Companies have to fight tooth and nail to get their message across these days. And while content marketing still has its place, influencer marketing is the new trend, particularly with the ubiquitousness of social media.
The site Relevance likened influencer marketing to “celebrity endorsement advertising,” when Nicole Kidman could plug Chanel #5 or Leonardo di Caprio could extol the virtues of just about any product in commercials and magazines. Influencer marketing is basically the same thing, except that these days, you use “influencers” and social media.
How Does Influencer Marketing Work?
Influencer marketing basically boils down to three things – get in touch with someone with influence, like a popular blogger, get that person to promote your company in some form, and boost your exposure on social media.
Let's say there's a lifestyle maven named Party Pat with about 5,000 people following her on her blog and Instagram. You were able to convince Pat to help promote your online bookstore among her followers. She first blogs about her favorite books and mentions your store as her go-to place for ordering books. She later tweets or posts a photo of the latest book that she acquired and mentions how she easily ordered it from your shop and that it arrived in just one day. Her casual mentioning of your store and her experience could prompt her followers to check out your site as well.
The example might sound simple but it's actually not. It entails a lot of hard work and preparation. First, you have to find an influencer who's a good fit for your brand, whether they're bloggers, YouTubers, writers with regular contributions to popular online sites, or industry experts. Next, you have to reach out and build a rapport with said influencer. Some do this by following the influencer and interacting with him or her while others do it the relatively old-fashioned way and send an email.
If the influencer does respond, you still have to find a way to convince them to promote you. Maybe you can send a sample product or offer to be a guest blogger. Offer compensation is possible but could also be tricky. You have to convince and prove to the influencer that it's good for them to help you out. This means that if you're going to guest post, your content should be impeccable. If you're going to send a sample product, it should be high quality.
3 Tips for Using Influencers
If you are convinced that influencer marketing will help you and your brand, consider the following tips:
- Know that the relationship between the brand, the influencer, and the audience must be real.
Influencers have a strong following on social media because they capture their audience's interest; they have established a relationship with them. Maybe they're the same age as their audience, have the same interests, or have undergone the same life experiences. This strong relationship with their followers means influencers will only work with a company or brand that they and their audience believe in. For example, an influencer known for her quirky and affordable style of clothes won't suddenly start campaigning for a high-end shoe brand.
- Be ready to play long-term.
Don't go into influencer marketing thinking that one sponsored post will shore up your business. While a one-time mention by a mega-influencer can make a big difference, it's a rare, and very expensive, situation. Most of the time, influencer marketing should be looked at as a long-term approach, as you have to slowly build trust among the influencer's followers. Followers might have to see his favorite influencer trying or mentioning your product several times before they become curious enough to explore and give your brand a try.
- Give creative control over to the influencer.
You might have complete control over your marketing strategy when it comes to traditional advertising, but influencer marketing is far from conventional. The goal is for your brand to have a quality engagement with the influencer's audience. To achieve that, you have to relinquish creative control to the influencer, as they know their audience. They understand the best way to introduce your brand and make their followers receptive to it.
Does Influencer Marketing Work?
There's some controversy on whether or not influencer marketing really works. Data from a 2016 marketing survey has shown that 94% of those who used this marketing strategy believed it works. However, what the ROI is of influencer marketing is still something of a challenge this year. But there's no question that this strategy has wide reach, especially with Facebook and Instagram being key platforms for influencer marketing.
Influencer marketing might not be for every company, but there's no doubting its influence on today's social media savvy consumers.[Image via Pixabay]