Influencer marketing, if done right, can help your startup or small business grow your audience, improve sales, and expand brand awareness through social media. But for influencer marketing to succeed, there has to be a good fit between your brand and the influencers that represent you.
What is influencer marketing and why should you care?
Influencer marketing serves as a hybrid of conventional marketing strategies fused with a modern-day content-driven approach.
Virtually anyone can be an influencer if they have the right qualities and an audience that follows them. They might be influential because they are well respected in their field, or because they have a popular fashion blog.
What’s important is that they have the eyes and ears of a super-targeted niche audience primed to be interested in your business’ service or product.
If you are a startup or small business and don’t have the budget of a larger company, consider working with micro-influencers (people who have between 10,000 and 100,000 followers).
Here are three clear benefits of influencer marketing:
- You can tap into an influencer’s knowledge of a platform.
- Linking your brand to an influencer provides you valuable access to their audience.
- Embrace influencers to gain their feedback, perspective, and review of your product.
How do you find influencers?
Instagram is considered the top platform for influencer marketing.
But many influencers also keep up with their base on Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter, YouTube, and Pinterest.
- Pinterest – Pinfluencers have been known to attract as many as 1.8 million followers,
- YouTube – Influencers on YouTube had 3x as many views and 2x as many actions on sponsored content posts as compared to celebrity posts,
- Blogs geared toward your market – Bloggers, as a group, tend to be trusted authorities in their niche groups who can attract customers while building community, and
- Twitter, Snapchat, and common interest communities across the web. On Twitter alone, almost 40% of the users bought something because an influencer tweeted about it.
What should you pay influencers?
Influencers construct their prices based on three major factors:
- The size of their following,
- Their engagement rate, and
- How in demand they are.
If they’re a popular, well-known influencer on a platform like Instagram, they are likely to receive plenty of offers to promote brands on their Instagram posts. Consequently, the price that they charge for Instagram posts is going to be much higher.
Here’s where you can score a bargain: the same influencer who might have a massive demand for their Instagram marketing posts might be less in demand on Pinterest or Facebook. That means they may charge less for working on those platforms, giving you a way to reach at least part of their market for a fraction of the price.
To get a better sense of pricing for influencers marketing, take a look at this post from Digiday.
Reality check: fake followers
There has been a lot of media coverage about influencers using unethical means to bolster their follower count to look more influential than they actually are.
The idea that “things are not what they seem” seems even more applicable when it comes to follower counts and reach. Social sites like Twitter have made efforts to curb this by purging millions of fake and bot-driven accounts from their network, but this is (and continues to be) a thorny problem.
Make sure that the person you’re looking at has the reach they claim to have. You want to find a valued partner to work with, not throw money at a mirage.
What should you look for when searching for an influencer?
For all of its potential advantages, influencer marketing is a wasted investment if you pair yourself with an influencer who doesn’t fit your brand.
Keep in mind two critical questions: Is this influencer a good representation of your brand, and do they have a good engagement rate?
Consider how any potential influencer can best reflect a quality or aspect of your business that is a natural fit for you both.
An important way to evaluate fit is to consider about the influencer’s “voice” and whether that voice matches your own.
Also, consider engagement. The percentage of an influencer’s audience who actively responds to their content can come in several forms:
- Post Likes/Reactions
Engagement rate matters because it provides you with information about how well an influencer’s content performs on the platforms in which they are participating.
It’s essential that when you evaluate an influencer that you take into consideration the entirety of their online presence, and that includes things they’ve said or done in the past.
How can you validate an influencer that you’re thinking about working with?
- Ask for a media kit. They should be able to provide you with some documentation that explains their audience and the kind of engagement they see. They should be able to give you an idea of how well their posts perform and what you can expect working with them.
- Spend some time following them yourself before and after you initiate contact. You should be able to validate what they tell you with your own eyes by observing their social feeds. Look for someone who is passionate about complementary things to your brand and your services.
- Talk to them. Spend a bit of time getting to know them, ask questions, and make sure they’re someone you can see yourself working with.
- Read their comments. You can often get a good idea of someone’s posting history and their values through their comments.
Take the time to ensure the people you’re considering are who they say they are, and you’ll potentially save yourself some serious pain later.
You found an influencer. Now what?
Once you have identified an influencer who would be a great fit to speak about your brand, reach out and connect with them.
There’s no shortage of ways to do this. You can:
- Reach out over social media – try tweeting at them!
- Take advantage of direct messaging available on social media.
- Email them.
- Call them.
Then, start a conversation! Be friendly, be straightforward, be real.
Don’t beat around the bush about why you’re trying to connect – explain your goals, why you think they’re an excellent fit for your brand, and what you believe a mutually beneficial relationship might look like.
With so many growing platforms and influencer marketing tools available, it won’t be hard to find an influencer and manage the relationship and its workflow. Take advantage of tools like Tapinfluence, NeoReach, and Upfluence to help you find influencers and manage subsequent workflow.
Make influencer marketing work for you
Influencer marketing works well if done right. But for influencer marketing to benefit your business, you have to find influencers who fit your brand.
You never know – a great influencer might already be a happy customer.