One of the more subtle developments of Internet-based media is the degree to which said media has become diffused amongst individuals. In part due to the significant reduction in cost it takes for a single person to have a blog or social media account, we have seen a transition in the popularity of traditional media outlets towards individual personalities. This paradigm shift has simultaneously given consumers more autonomy in the types of media they consume, and more freedom for advertisers to choose who they associate with. One of the ways in which this increased freedom of choice has manifested itself is through influencer marketing. Influencer marketing is, in short, the marketing of products and services through those who have sway over the things others buy (influencers). Here is a short guide to influencer marketing in the context of social media.
Knowing What To Look For
The immediate desire for most businesses would be to target an influencer who has the greatest amount of reach. Though you would want an influencer with significant reach, this reach must fit into the context of your business. So for example, if your business were selling pharmaceuticals, it would be unwise to market through an influencer who has tremendous reach amongst the youthful, for instance a musician. There must be convergence between what the influencer is known for, and your own brand.
Secondly, you need to utilize an influencer who has the ability to generate action with their audience. That is, an influencer who can generate a high conversion rate. This is not as correlated with reach as you might initially think. Research suggests that influencers of mid-tier popularity are capable of generating a higher conversion rate (though perhaps less overall conversions) than their more popular counterparts. This is in part due to the fact that they can foster a greater amount of loyalty in their audience through a larger amount of audience interaction. Optimally though, you would want an influencer who has both the facets of popularity and ability to generate action.
To isolate who your influencers should be, you should use listening tools and perform keyword searches. This will help you to discover who in your industry is talking about products relevant to your business. Once you have found a group of potential influencers, you can refine that group further by seeing who aligns with the principles of reach and action generation. Though keep in mind, as long as they align with these principles, it is perfectly fine to enlist multiple influencers to generate more interest in your content.
Once discovered, there is the issue of trying to employ the influencer. Influencers of greater popularity have torrents of business offers hurled at them every day, so you need to establish uniqueness in your pitch. Start by engaging with the influencer organically, by this I mean following them on social media, sharing their posts and tagging their accounts. By catching their attention, you will help foster a relationship between you and the influencer that will lay the groundwork for a fruitful business transaction. After this relationship has been established, send an email to discuss the monetary terms of future transactions.
Outside of mere cash, if a potential influencer already uses products of yours or similar to yours, you can offer the exchange of your products for their social media posts. This has the added benefit of making their enthusiasm for your product seem more genuine to their audiences, and thus is more likely to generate conversions.
The type of approach an influencer should take in marketing your product depends partly on what you are trying to market. For instance, outright formal posts of your business (like sharing of your social media accounts) would suit well if you are running something akin to a charity event, where outright posts don’t feel like a blatant form of marketing. However it is often best to integrate your product subtly to your influencers social media account. For instance, if you are marketing a clothing line, an effective strategy would be for the influencer to wear the clothing themselves, and perhaps tag the name of your business in their post.
You should also consider the possibility of letting the influencer do the heavy lifting themselves when it comes to the creative work. Influencers with tremendous reach and conversion rates tend to know their audiences extraordinarily well. As such, it would be a wise move to have influencers to offer their ideas to you as to how to market your product on their platform.
Influencer marketing is not so much a new concept, as it is a recent manifestation of an older concept, celebrity endorsements. As opposed to endorsements though, the distribution of reach is so much more even now than it has ever been that endorsements are no longer relegated to the upper echelon of products. Intelligent use of influencer marketing can help bridge that gap for business into more successful levels regardless of what the initial success of said business is.