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Got clout? Maybe you do. But do you have it online? Chances are, some 17 year-old pranking his grandma has a larger and stronger fanbase than you do. Or a cat. And maybe their demos aren’t the right one for your product or service, but if you poke around the world of hashtags, you’ll find your ideal brand ambassador. Influencers can be your best friend when it comes to amplifying your brand’s message to the digital world.
There’s a space for any brand (big or small) to hop on the influencer bandwagon. This article will touch on the topic, the value, sourcing influencers, and where it’s headed.
Influencer Marketing. Unless you’ve been living in a cave (with no wifi) the past few years, you’ve probably heard of it.
It’s especially buzzed around for social media. Social media (obviously) has the hottest platforms for marketers as they let brands — regardless of size — connect directly with their potential customers in real time.
And this is definitely the easiest place to have you (your product, your brand) heard and seen, cost effectively. Leveraging influencers within this space can have viral effects on growth, brand awareness and sales for any product or service.
The influencer marketing trend is only going to increase over time. Influencers come in all shapes and sizes. From B2B bloggers, to models, to professors, to vine stars — there’s a fit for any brand. And influencers are not as inaccessible as you’d think.
So, WTF Is Influencer Marketing?
The first thing that probably pops into one’s mind is that this is only for protein powders and the Kardashians. This is far from the truth.
Influencer marketing is simply an amplified version of Word of Mouth by individuals (and brands) who leverage their fan bases and clout to promote a product or service.
Micro vs Macro. In the terms of social media, a micro-influencer can have somewhere between 1,000–100,000 engaging fans where a macro-influencer should have 250,000, into the millions. These are very ballparkish numbers, but it’s a good enough rule of thumb for this discussion.
The influencer marketing trend is only going to increase over time.Influencers come in all shapes and sizes. From B2B bloggers, to models, to professors, to vine stars — there’s a fit for any brand. And influencers are not as inaccessible as you’d think.
If you’re thinking that only businesses with large capitals can successfully leverage influencer marketing on social, don’t worry.
Micro-influencers tend to have intimate followings. Their fans are often more loyal and engaging (ratio-wise) than that of bigger names. Micro-influencers are especially great with niche markets and unique communities (i.e. paleo brands, baby gear, dog sweaters…).
In many situations, micro-influencers can be more effective than big-name personalities, especially for brands who have a limited budget. Micro-influencers allow your brand to have a more authentic feel, and enable you to interact with organic followers.
Smaller names are typically more responsive to their followers since they have a lesser volume to deal with, and thus it is easier to identify and target who the loyal audience is. These influencers are good for any brand because they are consistent with producing high-quality material, so doing a product trade with them is much more reliable.
These are the excellent prospects to target for influencer marketing, since people value what they say and do. Once people are listening, it becomes easier for brands to attract behavior and have people interact with them.
Benefits For Your Brand
Immediate Social Growth. Most of the time a simple share, a retweet or tag from the right influencer can give you a boost in organic growth and significantly increase your overall reach.
Broader Audience. Most influencers (both macro and micro) have some diversification in their audiences.
A shout-out from an influencer could open your brand up to opportunities that would have been otherwise missed with pinpoint, targeted advertising.
Cost-Effectiveness. Everything is negotiable. Don’t take the first price an influencer offers at face value. That is their TOP price and they can only go down from there.
For larger influencers, you can dramatically decrease your price per post if you buy several posts at once. Or offer a monthly retainer for them to become a “Brand Ambassador”.
Also, many micro-influencers are trying to get their foot in the door with brands — any brands. If they’re the right one, a simple trade for product may be your only cost (plus shipping and handling). And other times, some product + some cash will keep the wheels turning smoothly.
Credibility. Would you take a friend’s word over a park bench advertisement? So would 92% of everybody else: “Ninety-two percent of consumers around the world say they trust earned media, such as word-of-mouth or recommendations from friends and family, above all other forms of advertising.” (Neilson)
Furthermore, buyers acquired through word of mouth have a 37% higher retention rate.
“If I tell my Facebook friends about your brand, it’s not because I like your brand but rather because I like my friends.” — Mike Arauz, UnderCurrant
Influencers are also content creators. They do their own photography, display, and most importantly, they know what will work for their audience.
While many brands think that Photoshopped product exposure is a great method — they are often thinking of themselves. Influencers think about their audience and what will be the most engaging, therefore their personalized content can have a much greater impact.
Illicit Trade. Influencers are also excellent for brands who cannot set up paid ads; such as marijuana, alcohol, and vape products.
People have a tendency to imitate whatever trend their favorite personality is interested in. This can positively affect your engagement and growth while establishing credibility and social proof as the brand’s core — just be careful and use discretion.
Focus on engagement. I know many business people who are enamored by big followings. I’m not. How many video views are they getting per post? How well are their sponsored posts doing? How many likes, comments, reposts, clicks to the profile link are there?
If you’re going to shell out product and cash for a promotion…wouldn’t you want some sales and social growth aside from a simple double-tap & scroll?
Though there’s definitely a correlation between size and engagement (likes, shares, tags, comments), I know people with 100k fans with more engaging audiences than some with over 1 million fans.
Understand Their Audience. If you’re selling lipstick, you may not want to hire a Playmate to promote your brand, since her audience is mostly guys…looking for something particular (or lack thereof). That being said, if you’re a beef jerky brand, email me and I’ll make the intro.
Finding Them. Most influencers are looking for brands to collaborate. They often have an email for business in their bio on Instagram and in the About section on Facebook, or at the very least, you can slide in the DM. Trust me, they check their emails.
There are also dozens of platforms and apps out there. I’ve used Famebit and even Fiverr, but mostly, I go straight to the source. For targeted micro-influencer campaigns, check out Gnack. Those guys are amazing.
Where Is Influencer Marketing Headed?
Let’s just say, influencer marketing is trending upward. Exponentially. There was an estimated 56% increase in influencer marketing for 2016.
As influencer accessibility scales and the market becomes more competitive with new influencers entering the market daily, we should expect a continued incline with these trends and a decline in influencer rates. Yes, the Logan Pauls and Kim Kardashians will definitely increase in their rates and net worth, but there’s a new influencer born every day.
If you hire influencers with the right values, they can have a huge impact on your social growth, particularly your value to the community.
Understanding how influencers can help your brand will enable you to create strategies that will increase your reach, brand awareness, and social growth.
Whatever niche or industry your brand belongs to, there will always be certain personalities that people will be willing to listen to and interact with.
Brands and consumers are growing more savvy by the day. Sure you can have KK shout out your vitamins for a $60,000 uncreative post. But there are actually people out there who will like and use your product. Maybe their fan base is only 950k or 100k or 5k, but their audience may be significantly more receptive and actually inclined to buy.
If you sell bacon, I’d put money on the bet that a Paleo-CrossFit guy with 100k fans will create a longer lasting impression than Lil Wayne. Now, if you’re selling cough syrup, Lil Wheezy can be the right guy — depending on your target demographic.
Disclosure. Be careful when selecting potential influencers as their actions, both good and bad, have major implications on the position of your brand.
Also depending on the social site, followers may behave differently so it’s important to take note of whether an influencer’s main point of influence is on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram and adapt your strategy accordingly.
Data Source: Neilsen
Originally published on Medium