Want to get your brand noticed in a big way? Then you might want to think about reaching out to an Instagram influencer or blogging superstar.
Even though some marketers still shun it in favor of traditional advertising, there’s no denying that influencer marketing is on the up. Not only is it a great way to increase publicity and grow your brand, it can also help to lend some personality and substance to your products; allowing you to connect with your audience in a way that you just might not be able to otherwise.
While you may not be able to convince the Kardashians or Bieber to promote your e-commerce store, that doesn’t mean that you should give up on influencer marketing altogether. Chances are there are plenty of social media influencers out there who would be a great fit for your brand –and who would love to join forces with you.
“Hmmm,” you might be thinking. “Is it really worth it? Paying someone to promote my stuff?”
Yes, yes, and yes. Not only is it a good way to boost publicity, and other slightly vague metrics, but it can also lead to cold hard sales. In fact, according to research from Sway Group, marketers who implemented an influencer marketing campaign earned an average of $6.85 in media value for every $1 that they spent on paid media.
That’s a great return!
When you consider that people’s trust in brands has gone down year-over-year, while trust in word-of-mouth has gone up, the benefits of influencer marketing become clear. According to recent Nielsen research, it’s not just recommendations from friends and family that people trust; some 66% of Americans also trust customer opinions posted online.
Someone may not trust you when you say that your product’s “by far the best.” But if you get a trusted influencer, who tries your product for herself, and insists that it’s the best, your audience will be far more open to giving it a try.
Now, with all of this said, it’s important to note that influencers don’t work for every business. They’re best used when the products in question are something that the influencer can wear, use, or otherwise work into a natural setting –or are in some way a recognizable brand. Generic products are very hard for influencers to promote in a natural way, and therefore are much more difficult to pull off.
Benefits of Using a Social Influencer
Ok, so you know that a social media influencer can be a great way to boost your publicity, but it’s not just about increasing likes and followers; influencer marketing can also be a great way boost sales –sometimes drastically.
You see it all the time in the world of fashion, or when some big-name celebrity’s photographed with a certain product. Often, it’ll sell out by the next day.
On a more down to earth level, having a brand representative pitching your products can lead to a rise in sales for you too.
According to one recent study, 84% of brands polled said they launched at least one influencer marketing campaign during 2015. Eighty-one percent of those brands saw increased website traffic and sales.
Social recommendations carry a lot of weight, and in fact are responsible for a whopping 26% of purchases across all product categories.
Now, let’s break it down a bit and look at some of the things that a great social influencer can do.
- They Can Drive TrafficAn uptick in traffic to your website or online shop is good news, especially when it’s relevant traffic. It’s a sign that consumers are moving through your sales funnel.
- They Can Generate SalesYes, it’s true. Influencers don’t just send traffic your way; they can also craft messages that will speak to their audience and translate into bona fide sales. Your results will vary depending on your influencer’s channel, the length of the campaign, and your promotional goals, but an influencer can be an excellent way to drastically increase your sales.
- They Create Content That ConvertsLooking to ramp up your content creation efforts? There’s no need to do it alone; especially when you can have an influencer do it for you. Influencers live and breathe content, and are great at turning it out. And they’re experts at conveying a brand’s vision in a way that’ll connect with their audience.
- They Can Build Brand AwarenessThe classic benefit of using an influencer, they’ll help to boost awareness of your brand. While this might sound vague, it’s a tremendously important nonetheless. The brand awareness they build is second to none, especially when you consider their reach and influence.
- They Add Credibility to Your MessageConsumers trust reviews and word-of-mouth far more than brands themselves; so do yourself a favor and let someone else talk about your company for once. Teaming up with an influencer can help to put your company in an excellent light.
- They Have Incredible InfluenceSome 84% of consumers make a purchase after reading about a product or service on a blog! That’s almost 9 out of 10 people. Influencers can be incredibly, well, influential when it comes to promoting products.
- They Offer a Great Return on InvestmentCompared to many traditional forms of advertising, influencers represent great value for money. Generally, you’ll get a return on your investment and start earning a profit pretty quickly. As we saw above, implementing an influencer campaign earns brands $6.85 on average in media value for every $1 spent. Use a tool like Scrunch to track and calculate the ROI of your influencer campaigns.
- They Give You Access to Their Target MarketWorking with an influencer allows you to tap into their ready-made market. Be sure to team up with influencers in your niche, ones who share a target audience with you.
Give Your Influencer an Image
Before you go hunting for an influencer, it’s important to create an influencer profile; a description of what, exactly, you’re looking for. This will help you to find someone who’s a good fit for your brand.
Determine whether an activist, informer, authority, or someone else would be best for promoting your products.
Choose one or two genres that your influencer should be involved with: such as tech, fashion, business, or travel.
Get a bit more specific now. An influencer’s niche refers to their particular interest. So if you’re looking for travel bloggers, a niche could be, say, African safaris.
Now, pick a relevant topic that your ideal influencer will sometimes mention on social media or their blog. You can bring up this topic when you reach out, and use it to show why you would be a good fit.
- Type of reach
What type of results are you looking for? Do you want to grow your social media following, or boost sales? Whatever it is, make sure you find a channel and subsequently an influencer who’s a great fit for your campaign goals.
What to Look for in an Influencer?
“People with passion can change the world for better.” –Steve Jobs
First, a word of warning: not all influencers are created equal.
As you might have guessed, the type of influencer that you team up with will make or break your campaign success. A good influencer will be able to effectively translate your message to their audience, while a poor fit will result in no, or few, new leads, traffic, or sales.
Wondering what to look for in an influencer?
While that will depend partially on the product that you’re selling, your company, and your advertising objectives, there are a few universal tell-tale signs of a good influencer.
Here are a Few Things to Look For:
- Their Audience SizeWhile you might think that the best influencers will have the biggest audience, that isn’t always the case. In many cases, niche influencers with a smaller audience size can be your diamond in the rough. Don’t overlook these “micro-influencers” –often they’re the ones with a specific niche and far more engaged audience. They could be a great fit for your company.
- EngagementIf it’s influence that you want, look for an influencer who’s already influencing an audience. Try to find someone who’s engaging with their audience, and who has a loyal and authentic following. How many comments are they getting? Are they responding to their followers? An influencer without many comments will be unlikely to boost engagement for you either.
- Their Ability to Connect PeopleGreat influencers are adept at connecting ideas, possibilities, and people. They’re naturally able to bring people together, and influence conversations. Take a look at their discussions on social media. Do they sound like a leader? Are they able to bring people together? Are they quick to offer helpful and positive insight?
- Their Ability to Spot a Trend Early OnInfluencers sift through ideas constantly; they know how to spot a trend early on. An influencer who’s regarded as a trendsetter in their niche is someone you’ll want on your side.
Red Flags to Watch Out For:
In addition to things that you should look for in an influencer, there are a few warning signs that you’ll want to watch out for as well.
- Fake FollowersThis one can be tricky to spot, but you’ll want to beware of influencers with fake followers. Some influencers will buy likes or followers; a less-than-reputable practice. Take the time to ensure the influencer that you’re thinking of working with has a genuine audience by looking at their engagement levels; how many genuine comments are they getting on their content?
- Infrequent PostsNext, check to see the last time they posted, and how frequently they post. If they don’t post all that often, they’re unlikely to have a captive audience.
- Inconsistent GrowthThis one’s a bit difficult to gauge as well, but it’s worth looking at anyway. Influencers that are genuine will have a fairly consistent growth of followers and traffic. Tremendous spikes, while sometimes genuine, can also indicate purchased followers. If you’re curious, use a tool like Social Blade to see follower growth for accounts on Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube.
- An Audience That’s a Poor FitIdeally, you’ll want to find an influencer with an audience that you share or one that’s similar to yours.
- Check the Follower RatiosWhen reviewing various influencers, you’ll also want to look at two very important ratios. First, you should look at the breakdown of followers by country. If you have a product that is only available in the U.S., then you’ll want to make sure that the majority of their followers are U.S.-based as well. The second thing to look at is the ratio of male to female followers. In some cases, you’ll find that the that the attractive female influencers actually have more male followers than female, so if you are targeting women, you would be wasting your money by going through an influencer with a high male-to-female ratio.
- No Personal BrandFinally, you’ll want to avoid working with influencers with no personal brand. “If there is no consistency in the type of content that they post, they lose credibility,” writes Caroline Lauder with gShift.com, “No one can be influential in a wide variety of topics.”
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How to Find Influencers
Now you know what to look for in an influencer, but where can you find them?
Here are a few places you can look:
- Start With Your FansIf you already have a social media presence, consider checking your own social media accounts to see if there’s an especially enthusiastic, and qualified follower who’d be a great spokesperson for your company. Finding someone who’s already a fan means that they’ll be open to the idea of working with you, and your partnership will be more authentic.
- Do Some Hashtag ResearchYou could also do some hashtag research to find an influencer who’s interested in the type of products that you’re selling. It’ll also allow you to find people who have a similar target audience to you. Try to be specific for best results, for example –if you’re selling handcrafted leather shoes, don’t look for #shoes, instead look for #handcraftedshoes or #vintageshoes.
- Go Through a Marketing AgencyIf you don’t have time to manually search through thousands of different user profiles, going through a marketing agency may be your best bet. In addition to matching you with potential influencers, professional marketing agencies can also help you to execute your influencer marketing strategy.
- Search an Influencer PlatformInstagram influencer platforms like TRIBE, FameBit, and Openinfluence are growing in popularity, and these websites can be a great place to find top influencers who are actively looking for brands to represent.
Reaching Out to Influencers
Ok, so you’ve found an influencer or two that you’d like to get in touch with.
Now, how do you go about crafting an email that’ll get a response?
Start by looking for their contact page on their blog or website. Read it before you reach out, to see if there are any guidelines they prefer that you follow. Ideally, you’ll also want to follow them and start engaging with them first –before you reach out.
When writing your email, you’ll want to create a short and sweet message that clearly explains what you’re looking for and how it’ll benefit them.
Before you hit send, make sure your pitch checks the following boxes:
- Is it personalized
- Is it concise?
- Does it clearly explain what’s in it for them and their audience
Then fire it off, and hope for the best!
How Much Are Influencers Paid?
While payment varies considerably, generally influencers are paid. Many are compensated quite well. While your budget might not accommodate a bona fide celebrity mention, you can probably still afford an influencer that’ll be a great fit for your brand.
How much you can expect to pay will vary depending on a number of different factors including:
- Their audience size
- Their engagement levels
- Their experience
- The length of the campaign
Caroline Lauder with gShift Labs recommends treating influencers like an online marketing consultant. “Pay them for their time and influential voice,” Lauder says. “And in return, you will have more accountable and harder working influencers.”
While there’s no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to determining influencer payment, it’s a good idea to look into typical influencer rates anyway.
Brand and influencer platform Influence.co recently published the results of their research on Instagram influencer payment.
They found that the average cost per Instagram post was as follows:
- The overall average price was $271 per post.
- The average price for micro-influencers with fewer than 1,000 followers was $83 per post.
- The average price for influencers with more than 100,000 followers was $763 per post.
When it comes to bloggers, Dummies.com found the following in terms of bloggers who partner with brands on sponsored posts:
- $175 per collaboration for blogs with 10,000 monthly impressions.
- $500 per collaboration for blogs with 100,000 to 500,000 monthly impressions..
- $1,000-$5,000 per collaboration for blogs that receive 500,000+ monthly impressions.
How much an influencer will charge though, will vary considerably across the board. Some cost significantly less, while others will be a lot more. You can use the above as a starting point.
Getting the Most Out of Your Campaign
With influencers, there often isn’t a direct line to ROI, but that doesn’t mean that they’re not worth using, just that the results of your campaign can be difficult to track. Still, you should ensure that you have multi-channel attribution set up in your analytics program, so you can see which channels lead to the highest conversions.
When discussing potential campaigns with your influencer, it’s a good idea to see if you can negotiate multiple posts instead of just one. Basic marketing says that it takes 5-6 impressions before someone will remember your brand, so having them post multiple times over the course of a week or two will help you to get the brand recognition you are looking for.
Finally, to get the most out of your influencer outreach, you’ll also want to make sure that you have retargeting campaigns set up for the people that come to your site, but don’t convert right away. Retargeting allows you to reach them with relevant ads, prompting them to return and buy your product.
While it might take some time and effort to source the right representative, influencer marketing, when done right can prove to be tremendously valuable. If you’re looking to market your brand and products while expanding your reach and growing your audience, then you’ll want to think about making a social influencer a part of your promotional strategy.
Find an influencer in a niche similar to yours, one who’s a good fit, with a high level of audience engagement. Remember, they don’t have to have 500,000 followers; as long as they have an engaged and loyal following, and share a target audience with you. Then reach out, and look to find a collaboration that works for both of you.
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