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Influencer Marketing: Everything You Need to Know

Influencer marketing is not a fad. It’s the way of the future.

According to Google, 70% of teenage YouTube subscribers say that they can relate to stars on the platform better compared to traditional celebrities. You can observe the same effect from Twitter users, where nearly 40% of users say they’ve bought a product that was promoted by an influencer.

It is clear that Influencers have power over their followers.

And it’s for this very reason why different brands are now looking into influencer marketing to promote their products and services.

But what is influencer marketing exactly?

Whether you’re an entrepreneur or an affiliate marketer, this is one concept you’ll need to understand if you want to make money online.

In this post, you’ll learn everything there is to know about influencer marketing, including:

  • What influencer marketing is all about
  • How effective it is
  • What makes it work
  • How to get the right influencer for your brand
  • How to collaborate with an influencer

What Is Influencer Marketing?

Put simply; influencer marketing refers to collaborations between a merchant and an influencer to promote products or services.

However, you must be wondering: What makes someone an influencer?

An influencer is anyone who has command over their audience. As the name suggests, they have the power to influence their followers into taking action like buying a product, signing up for a service, or promoting the influencer’s content to people they know.

As to why these followers would do all these things, it all boils down to one thing — trust.

Unlike traditional celebrities that we see on movies and television, people see most influencers as relatable and accessible. A typical influencer would grow their followers on social media platforms and through vlogs/blogs. They post consistently about topics that matter to their audience.

Entrepreneurs work with influencers to reach their target audience. While network television can help them reach out to a particular demographic, influencer marketing can get even more specific.

You see, every influencer has a specific niche. If the influencer is a renowned photographer, those who follow him or her would likely be into photography as well. Therefore, a camera apparel company would be better off promoting their product on the photographer’s social media account.

How Effective Is Influencer Marketing?

In theory, influencer marketing should work. But what about in practice?

Are there real-life examples of influencer marketing? How effective is it?

Fortunately, there are several examples of influencer marketing at work, thanks to case studies published by MediaKix, an influencer marketing agency.

And not only do we see which brands used affiliate marketing, but we also see how they were able to help bring awareness to their products.

Dunkin’ Donuts on Instagram (now Dunkin’)

Dunkin’ is so synonymous with doughnuts that it’s easy to forget that they have other offerings.

The doughnut chain wanted to remind people that they have a great selection of coffee products as well. That’s why they launched their “Sipping is Believing” campaign.

What makes this campaign distinct from other social media ads is that they’ve chosen to work with nano-influencers, which are people who have anywhere from 1,000 to 10,000 followers.

influencer marketing - how effective - dunkin instagram

The company also wanted to appeal to the younger generation, which—as we all know—spend a bulk of their time online.

So they reached out to Instagram influencers who appealed to Millenials.

Most of the Instagram users operate under the lifestyle category. So most of the promotions placed Dunkin’s coffee as a lifestyle choice.

The campaign was able to target 1,136,000 users and garnered an overall engagement rate of 5.2%.

influencer marketing - how effective - rievictoriaaoki

They received over 20,000 likes and 965 comments.

Playstation VR on YouTube

As big as the gaming category is today, virtual reality (VR) gaming is still in its infancy. With that being the case, Sony decided to reach out to the younger generation to introduce the Playstation VR, their virtual reality headset.

Aside from increasing awareness, the company wanted to drive their engagement with their Canadian account and bridge the gap between techies and gamers.

influencer marketing - how effective - psvr instagram

So how did they do it?

Sony reached out to micro- and nano-influencers on both Instagram and YouTube. The influencers then posted one to two posts specific to the campaign. Posts included images and videos.

To spread the word, all influencers used hashtags like #psvr, #playstationvr, and #itriedpsvr.

The results?

Nine posts in total managed to reach 200,000+ on Instagram and 940,000+ on YouTube.

influencer marketing - how effective - psvr youtube

On YouTube, the company saw 28,000 views and got 1,324 likes. The engagement rate came to 3.19%.

GymShark on TikTok

TikTok rose to prominence in 2018, and ever since, brands have been finding ways to showcase their products on this platform.

Fitness is one of the most popular topics on TikTok, which is an excellent fit for GymShark, a fitness brand. By working with influencers on the platform, the company was hoping their message would resonate with TikTok users.

influencer marketing - how effective - gymshark66

GymShark launched its 66 Days: Change Your Life challenge. The idea was to upload a photo and share a personal fitness goal. Sixty-six days after the campaign’s launch, those who participated had to upload their current photos for a chance to win a year’s supply of GymShark products.

So how did GymShark perform?

They targeted 19.8 million fans on TikTok and got 1,916,400 likes (or hearts as they referred to on the platform). There were 12,576 comments and an engagement rate of 11.11%.

influencer marketing - how effective - gymshark tiktok

The hashtag #gymshark66 got 45.5 million views.

Snapchat on Instagram

Snapchat wanted to bring back users who have migrated to their rival, Instagram. To do so, they tried to position themselves as a “real-life” product, meaning photos and videos on the platform are more authentic than on others.

influencer marketing - how effective - snapchat quote 1

The first step towards the company’s goal is launching its #RealFriends campaign. It was to show the world that Snapchat is the place to go when it comes to real moments.

And since most of their target audience had moved on to Instagram, they worked with Instagram influencers to relay the message that Snapchat is the “happy” app.

influencer marketing - how effective - snapchat quote 2

Influencers must add two hashtags when they posted: #realfriends and #friendshipquotes.

Along with the post came a friendship-related quote on yellow background with the Snapchat logo fixed on the bottom.

All posts also needed to include the sentence “Brought to you by Snapchat.”

The campaign targeted 13,837,430 Instagram users and received 121,864 likes. The engagement rate was 1.25%.

But these aren’t the only brands that are trying to engage with the younger generation. There are far more out there.

There are no signs of influencer marketing going away anytime soon. If you want to leverage influencers to boost product awareness, you need to resort to this strategy.

Why Influencer Marketing Works

The effectiveness of influencer marketing goes beyond targeting people within a specific niche. There are reasons why this form of marketing is better than the traditional ones.

Let’s look at some of the advantages of influencer marketing.

Ad Avoidance

Nobody likes ads. And people would go out of their way to get rid of them. On computers, people would install ad-blocking software or browser extensions so they could surf the web without intrusion.

While watching TV, you’d find people skipping over ad breaks or move away from the television while commercials are playing.

Nobody pays attention to ads.

But that’s not the case with influencer marketing. On social media, followers are excited to hear from the influencers. When they have something to say—whether they’re talking about their lives, work, or lifestyle—their audience listens.

So when influencers are out there promoting products they use, people are much more receptive.

It also helps that an influencer’s followers share the same interests. So there’s a good chance that the promoted products on a channel/platform are things that the audience finds interesting.

Trust

As mentioned earlier, trust is one of the reasons why followers listen to influencers.

In a report by Convince and Convert, it points out that users are more likely to take the advice of a “person like them” over a celebrity. Micro- and nano-influencers (the difference of which you will find out in a later section) fit this role to a tee because they come off as your regular, everyday people.

However, while their posts are often exciting and put together well, they are nowhere near the caliber of the hottest celebrities who receive big money to speak on behalf of large corporations.e

So when a small influencer speaks about a product, their followers are much more accepting.

And because most influencers are authority figures in their niche, their followers also trust their opinions about products.

For example, Linus Tech Tips is a tech channel on YouTube, which has over 10 million followers. They gained a massive following because their videos show them having a great time while doing what they love — doing news and reviews about tech. They also do product testing.

influencer marketing - why influencer marketing works - linus

And because people see them as experts on computers, phones, and other gadgets, they do accept sponsorship opportunities to help keep the lights on.

Scalable

Influencer marketing can be dialed up if needed. For companies that are just starting, it could make more sense to focus on acquiring nano-influencers first.

But as your company grows more significant, you can add more prominent influencers to your campaign.

The Influencer Marketing research report from Business Insider even states that brands are increasingly prioritizing long-term partnerships with more authentic influencers. This goes to show that brands are seeing influencer marketing as a long-term play and not just a fad.

influencer marketing - why influencer marketing works - business insider report

These three factors—when combined—makes a compelling argument as to why influencer marketing just makes sense for most businesses today.

What Is a Social Influencer?

I touched upon the topic of social influencer earlier. Let’s break this concept down a bit further.

When speaking of social influencers, your mind immediately goes to social media. And while most influencers are on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and all these other platforms, you can also find them on websites like YouTube or blogs.

You can quickly tell if someone’s an influencer if that person can build trust, gain a loyal following, and keep their followers engaged.

The number of followers an influencer has will dictate whether that person is a nano-, micro-, or macro-influencer.

However:

You should remember that just because an influencer has a smaller following does not mean you shouldn’t work with them.

In some cases (like the Dunkin’ Donut case study), working with influencers that have fewer followers might work to your advantage.

influencer marketing - what is social influencer - kateogata

Kate Ogata has 142,000 followers on Instagram. Not bad, right? But seeing how other accounts have followers in the millions, why would brands choose to work with her?

There are several reasons. Smaller influencers post content that feels more real. Most of the time, they don’t edit the photos and videos. They feel more like snapshots, unlike the heavily-Photoshopped images that celebrities produce.

Also, they would typically charge less. So rather than getting one big name to promote your product, you can instead spread your budget to get more influencers. By doing so, your campaign looks less like a celebrity endorsement and more like a social movement.

How to Do Influencer Marketing

In this section, we’ll outline all the steps you have to take to launch your influencer marketing campaign.

But before we dive right in, you should first define your goals.

By doing so, you’ll be able to determine what metrics you want to monitor. Do you want to increase the number of visits you get on your site? Or maybe you want to increase your brand’s social media followers? Do you need to increase the sales of your product?

Once that’s been established, you can go ahead and move on to the next stages.

Understand Your Target Audience

As a business owner, you want everyone to learn about your product. But realistically, this approach won’t work. For starters, not everyone will be interested in what you have to offer.

Knowing who your target audience is will not only give your campaign a direction, but it will also make it easier for you to find the right influencers to work with your brand.

If you have no idea who your audience is at the moment, here are a few suggestions:

Look at your site analytics to see where your audience is based.

Go over your social media followers and see what their interests are.

Post different types of content and see which posts get your followers talking.

Conduct a poll and ask your customers what type of content they’d like to see more.

Doing any or all of these can help you build a business persona that you can then use to define who your audience is.

Identify the Right Influencer Type for Your Brand

Up to this point, I’ve mentioned the terms nano-influencer, micro-influencers, and macro-influencers without proper explanation.

Let’s define each one so you can determine what kind of influencer you should partner with on your campaign.

Nano-Influencers — These are influencers with around 1,000 followers. A good chunk of their followers are people they know and interact with on some level. And while there’s a good chance that they’ve never worked with brands before, they’re more lenient when it comes to compensation. They might even be open to collaborations in exchange for a free product sample, which can be a cheap way of getting publicity.

Micro-Influencers — They would have around 5,000 to 100,000 followers. To get to this point, these influencers would need to establish that they are experts in their field. This means that their followers highly value their opinions on stuff that m.

Macro-Influencers — Anyone who has more than 100,000 followers fall into the macro-influencer category. They are mini-celebrities and are highly respected by those who follow them. They’re likely to have tons of experience working with brands — both big and small.att This means they’re easier to work with and would know how to execute campaigns properly. However, your campaign would likely get expensive at this stage.

Celebrities — If they have followers in the millions, they are considered celebrities. Most of them are household names by this point. These can even include movie and television personalities who have opened social media accounts.t Popular examples of influencers with celebrity status include Kim Kardashian, LeBron James, and Cristiano Ronaldo.

influencer marketing - how to do influencer marketing - kim

Finding the Right Influencers

Now that you know what type of influencer you’re targeting, it’s time to figure out how you’re going to get in touch with them.

You have three main options. You can go the organic route, join a platform, or hire an agency.

Each method has its own set of advantages and disadvantages. Let’s explore each one.

Organic Method (Outreach and “Ego Bait”)

The organic method might be the hardest, but it allows you to have total control. You’ll have to do research, contact each influencer, and set your terms. However, you don’t have to give third-party companies a cut since you do all the work.

Advantages

You can build a personal relationship with the influencers.

You can work with the influencer at your own pace.

You don’t have to pay for tools you might not need.

Disadvantages

You may end up making mistakes, especially if you’re doing influencer marketing for the first time.

You don’t have anyone to support you if things go awry.

You don’t have any guarantee that the influencer would work with you.

One way of gaining an influencer’s attention is through “ego bait.” This is the practice of quoting influencers on social media platforms in a positive way. If they see that you’re putting in the effort to get them to notice you, you just might pique their interest.

If you’re using ego bait, you must identify which influencers are in your niche. Once you have your list, go to their posts and engage with them by commenting, liking, and sharing their posts. After a while, you can even publish a post and mention the influencer by name (tag them, so they see it).

Join a Platform

A platform, in this context, is a third-party software solution for finding influencers across different social media channels.

There are many platforms to choose from, and all of them explicitly work for the benefit of influencer marketers.

Popular platforms include the following:

TapInfluence — A “marketplace” that connects influencers and brands who’d like to work with them.

Traackr — An all-in-one solution to finding influencers and tracking your marketing campaign.

NeoReach — A company that helps you develop a strategy for your brand and sources influencers who’d be interested in joining you.

influencer marketing - how to do influencer marketing - neoreach

Aside from providing you a list of influencers to work with, a platform can also perform services like maintaining your relationship with the influencers, developing your campaign, and sending analytics reports.

Advantages

You don’t have to spend time looking for influencers yourself.

You can use the reporting features to keep track of your progress.

You don’t have to deal with the influencers directly.

You can have platforms match you with influencers in your niche.

Disadvantages

You have to pay (typically a monthly subscription) to join a platform.

You no longer have complete control.

Hire an Agency

An influencer marketing agency is similar to how a traditional marketing agency operates. this is ideal for big companies who’d like another company to handle all the details.

Advantages

  • You can focus on other things as the agency takes care of everything.
  • You can sit back and watch the agency execute the campaign on your behalf.

Disadvantages

  • You might end up paying more.
  • Your entire campaign rests on the hands of the agency (although you still have a say when it comes to goals and similar details).

Collaborate With Influencers

Assuming you already have a list of influencers who are willing to work with you, it’s time to set your terms.

If you’ve gone with an agency, they will do everything for you.

But if you went with either the organic or the platform method, you’ll need to talk with the influencers directly.

Just because an influencer expressed interest, it does not guarantee that they’ll collaborate with you. They are not, after all, hired employees. These influencers need to keep their audience and reputation in mind as they walk into negotiations.

Study your influencers and see what types of content they’re comfortable posting. What kind of posts do they make? How are sponsorships treated on their social media accounts?

You need to ask yourself these questions so you can come up with an offer that suits their needs.

You can try the following approaches:

Integrate the Campaign Into Your Marketing Strategy

If you’re running a more extensive marketing campaign in conjunction with your influencer campaign, consider merging the two.

For example, your influencer campaign could become data for your market research.

Analyze the Results

Remember the goals you’ve set? After some time, you can check if your influencer campaign managed to generate the results you want to achieve.

Look at the posts that the influencers have made. See how much engagement they produced (likes, comments, etc.). You can also check your site traffic to see if the campaign resulted in a spike of visitors.

And don’t forget to see if product sales have improved.

If you find that you’re not getting much out of the campaign, consider making tweaks to your plan. You may not be working with the right influencers or have published the wrong types of posts.

 

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Craig Campbell

I am a Glasgow based SEO expert who has been doing SEO for 18 years.

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