In the past few years, everybody has heard about influencer marketing. What exactly is this? Well, let’s take a practical example.
Let’s say your smartphone broke and you need to buy a new one that is suitable for your needs. You found three phones matching your criteria: the latest iPhone, a Samsung, and a Nokia. But which one will you choose?
You found lots of reviews on the Internet, but they are not conclusive. Even though most of them are positive, there are also plenty of negative reviews. All this contradicting information confuses you, right?
The next thing you do is talk to your good friends, Aaron and Paula because you remember that Aaron has the latest Samsung and Paula has an iPhone 7. Paula is very pleased with her smartphone, but Aaron doesn’t like Samsung’s functionalities. After these talks, you decide to buy an iPhone.
This, my friend, is basic influencer marketing.
Take this example and multiply it by a few million and you’ll get an idea of the scale of this type of marketing. It’s generating much money as a veritable industry!
An actual example that you’ve probably heard about is the Cristiano Ronaldo and Herbalife partnership:
Herbalife partnered up with Cristiano Ronaldo, an internationally famous Portuguese footballer (i.e. soccer player), for the launch of their new CR7 Drive sports drink.
This is the effect of influencer marketing: when you see or hear about a product or a company, you automatically associate it with an well-known person, such as a famous athlete or TV or movie star, and vice versa.
You might be thinking that because Herbalife is a very big, well-known brand and yours is relatively small and unknown, this type of marketing is probably not going to work out for you.
We’ll cover this question and more in this article. First, let’s see what influencer marketing really is.
Influencer Marketing 101
Influencer marketing represents a method of increasing your company’s brand awareness by associating it with well-known persons in your industry, the same way that Cristiano Ronaldo promotes Herbalife’s drinks for athletes.
This doesn’t mean that you have to pay a personality six or seven figures to have him or her promote your products. In fact, the majority of influencers are not so notable and famous. Have you heard of Heather B. Armstrong? Most people probably haven’t, even though she is the owner of Dooce, a blog with quite a large audience.
Dooce is a fashion, lifestyle, and health blog that brings in more than 13,000 visitors each day. This could result in 390,000 monthly prospects for your products. If you were the owner of a small Herbalife-like company, these figures would be more than enough to boost your sales.
This is one example of an influencer, but there are plenty out there, big and small, and chances are you can find one (or more) that is a perfect match for your brand or product. Take Toast the Dog, for example. He has 378,000 followers on Instagram! That’s quite a large fan base and he might be ideal to help you promote your dog food brand, the same way he helped designer Karen Walker promote her summer 2015 sunglasses campaign.
All this being said, you don’t necessarily have to have an influencer who is a movie or athletic star. The most important thing you should focus on is finding a person who is trusted by your audience. I bet you’ve run across a few of these people while researching your industry.
A good definition for an influencer is given by Influencer Analysis:
“An influencer is an individual who has an above-average impact on a specific niche process. Influencers are normal people, who are often connected to key roles of media outlets, consumer groups, industry associations or community tribes.”
TapInfluence’s research highlights the fact that when buying a new product, 92% of customers take referrals seriously during their decision process.
The referrals don’t lose in influence if they are not from family or friends. According to Bright Local’s Consumer Review Survey, 84% of people trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation, which leads to a very important conclusion: Customers place confidence in complete strangers more than they do in well-known companies.
And just over half of people who read positive reviews about a company will visit their website as the next step. Influencer marketing at its best!
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Set Your Influencer Campaign’s Main Objectives
This type of marketing campaign is suitable for small businesses as it can help them create a buzz around their brand and gain some traction. But before brainstorming for some extraordinary campaign ideas or starting to search for your dream influencer to leverage his or her influence with your audience, you first need to outline your objectives.
If you don’t want to waste precious resources, every decision you make needs to have a final objective. We’ll continue our Cristiano Ronaldo example to make it comprehensible for everybody.
Say you are a big company selling nutrition supplements and even though you have quite an impressive portfolio, you haven’t yet become a reference point in the industry. This is a very competitive niche with lots of powerful companies competing, such as MHP, Universal Nutrition, and Gaspari Nutrition, so you need to stand out.
When writing down your campaign’s objectives, you should keep in mind three very important aspects:
- Target audience (age, gender, location, studies, incomes, etc.)
- Influencer’s main role
- Influencer’s role during the campaign
An influencer for this particular campaign needs to be under 40, well-known in the sports industry, and have a young fan base. Because we want to give our brand a real boost, the influencer needs to have an 8-figure or more fan base. Ronaldo has 200 million social media followers, which makes him an ideal candidate.
This campaign’s main objective is to increase sales by 30% in the first three months. It will include at least six social media posts by the influencer during these three months and there will be a 20-second ad which will be shared on social media channels (mainly Facebook, Youtube, Twitter, and Instagram). Why 20 seconds? Because user retention drops by two-thirds during the first 18 seconds of the ad.
When setting your campaign’s objective they need to be S.M.A.R.T.
- Time Bound
Our goal is very specific: to see a 30% increase in sales. You can easily measure its progress and achieving it is not unrealistic. The boost in sales is very relevant for our company because we want to increase our revenues and, last but not least, it is time bound. It has a 3-month trial period.
Finding Your Ideal Influencer
You’ve set up your campaign’s objectives, so roll up your sleeves and let’s find your influencer!
Finding the right place to sell your products can be quite easy – you just search for stores that sell similar products and reach out to them.
Well, influencers are not quite as easy to find. This is a new type of marketing and it’s not like there are places where you can go and place an ad for an influencer.
Here are a few effective methods of searching for your ideal influencer:
1) Manual Searching
My colleague Allen McGregor, Aussie Writings’ Lead Researcher, explains this method:
“This is the most grueling one. You need to manually go over every page containing information regarding your industry. You need to find bloggers or personalities very well connected to your audience. Basically, it’s like this: Google-Read-Write Down the Relevant Facts-Repeat.”
You’ll need to compile all your findings in a database and Google Drive and Docs are simple and free resources for this. Here are the main things you should add to your database for every influencer that you research:
- Fan base size
- Social media channels (and links to them)
- Strong points
- Weak points
- Contact info
- Observations: write down their peculiarities (tend to use video a lot, has a great sense of humor, has lots of ads, our competition has him/her under contract, etc.)
2) Online Databases
You can easily find lots of software that scours the internet in search of this information, and it’s often broken down into type of authority or location. Keep in mind that even though this method takes less time to get the info, it is not always very relevant, so you will have to double check it. A few tools you can use to obtain the needed data are:
These databases are an excellent way to find influencers, and probably give you the broadest possible selection of online influencers. You just need to then approach those people yourself, once you identify them.
3) Influencer Platforms
This is a very cool combination of affiliate marketing and influencer marketing. These platforms, such as HelloSociety, have a large network of influencers, they are based on long and lasting relationships with the influencers, and they offer lots of information regarding their niche, activity on different channels, fan base count, etc.
HelloSociety has a network of over 1,500 influencers featuring “the leading tastemakers in a wide range of categories, including fashion, home décor, fitness, food, travel and more. These influencers are incredibly diverse, representing a wide spectrum in age, location and area of interest—but all have earned their audiences through their ability to curate and create the most beautiful, unique and inspiring images from across the web.”
Case studies from HellowSociety’s network shows that the influencer-created content performs an average of 145% better than brand-created content.
Creating Your Influencer Campaign
Now that your campaign’s objectives are clear in your mind and you’ve decided which influencer you prefer, it’s time to start engaging with this person and leverage his or her image.
Here are the most important things you should keep in mind when creating your influencer campaign:
1) Your Message Should Be Unique
When creating your campaign’s message and theme, you need be 100% original. Together with your influencer, brainstorm original ideas and try unusual methods of advertising your message. These are the ones that have the best impact.
2) Use Relevant Channels
You might have the best message out there, but if you don’t use the right channels, it won’t reach your audience.
For example, if your audience is made out of end users, not businesses, you shouldn’t waste your time advertising your message on platforms such as LinkedIn. This platform is most suited for B2B interactions.
3) Offer Inside Information to Your Influencer
Invite your influencer to your headquarters, highlight your company’s mission, demonstrate how useful your product is to your customers, etc. Give her meaty information to work with. If there are any interesting stories or funny moments during your company’s existence, share them with your influencer.
This will be the proof that she needs that you trust her and will inspire her to genuinely promote your brand. Through the real content that she generates, customers will also feel this trust in your brand.
Considering that professional influencer marketing is a fairly new concept, choosing an influencer for your marketing campaign is not always an easy task.
Before reaching out, be sure to set your campaign’s objectives. Only when you have a clear objective for your campaign can your search begin. Then use the tools listed above or other ingenious methods of research in order to find the appropriate influencer for your marketing campaign.
Once you’ve got this all locked down, remember that the creation process should be collaborative, so you need to constantly communicate with your influencer and offer relevant information. If the first influencer marketing campaign goes well, you could have a fruitful and long-term relationship!