Unless you have just discovered the internet, you will almost certainly have heard the term “influencer marketing” before. According to www.influencermarketinghub.com, “an influencer has the power to affect the purchasing decisions of others because of his or her authority, knowledge, position, or relationship with his or her audience”. Once considered an anomaly of the internet, forward-thinking businesses have long since woken up to the massive – and by extension lucrative – audiences and followers that these influencers yield. Read on to discover the steps to successful influencer marketing.
What is Influencer Marketing?
In one form or another, influencer marketing has been around for a long time. This is because good marketers know that we tend to buy off people we know like and trust. For example, Michael Jordan was influencing us to buy Nike Air’s long before the internet even existed at scale.
Partnering with a Social Media Influencer
Approached like any marketing campaign, whether on or offline, engaging influencers can certainly boost your online presence and brand awareness, and even product sales.
Step 1: Set SMART goals
You heard it a million times, but you must ensure that you have a goal that is specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely (google ‘Smart goals’ for more on this acronym!).
Before you even begin to reach out to potential collaborators, determine what it is you are looking to achieve. Is your goal to increase your own followers and grow your own social media presence? In this case, it would be wise to engage an influencer that is successful and on the same platform as you. Ideally, influencer marketing will form part of your greater social media strategy.
Step 2: Find the right influencer size and subject (niche)
Let’s look at the different sizes of influencers:
- Mega-influencers: 1 million or more followers and may double as celebrities
- Macro-influencers: Have between 100,000 and 1 million followers
- Micro-influencers: Generally have between 1,000 and 100,000 followers and tend to have high engagement and specialized knowledge
- Nano-influencers: Often have fewer than 1,000 followers and likely focus on an exclusive or defined niche.
For example, a local Gold Coast bakery may have no need for a mega influencer. Instead, they may want to approach a local micro-influencer. – such as a well known Gold Coast foodie. This is someone who will have a smaller, but more niche and engaged audience who will actually be able to visit the outlet and have a love of food. There is no point engaging an influencer that has followers from the USA if your product is not available online or for global delivery! Conversely, ff you are a musician or author, this may be less of an issue!
Step 3: Do your due diligence!
Once you have narrowed down the influencers that you plan to open a conversation with. The next step is to ensure that they are who they say they are. What sort of information do they have on their social media channels? Is there a telephone number that you can call? (if so – call it!)? How long have they had the account, what do they post and how regularly?
Pro Tip: There are countless fake accounts out there. Recognising the power of ‘social proof’ (and potential for paid collaborations) many people have paid for fake followers and likes. If your influencer has a whopping 150,000 followers but is only getting a few comments or likes on their content, unfollow them!
Also, check the comments are real comments and not bot comments (basically automated comments that read generically e.g. “I love your content’ or “great job”. 99% of the time this means that at best a very unengaged and apathetic following, but more likely – the following is fake altogether. Move on.
Step 4: Pitch it!
It is important to have a clear idea of your marketing spend before you pitch to an influencer. It goes without saying that smaller, micro and nano-influencers will generally be cheaper and more eager to engage, but you still want to be professional. Resist the temptation to do pro-bono exchanges with them. When you pay, you are being professional and respecting their efforts and skills. Likewise, as a paying customer, you can expect professionalism in return.
In this vein, it is important to know precisely what your budget is and over what time frame you are going to allocate this spend. Rather than one large sum, you might want to allocate a certain figure a month and be clear about what you expect to receive in return for this.
Step 5: Determine a creative content strategy!
Once you have found the right partner, don’t be lazy and leave the creativity and ideas all to the Influencer. Whilst they will likely have great ideas (and you want to listen to this), they are not mind readers! Have a look at the influencers previous posts and see what they seem to do well and what the audience response has been. For example, if you have a beauty product – then you may decide that a make-up tutorial by a beauty influencer raving about your product is the way to go. Another method could be an ‘unboxing video’ (this is simply when they unpack your product online and give their ‘first’ impressions).
It all depends on your goals, the industry you influencer type and the platform. If your influencer has a fantastic podcast, it may be enough for him to tell them about you and offer a discount when they use the podcasters name or something.
Pro Tip: The key is, get creative and align this with what the influencer does well. A boring shout out might not do it. Make sure it is creative and as always, create great content!
Step 6: Test and Measure.
Like any campaign (on or offline), you need to test and measure the results of the collaboration and marketing spend. Do NOT just set and forget. Know when the posts will be made, know what metrics to look out for. Finally, have regularly pre-planned catch ups with the influencer so that you can determine results and next steps.
Final thought: Build Trust!
Let’s face it, it’s a strange world. There are tweens with millions of followers and we might never understand how or why! But behind every (real) account is a real person, a person who has likely spent years of effort building their following. So find an influencer you genuinely like – and then work to build a long term mutually beneficial relationship based on trust. As they say in marketing, it is not what you do once that makes difference, but what you consistently do over time, and this is especially true of any successful influencer marketing campaign.