It is a core part of every marketer’s job to build trust with the customer and establish a reliable brand reputation.
But just because you say your products and services are great doesn’t necessarily mean prospective customers will believe you. After all, it’s expected that a marketer will go out of their way to present the company in the best possible light.
This is where a strong influencer marketing strategy can help you build customer trust.
Additionally, a solid influencer marketing strategy can give you a strong competitive advantage by increasing awareness of your brand and enriching your content.
Let’s dive deeper into what influencer marketing is, how it works, and what you’ll need to do to take full advantage of it.
In this influencer marketing guide, you’ll discover:
- What is influencer marketing?
- How does influencer marketing work?
- Which platforms do influencers most often promote on?
- What are the different types of influencer?
- Creating an influencer marketing strategy for your business
- Frequently asked questions about influencer marketing
Influencer marketing is a type of social media marketing that uses the endorsements and product mentions from online ‘influencers’ to reach a brand’s target audience.
In other words, it’s a way for brands to get their content in front of potential customers by using the social media following and authority of influential individuals.
The definition of “who is an influencer?” can be quite broad. People often think of online celebrities with millions of followers, but a true ‘influencer’ is anyone viewed as an expert within a particular niche.
The social proof of an authority in a particular niche advocating for a brand or product shouldn’t be understated. It allows potential customers to make purchase decisions based on the influencer’s perspective. Social proof is crucially important since 63% of consumers trust influencer messages about a brand more than the brand’s own advertising messages.
Influencer marketing has become a mainstream form of online marketing in recent years. This is likely due, in part, to the high levels of success that some advertisers have seen in the space.
Keep in mind that influencer marketing is not about quick wins. It requires building relationships with influencers and should be part of a long-term strategy.
The goal of influencer marketing is to get the brand in front of an influencer’s target audience in a positive, natural, and meaningful way.
This is done by making a deal with the influencer to expose their audience to the brand’s messaging or content through video demos on social media, or blog reviews.
It is important to understand that careful collaboration is often needed when running an influencer campaign.
Sometimes it’s best to treat influencer marketing as having three main participants that need to be satisfied:
- The brand
- The influencer
- The audience
For influencer marketing to be successful, the messaging needs to come across in a way that is comfortable and natural for all — it needs to meet brand guidelines, suit the influencer’s style, and be seen as sincere by the audience.
What kind of successes can be seen from influencer marketing?
To better understand how influencer marketing works and the business benefits that can be gained, let’s look at a specific example.
Olay, a popular skincare company, used influencer marketing to boost engagement by 8.33% and connect to young audiences through more authentic messaging.
For their campaign, they partnered with a number of diverse influencers to encourage women to be “unapologetically themselves” and embrace their natural beauty. These influencers consisted of athletes, models, business professionals, and other women who embraced natural beauty.
They posted pictures of themselves with the #FaceAnything hashtag and captions encouraging women to be confident despite the unrealistic expectations placed on them.
The results? Olay increased their:
- Exposure by 1.4M views
- Comments by 11K
- Hashtag uses by 1K
Influencer marketing vs. word-of-mouth marketing.
Although the two terms often get used interchangeably, influencer marketing is not the same as word-of-mouth marketing.
Influencer marketing involves an endorsement of a product or service by individuals recognised as experts in their niche with a dedicated following. Influencers usually meet certain criteria, such as having a specific number of followers on Instagram or being associated with a certain industry.
An example of an influencer marketing campaign could be a well-known personal trainer sharing their thoughts on your treadmill through a YouTube or Instagram video. Their endorsement or review may influence their followers to research your products, engage with your brand, or even purchase your product.
Did you know? In a Twitter survey, 40% of respondents stated that they bought something online after seeing an influencer use it on social media or their video channel.
On the other hand, word-of-mouth marketing comes from your existing, satisfied customers, who may or may not have a social following. Word-of-mouth marketing occurs when these customers tell their friends, family members, and personal acquaintances about the good experience they’ve had with your brand.
Technically, any channel where people can publish, be seen as an expert, and build an audience is somewhere you can work with an ‘influencer.’
However, certain platforms tend to be more effective for influencer marketing.
Instagram is one of the most popular platforms for influencer marketing. Due to its visual nature, Instagram posts and stories are the perfect place for influencers to share creative photos of your product in use.
One of the biggest social media platforms for influencer marketing is YouTube. Influencers often use this platform to create videos around their area of expertise or niche.
Twitter can be a great platform for influencers because it’s easy to connect with many people quickly around a topic or hashtag and spark a discussion. In addition, Twitter allows you to share short videos and photos, which is perfect for influencer campaigns promoting products.
LinkedIn is another powerful social media platform for influencer marketing campaigns. LinkedIn has a large number of users who are professionals and decision-makers. This means that LinkedIn is a great place to identify influencers who can promote your products to other professionals.
TikTok, a newer social media app, is another great platform for influencer campaigns. It’s a visual app that allows users to share short videos of themselves and their experiences. Because of its growing popularity, TikTok is the perfect place for brands to find different influencers who can promote their products to a young, engaged audience.
Blogs offer a more personal connection between the influencer and their audience, and the opportunity for an in-depth written review.
What are the different ways in which influencers can promote?
Running a giveaway on their blog or social media page is a great way for influencers to promote your products.
By including a link in their post, influencers can send their followers directly to your website, where they can enter the giveaway and win your product.
A great benefit of this for brands is that the traffic is easy to measure.
Influencers can promote your brand by publishing a sponsored post on their blog or social media page.
Sponsored posts are great for driving targeted traffic to your website and work well for brands who want to own the conversation with an influencer’s audience.
In addition, sponsored posts provide clear ways of measuring ROI, including the number of clicks, website visits, and form submissions attributed to the specific influencer.
Another way influencers can promote your brand is by creating sponsored videos to share on their YouTube page.
The possibilities are endless from product reviews, tutorials, or even unboxing videos.
Promoting a product in a video is a great way for influencers to engage with their audience and demonstrate the benefits of your product.
Sponsored blog posts.
Writing a blog post together is another great option for promoting your product for brands who want to own the conversation with an influencer’s audience.
Because of their long-form nature, this type of content allows influencers to get creative and demonstrate the benefits of your product in detail.
If you are looking for a more interesting way to engage with an influencer’s audience as part of your influencer marketing strategy, allowing an influencer to take over your Instagram or other social media accounts for the day is another great option.
This allows influencers to write about your brand, share photos of themselves using your product, and engage with their followers as your brand.
If you are looking for a creative way to work with influencers, but aren’t quite ready for an Influencer Takeover, you can work with an influencer to publish content on your blog.
There is no industry-wide agreed definition of how to break down influencers into different types based on size.
Different influencer marketing platforms have different definitions.
However, perhaps one of the most useful breakdowns is from Iconosquare:
- Mega Influencers are influencers with more than one million followers and are most likely celebrity influencers.
- Macro Influencers have more than 100,000 followers, but less than one million. These are more likely to be your popular social media stars.
- Micro Influencers are those that have between 10,000 and 100,000 followers on their social channels.
- Nano Influencers have less than 10,000 followers.
How much does influencer marketing cost?
There is no clear-cut answer to this question, other than it really depends on what you’re after.
As a general rule, a ‘mega influencer’ using the definitions above can often be expensive and out of reach for all but the largest brands.
A recommended strategy for brands, especially those new to developing an influencer marketing strategy, is to spread your risk a little. Consider working with a selection of macro-influencers, micro-influencers, and nano influencers in your specific niche.
Historically, a lot of influencer marketing activity used to be based on a fixed agreed cost. An influencer would advise rates for collaboration, and the brand chose whether to work with them or not. It seems relatively straightforward, but the brand is absorbing a lot of the risk.
As the influencer marketing industry matures, there is a gradual rise in influencers who are open to performance-based or hybrid deals, typically where only part of the fee is fixed. The remainder is subject to certain engagement or traffic objectives being hit.
How to find and work with influencers.
Finding the right social media influencer for your marketing strategy often takes time and dedication.
There are many ways you can research potential influencers.
- Search for hashtags related to your industry to see who is already talking about your niche.
- Set up Google alerts for keyword searches related to your industry. Keep your eye out for blogs that may interest your target audience.
- If some of your competitors have hired influencers, look at them to gauge the type of influencers who would be a good fit to promote your offerings.
- Use marketing tools such as Followerwonk to see the social influencers with the largest follower count for certain topics and hashtags.
- Consider using an influencer marketing platform such as GroupHigh or Tap Influence to make the process easier.
Once you find influencers you’d like to work with, it’s time to do some influencer outreach.
It can often be tempting in the interests of time to send a ‘cut and paste’ approach to your target influencers, but this is unlikely to get the results you want. People can sniff out a templated email.
Take the time to understand the influencer’s tone of voice, their values, the social platforms they are active on, how they engage with their audience, and any examples of influencers you can see.
If you can demonstrate in your approach that you have done your research and clearly explain why you believe they are the right influencer for your influencer program, you will be more likely to get a positive response.
Best practices of working with influencers.
Once you’ve got the right influencers on board, you’ll want to make sure the influencer campaign succeeds.
Some best practices will help guide this process:
- You need to agree on the brand message or product benefit so it’s clear and consistent.
- Advise your influencers of your ideal message and what you want the audience to feel and take away.
- Give them all the information possible. You want influencers posting about your brand or product as soon as you can!
- Work closely with your influencers to build a relationship. Respond quickly to any requests from influencers and work closely together so you can get the best out of each campaign.
- It’s also important to make sure that everyone is following the relevant guidelines about disclosing any paid partnership.
If you feel ready to start setting up an influencer marketing campaign, we’ve put together a list of steps below that can hopefully help streamline your marketing efforts.
Step 1: Setting goals, defining success, nailing down metrics.
Ask yourself what you’re trying to achieve with your influencer marketing strategy. How are you going to define influencer marketing success?
- Are you hoping to boost brand awareness?
- Generate targeted awareness of a new product or service?
- Increase social media engagement?
- Boost sales?
The goals of your campaign will dictate which metrics you’ll want to focus on as your key performance indicators (KPIs).
Some of the most common metrics for influencer campaigns are referral traffic, reach, audience growth, and engagement.
Conversions or revenue are also sometimes used as the KPI metric. However, it can be challenging to track influencer marketing back to an accurate ROI figure against marketing budget.
Step 2: Figure out budget.
How much of your marketing budget have you got available for influencer marketing?
If you have a small marketing budget or just starting out with influencer marketing, think about where you want the most bang for your buck.
If there is one macro influencer that seems ‘just right’ then that may be the best route for you.
But generally, diversifying and spreading risk across your influencer marketing strategy is often the best way to go — perhaps a number of nano-influencers and micro-influencers might give you better indication of what might work for you?
Step 3: Design a management strategy.
An influencer marketing campaign is not a set-it-and-forget-it initiative.
You’ll need to reach out to influencers, monitor their content, pay them, figure out performance against KPIs, and maintain relationships. Work with your team to determine who will be responsible for managing your efforts.
If you’re in the midst of planning your influencer marketing campaign and are struggling to see where the internal resource might come from, have you considered an influencer marketing agency?
Step 4: Contact influencers.
After you’ve created a list of influencersp you believe are a good fit for your brand, you’ll need to reach out to them. Send them an email or message on social media promoting the opportunity. Be clear on your expectations and incentives. Make sure your pitch is short and personalized, as long, mass pitches are rarely effective.
Step 5: Run the campaign.
If some influencers are interested and ready to move forward, there’s no reason not to bring the campaign to life.
Work with your brand influencers to create schedules for social media content, collect data on engagement and conversions, and make changes to your campaign as necessary.
Step 6: Measure success.
As your influencer marketing campaign starts running, keep an eye on the performance metrics you’ve set up in Step 1. Are you getting the engagement you expected? Are your social media numbers increasing? Are you seeing traffic to your site? Are prospects starting to convert?
Depending on the goals of your campaign, you may also want to measure other indicators like brand sentiment and word-of-mouth referrals.
Are celebrity endorsements the same as influencer marketing?
Not really. Celebrities will have a much larger audience than influencers and so a product may reach lots of people who aren’t interested in it. Influencers do have the relative choice to pick the brands they work with, meaning their followers are more likely to be interested in the brand and make a purchase.
Is there a minimum number of followers an influencer should have?
No, but they do need to have a large enough following that using them to market your products will be worthwhile. Remember that impact is measured through engagement and impressions.
What are the KPIs for influencer marketing?
KPIs to focus on for your influencer marketing campaign may vary based on who you’re working with, and on what platform. However, they should generally include things like reach, referral traffic and conversion rates, so you can monitor the success of a campaign and take learnings for next time if deemed successful.
Influencer Marketing Made Easy.
Adobe's Marketo Engage can be an invaluable resource if you’re interested in using influencer marketing to help your business grow.
Schedule a free demo today.