Is Influencer Marketing Right For You?
The concept of ‘Influencer Marketing’ has been a buzzword among sales and marketing professionals for several years now.
What do we mean by Influencer Marketing? It is a marketing program that uses endorsements and product mentions from so-called ‘Influencers’ who are individuals who have a large and dedicated social media following and are viewed as experts within their niche.
This type of marketing is seen as effective because people who follow someone on social media usually do so because they trust that person and believe what they say.
So, for example, let’s say a used car dealership (Joe’s Excellent Cars, Inc) calls upon a well known and popular outfielder for the Boston Red Sox who has large followings on Facebook, Twitter and Tik-Tok, and gets him to post messages like “Whenever I need a new car, I always go to Joe’s.”
In theory, a certain percentage of the outfielder’s social media followers will visit Joe’s Excellent Cars and some will buy … all on the strength of the outfielder’s popularity and reputation, that is, his influence.
Now for the nuts and bolts. There are different tiers of influencers, and a business owner needs to know which one best fits his particular business.
Mega or celebrity influencers have massive followings and usually include famous actors, musicians, athletes and other public figures. They can certainly attract attention to your brand, but they usually come at a steep price. And because they are followed by a mass-market type of audience, tracking engagement rates may be difficult.
Macro-influencers have gained their reputations through consistent content creation and engagement over time. They are considered thought-leaders and established personalities. They offer a more targeted approach to their followers, who share common interests, like your brand, but can still be costly to hire.
Micro-influencers are the current stars of Influencer Marketing. With up to 100,000 followers, these influencers typically have a strong presence on social media platforms, and have a passionate niche audience who never miss their content posts, recommendations and interactions. The micros can deliver a 60% higher engagement rate and 20% more conversions.
Nano-influencers usually have less than 10,000 active followers, but can be excellent marketing partners as they represent target specific communities and are far less expensive to hire.
How to get started
Like any other kind of marketing, the first step is to set goals. What do you want to accomplish, what are your key performance indicators and how will you judge results?
Next, determine your audience. You know your customers: who they are, what they like, what they typically respond to. Research the social media platforms your customers like to use. Determine what problems or needs they have that your company can address.
Create a budget. You need to know how much you can spend to get an influencer working on your behalf, and your budget will help you determine which tier of influencer you need.
Find the right influencer. Look at the influencers themselves and look at their fans and followers–are they a good fit for your brand? Then reach out and begin negotiations on the form of the deal: an upfront fee? Commissions on sales generated? Monthly retainer in return for a certain number of posts?
And finally, have a method to track metrics and optimize your strategy.
What to look out for
Influencer Marketing requires a high level of trust between a brand and the influencer. Although influencers usually sign legal contracts, their image and reputation can come into play and adversely affect your campaign.
By now, everyone is aware of the controversial Bud Light influencer promotion with Dylan Mulvaney, a trans-woman who had a big following with her ‘365 Days to Be a Girl’ posts. Even though Bud Light did a very small influencer campaign with Mulvaney, it created a huge blowback from regular Bud Light customers. The brand – which was the top-selling beer in the USA– saw its sales crater nearly 30% in three months, and the company’s own stock price has dropped.
In retrospect, it’s evident that influencer was not the best choice for that brand.
Beware of fake followers. In researching a potential influencer, you can research their followers on various social media platforms. But be careful: many social media followers are actually ‘bots’ and other fakes. There are tools out there to help research social media followings to determine how many are real.
Still, whether your brand is marketing to consumers or other businesses, the idea of using an effective influencer can result in excellent engagement and sales. Make a plan, do the research and keep close watch on the results.