Guest post by Ashley Scorpio, Senior Vice President of Partnerships at Hawke Media
Not too long ago, traditional marketers weren’t all that sure about influencer marketing. After all, who would buy from a vlogger with just a few thousand followers? Now, social media influencers are everywhere and the influencer marketing industry is expected to reach $16.4 billion in 2022.
All the cool brands have an influencer marketing strategy. Even traditional industries like real estate and health insurance are in on it. Most influencers aren’t megastars or famous celebrities, they’re just everyday people with the kind of appeal that influences others to follow suit and heed their advice.
Take Khaby Lame, for instance. He lost his job at a factory in Italy during the pandemic and started posting silly lifehack videos on TikTok and Instagram. His 35.7 million followers love him for his sarcastic wit and comically expressive face.
Influencers come in many forms — individuals, groups of people, or even another brand. The best ones impact your target audience and help drive brand messages to them. Although similar to word-of-mouth, it’s even more effective since it reaches a wider and potentially more engaged audience.
Influencers work because their audiences trust them and respect their opinions — they may even aspire to be like them. Influencer marketing can be an essential part of your holistic marketing strategy.
What Are the Benefits?
Influencer marketing has helped thousands of brands increase their sales and take their brand to the next level. Today’s consumers, particularly Gen Z and millennials, discover new products and companies by following influencers. If it’s the right strategy for your business, you, too, could reap the benefits of influencer marketing. When you have an effective influencer partnership, you experience:
- Stronger and more authentic connections with your target audience
- Increased online visibility
- More defined brand image and awareness
- Increased ability to attract and retain new customers
- Better SEO
- A cost-effective way to reach customers
- Organic growth
- Ability to meet your target audience where they are and enable them to find you more easily
- Time savings in content creation
Influencer marketing is an important part of content marketing. And content marketing is an effective way to convert your prospects into paying customers.
Does Influencer Marketing Make Sense for Your Brand?
There are more and more brands trying to reach the same consumers, which makes for a lot of noise. The advantage of influencer marketing is that it can cut through the chatter to get your company noticed. You may have heard that every brand can use an influencer. While this is true, it doesn’t mean that every brand can use an influencer effectively.
How do you know if influencer marketing is right for your business? Before you even consider this strategy, first ask yourself three essential questions:
Does your product have widespread appeal?
If you are a small company with a niche product, you’ll need to find a micro or nano-influencer. Nano-influencers, for example, have fewer than 1,000 followers. Depending on the product, it may not be worth the money or effort. In general, you will do better with a product that has an interesting story to tell and a target that wants to hear about it.
Does your brand have a professional website?
Ensure that your online presence is beautifully designed and welcoming to online visitors. When your influencer drives traffic to your website, it has to represent a credible presentation of your brand image.
Does your brand have its own social media presence?
You don’t need to dominate on social media but you do need to have a way to amplify and engage with customers that come to you through this channel.
How to Get Started
If you would like to get started with influencer marketing, first you’ll need to find the right person. Here’s how.
Tap someone you admire and connect with already
This can be a social media personality you’ve noticed or someone who has mentioned your brand online. If you don’t have anyone in mind, use Google or an influencer technology partner like Gatsby to optimize the process. Working with marketing agencies is another great way to bolster your marketing presence overall, with specific help in the influencer realm, if needed.
Do your research
Make sure you review their current posts and dig down into past posts. Notice how they interact with their audience. Would they be a good representative for your brand? Do they engage with their followers?
Build a relationship with them
Engage with them before approaching them about sponsoring your brand. Follow them and get on their email list. Promote them and share their posts. Ask them questions and see how they respond. When you are comfortable, ask them if they are interested in being an influencer for your brand.
Decide how to engage them
Now the real work begins. Some simple ways to get started might include a product review or giveaway. If you want to start with a splash, invite them to an event where they can try your product and document the experience on video to share with their audience.
Of course, you will want to develop longer-term strategies to get the most from the relationship. Influencers should be incorporated into your overall marketing strategy.
Follow these best practices to get the most out of your influencer marketing program:
- Put specific and measurable goals in place. Measure your ROI and follow the data.
- Find the right influencer who is knowledgeable about your market. Credibility counts. The wrong influencer will do more harm than good.
- Look for matching values. Your influencer should reflect your company culture and vice versa. For instance, if your influencer is vegan, they will not be an authentic voice for your leather handbags.
- Go where your target audience hangs out. An influencer with a strong Facebook following won’t do much good if your target demographic is on YouTube. Don’t assume. Do the research to find the reach and following you are looking for.
- Let your influencer use their authentic voice. Avoid micromanaging and scripting. Followers know when the authenticity ends and the sales-speak begins.
- Engagement is more important than followers. There are mega-influencers that have millions of unengaged followers. You want followers who will convert into buyers of your products and services.
- Stay on the right side of the law. That means following FTC social media guidelines and having your influencer correctly identify sponsored posts.
- Find influencers who are genuinely enthusiastic about your brand.
- Nurture the influencer relationship. They are human beings. Speak to them directly, ask for their honest opinions and show them respect. If you are not comfortable giving your influencer tremendous creative freedom, you may not have the right influencer or perhaps influencer marketing isn’t right for you.
Take the First Step
Influencer marketing can be an important strategy for your brand. Despite the increased number of decisions you’ll need to make, the benefits can be amazing. But the cost of getting it wrong can be tragic.
If you’d like to get started with influencer marketing and get it right from the get go, consider enlisting a professional to help. We recommend contacting the talented crew at Hawke Media for a free consultation.