For any company hoping to get into the influencer marketing game, there are some important considerations to keep in mind.
Knowing the rules, bending those rules and avoiding the less effective side of this type of marketing can help develop a successful influencer campaign and generate more conversions.
This guide provides the advice for getting started and using this strategy to your advantage.
From Word-of-Mouth to Social Buzz
Word-of-mouth marketing is the primary factor behind 20 to 50 percent of all purchasing decisions. This type of marketing also generates more than twice the sales of paid advertising, and these word-of-mouth customers have a 37 percent higher retention rate. So its value has been proven, even when the way the message is delivered has changed.
The spread of marketing through recommendations and physical interactions slowly transitioned to an online way of communicating. Soon, a conversation with a few people became a virtual conversation with hundreds of followers. Influencers went from being people we trusted in real life to creative people skilled at expressing something online.
Now, marketing takes place on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and in other online interactions. The expansion of places to engage with brands and other customers opened a new realm of discussion and word-of-mouth marketing.
Social media is now a place of important selling opportunities and lead generation. Social platforms are the primary places influencer marketing has revolutionized the marketing industry because of the expanse of audience and instant resonance.
4 Steps to Choosing an Influencer
If you’ve decided you want to dive into using influencer marketing, your first priority is to choose your influencers. This requires confident knowledge about who your customers are, who you are trying to reach and what you want to say with an influencer campaign.
The best way to discover the perfect influencer for your brand is to find the influencers your audience is already listening to. The inverse of this would be to find an influencer aligned with your values and see if their audience is one you have interest in reaching.
Ultimately, you’ll want to look for these following four elements in an influencer:
- Number of Followers: Obviously, the more followers an influencer has, the better. You want to find someone with a well-established audience base, not someone starting from scratch. A growing audience is always a good sign, but stagnation is a sure way to never grow your brand through this influencer.
- Brand Affinity: This is the combination of your influencer’s expertise in your industry and credibility as a source. You want to find an influencer who knows your space well or has expressed interest in learning more and has a credibility with followers.
- Strength of Relationship: Numbers aren’t everything. If your influencer is great at interacting with his followers, you can depend on him to cultivate a conversation around your products or services. If he never responds to followers or receives comments and replies from his audience, he probably isn’t as connected as you need in an influencer.
- Experience: An influencer who has prior experience with other brands can be a good place to start. However, if all this influencer does is promote brands, his followers might be immune to it. Look for a balance of experience and authenticity.
Major active wear corporation Adidas is executing influencer marketing with a certain grace and timeliness. Their newest ad campaign, known as “Here to Create,” uses 16 female influencers, varying in race, expertise and fandom.
These are women who use their Instagram accounts to display their active lifestyles and connect with their fans. Adidas capitalized on this by integrating the modern focus on women’s rights with the fun element of an Instagram account. Altogether, the campaign showcases strong women creatively inspiring others to get moving and maybe use Adidas as their preferred active wear.
Maintaining the Relationship
Once you have determined who might be appropriate influencers, it’s important to establish the role they will play in your marketing. You can start by prioritizing them. You might also find that different influencers will provide different things.
You might find an influencer on the outskirts of your industry, but you can bring him in to experience your product or service for the first time like a real first-time customer. This is a great way to show the process of getting acquainted with your company.
So rank your influencers on how much impact they will have on your various campaigns, then reach out to see if they will participate. The key to reaching out is to explain everything about what you are looking for in clear terms.
This requires that you have a plan for your campaign that involves an influencer and one that doesn’t in case she doesn’t agree. But presenting the plan with her involvement shows her you’ve thought about how valuable she is to your company.
If she does agree, and the campaign goes well, always thank her personally and perhaps in a follow-up to the campaign whether it’s in your email newsletter, a post on LinkedIn or a Tweet. Gratitude goes a long way and will likely entice the influencer to work with you in the future.
As useful as this technique seems, influencer marketing does come with some financial caveats. A few marketers see this ploy as nothing more than paid advertising. While that can be true, if done correctly, influencer marketing is more than paying a social media activist with several followers to be a glorified spokesperson.
If possible, try to gain an influencer who will partner with your company for free. Your offer might give them exposure they are looking for as well, so there wouldn’t need to be any exchange of funds. The best influencers are the ones that aren’t paid to say what you tell them, but are ones that speak about something they actually believe in.
This takes convincing of the influencer about the value of your product. If you are doing your job as a marketer and treating an influencer relationship with respect, this shouldn’t be a problem.
Another way around paying an influencer is to provide your product or service for free. Adidas surely gave those 16 women some of their branded product to feature in their Instagram posts. Doing this gives away only one unit of your offering at a loss with the potential to bring in hundreds of conversions.
If you do end up paying an influencer, make sure the way they contribute to your campaign or integrate your offering into their work is natural. There is nothing worse than a flashing disclaimer declaring the following post was paid advertising.
To calculate the returns of your influencer investment, simply track how much you are putting toward the use of an influencer, then track the conversions and leads that come directly from the social selling traffic.
Related Article: How to Approach Social Media Influencers
Making the Most of Your Influencer Campaign
If you think your inbound marketing is on par with the best, but you’re looking for something new to give your marketing strategy an edge, you might try influencer marketing.
Many brands are turning to Internet stars, social media juggernauts and industry leaders to assist them with their marketing. Some publishers and platforms even have agencies that connect brands and influencers, like Twitter’s partnership with Niche or The New York Times acquisition of HelloSociety.
Don’t get misled by a potential influencer, don’t lose customers with low-quality influencing and don’t get lost in the influencer marketing game. To make the most of your campaign, follow this guide.