Do you understand your brand? Here’s how to choose the best influencers

Welcome to our masterclass. Please, be seated. 

What is influencer marketing?

We can describe influencer marketing as a form of social media marketing involving endorsements and product placement from influencers, people, and organizations who have a purported expert level of knowledge or social influence in their field. We went over this definition in ‘CEO’ and other words you’ve been misusing. There is more. 

Influencers are people with the power to affect the buying habits or quantifiable actions of others by uploading some form of original – often sponsored – content to social media platforms like Instagram, YouTube, Snapchat, or other online channels. Influencer marketing is when a brand enrolls influencers who have established credibility and audience on social media platforms to discuss or mention the brand in a social media post.

Simply, influencers influence – what other people think or do. But the above definitions are important because confusion often surrounds the meaning of these buzzwords. A decade ago, influencer marketing was limited to only celebrities and a few dedicated bloggers. Yet, one of the biggest mistakes that traditional media makes is a failure to see the difference between celebrities and online influencers. Today, we are witnessing the rise and saturation of social media influencers. What distinguishes them from everybody else?

The Influencer Marketing Hub defines an influencer as being someone who 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.
  • a following in a distinct niche, with whom he or she actively engages. The size of the following depends on the size of his/her topic of the niche.

Why does influencer marketing work?

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. 

In 7 surefire ways to sell to a Gen Z, we mentioned that Gen Zs prefer authenticity, so they are most impacted by their peers. Deep Patel (serial entrepreneur, marketer, and bestselling author) wrote for Forbes, “Influencer marketing has become extremely popular for targeting younger demographics. Influencers appear more genuine, they carry their loyal audiences and the content they produce tends to outperform the content most brands create internally”.

Today’s consumers are increasingly skeptical of brands and their marketing tactics – commercial and social media ads. However, they trust that if their influencer of choice loves a product, they will too. Indeed, only 1% of millennials trust advertisements. However, 33% of them trust blog reviews for their purchases. Around 40% of people reported that they purchased a product online after seeing it used by an influencer on YouTube, Instagram, or Twitter. According to a study by Tomoson, influencer marketing yields a $6.50 return on investment for every dollar spent.

The Instagram influencer market was set to reach $10 billion in worth by 2020, according to Adweek. Influencer marketing agency Mediakix surveyed marketers at the end of 2018 to see what they felt about influencers. 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.

Today, more than two-thirds of North American retailers use some form of influencer marketing. And almost half of US and UK digital marketers spend at least 10% of their marketing communication budget on influencer marketing.

How do you create an influencer marketing strategy?

Influencer marketing strategies may take many forms. You may give free products and services to an influencer in exchange for a review or mention. You may run a contest or giveaway in collaboration with an influencer. You may organize an influencer takeover – allow them to take control of your social media accounts for a set amount of time. You may do a guest post on an influencer’s blog. The most common however is social media mentions. That is, you pay an influencer to mention your brand, share your content, or post about you. 

Whichever form of influencer marketing you choose; you would need to pay attention to the following. Here are the important considerations for an influencer marketing campaign: 

  • Research

Research is the first step. You would need to decide on a platform for your campaign, one where you already have a presence. The industry you are in also matters to your strategy. For instance, beauty and fashion brands dominate Instagram and YouTube. Next, look into the type of influencers you are interested in. Are you going for celebrities with massive followings? Or micro-influencers with less than 2000 followers? Whatever you decide to focus on will determine your budget.

You would need to think about the expected ROI of your influencer marketing campaign. How will you assess the contributions of influencer posts to your overall marketing goals?

  • Budget and management 

You would need to factor in time for planning, executing, and review. Influencers are humans who often have multiple commitments. They may fail to post on time, they make errors in requested tags, or call to action. A successful influencer marketing campaign, therefore, requires careful monitoring and follow-up.

  • Goals and messages

While you don’t want to stifle an influencer’s creativity and uniqueness, you also don’t want them to post about something unrelated to your campaign. The usual objectives of influencer marketing are to elevate brand awareness and increase sales. You would need to decide what your specific needs are. Do you want to popularize a new product? Do you want to increase your customer base, or access a younger demographic? 

  • Contacting influencers

How do you discover the right influencers to work with? What should your due diligence process comprise? First, confirm that the influencer already posts about similar things to your service. An influencer should help you reach very specific audiences. They should guarantee a targeted audience who is likely to be interested in your product. 

Second, confirm that they have worked with similar brands before. Some influencers may show you a portfolio of their work. Third, confirm that they are legit. Scroll through their feed and click through their posts. Do they have a poor engagement ratio to follower count? Do they have spam-like comments on their posts? These are signs of a fraudulent account. 

If you are satisfied with this process, you may then determine how you will reach out to them. Micro-influencers may easily be reached via a private message. Established influencers however may list contact information for business inquiries in their bio.

What does not work in influencer marketing?

A generalized approach that includes different influencers does not work. One size does not fit all influencers. Influencer marketing should be specific. Secondly, simply considering the popularity of the influencer does not work. Influence and popularity are not the same. Your goal is to elicit action from your customers. Remember that to do so, these customers must respect the credibility of these influencers within the niche. 

In ‘CEO’ and other words you’ve been misusing, we noted that followers and bomb pictures are not enough. Influencers aren’t just popular people. No knowledge of or social influence in the market = no influencing. Whatever you decide, remember that the influencer market isn’t going away anytime soon. And when it is done properly, it is a great channel to earn credibility, gain exposure, and embrace your audience in an authentic voice that provokes action. 

In the words of marketing guru Seth Godin, “People do not buy goods and services. They buy relations, stories, and magic.”


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