The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Influencer Marketing
Don’t you wish that there was more to the process of creating content, posting it, and hoping that someone comes along and subscribes or converts? To aspiring marketers and entrepreneurs, this process rarely generates the results needed to take a business off the ground. You may have been told that social media can do wonders for your business if only you keep plugging away at it. It’s true that social media offers a free platform by which you can scale your brand. But, if your resources are limited, then you need to consider alternate ways of fast-tracking the process of social media growth. Fortunately, there’s a better way.
Simply put, there are people out there who are more popular, more brand-conscious, and more admired among fans than you are. They have bigger audiences and more brand loyalty. What if you could take advantage of their hard work and put your message before a multitude of people who hang on to this person’s every word? Instead of marketing to an audience, you only need to cultivate the energy of a single person, the person who is at the head of the audience. This strategy is the essence of influencer marketing.
You may think that influencers are big-name celebrities or sports stars, but, the fact is, influencers market to a variety of audience sizes and niches. As such, anyone can get into the game of influencer marketing.
The strategy is simple. Identify the right influencer in your niche or industry whose audience closely aligns with yours, then reach out to said person and pitch your brand. Offer the influencer something in exchange for their promotion of your brand to their audience.
For example, say you are the manufacturer of a line of niche, homemade makeup products. You pitch the idea of your brand to a YouTuber who specializes in reviewing makeup products and has accrued a following of hundreds of thousands of subscribers. For a fixed sum of money, you ask the influencer to model and to review your brand of makeup products in their next YouTube video, and presto, their followers are “influenced” to buy your products.
Studies have shown that more than 80 percent of online consumers trust the recommendations of online reviews just as much, or even more so, than the recommendations of friends and family. This type of engagement and trust can serve to reduce your marketing overhead. For example, a single influencer-generated blog post shared to social media will receive 11 times the return on investment that banner ads will normally generate. Additionally, studies show that those who launch influencer marketing campaigns can expect a return on investment of up to five times the initial expenditure.
With those statistics in mind, what kind of influencer should you reach out to? If you have a tight marketing budget, your best bet is a micro-influencer, or an influencer who has a modest audience of as many as 500 to 10,000 niche followers. A large following isn’t necessarily an advantage if those audience members are not sufficiently engaged, trusting, or targeted. If you’re new to the business of influencer marketing, cultivating a relationship with this type of small-town influencer is the best way to test the market.
Fortunately, there are a variety of online platforms on which you can find, approach, and negotiate with the right influencer for your brand. Buzzsumo, an online research tool, will allow you to locate highly-shared content on social media platforms in addition to the people who were influential in promoting said content. You can browse by topic or by industry keyword and identify the people who are instrumental in sharing the most popular content on the Internet. Another great research tool is Klear, an influencer search engine that allows you to not only identify influencers within your niche, but to also filter out those who don’t meet your standards for follower count, demographics, or price. If you’re keen to discover the influencer connections within your contacts, use Discoverl.y, a Chrome plugin that allows you to look up mutual friends in your extended network.
Once you’ve identified a good fit, you may be wondering what the influencer will do to build up credibility or establish awareness for your brand within your industry. Your influencer might take any number of actions, including writing testimonials, displaying your product within images on their social media, reviewing your product or service on their YouTube channel or blog, or emailing a special promotion to their list of email subscribers. Many factors will lay the groundwork for the expense of the influencer campaign, including the number of posts you can expect to be featured in. Plan to compensate your influencer by offering them a commission per sale. That way, he or she will be held accountable for the outcome of the campaign.
The marketing strategies that worked your brand ten years ago may not work tomorrow. The truth is that people no longer trust advertisements by brands. If your goal is to increase conversions, establish brand awareness, and make sales, influencer marketing is the way to go.