Social media influencers are arguably the best form of advertising today.
The use of social media influencers has grown almost exponentially over the past few years, so let’s take a look at how to work with them.
The value to businesses of high-profile social media users promoting their products has made the role of influencer vital to many campaigns and potentially incredibly lucrative to those at the sharp end of the sector.
The genesis of social media influencing stems back to the first widespread celebrity accounts on the socials with an endorsement from a celebrity follower potentially having a massive impact on the business or individual selected
A high-profile early example of this was Stephen Fry’s championing of guitarist Jon Gomm on Twitter.
Fry’s link to Gomm’s performance of Passionflower led to a massive upswing in the bookings the guitar virtuoso received and was achieved completely organically.
The best influencer-led campaigns aim to capture this lightning in a bottle, providing a seemingly organic interaction between the brand and influencer and placing the product in front of a wider audience.
What is influencer marketing?
An influencer is someone who is an expert in their niche and has a dedicated following that listens and takes their advice on board.
Influencer marketing works because of the relationship that the person has with their followers. Brands pay and work with that person to take advantage of their following. The influencer therefore acts as a form of ‘social proof’ as to the product actually working and being of a high enough quality.
In 2022, it was found that within 6 months, 14% of 18-to-24-year-olds and 11% of millennials had bought something because a blogger or influencer recommended it, according to Civic Science.
At the moment, Instagram is the most popular platform for influencers, with 76.6% of US marketers estimated to use it over 2023. But keep an eye on TikTok. Back in 2020, only 36% of marketers used TikTok as a platform to sell their products. It is estimated that that number will grow to almost 50% in 2023.*
*These figures have been taken from eMarketer
What are the types of influencers?
When the word ‘influencer’ is thrown around, you immediately start thinking of the Kardashian-Jenner family.
Celebrity endorsements were the original form of influencer marketing, however today there are many smaller social content creators with more niche audiences that can offer more value to your brand.
These accounts often have very engaged followers on social media.
Instagram influencers have been split into different categories based on their audience size:
- Nano-influencer – > 10,000 followers
- Micro-influencer – 10,000 – 100,000 followers
- Macro-influencer – 100,000 – 1 million followers
- Mega-influencer – < 1 millions followers
How much does it cost?
The bigger the influencer, the more they will want to be paid. It is as simple as that.
Free product work MIGHT work with nano-influencers, but even then most will expect commission or extras for their work.
9.3% of US influencers said that their top source of income was from affiliate marketing. This is where the influencers get compensated through the measuring of their individual promo codes and/or links.
When building your influencer marketing strategy, it is important to keep costs in mind and to build your strategy around them.
There is no point reaching out to celebrities or mega-influencers if they are outside of your budget.
Make sure you come up with an affordable payment strategy before you reach out to your influencer so that you can pitch your idea and prices from the start and not waste either your or the influencer’s time.
How can you use influencers?
- Brand ambassadors
Where a brand works with an influencer to promote their product or services. The influencer will tend to share images, posts, articles about your product.
They will also provide testimonials, mention the product or service at events and many more things.
This tends to be a long-term relationship and the influencer will have codes and offers where you can track their sales.
- Event activation
Brands organise an event and invite loads of influencers to attend. This type of outreach is typical with a lot of D2C brands. They may do this as a part of a product launch or a big milestone.
As part of their invite, they live post when they are at the event and continue promoting the event after it has happened. With so many influencers in one room your brand will reach a huge audience.
Another way to utilise event activation is to get your influencer(s) to promote your event to their audience. Having a big name at your event is a great way to sell more tickets.
Having influencers involved with a campaign from the start is a great way to build awareness, generate interest and drive sales.
Influencers can be as involved with your campaigns as you would like.
You could just send them products to test and hope that they will like them enough to dedicate content about them, or you can work closely with one from the start.
You could work out a clear marketing strategy that aims to build hype before a launch of a project or create new and innovative content ideas.
- One-off campaign
Influencers can just be hired to do a one off.
They can create just one video that advertises the use of your project, or write a blog about how handy your service is.
Although many brands prefer to create long-term relationships with influencers, these one-off campaigns can be useful.
They allow you to test different influencer partnerships and to figure out which ones work best.
What can they deliver?
This is the very beginning of your influencer marketing strategy.
Once you start working with your influencer you should see an increase in your brand’s awareness as it is promoted to their loyal audience.
At the awareness stage, you want to measure every metric that can tell how many people potentially saw your brand’s message.
This is measured by an increase of website traffic, an increase of online conversations about the brand, increase in followers, increased likes, comments and shares, increased clicks and most importantly mentions.
Mentions mean that people are discussing your content and amplifying your message.
It is super easy to measure all of this through social media apps.
Here people are one step closer to purchasing your product.
There are more visits to specific landing pages and you are getting more precise enquiries about your products.
These metrics are easily measured by looking at website visits, or if you gave your influencer a unique URL, you can measure the data from that to see how many people have used this link and whether or not the influencer is doing their job correctly.
The moment everyone is waiting for – when all your leads start to get replaced by sales!
As with all marketing, a successful influencer campaign is measured by the amount of sales they generate.
With promo codes or personalised URL’s, it is easy to keep a track of how many sales your influencer generates.
How to create an influencer marketing strategy
So you’ve found some great influencers to work with, and you know how you best plan to use them. The next thing you need is a robust strategy.
We have managed and run countless influence marketing campaigns, here are our top tips:
Set your goals
According to Advertising Perceptions, the top three goals for influencer marketing should be:
- Reach new target customers
- Increase brand awareness and product consideration
- Drive sales
Driving sales is only the third most important goal.
This is because when using influencers to market your product you are not using them as a direct sales force, but as a vessel for spreading brand awareness. Sales will come with time, but it is important to remember to have patience.
Consider the three R’s of influence
Influence is made up of three rules:
Your influencer must be relevant to your business.
There is no point getting a fashion blogger to promote mould remover because their audience will view it as spam.
This will harm the influencer’s reputation and ultimately your brands.
This is the number of people that you could reach through your influencer’s network.
A small audience can still be effective, just make sure that the audience is big enough to still align with your goals.
The potential engagement levels an audience might have with your brand.
As mentioned above, bigger is not always better! A small niche audience can be very powerful, dedicated and engaged.
A large following is meaningless if they aren’t interested in your product.
Research, research, research
- Who is your audience?
Defining your audience is vital when it comes to influencer marketing.
You don’t want to pick the wrong influencer with the wrong target audience!
Creating audience personas is a great way to understand who you are trying to target.
You can also create influencer personas to match them so you know clearly the qualities you are looking for when you choose your influencer.
- What are the rules?
It is important to know the rules and regulations when it comes to promoting on social media.
In the UK it is mandatory that all promotional material must be labelled clearly as an ad.
Influencers may not want to identify that their post is an ad upfront, but it is vital that they do so.
Make sure you are constantly checking all their posts that they put out about your product to check they are following government guidelines.
If they are not, talk to the influencer and let them know that this is illegal.
- Who do you want to work with?
When thinking about who you want to work with, it is important to take into consideration that the audience you are trying to reach trusts the influencer.
To measure this, you look at the levels of engagement the influencer has. A good, steady engagement rate means a loyal following.
It is also important that you find someone whose content and tone has the same look and feel as your own brands.
This means it will be easy for you to collaborate on posts. This will ensure things are not disjointed on either party’s social.
- Reach out… privately!
It is important that you don’t rush to your influencer and bombard them.
Like, comment and interact with your influencer on their social channels before you reach out directly to show that you are an actual fan of their work. Don’t be salesy!
Reach out to them over direct messenger. Make sure it is as personal as possible as it shows that you are serious about the potential relationship.
Provide as much information about your brand as possible, what you wish to achieve by this partnership and your social media campaign.
Most importantly, make it clear how they will benefit from this relationship.
A little side note, most influencers don’t actually like to be called influencers! Refer to them as content creators as they see the word ‘influencer’ as belittling.
- Collaborate with your influencer to create content
All influencers are content creation experts. They will not accept a deal that will make their own brand seem inconsistent
To get the most out of your partnership you should allow them to showcase their skills.
Providing a few brand guidelines can be a good idea to make sure they highlight the important aspects of the product. But don’t micromanage them!
- How to measure the results
There are many ways to measure the results of your influencer marketing campaign.
At the beginning of the campaign the amount of likes, comments and shares the posts have.
But as the campaign progresses it is easy to get caught up with these metrics and forget to measure the return of sales.
Promo codes are a great way to track how many sales they generate. Unique URLs can track how many people they send to your website.
If you use branded content tools on Facebook or Instagram, you’ll get access to the insights into both feed and stories posts.
- Maintain a successful long-term relationship
Working with influencers can be so much fun or a nightmare.
Influencers know that they are rewarded for all of the hard work that they put in, so a relationship is easy to build and maintain if you set the proper ground rules and expectations at the very beginning.
A growth sector
Recent figures show that more than two out of three North American retailers engage in influencer marketing; what’s more, nearly half of all marketers in the UK and US spend at least one-tenth of their marketing budget on influencer activity, with these figures expected to grow significantly.
Successes of influencers
A survey carried out in the US found that just over one-third of regular Instagram users made a purchase as a result of a recommendation from influencers.
It may come as no surprise to learn that the platform of choice for many influencers is Instagram, with a growth area for this within its stories.
A huge benefit of this is the fact that it is possible for users with more than 10,000 followers to use the link out feature.
Stories can be used to host a link to further content, with influencers using these to direct their followers to web pages to find out more about the products they are promoting.
It would be folly to discount the other social media platforms, with Facebook and Twitter being particularly adept at facilitating influencers in their activities.
Around one-quarter of users of both platforms have made a purchase due to recommendations from an influencer or blog post.
Advantages of Influencer Marketing
As more consumers turn to online reviews when making purchasing decisions, many businesses are beginning to understand the importance of investing in a social and influencer marketing strategy.
Building trust and credibility
Influencers have built strong, loyal followings on social media because people find them inspiring and trustworthy.
As they have worked hard to establish themselves as experts within their respective niches, securing endorsements or recommendations from trusted influencers can help you to expand your reach, build your own loyal audience, and generate additional leads, sales and conversions.
Working with a credible influencer is essential. You need to know that you are appealing to an audience who will be receptive to your messaging and view your chosen influencer partnership as authentic and honest.
Promotion without overt advertising
The fact is that some advertising can come across as a bit pushy. People who follow influencers, however, have actively chosen to receive that content in their social feeds so, provided that your partnership is authentic, they are going to be interested in and open to what you can offer.
Deliver value to your audience
Influencer marketing is an ideal opportunity to demonstrate to your audience that you have something of value to offer them.
Influencer content can be uniquely valuable and insightful because they understand the needs and preferences of their audience.
By sharing the aspects of your product and/or service that will resonate most with their audience, your potential customers will find it easier to understand why what you offer is so valuable.
Additionally, as audiences trust the influencers they follow, they will view the information learned through influencer content as reliable and authentic.
Drive customer acquisition
If you partner with the right influencer, their audience will be your target audience.
The ability to appeal directly to those you most want to impress is invaluable and provides you with a unique opportunity to drive additional customer acquisitions at a faster pace.
Develop your content strategy
Consistently creating and sharing high quality, engaging content can be tricky.
If you are running low on content ideas, pursuing influencer marketing can be an excellent way to enhance your content strategy.
Influencers invest a lot of time, effort and resources into creating professional, aesthetically pleasing content.
Working with your chosen influencer to co-create content can be mutually beneficial in a variety of ways and allow for the development of a positive, on-going working relationship.
Influencer marketing is a suitable strategy for businesses of all sizes and it doesn’t need to be costly either.
The key is to approach influencers who are relevant to your niche and working closely with a social influencer management agency can help you to forge successful long-term professional partnerships.
Working with the right influencers can deliver myriad benefits for your business, making it one of the most powerful marketing channels available to businesses right now.