A decade ago, the influencer marketing arena was limited only to celebrities and a few dedicated bloggers. Now, it seems like we’ve seen social media influencers rise, saturate the market and even get caught up in fraud. If you’ve started researched on influencer marketing before, you may have found conflicting information, with recommendations that range from you should absolutely be using social influencers or that they’re not necessary for growth.
Influencer marketing strategies are more difficult to navigate than ever as a brand, but we’re here with a guide to making sense of it all. Read on for our tips to determine if influencer marketing is for you.
What is influencer marketing?
At a fundamental level, influencer marketing is a type of social media marketing that uses endorsements and product mentions from influencers–individuals who have a dedicated social following and are viewed as experts within their niche. Influencer marketing works because of the high amount of trust that social influencers have built up with their following, and recommendations from them serve as a form of social proof to your brand’s potential customers.
The value of influencer marketing
While Instagram influencer marketing is a well-known strategy, there are many other networks that are growing for influencers. According to Adweek, the industry is set to reach $10 billion in worth by 2020. Other networks like Snapchat, YouTube and TikTok have their own set of influencers with different demographics.
Influencer marketing agency Mediakix surveyed marketers at the end of 2018 to see what their feelings on influencers were for the new year.
media kix roi.
Of those surveyed, 89% said ROI from influencer marketing was comparable to or better than other networks. The same survey noted that 65% of marketers plan on increasing their budgets for 2019.
And now that you know where we’re at in the industry, let’s examine how to create an influencer strategy. To pull off an effective influencer marketing campaign you need to work with the right social media influencers.
How to find the right social media influencer in 8 easy steps
There are more than 500,000 active influencers on Instagram alone. That means you have many potential opportunities for influencer collaboration. It also means you have to put in the work to find the right influencer.
Marketers’ confidence in their ability to find the right influencer varies widely by country. In China, 81% of marketing professionals are confident they can find impactful influencers. In the United States, only 39% of marketers feel the same way.
Here are 8 key ways to find and connect with the right influencer for your campaign.
1. Consider the three Rs of influence
Influence is made up of three components:
A relevant influencer shares content relevant to your business and industry. They need to have an audience that aligns with your target market.
For example, Intrepid Travel worked with a group of vegan influencers to launch its new vegan tours. The influencers’ had a highly relevant audience that the company gained access to in an engaging and authentic way.
Reach is the number of people you could potentially reach through the influencer’s follower base.
This is the potential level of engagement the influencer can create with an audience relevant to your brand.
Bigger isn’t always better. A huge follower count is meaningless if those followers aren’t interested in your offer. And a smaller follower count can be very powerful if it’s a niche area. Niche influencers can have very dedicated and engaged followers.
Tapinfluence found that engagement rates are often higher for “micro-influencers.” Micro-influencers have 5,000 to 25,000 followers. Thirty percent of North American retailers now work with micro-influencers.
The latest development is the emergence of nano-influencers. These influencers can have as few as 1,000 followers, but their word is gold to their dedicated fans.
2. Know who you’re trying to influence
Your influencer campaign can’t be all things to all people. An effective strategy requires you to speak to the right people using the right tools. (And, in this case, the right influencers).
The first step is to define who your audience will be for this specific campaign.
Developing audience personas is a great way to make sure you understand who you’re trying to reach. Once you’ve done that, create a matching set of influencer personas. This will help you understand the qualities you’re looking for in your influencers.
3. Look for engagement and trust with the right audience
The key is trust.
Your audience must trust and respect the opinion of the influencers you partner with. Without the trust component, any results will be superficial. You’ll struggle to see a tangible business impact from your efforts.
How do you tell if your potential influencer is trusted? Engagement. You want to see plenty of views, likes, comments, and shares. Specifically, you want to see these from the precise follower segments you’re trying to reach.
A good engagement rate also means a loyal following, rather than an inflated follower count bolstered by bots and fraud accounts.
4. Go for a consistent look, feel, tone, and values
You need to find someone who’s producing content with a look and feel that complements your own.
The tone must also be appropriate for the way you want to present your brand to potential customers. This will ensure things don’t feel disjointed in either party’s social media posts.
5. Keep an eye out for sponsorship saturation
Take a look at what your potential influencers are posting. How often are they sharing sponsored content?
If they’re already hitting followers with tons of paid posts, their engagement rate may not last.
Look for plenty of organic, non-paid content to keep followers interested, enthusiastic, and engaged. Top YouTube influencers recommends only having one in every five or 10 posts sponsored.
Keep this in mind when thinking about what you’ll ask the influencer to post, as well. Asking for too many posts in a short timeframe will make your offer hard for the influencer to accept, even if it comes with a large paycheck.
6. Research and learn
In-demand influencers get lots of offers. When you first approach an influencer, you’ll need to show that you’ve put in the time to learn what they do.
Get to knows what their channels are about and who their audience is. Even better, start your approach slowly by interacting organically with your target influencer’s posts. Like their content. Comment when appropriate. Be appreciative, not salesly.
7. Plan your budget
Influencers with extensive reach rightly expect to be paid for their work. Free product might work with nano-influencers, but a larger influencer campaign requires a budget
Think about what kind of payment structure makes the most sense for your goals. But be willing to consider the influencer’s needs, too. For example, an affiliate or commission structure might be an option instead of a flat fee, or to reduce the flat fee.
We’ve outlined the various payment models in our post on how to pay Instagram influencers.
Remember that micro-influencers and nano-influencers will have more flexible payment terms.
8. Reach out privately, and personally
A direct message is a great place to start. If you can find an email address, try that too. But don’t send a mass email or generic DM.
It may take a little longer to write a personal message to each influencer. But, it will show you’re serious about a potential partnership. This will in turn increase your chances of striking a deal.
In the wake of the Fyre Festival fiasco, influencers want to know that the brands they work with are legitimate and well-intentioned.
“I definitely do as much research as I can,” Kendall Jenner told the New York Times about her involvement with the legendarily doomed festival. “But sometimes there isn’t much research you can do because it’s a starting brand and you kind of have to have faith in it and hope it will work out the way people say it will.”
Make it easier for influencers to trust you by providing as much information as you can about your brand. Tell them what you hope to accomplish with your Instagram campaign. Make it clear how the influencer will benefit, beyond the paycheck.
Be willing to give up some creative control
A social media influencer who has worked hard to build a following will not accept a deal that makes their own personal brand seem inconsistent. After all, influencers are content creation experts. You’ll get the best value from their work by allowing them to showcase those skills.
Boost credibility with influencer messaging on your own channels
You can also share or cross-post content from influencers on your own channels. This helps highlight the collaboration and benefits both your brand and the influencer.
Measure your results
When you launch your influencer campaign, it can be tempting to focus on vanity metrics like likes and comments. If your influencer has a much larger following than you do, you might feel a little dazzled by the sheer number of likes that can rack up.
But to measure the effectiveness of a campaign, you have to understand its value in terms of return on investment.
UTM parameters are one way to track the visitors an influencer sends to your website. They can also help measure how much engagement the campaign receives.
When you assign each influencer their own unique links with UTM codes, you’ll get a clear picture of the results. That allows you to calculate the impact on your bottom line.
You should also request that the influencer send you detailed reports on the reach and engagement levels of their posts. This is especially important for Snapchat and Instagram Stories, where engagement happens out of the public view.
Check out our influencers registry featuring Africa’s and Kenya’s top social media influencers you can work with on your campaign.
Are you an influencer? Join our Registry.