Unless you’ve been living under a rock these past few years, you’ve likely heard of the term influencers. It generates the mental image of a young Youtube beauty guru promoting certain bear-shaped vitamin gummies or so-called “skinny” teas that will aid in weight loss.
It’s hot, it’s popular, and all the cool brands are doing it.
But just because you start paying someone with a high following on their Instagram, doesn’t necessarily translate to website purchases. But it will work for your brand IF you do it effectively.
What is Influencer Marketing?
Influencers are well-known figures in the social media landscape that have gained enough of a following to be considered to have “influence” over a target market to promote company brands. Part of your Instagram marketing strategy should 100% include this vital necessity.
Take, for example, Jeffree Star, a musician-turned-makeup-artist-turned Youtube star who began sharing beauty tutorial videos and reviews that quickly gained a cult following. Now, Star has over 14 million Instagram followers, his own makeup line and numerous collaborations.
Sometimes, influencers aren’t even people at all. Grumpy Cat, a well-known house cat, came to fame from having a perpetual angry scowl on her face, which led to books, cat food sponsorships, movie deals, and merchandise.
Simply put, an influencer has built a relationship with a specific demographic of people. Brands use this leveraging to partner with an influencer who fits their target audience in order to promote their brand in an authentic way.
It makes sense. According to a report by TapInlfuence, 74% of consumers turn to social networks for guidance on purchase decisions.
Bright Local reports that 88% of people trust online reviews written by other consumers as much as they trust recommendations from personal contacts.
This is the power of influencer marketing.
Outline your Goals.
Consider what it would be like to go on a road trip without knowing where your final destination is. Similarly, you have to define your marketing and business goals.
Some questions you should ask as you prepare for a marketing campaign: Do you currently relate to your target audience on social media? How do you plan to increase the number of followers on your profile? Do you plan to do advertising or boosted posts? How can you increase website clicks and translate clicks into purchases?
It’s best to be as clear and specific as possible so you can reach your destination, but also so people can help you along the way.
Maintain a Consistent Brand and Message.
Having a core brand message communicates the values of your brand to your consumers. Especially if you are a startup, we can’t stress enough how important it is to be consistent with your brand. You want your brand’s message to be a clear flow from the website to your social media channels or other platforms.
Determine Your Target Audience.
The only way to structure a marketing strategy that fits your needs is to determine who you want buying your product. No matter how great a marketing plan, product, or service, knowing your consumer is crucial to the success of your business.
Three ways to determine your audience include:
- Identify the basic demographics of your ideal candidates, such as age, gender, and location (Is your product geared towards 18-29-year-old young adults?)
- Learn how to relate to your audience by researching their shopping habits, particular needs, and personalities (Do they buy online or prefer shopping in-store? Do you receive a certain number of orders for a specific product or service?)
- From this research, construct your brand’s message.
Find the Social Channel for Your Startup.
Now that you’ve established your target audience, you need to find the right path for them to find you. Each social media channel serves different personalities and audiences.
- Instagram– Heavy visual content that’s great to show off photography. Since the algorithm is optimized on valuable content, you will likely gain a natural following if you generate quality content that fits your audiences’ needs. Do your posts fit your business, do they match your culture, will your viewers want to see and hear what you’re showing them?
- Facebook– An easy way to link customers with your business and show the reasons why they should trust your brand and buy from you. You will find an array of various audiences on this platform so it’s important to have a presence here. However, since there are so many audiences, you must determine where you can find your niche and reach out to them.
- Twitter– Extremely fast-paced and on the go, it’s great for polls, quick informational stats, raise brand awareness or to gain audience reactions or opinions in bite-sized snippets. As long as you can create a message in 280 characters or less, you can post!
Find the Right Team.
Individual skills and expertise are needed for a successful campaign. Whether you hire an outside contractor like True North Social for influencer management or look within your current team, you need to have the right talent in place. Resources can be limited, especially for a startup, so it may be beneficial to use your business partner’s social media skills or intern’s coding skills to assist on a project. It’s important to identify what specific qualities you need to achieve your goals and accurately disperse roles accordingly. Determine if you need individuals that work on a contract basis for a short period of time and check-in with your team periodically to see if you are headed in the right direction.
Cultivate Relationships with Influencers.
Influencers are just as important as your consumers. For outreach, you can garner a list of influencers manually through email, word of mouth, or direct messaging through their social media channels and offer free products or services for them to review. Some may charge rates depending on their profile status, how long they’ve been in their industry, and the quality of content they produce, but may be willing to share information on your product for free if it aligns with their brand values.
If manually finding talent doesn’t appeal to you, there are Artificial Intelligence (AI) platforms that source influencers for you. They offer extensive databases on their geolocation, engagement rates, statistics and other parameters that can make it easier for you to send bulk emails and streamline influencer campaigns.
Partnering with influencers allows them to test your products like a consumer and share them in an authentic way. Give them a list of clear guidelines you are asking of them, such as how many posts you’d like, what types of hashtags to include, and the expected deadline to post. However, having too many rules can turn into a generic advertisement that no one will want to pay attention to. Be clear, but be flexible in what you want an influencer to post. It’s their profile, so respect that they want their feed to be consistent with their brand messaging as well.
Wrap Up Report.
It’s hard to generate a return of investment on influencer posts. It’s possible to track website sales by giving an influencer a promo code for their followers to receive a discount or other perk that entices them to purchase. From those codes used, a company can track how many sales came from that specific influencer. Some companies may also ask influencers to send their individual posting insights 24 hours after a post goes live as a way to see the number of impressions garnered. If you use an AI platform, you can pull statistics straight from the app to gauge further analytics.
A successful influencer marketing campaign doesn’t have to require a lot of money. It’s important to designate time, effort, and creativity to generate effective solutions. Be unique in your product or service and you will soon find your target audience coming to you. One mention from several key influencers can generate the “buzz” your business needs to be launched into a respected company.