Influencer marketing: a beginner’s guide
It’s an increasingly important marketing method that deploys influential thought leaders and opinion formers to endorse your brand. Influencers are key individuals who have a high profile on traditional or social media, and they’re usually paid to talk about your brand and persuade the customer towards a purchase or click-through. Ideally, they’ll be working or living in a sphere similar to yours, or at least have a connection with it in the minds of the general public.
Think about who you want to reach, where they are, and what kind of messaging they’re likely to engage with. How does influencer marketing fit with your broader marketing strategy? Are you trying to increase brand awareness, launch a new line, phase or product, or drive more people to your website? Creating buyer personas and their needs can help you to focus on the real people you want your influencer to influence. Once the strategy is decided, you can start finding the influencers you want to work with.
They don’t have to be A-list stars. Even if you could afford one, your influencers should be people whose own persona, reputation or personal brand chimes with yours. They might be household names or reality TV stars, but are more likely to be vloggers, bloggers or social media celebrities. A respected influencer with credibility in a relevant field not only attracts the right calibre of followers but makes you look good too.
They are powerful people; a survey by Awin found that under 30s are five times more likely to buy something online endorsed by a social influencer rather than endorsed by a celebrity. This means of course that they don’t work for free, so choosing your influencers needs careful consideration. Ideally, you’ll build up a long-term relationship; it’s not meant to be just a one-off recommendation or promotion.
An influencer with tens of thousands of followers doesn’t equate to greater influence. A survey on Instagram users by US marketing company Markerly found that the ideal influencer has 10,000 to 100,000 followers. These micro-influencers, as they’re known, are better value for money than famous big names with millions of followers. It’s all about making a connection with people whose fans are interested in what you have to say, too.
You’ve chosen your influencer and you know what you want them to help you achieve. There are a number of ways in which they can work with you. It might be sponsored social media comment, sponsored blog posts, product reviews, a guest appearance at an event, acting as a brand ambassador, or a combination of several of those. Whatever content you’re trying to create, you should be honest with your followers and theirs (most platforms require you to declare paid partnerships so stick to guidelines or it could lead to negative brand perception).
Instagram is far and away the first choice platform for influencer marketing, grabbing a 92% share in 2017 (according to Hashoff). In 2018, brands spent over £776.7m on Instagram influencers. But influencers attract their followers across all social platforms. The same survey found that YouTube is gaining popularity, and video in general is becoming huge. It’s forecast that by 2020, online videos will form more than 80% of all consumer internet traffic. Instagram has recently launched its new video platform, IGTV, in readiness. Find out where your audience is active and get your influencer to reach them there.
Smart Insights has come up with some interesting influencer marketing figures. 80% of marketers think it’s effective, and 89% find it produces a better ROI as good as, or better than, other marketing channels. It’s particularly effective for engaging with younger consumers. 60% of Instagram users are between 18 and 24. And nearly 75% of Instagram influencers are between 18 and 34. According to Hubspot, 71% of people are more likely to buy a product or service online if it’s recommended by others. Nearly 40% of Twitter users say they’ve made a purchase as a direct result of a tweet from an influencer, and 72% of consumers will take some action after reading a positive review.
Are you considering using influencer marketing as part of your strategy? Whether you’ve already got a plan in place or it’s new for you, we'd love to hear what you think. Follow us on Twitter and join in the conversation.