Considering signing an influencer to boost your marketing campaign and brand strength? Read our guide first!
The use of influencers in marketing campaigns has created a major shift in how consumers interact with brands and how brands reach a broader base of potential customers.
For some companies, the use of influencers has proven so successful that they’ve developed entire agencies to manage social media influencers. For instance, the major cosmetics brand Benefit, has approximately 500 influencers that it collaborates with.
Similarly in the beauty and cosmetics industry, L’Oreal has a robust influencer marketing budget—90% of which is spent on Instagram. It’s clear that influencer marketing is a powerful tool in a growing number of businesses of all sizes and industries, and it’s worth exploring in detail.
It’s all about authenticity
The key success factor in influencer marketing is its authenticity. Customers show a growing appreciation for real reviews and experiences. Many brands have now shifted their focus from brand-produced marketing materials over to generating reviews.
Consider, for example, the trend of buying Amazon reviews; a study from MarketingLand indicates that 61% of electronics reviews on Amazon are purchased or are fake. Despite this, the number of reviews and their average ratings both remain key metrics in the Amazon algorithm, and consumers often scroll past 3-star or 3.5-star items to those averaging 4.5 or 5 stars.
Similar reviewing principles have now been applied to social media marketing with influencer coalitions and collaborations at its core, and in recent years it has grown exponentially. According to projections from online magazine Business Insider, influencer marketing is expected to increase to USD $15 billion in value by 2022, up from $8 billion in 2019.
Influencers are in the driver’s seat when they partner with a brand. While a brand has the final say over how their products are promoted, influencers are able to tailor their advertising to suit their brand and fit their followers’ needs.
Peer-to-peer marketing is an authentic method of expanding a company’s reach; when consumers try a product recommended by an Instagram influencer they admire, it is comparatively closer to getting a recommendation from a friend or colleague.
Identifying a strong brand-influencer match
Companies interested in expanding into influencer marketing prioritise finding the ideal influencer for their campaign. While the most well-known influencers include celebrities like the Kardashian family and other reality stars, the industry has grown to encompass a broad range of niches in recent years.
Many organisations partner with micro-influencers, who have up to 20,000 followers, and nano-influencers, whose follower numbers are in the four-digit range. Choosing a micro-influencer or nano-influencer is one way for smaller companies with limited marketing budgets to establish a presence in influencer marketing and develop meaningful partnerships.
Before brands select influencers to get behind their campaign, they need a customer profile that outlines the traits of their ideal consumer. In any collaboration, the audience of the influencer should mirror the target audience of the brand, since the influencer is someone their audience wants to emulate.
Micro-influencers and targeted promotion
Much depends on the marketability of the product or service. Social influencers’ task is to get potential clients to the product or service page. The design, price, and appeal of the product close the sale, so influencer marketing is an appropriate campaign growth strategy after initial product launch and market testing.
Before searching for the right influencer, it is essential to assess whether this specific marketing method is brand-appropriate. Niche products, for instance, focus on getting micro-influencers on board.
Micro-influencers have comparatively smaller core follower bases, but their audience is more targeted and usually very loyal. They typically endorse products they believe in, especially since a poor brand-influencer match may cost them dearly. Furthermore, for the cost of a single celebrity influencer, you can sign agreements with a score of micro-influencers or more for a similar cost. Here, a good brand-influencer match is highly likely to carry greater audience targeting as well, if this is desirable.
Although influencer marketing is growing, not all sectors have influencers yet. Overall, having a micro-influencer on board with their devoted followings yields better results compared to mainstream influencers.
If your industry lacks influencers, consider other marketing methods. Better yet, collaborate to establish an influencer who is specific to your industry (believe me, it’s been done before)!
Influencers move and grow rapidly
A successful influencer has consistent growth trends and likely hasn’t yet hit their plateau. Connecting with influencers before they’re big enough to flag up on large companies’ radars enables smaller brands to benefit from their continued growth and reach.
Tools like Buzzsumo, Hootsuite, and Followerwonk allow brands to find influencers with niche authority, a large audience, and consistent posting habits.
By looking for up-and-coming influencers, rather than established social media personalities, brands with tighter marketing budgets are less likely to be competing with the larger brands. Furthermore, the brand and influencer will grow together.
As an extreme example, consider Michelle Lewin, a fitness and beauty influencer with 13.4 million followers. She partners with big names like Zumba, as well as well-known training and supplement brands.
A startup supplement brand doesn’t have the resources needed to draw in an influencer with a similar audience to Lewin. Therefore, building a relationship with an up and coming influencer (or several) is probably more feasible, such as a new mother chronicling her weight loss journey to her growing Instagram audience of 5,000.
Transparent social media marketing
It is fair to claim that clients and consumers alike appreciate brands that are transparent and straightforward in their marketing.
Instagram, the largest influencer platform, makes it very easy to stay transparent. Sponsored posts begin with the hashtag #ad and a line of text above the picture says “Paid sponsorship with (brand name).” Customers are more likely to buy and become repeat customers if they feel fully informed during the promotion and sales processes.
Furthermore, transparency helps to avoid viewer burnout. When an influencer is upfront about which posts are sponsored, people are more comfortable and are less likely to feel duped and navigate away. People know that marketing is a key facet of social platforms like Instagram and they expect it; make sure it’s transparent.
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Influencer-brand partnership agreements
If you’ve found an influencer who has everything you need, do your due diligence and further research the online presence they have created. Asking tough questions about whether they’ve worked for competitors, alienated viewers or advertisers, or changed their views to suit their sponsors is an effective way of identifying those who have an unstable relationship with their audience.
Influencer research is important to identify dips in subscriber counts and overall influencer-brand alignment strength. Followers are discerning; they readily sense inauthenticity in an influencer’s brand coalition and message and can smell a sellout.
Two contractual clauses that protect a brand are:
A takedown clause: this gives the brand the right to force the removal of their content if the contract ends or the content is not congruent with the brand’s message.
A social responsibility clause: this allows the brand to exit the contract if the influencer is involved in a controversial incident or causes serious backlash among the community.
For instance, Logan Paul lost millions in sponsorship after airing the now famous YouTube video in which he found a corpse in the Aokigahara forest. This situation was a public relations disaster and it forced caution among brands using influencer marketing. It is essential that organisations be able to free themselves from problematic influencers without penalty and with minimal risk.
Influencers are now an integral part of social media communities and a core marketing component of organisations of all sizes. Securing partnerships with influencers has changed how brands attract new clients and develop brand authority.
A strong brand-influencer collaboration benefits both parties. For many, the research and learning required to enter the influencer marketing space has already proved its worth in exposure, reach, and returns. This marketing trend is predicted to continue to grow and it is prudent to at the very least consider and research its potential benefits.
Published 6 July 2019