Influencer marketing is a hot subject for businesses these days. Major brands regularly engage social media celebrities to help them promote their products. But, most small businesses don’t have the big bucks to invest in it.
So, does influencer marketing work?
Influencer marketing is a marketing method that involves reaching out to an influential online personality/content creator who has a large fan following in a specific niche industry, and then paying them (or compensating them with free materials) to promote your products or services.
By sponsoring the influencer to create unique content around your product or service, you get to increase your promotional reach through their base. The practice is similar to what happens when major brands partner with A-list celebrities and models to be the face of the brand and endorse them.
Influencer marketing does something akin but on a much smaller scale. Additionally, an online influencer would charge much less than an A-list celebrity – making the influencer marketing campaign much more affordable.
Almost all social media platforms can host some form of influencer marketing, but the main three are YouTube, Instagram and Blogs. The marketing component of the sponsored content generally takes on one of two popular formats.
Obviously, this process can differ depending on what you’re trying to achieve, and influencer in question, but here’s a general idea of how it works.
Like any marketing campaign, it starts with “who are my ideal customers and where are they”? do a survey of all your social channels; find out what peaking your audience interest, which channels are they active on and compare the data with your brand, the products or services you want to offer.
Different social platforms attract different types of audiences, so make sure the product you’re trying to promote reaches the right audience on the right channel. If you already have a Social Media Strategy in place, try and align your influencer campaign with your social media goals.
Once you’ve settled on which platform to promote on, it’s time to begin researching for the most influential users and whether your target audience follows them. For example, on Instagram you can find influencers with the “Search & Explore” feature (location + hash tag), you’ll find content from users you don’t follow.
It’s also important to look at what kind of content they’re posting and the degree of engagement they receive such as number of followers, likes, comments, and shares from the target audience in question.
Once you’ve found an influencer that appears to be a good fit for your product, it’s time to reach out. If the influencer is keen to work with you, you will need to start discussing rates for producing and promoting content.
This is the stage where you need to settle on the promotion specifics, timelines, method of payment, and provide access to the products which they will promote. Some retail companies provide discount codes for influencers to share with their flowers. Not only does this make the product more attractive to new customers, but it provides a way for the company to track the success rate of the promotion.
By this point, the influencer has created the content and posted it. They have been compensated for their work, the company has reached a new audience with positive results.
Influencer campaigns are generally more profitable for small businesses and niche products. By associating with someone who already has credibility with a select audience, you’re business is tapping into that credibility. You get to market your products to a whole new audience and increase engagement about it. Additionally, an influencer campaign is also seen as more authentic than say paid ads, and is a great way of increasing brand awareness without it appearing as an advertisement.
Nowadays, customers are extremely cynical about traditional forms of marketing methods and paid ads can sometimes come across as spam and pop-ups. An influencer campaign is an alternative, semi-organic way, friendly way of reaching out to customers. Getting an influencer to endorse your product with their followers also creates a sense of credibility for first time buyers.
Even if you have matched the perfect product with the perfect influencer, audience, social channel etc. there’s no guaranteeing you’ll receive positive results. It also seems to work better for companies selling consumer products, and not services.
Finding and matching influencers that mesh well with your brand and engaging with new audiences is hard work. The research involved is time consuming and can be very easy to get wrong. Small businesses that are thinking of implementing an influencer marketing campaign have to make sure that every stage of the campaign has been meticulously planned and backed by research to avoid wasting time and money.
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