Influencer marketing all started because of how social media has changed the balance of power between customers and brands. Today’s social media platforms have provided people a mega phone to amplify their voice and opinions. The voice of customers has always been an important concept of marketing, but now, more than ever, it has been a driving force for brands.
According to a McKinsey Study, marketing inspired word of mouth generates more than twice the sales of paid advertising, with a 37% higher retention rate. The rise of influencer marketing has provided marketers the opportunity to work with relatable people who are experts, popular, or have a reputation of swaying other people to buy products or services. This type of marketing appeals to the needs of the influencer rather than the customer.
Companies who decide to include influencer marketing in their overall marketing strategy must form open and organic relationships in order for an influencer to endorse a product. How you do this can vary depending on your strategy. But, it’s important to keep in mind that influencer marketing is not as controllable as traditional marketing.
The nature of influencer marketing means you are putting your brand in another person’s hands. While some influencers can add a positive image to your product, others may encounter legal trouble or fall out of the public light; which can negatively impact the success of your brand. Which is why it is important create a concrete influencer strategy before you start reaching out to those influencers.
In this 3 part guide, I will take you through how to start your influencer marketing strategy, how to create content for influencers, and provide you with some examples of influencer marketing campaigns.
Part 1: Building your influencer marketing strategy
Step 1: Create goals for your influencer marketing strategy
Just like any marketing strategy, you must create goals. This step will allow you to stay on track, while making sure your influencer marketing strategy is achieving overall marketing and business goals.
Some examples of influencer marketing goals can include:
- Driving traffic to your website
- Increase social media following
- Content creation
- Increase brand awareness
- New product promotion
- Create brand ambassadors
Step 2: Identify what makes an influencer for your company
“True influence drives action, not just awareness,” says Jay Baer, and when you are identifying what makes an influencer for your company, it’s important to keep that in mind.
Here are 3 things to consider when identifying influencers:
- Context: This is probably the most important characteristic to remember when looking for influencers. An influencer will vary for each brand, which is why targeting them based on contextual fit is crucial to your influencer marketing strategy. For example, Ariana Grande has 28.9 million Twitter followers, but how relevant are her teenage Twitter followers if you are trying to sell a complex computer software?
- Reach: After establishing which influencers align best with your company based on context, you can now start weeding out your list based on reach. This is when their follower count will factor in. Their number of followers will determine whether or not the content you want them to share will actually be seen or heard. However, something to take note of is to first validate whether or not those followers are real or fake. A way to do this is by reviewing their latest tweets and seeing if they are garnering a relative amount of retweets and favorites. If you notice that an influencer has 1 million followers but is only receiving 50 to 100 retweets, there’s a high chance that a majority of those 1 million followers are fake.
- Actionability: What this means is whether or not your influencers can provoke action amongst its followers. Usually this comes naturally if the influencers you choose are contextually aligned and have a large reach.
Now that you know what it takes to be considered as influencer for your company, you can start personifying these influencers just like you would when creating target audience personas for your brand.
Step 3: Find your influencers
After identifying who your influencers are, it’s time to find them. You can do this through social media monitoring activities that include following hashtags, listening in LinkedIn groups, and monitoring specific keyword mentions. You can do this with tools like Hootsuite, which allows you to monitor hashtags and keywords in their built in search streams.
You can also set up Google Alerts so you will be notified each time someone mentions your brand or something relevant to your brand in an article. This will allow you to identify influencers who are already in your space.
Step 4: Create an influencer engagement strategy
The final step to building your influencer marketing strategy is creating a strategy on how you will engage with your identified influencers. The reason why you need to create a strategy for this is because building a relationship with influencers needs to be organic yet strategic. You first need to understand what channels your influencers use the most, is it a specific social network? Is it email? Is it video? You need to take note of these channels so you can engage with them on the appropriate ones. The last thing you want is leaving a comment on a profile they created 5 years ago and haven’t checked since 5 years ago.
Part 2: Create content for your influencers
Step 1: Identify the kind of content your influencers share the most
Influencer marketing is an effective way to increase awareness of your content. If your goal is to drive traffic back to blog content, create blog content that your influencers share often. This will increase the likelihood of you getting influencers to share your content to their social media followers. On top of that, it will increase the chance of you getting them to link back to your content on their website via video embeds or hyperlinks.
Step 2: Create an influencer content marketing strategy
A great way to increase brand awareness through your influencers is to encourage content creation. If an influencer is truly passionate about your brand or product, they are more likely to share this passion on their website or their social profiles. Marketers need to take advantage of this passion by squeezing out consumer-generated content. Some ways you can do this is by:
- Encouraging influencers to upload photos or videos of them using your product.
- Incentivize user generated content through giveaways.
- Participate in online discussions on forums like Google Communities, LinkedIn Groups, and Quora.
- Send out free trials to influencers without prior commitment. If they like your product, there’s a higher chance of you getting mentioned on their website through a product review.
- Swap guest posts.
- Interview them about a relevant topic that they are experts in. This will increase your likelihood of getting your content shared.
Step 3: Make your content easy to access
When working with influencers you need to make your content easily accessible. This means, creating ungated content, emailing content to your influencers, or mentioning your influencers in tweets that promote your content. The last thing an influencer needs is to be doing the legwork of locating your content that you want them to share.
Part 3: Examples of influencer marketing
What better way to understand a concept than through examples. Below are 3 examples of influencer marketing in action.
One of the most effective ways to use influencer marketing is to target YouTube stars. This form of influencer marketing is the modern day product placement strategy. If you have a YouTube star on your list of influencer, make sure to nurture this relationship so you are trustworthy enough to gain access to their mailing address. Their address is important because this is how you are going to get your product in their next YouTube video.
For example, if you are a cosmetic brand, there are thousands of make up artists on YouTube that host makeup tutorials to millions of viewers. Take Pixiwoo, they are sisters who have 1.7 million followers and they run a free digital make up magazine and have positioned themselves as experts in makeup. You can see that this video is a paid advertorial under the description, but when you watch the video it doesn’t feel like it.
Pinterest has become on of the most influential online markets. There’s a growing community of influential Pinterest-ers who have millions of followers. Take Kate Arends, she has over 2.6 million followers and she has organized her boards in a way you can find one that may be relevant to your product. For example, she has a board for beauty and on each pin she includes a link to where you can buy them.
Instagram has grown to be a platform that is great for user generated content. Whether it’s your restaurant customers taking snaps of their food, or you reaching out to Instagram influencers to post about your product, this social network is a great place to use influencer generated content. For example, there are many fashion Instagrammers who have are gaining traction on this platform and many brands like Daniel Wellington have shipped their watches to this fashionistas to giveaway to their followers or to share a promo code.
It's giveaway time! Most of you have probably heard of (and fallen in love with) the brand, Daniel Wellington. Their watches are classic, and have become a staple of my everyday attire. I am so excited to have teamed up with them to give one individual a timepiece of their choice! This contest is open worldwide & the winner will be chosen this Sunday, February 1st! Congratulations @maggiemcqueen, you are the winner!⌚️
What we’re trying to say is…
Influencer marketing is a marketing strategy that isn’t new but has just evolved due to the rise of social media. I hope this beginner’s guide to influencer marketing helps you get started on the right foot to finding your brand’s influencers.
Read more: A Beginner’s Guide to Instagram Strategy