You have a product but you need exposure. You have friends and family but they already know about what you are selling. You need massive brand awareness and inventory to leave your office or store. Maybe you provide a service and you've been trying to promote via your own social media channels, Facebook Ads, and more but you need to latch onto a larger audience.That's where influencer marketing comes into play.
What is influencer marketing?
Influencer marketing is when brands pay or send free product to someone who has influence over a targeted community to persuade them to become interested about a product. There is very large shift happening in our world right now in marketing period. We're living in a time where marketers are having to find other avenues besides TV to get products or services in front of their desired audience.
YouTube along with other major social media platforms such as Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, and Facebook have become platforms where influencer marketing is happening.Influencers are individuals who have built up a following over time and people trust what they have to say. Don't believe it? Let's look at a few statistics.
- 40% of people say they’ve purchased an item online after seeing it used by an influencer on Instagram, Twitter, Vine, or YouTube. (Source)
- 96% of people believe that the advertising industry does not act with integrity—69% of these people attribute their mistrust to the advertisers’ desire to sell more effectively. (Source)
- 49% of people say they rely on recommendations from influencers when making purchase decisions. (Source)
So now that we've established that influencer marketing is big, let's jump into what you need to look for in an influencer and how you can connect to them.
- An influencer is someone who has built up a "tribe" or a following with a targeted purpose. People don't follow Kim Kardashian for tech tips and small business advice. Kim is fashion and beauty. You have to gauge how influencers influence. For instance, I'm not a mother so sending me children's clothing to use for my 2 year old daughter (that doesn't exist) won't be the best marketing move. However, the influencer may be a mother but if they don't highlight their children that much then the audience probably won't be so moved when little Aubrey is wearing your clothing from your children's boutique. Look at who is showcased many times on their profile to get an idea of what kind of items you can pitch for them to promote.
- An influencer is someone who is dedicated to their platform and engaging their following. Influencers don't need to state that they are influencers. It's clearly shown. They are focused on providing high quality photos, good content, and more to engage their audience. You may think that Roxy is just obsessed with selfies and vain but she's moving in strategy. Her followers follow her for her beauty, style, and more. However, there's a whole world of different influencers who have all sorts of niches from tech to cooking to dogs to business and more. There are influencers who have a targeted focus and then there are influencers who just have a large following just because. It's better to start with targeted audiences and then work your way out.
- Know what level or type of influencer they are. This may be a hard pill to swallow for those who are influencers themselves but you have to know your lane and the influence you yield. There are influencers and then micro-influencers. Micro-influencers are those with a smaller platform but still provide major engagement. For instance, I'm a micro-influencer. When platforms approach me about doing affiliations, referral codes, or showcasing products or systems, they aren't expecting me to produce at the same level someone with 30K or 100K or even 500K would produce. There are levels to this. Don't try to go for large accounts first. Start small and work your way up (not too small but enough so that you have some promised ROI).
- Only connect with influencers who care about their platform and have knowledge of their base. Ask for a list of other brands they have worked with and look at their past posts, videos,ect. to get a gauge on if they truly know how to influence others. You can have a large platform but lack engagement. Are people commenting? What does the data reveal? Remember that you're running a business and not a give-a-way.
Now let's get into how to create a strategy...
What's the plan? Before you start connecting with any influencer, you need to first figure out what you want from them and what you want to promote. This is the most vital step before you begin this whole process. Look at your products and figure out which one(s) would be best to promote. Are you trying to get rid of inventory so you're promoting discounted products? Are you trying to promote a new product? Are you providing the influencer with a discount code to give out to her audience or not? What is your budget for influencer marketing? What platforms would you like for them to promote on? Instagram with a photo? YouTube with a demonstration, unboxing, or try-on/haul video? Snapchat with a story featuring your product? Twitter with a photo or special link?
Who Are Your Influencers? Now that you have a plan, it's time to connect. Don't harass influencers. Get to know them. This is important because you want to be a good judge of character and making sure that this person fits your brand and what it stands for. Start connecting with them via comments and then start making the business connection. Gather up your list using some kind of cloud system or a customer management platform such as Hubspot or Zoho CRM where you can have a complete directory of all of your influencers. Include their contact information, platforms, your engagement activity with them, and more.
Make The Connection for the Project. Get their email address and send a professional proposal of what you would like to do via marketing project. Make it personal. There is nothing worse than a generic email. Talk about how you enjoy their platform and state how exactly your brand matches with their brand. Suggest some ideas of how you think this partnership would be successful. Ask them if they have any further ideas or input to market the product and of course discuss money. Some influencers will accept money & free product or just free product. Also, do not forget to include in your email information about your brand with links, videos, or anything that would be helpful.
Packing the Product or Service. When you send your product via physically or digitally, make sure the influencer has enough to promote with. You can provide them with a script or just some keywords or information that you think will be helpful. Don't be too much of a control freak though. Influencer Marketing goes best when the influencer is themselves so allow them to do what they do but give them some information just in case they need more. Make sure that the packaging for physical products is awesome. They are presenting your product to the world. Be ready. Remember that the audience is expecting that same treatment. I've seen horrific comments on platforms where the influencer received an amazing product but then their audience received crappy versions of the same thing.
Track the Investment. When you connect with an influencer, it's best to provide some way to track the result of the partnership. I recommend some kind of discount code that's linked to the project that their audience can enter. This is a great way to track if it was all worth it in the end. You can also set up a referral link as well. Depending on your commerce platform, you can go even deeper by providing them with a link that tracks all engagement. Be sure that you have Google Analytics set up on your site so that you can receive more data in regards to the incoming traffic.
Here is a link to a FREE E-book from HubSpot on Influencer Marketing!Have you used influencers for recent projects? Are you an influencer? Do you have any further insight you would like to add? Be sure to share your comments below!