ve settled on which platform to promote on, it’s time to begin researching for the most influential users and whether your target audience follows them. For example, on Instagram you can find influencers with the ‘Search & Explore’ feature (location + hash tag), you’ll find content from users you don’t follow.
It’s also important to look at what kind of content they’re posting and the degree of engagement they receive such as number of followers, likes, comments, and shares from the target audience in question.
3 Reach out to the influencers
Once you’ve found an influencer that appears to be a good fit for your product, it’s time to reach out. If the influencer is keen to work with you, you will need to start discussing rates for producing and promoting content.
4 Work out an agreement
This is the stage where you need to settle on the promotion specifics, timelines, method of payment, and provide access to the products which they will promote. Some retail companies provide discount codes for influencers to share with their followers. Not only does this make the product more attractive to new customers, but it provides a way for the company to track the success rate of the promotion.
5 The promotion starts
By this point, the influencer has created the content and posted it. They have been compensated for their work, the company has reached a new audience with positive results.
What are the main advantages?
Influencer campaigns are generally more profitable for small businesses and niche products. By associating with someone who already has credibility with a select audience, you’re business is tapping into that credibility. You get to market your products to a whole new audience and increase engagement about it.
An influencer campaign is an alternative, semi-organic way, friendly way of reaching out to customers. Getting an influencer to endorse your product with their followers also creates a sense of credibility for first-time buyers.
An example of this would be the media frenzy created by Megan Markle when she wore a pair of ethically sourced jeans, designed Australian brand Outland Denim during the royal tour of Australian in late 2018. Thanks to the publicity she gave them, the brand sold-out the design.
What are the disadvantages?
Even if you have matched the perfect product with the perfect influencer, audience, social channel etc. there’s no guaranteeing you’ll receive positive results. It also seems to work better for companies selling consumer products and not services.
Finding and matching influencers that mesh well with your brand and engaging with new audiences is hard work. The research involved is time consuming and can be very easy to get wrong. Small businesses that are thinking of implementing an influencer marketing campaign have to make sure that every stage of the campaign has been meticulously planned and backed by research to avoid wasting time and money.
Although the results for influencer marketing campaigns can be better than traditional marketing or advertising methods because you get to directly engage with people who are interested in your niche market, and therefore more likely to purchase; it’s not necessarily for everyone.
This type of campaign is ideal for small businesses that are trying to reach new audiences and build brand awareness, however, they require a significant investment of time and resources to achieve any results.
If a business is new to the method, working with a digital marketing agency on the first campaign might help to better understand the process of researching, contacting and agreeing on content, and payment with influencers. It’s also advised to incorporate your influencer marketing with your overall digital strategy to achieve better results.