In digital marketing, the purpose of using social media is to convey your messages to a large audience of online consumers—who already spend a considerable amount of their time online and specifically in the social media space. Algorithms limiting the amount of social media users who see business’ content pose a barrier to this goal, thus why content engagement becomes so critical. But what if you had help from someone who is in a better position than you are to encourage engagement? Such is the idea behind influencer marketing.
What is influencer marketing?
As an umbrella term, influencer marketing refers to the practice of using content creators with strong followings to improve your brand/product awareness and drive customer leads in the process. Brand influencers typically exist in a certain niche, which ideally should be one that applies to your product or services.
This “content creation” can be in the form of social media posts, blogs, podcasts, TV and even print ads and can range from celebrities to stay-at-home parents. However, for our purposes, we are going to focus on influencer marketing as it pertains to social media.
Social media influencers have an already-established significant social presence. That being the case, they have the ability to expose your brand to numbers of potential followers—more than you could do from your page alone.
It’s important to note that for an influencer to be effective, he or she must portray similar interests and values to what you are promoting. In other words, it should be a fit that makes sense. You probably wouldn’t want a teenage fashion blogger advocating for your potty training book, for example.
Why is influencer marketing effective?
Think of influencer marketing as a mutually beneficial relationship.
When working with an influencer as a brand, you are having someone advocate on your behalf. This someone has already established credibility within his or her niche market and therefore has followers seeking those word-of-mouth opinions about products and services.
In today’s review-driven digital landscape, consumers trust these opinions more than ever. In fact, 92 percent of consumers say they trust word-of-mouth recommendations above all else.
How do the influencers benefit? You’re providing them inspiration for fresh content to share with their followers. Depending on the way the relationship is structured, the influencer may also be receiving monetary or material compensation in return (more on that below).
Working with a brand influencer also gives you the opportunity to have your message broadcast from a fresh perspective. Sometimes your own ideas about how to frame your messaging can get stale, so it helps to have an outsider’s point of view. An influencer can put a new, creative spin on things. In addition, because influencers work on your behalf, it takes some of the burden off of your own marketing efforts.
Circling back—the number one reason to work with an influencer is: exposure! You may have a couple hundred followers on your business’ social page, but a credible influencer likely has thousands (if not more). This equates to more eyeballs on your content.
What does the influencer relationship look like?
There are several ways a brand influencer relationship can be structured, and it comes down to determining which best aligns with the goals you have for working with an influencer in the first place. Here are a few suggestions:
- Gift your product or service. Offer to send influencers samples of what you are selling in exchange for them promoting it on their page (and tagging you as well). This is one of the most common (and easiest) ways of working with an influencer.
- Give discounts in exchange for shout outs. If you do not want to give it away completely for free, you can offer discounts in exchange for shout outs.
- Set up a giveaway featuring your product. Instead of giving the product/service to the influencers, ask them to set up a contest on their pages for which the winners will receive your product/service. The influencer will benefit from engagement, while you’ll benefit from brand exposure.
- Organize a product demo. Work with your influencer to set up a demo of him or her trying your product. The most effective way to do this is with video; however, a blog post in which the influencer describes his or her experience could work as well.
- Pay cash for product posts. This may not be the most budget friendly of the ways to cultivate an influencer relationship, but depending on who you work with, it may be worth it.
- Offer commission. This is a more formal type of influencer relationship, which could be described as a “brand ambassador” or “brand affiliate.” In this structure, the influencer would receive commission based on sales that he or she reigned in.
So how do you find an influencer?
Finding an influencer who will work well for your brand can be as simple as logging onto Instagram and searching for a specific hashtag. For instance, #pottytraining, #pottytrainingadvice or even #momblogger could work for our previous example. There are also websites designed to match up brands with influencers, such as buzzsumo.com, zoomph.com and izea.com.
As it turns out, sometimes influencers will find you! Check your inbox for collaboration requests. However, beware of spam requests as you do this.
Influencer marketing can be a win-win situation for both your brand and your collaborator. Heightened exposure, fresh perspectives and extended credibility are all benefits that working with an influencer can afford you.
McNutt & Partners is a full-service advertising and digital marketing agency. Contact us today for your marketing needs! Call 334-521-1010, or visit our contact page.