What is Influencer Marketing and Can It Help Explode My Business?
What exactly is Influencer Marketing? It wasn't so long ago when "influencer" was not a job title. Now there are countless influencers making anything from spending money to a full-time income that would make a lawyer jealous. However, they're not the only ones who are benefiting.
Those influencers are using their swagger and expertise to promote someone else's products and services. The good news is businesses are seeing a big return. This is what you need to know about influencer marketing and how it can help your business explode.
What Is Influencer Marketing?
An influencer is someone who is connected to a lot of people online. Influencers have already developed a trusting relationship with people online. They also have a giant email list or a lot of Instagram followers who turn to them for advice or inspiration.
This is where an influencer shines... it's their area of expertise.
Many of these influencers are already doing their own thing. For example, they're moms talking about parenting, cooks sharing their recipes, fitness enthusiasts and trainers explaining their workout routines. They've already got the attention of people who are interested in the same thing.
This is where you come in. Maybe you sell car seats. Or kitchen appliances. Or meal replacement shakes. You connect with that popular Instagram star and ask them to promote your product. Or perhaps you notice that they already use your product, and you would like them to commit to it further—and you're willing to pay them to do so.
These promotions happen in a variety of ways. The influencer might use your product and make it a part of their lifestyle. For example, you see your car seats or blenders showing up in lots of posts. However, this may be because the influencer uses it all the time. In other cases, he or she might make a one-time special post about a product or a deal you have going on.
How Do I Find An Influencer?
The idea is to use that influencer's influence to increase your own brand awareness, and drive traffic to your site, ultimately increasing your sales.
There are different types of influencers. Some companies start ambassador programs. Anyone can apply, but only the ones who meet the criteria will be accepted. The criteria may involve certain lifestyle habits and choices or a particular number of followers. These companies may have hundreds or thousands of brand ambassadors promoting their products across multiple channels.
In other cases, you seek out the individuals you'd like to represent you, and you make them an offer to do so. You might work with one influencer or 10. Compensation may come in the form of free products, commissions on purchases made by following that influencer's special link, or a traditional paycheck.
Are You Sure Influencer Marketing Isn't Shady?
It certainly can be, though it's not meant to be. Legally, it's not allowed to be.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) requires people to disclose any affiliation they may have with the companies whose products they promote. If you give a free product in exchange for being mentioned in a blog post or talked about on social media, the influencer must explain that agreement. If you pay for a post, that arrangement must be disclosed. You'll notice hashtags like #ad, #spon or #sponsored that indicate there was some compensation involved. Also, other posts may use statements like, "I received this product for free in exchange for my review" or "The company gave me this product to try."
This information can change the way a follower sees the product. However, consumers have the right to know whether the influencer they trust is promoting a weight loss shake because it truly worked for them, or if it's because a business paid them to do it.
That doesn't always mean they'll say, "Oh, she's getting paid for this, so it must not really work." Responsible influencers share products they believe in. If the followers have a long-term relationship with that influencer, they'll already know that...but, if the influencer is pushing a new product every week without offering some sort of value (either in terms of information or, at the very least, a discount on said product), followers will probably stop following, anyway.
Be Honest About Your Influencer Marketing Relationship
Sure, there are companies out there who ask people not to disclose the fact that they received a free product in exchange for a review, for example. If you stand behind your product, you should have no trouble admitting that you're using influencers as a marketing tool. It's a common practice, and that's because it works.
#InfluencerMarketing for every budget! You don't need an influencer with hundreds of thousands of followers. Who you work with depends upon what you're selling, engagement, & the audience you're trying to reach. #growthandprofitability
You can be fined for not complying with FTC guidelines, as can your influencer. Be honest about the business / influencer relationship. And only work with influencers who follow through with that honesty on their end. Don't just assume they'll do it, even though they should know they're supposed to. Ask them to do it when you make your arrangement. That's it. It won't detract from your return.
Who Should Use Influencer Marketing?
Although huge brands like Marriott, Sprint, and H&M use influencer marketing, it's not just for big businesses. You don't have to get a celebrity on board to be successful with this strategy.
There are influencers with all levels of influence, and who you work with depends upon what you're selling and who you're trying to reach.
If you're a local business, you'll want to connect with local influencers. Maybe you own a hardware store, and there happens to be a mechanic in town who regularly posts DIY videos and has a steady local following. Making a deal with him or her to use the tools you carry and talk about where to find them could drive more local customers to your store.
At the end of the day, if you offer your products or services to a nationwide audience, you want your influencer to have the same reach.
Is Influencer Marketing Really Effective?
Is it ever. Take a look...
If you're not doing it yet, I think it's time to get on board.
So you're probably wondering...
WHERE DO I START??
As with any marketing strategy, you need a game plan. What are you hoping to accomplish with influencer marketing and how do you plan to measure your success?
There are lots of ways to track the effectiveness of your influencer marketing, including affiliate links and promo codes unique to that influencer—when a customer uses them, you know your influencer is responsible for that sale. Google Analytics can also help you track visitors to your site that came from a particular influencer.
From there, choosing the right influencer is key: 61% of marketers say that's the biggest challenge.
This is what you need to look for:
9 Keys to finding the Perfect Influencer to Promote Your Stuff:
1. High-Quality Content
The influencer should already be posting regularly. Photos and videos should be appealing, information should be accurate and useful. The best influencers post valuable content on a daily basis, sometimes more than once.
Audiences most love influencers that are "...honest, funny, open, willing to call it like I see it." This is what builds trust between followers and the followed.
Authenticity works in two ways for your purposes: you want to make sure the account has real followers, not fake ones. It's possible to buy followers, so if you see an account with thousands or even millions of followers, but you notice their posts don't get very many likes or comments, those followers are probably fake.
You want influencers who are carrying on a conversation with their followers. Do their posts gets comments, not just likes? Are they responding to those comments?
Depending upon your product, you may want to avoid (or intentionally choose) controversial people. Some accounts have huge followings because the influencer is genuinely liked. Sure, anyone on top of their game will get some hate messages, but you want to work with someone who is generally well-received.
Other accounts are popular because of controversial viewpoints, maybe on a wide variety of topics. People on both sides of an issue follow these people and stir up big arguments in the comments. Associating with this person could completely alienate potential customers.
However, this can go both ways. If you make vegan frozen meals, you'll want to work with vegan influencers—even though some outspoken carnivores may try to make trouble in the comments section. You're not marketing to the carnivores anyway, so it doesn't matter so much. However, collaborating with a vegan who also has widely known and often-shared political views may serve to turn off any vegan followers who have the opposite viewpoint.
It can be a balancing act, so you need to take a close look at the influencer's content, how you fit in, and who you're reaching when you work with that person.
5. Brand Alignment
Does your product really fit that influencer's lifestyle? Does it make sense for that person to promote you? Sure, an Instagram model who focuses primarily on formal wear may go hiking sometimes, and shoes are definitely a part of fashion, but you'd be better off finding an outdoorsy person to promote your hiking boots, even if that person doesn't have as many followers.
6. Audience Alignment
Instagram is popular for influencer marketing, but does your target audience use that platform? If not, you need to find an influencer where your potential customers hang out online. Don't overlook YouTube, Facebook, and personal blogs.
A top fitness influencer is probably already working with a brand of leggings and supplements. Make sure the person you want to work with hasn't already promoted one of your top competitors.
Celebrities and other high-level influencers will millions of followers will be more expensive (It's reported that Kylie Jenner makes more than $1 million per post.) Don't overlook micro-influencers with smaller followings: they often have closer relationships with their followers and will cost you a lot less. Free products alone may not be enough to entice the best influencers, depending upon the product and whether or not it's something they really want to incorporate into their lives. Commissions on sales or a flat rate are typically better ways to compensate your influencers.
More than 7 in 10 influencers say a company's failure to offer adequate compensation is the biggest problem they face when working with businesses. Approach influencer marketing the way you would other types of marketing: it's going to cost some money, but it's going to be worth it.
A written agreement is essential. How often do you want the influencer to post? What type of content is acceptable? Are they things you don't want them to be posting as long as they are affiliated with you? How long will you work together?
Be clear, but not too restrictive: a quarter of influencers will reject opportunities if they feel the guidelines restrict them too much. They need the space to post content that is consistent with their own personal brand. If they swear in every post, for a somewhat extreme example, asking them not to swear in yours might be too much of a deviation from what their followers expect. If you don't want swearing associated with your brand, you might need to look for another influencer in that case.
The influencer marketing industry could reach $10 billion by 2022. Are you going to be a part of it? To find out, book a consultation with Growth & Profitability. Your business needs a custom marketing approach, and we can help you determine if and how influencer marketing fits your budget and your goals.
You don't have to navigate the ins and outs of influencer marketing on your own. This is what we do, and you can leverage our expertise to take your business to the next level. Visit us on our website at dfyunlimited.com.