No more than a decade ago, the term ‘influencer marketing’ was used to strictly relate to brands making use of high profile celebrities, or a very specific list of relevant bloggers within their marketing communications.
The rise of social media has shown no signs of slowing down, and presented every person who has an Instagram page with the opportunity to build a strong following and in turn kick-started a new, current and (mostly) effective form of marketing amongst many sectors.
Using this new form of marketing can be a tricky thing for brands. If you’ve researched anything about working with influencers, you’re likely to find recommendations that range from saying it is the best strategy for your business growth, or in fact – the opposite.
It is true, influencer marketing doesn’t work for everyone, but understanding how it works, its limitations and much needed considerations will no doubt shed some light on whether this new medium of communication is the right step to achieve your business goals.
Influencer marketing strategies are more difficult to navigate than ever, so read on for our guide on whether influencers are right for you.
What is influencer marketing?
On a basic level, influencer marketing is a type of social media marketing that utilises endorsements and product or service mentions from individuals who have a dedicated online following.
They are viewed as ‘experts’ within their niche field or interest and as a result are seen as very trusted sources.
Why is it effective?
Even when having followers in the millions, influencers come across as an ‘everyday person’ and as such seem more authentic in their messaging than traditional advertising.
Instead of having an ad that says ‘we’re great’, influencers provide one that says ‘they’re great’ which proves a much more genuine and powerful endorsement than if coming from the brand themselves.
The followers of social media influencers are dedicated to that influencer and trust their views and opinions, especially when it comes to products and services. Their recommendations act as a form of ‘social proof’ of your brand’s offering and potential customers, which as we know already is one of the most effective ways of reaching large audiences and generating sales.
Think of it as online word of mouth!
How do we select the right influencers?
As with any investment, it is important to take some steps into ensuring the influencer in mind is right for you, your business and your customers:
You wouldn’t have a business if you didn’t know who your customers are, and the same rule applies to working with influencers. There are many agencies and companies out there now who will do this for you, but for smaller enterprises who may not have the budget available it is important to do this carefully.
Check their profiles out. What are they talking about? What interests do they have? How many followers do they have and what are they like? How much engagement are they getting when they post? How often do they post? Do they have any other channels to utilise? These are all questions to bear in mind when formulating an influencer marketing list.
Also make note of your company and offerings, does this fit in with the content they are publishing? Will they want to collaborate with you? Unlike traditional ads, influencer work needs to work for both parties. Ask for a media pack from the prospective influencer if you want to know more about their packages.
Some bloggers may exaggerate their figures too, meaning they may say they have more website traffic, followers or engagement than what is true, so make sure you do your due diligence on them, don’t always take what they say as face value.
Much like using talent for marketing, influencers will expect some form of payment for their collaborations with your company.
Going by the book, anyone with a social following of over 2,000 people can be deemed as an ‘influencer’. This isn’t to say that all of them can/ will charge large fees, but as one approaches closer to the 10,000 followers and beyond, the fees, as expected, will get larger.
You may also see this as micro-influencers (below 50,000) or macro-influencers (500,000+).
Smaller influencers (micro) however won’t require this level of payment and will often collaborate with big or small companies for a low fee or perhaps a gifted item.
Afterall, collaborating with companies will help boost their profile and experience too! Build relationships, and also look to see which influencers are growing. Don’t be afraid to haggle on price, as mentioned, collaborations are a two way street in most cases.
Working with influencers requires that companies, to a degree, let go of some control they would usually have with more traditional forms of marketing. Most influencers will prioritise honesty with their dedicated army of followers over reviewing a product for the benefit of the beholder.
First impressions mean everything when it comes to this style of marketing, if the product has problems, you and the extensive list of followers online will be sure to find out about it. This isn’t to say they’ll put it under the microscope but be weary of mixed feedback and act quickly in the event of a bad review.
However when collaborating, it is perfectly reasonable to provide the influencer with a ‘brand guideline’ document, which you can put in place to ensure they are informed of any particular messaging you’d like conveyed through the content. You can’t control, but you can definitely suggest! Check out our guide on drafting influencer marketing briefs for further guidance.
It goes without saying if you are collaborating with an influencer with contractual implications you need to ensure this is drafted and signed by both parties prior to the project beginning. Lay out exactly what it is you are giving them and what they are giving you in exchange.
Repeatedly mention which specific social channels, names, content and websites are liable to protect you in the unlikely event of the prospective collaborator not meeting your needs as a business.
Managing Influencer Work with CHS
From reporting on campaigns and partnerships to conveying key messaging, CHS Agency’s experience in social media influencer campaigns allows us to identify, outreach and track tangible results for our clients. Find out how CHS can help your brand’s influencer marketing projects by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.