In an online world of thousands of shouting voices, influencer marketing has become the next big buzzword. But what exactly is it, and how can it help you?
First things first: influencer marketing is not new. For many years, celebrities have allowed their names to be used by brands, attracting a large crowd of loyal fans to products they would not have heard about otherwise. What makes influencer marketing especially important right now is the ever-growing importance of social media.
Even with so many voices online, there are a few key players that stand out from the pack with large followings, and wide influence over followers in a particular field. Couple this with the rising realization that consumers prefer to base their decisions around the opinions of people they already know and trust, and it’s easy to see how influencer marketing has become the next big thing.
What’s so good about influencer marketing?
Now more than ever, trust is everything to consumers. In a world where tailored online adverts, email campaigns and popups are just a part of daily life, online users become tired of blatant sales lingo. A survey by eMarketer found that 41% of millennials use adblocking software, meaning that nearly half of those expensive adverts aren’t being seen in the first place.
As a result, consumers are seeking out their own trusted sources (whether that’s a website, blogger, celebrity or even a well-known brand) and sourcing their opinion before making a buying decision. This is where the power of influencer marketing lies.
By teaming up with a trusted influencer and asking them to share your message you can bring together digital marketing, social media and traditional sales through useful and relevant relationship-based communication. The marketing potential and ROI from a powerful influencer relationship is huge.
How influencer marketing can increase your ROI
Consumers have always valued word of mouth over any other form of marketing. In fact, according to research by McKinsey, consumer-to-consumer word of mouth generates more than twice the sales of traditional paid advertising.
If you asked a friend or family member for their opinion on a purchase and they gave you a negative review, you would probably be less inclined to buy it; on the other hand, after hearing positive feedback, you would feel more confident about your purchase. This is exactly what influencers offer. They are the friendly, human face reviewing your product. A November Bloglovin’ survey revealed that 54% of female consumers purchased a product after seeing it being recommended by an influencer and 45% have followed a brand directly from an influencer’s post.
Thanks to their reach and following, influencers can talk directly to thousands more consumers than you are able to on your own. Their voice will increase the credibility and awareness of your brand and drive more and more traffic to your website.
On top of this, influencer marketing is not only more efficient and better respected by consumers than traditional marketing, but it has the added bonus of being less expensive too.
How do I find an influencer that’s right for me?
The most important criterion you should assess when looking for an influencer to work with is brand suitability. Ideally, your influencer will already be sharing similar content relevant to your brand, and overlap with mutual circles. This way it won’t seem unnatural if they suddenly start talking about you.
It’s important to do your research and find the perfect partner for your brand. Here are some of the best places to get started:
Twitter is a great way to find the biggest influencers in your area. Search out niche fields in your industry and look for people who are actively engaging in lots of conversations and join in!
Use the search tool to hunt out influencers in your field, and you will hopefully already have a first or second degree connection – which makes that introduction so much easier. Avoid sounding too spammy and take the time to read their content (and maybe share a few of their links) before jumping in with a proposal straight away.
This content marketing tool means you can always stay one step ahead of the game when it comes to monitoring the most influential content. The handy influencers tool will help you to locate top names in your area and see the most-talked about topics, too.
Famebit calls itself ‘the premium marketplace for branded content’ and is used by big brands such as Canon, Sony and Adidas. But you can just as easily make use of Famebit if you’re a small business owner, particularly if you run a Shopify store, as the two lately teamed up to give content creators a pathway into e-commerce.
My influencers need to have lots of followers, right?
Not necessarily. Followers are of course important when you’re trying to reach new consumers, but the key thing when selecting your influencer is that they fit with your brand. The Bloglovin’ survey also revealed that 61% of female consumers said that “influencer content that doesn’t feel genuine would deter them from engaging with sponsored social posts.” So it’s no good approaching an influencer just because they have 2.4 million followers if they have absolutely nothing to do with your brand. Consumers will smell the hard sell and immediately switch off.
In fact, big-follower “celebrity” endorsements are no longer what they once were. According to a survey by Collective Bias, only 3% of consumers would consider buying a product endorsed by a celebrity, but 30% would be more likely to buy if a product was recommended by a non-celebrity influencer. Proof that size certainly isn’t everything.
How to work with your influencer
If there’s one clear lesson to take away from influencer marketing, it’s that consumers will instantly be put off by anything that feels disingenuous, fake, or too much like a straightforward marketing strategy. Once you have your influencer on board, you need to think carefully about how you promote your brand.
Rather than just paying your influencer to say nice things about your products, here are some easy suggestions to create a mutually beneficial relationship that will help and inform their audience, and drive consumers towards your brand.
- Ask them to pen a guest blog for you and share their genuine thoughts about a topic that is important to you both. This can then be shared across their social accounts.
- Collaborate on an event that will create more brand awareness for you both.
- Send your influencer products for review (and respect their opinion!).
- Information sharing is key. An important part of being an influencer is being first on the scene with any breaking news or fantastic new products. If you have something you the world needs to see, make sure your influencer has all the details to share with their hungry audience.
Influencer marketing is really all about finding the perfect advocate for your brand. Its power lies in trust from the consumer and therefore it needs to remain honest and authentic. Take your time to get it right.
Bear in mind that an influencer should be balanced and talk about your products honestly, warts and all. This may seem like a risk, but opening yourself to this credibility can be much more powerful than a traditional advert, and ultimately carries more weight with your audience.
With an influencer’s seal of approval you can increase traffic, ROI, brand awareness and raise conversion rates through an effective method of digital marketing. Want to learn more? Check out our class on How to Find & Engage Brand Influencers.
Visit the Online Marketing Institute to browse over 400 classes in the digital and social media marketing space.
Victoria Greene is a writer and brand consultant who can be found at Victoriaecommerce.