What is Influencer Marketing? Strategies and Examples
Influencer marketing has grown more and more popular in the last decade along with the rise of social media. When done right, this form of social media marketing can be incredibly effective in improving brand awareness, visibility, and in establishing a brand voice and identity.
But what is influencer marketing, exactly? How can businesses leverage social media via influencers?
We’ll cover the basics of influencer marketing, with examples, and offer some ideas to implement this marketing strategy for your business.
What is a Social Media Influencer?
For those who are less social media savvy, you may find yourself wondering what it means to be an “influencer”.
Influencers are popular social media users who are celebrities of sorts in their own spheres. Some influencers may be actual celebrities. To be considered an influencer on social media, you need a large amount of followers who are engaged with your content.
It’s not enough just to have a high follower count – those followers need to closely follow your account and engage with your content. An influencer is someone who has influence over their followers, whether it’s to dress a certain way, follow certain trends, or to purchase certain products.
Many influencers have a specific niche, whether it’s fashion, fitness, travel, or otherwise.
Types of Influencers
As mentioned above, there are influencers for every niche industry online. Influencers are also often categorized by their number of followers, however.
Mega influencers are considered anyone with over a million followers, while micro influencers may have anywhere from 10,000 to 50,000 followers. There are other influencer tiers in between.
The number of followers needed to be considered an influencer can also change depending on your industry; fashion influencers likely need more followers to be considered influential compared to a smaller niche, like CBD influencers.
Again, having a lot of followers is not all it takes to be an influencer. Influencers also must have a high engagement rate to prove that their audience is actively engaging with their content.
What is Influencer Marketing?
Influencer marketing is a marketing strategy that leverages the popularity of social media influencers. Companies create partnerships or sponsorships with influencers so that they will promote their products, share reviews, or endorse their company.
Because influencers already have a large, dedicated audience, businesses can use influencers to reach that huge audience as well. Since the followers, in theory, like and trust the influencers they follow, they are more likely to listen to their product recommendations.
Influencer marketing essentially serves as a form of social proof for your brand – if someone’s favorite influencer uses a certain beauty product, then they are likely to purchase that product themselves.
How Does Influencer Marketing Work?
There are various strategies to pursue when working with influencers. Some companies pay per post, while others have longer-term partnerships set up.
Companies may ask influencers to mention their product, do a full review of the product, or even just wear their product in a post and tag it.
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The most important thing to keep in mind is that, for influencer marketing to work, it must look authentic. It’s vital to find influencers who line up with your brand identity and values so that your influencer marketing efforts don’t look like an obvious advertisement. You wouldn’t want a fashion influencer who doesn’t post any exercise content to promote exercise equipment.
Social media users follow influencers because they enjoy their content or even admire them, so a good influencer marketing campaign will make those users feel like their favorite influencer really does love a certain product, and therefore they should buy that product too.
That being said, it’s important to disclose partnerships as an influencer so that followers understand that they are being paid for their endorsement. The FTC has strict rules about disclosing sponsorships that says that influencers must disclose any financial relationships with companies they’re promoting.
Benefits of Influencer Marketing
Influencer marketing is a proven strategy, when done right. Many brands have seen great success through influencers. One survey found that 89% of marketers had a comparable or better ROI with influencer marketing compared to other marketing techniques.
There are multiple benefits of influencer marketing, including:
- Increased brand awareness and recognition
- Improved trust and credibility
- Access to your target audience
- More natural promotion compared to traditional advertisements
- Provides value to consumers in the form of product reviews
- Helps reach a larger audience
- Elevates your content strategy
- Generates leads and sales
How To Develop an Influencer Marketing Strategy
Now that you know the basics of influencer marketing, you may be wondering how you can implement it into your marketing efforts. Take time to consider the best strategy for your specific industry, business, and product before you try to start working with influencers. Use these tips when creating your influencer marketing strategy:
Set a Budget
First and foremost, figure out how much you can afford to spend on this new strategy. If you already have a set marketing budget, you may be able to allocate funds from there. Figure out how much you are willing to invest in influencer marketing so that you can offer the right influencers a fair deal that fits with their prices.
Your budget is highly dependent on your niche, target audience, and more. If you want to work with mega influencers like Kendall Jenner or James Charles, you’re going to need to budget more. To work with micro influencers, however, you won’t need to spend as much.
Define Goals and Brand Messaging
Before you begin any marketing campaign, you should know what you’re working towards. What do you hope to accomplish by working with social media influencers? How can you measure those goals?
It’s important to define goals from the start so that you can measure your progress. You should also figure out what influencer marketing looks like for your business, and figure out branding and brand messaging.
For example, if you own an athletic wear brand, your goals might include improved brand awareness, lead generation, and increased sales. Other goals may also include more followers on social media, more social media mentions, and increased website traffic.
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As far as branding and brand messaging, consider your target audience as well as your brand values that you want to communicate. Using the same example, a fitness brand might cater to different audiences and values, which will affect your messaging.
If you want to be recognized as high performance athletic wear, your target audience might be athletes and fitness junkies, with messaging focused on athleticism. If you’re more focused on inclusive branding for all sizes and fitness levels, your target audience and messaging might center around inclusivity and body positivity.
You know your business better than anyone else, so make sure that you set goals and targets based on your brand and what you want to accomplish by working with influencers.
Find Influencers in Your Niche
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Once you’ve set big-picture goals for your influencer marketing campaign, you can start looking for the right influencers to promote your brand. Keep your budget and your goals in mind while researching influencers to collaborate with.
Consider what platform or platforms you want to focus on. Instagram is one of the most popular social media networks for influencer marketing, but TikTok has grown in popularity as well, especially for a younger audience. YouTube is also a lucrative option.
You’ll need to do some research on your niche and industry to find influencers that fit with your brand. Search for the top influencers or micro influencers in your industry, or consider using social listening tools to find influencers in your niche.
Once you’ve found influencers that you think would be a good fit for your brand, you’ll need to find out if they’re interested!
You can reach out to them either directly through their social media platform of choice, for example via Instagram DM, or see if their profile or website has contact information for inquiries. Bigger influencers may have a specific email address or agent to contact for opportunities.
Be prepared to negotiate a partnership that works with your goals and budget. Know in advance if you are looking for a single promotional post, a long-term partnership, or anything in between.
Set Clear Guidelines
If you’ve created partnerships with influencers, make sure that their role, expectations, and guidelines are transparent. Set expectations in terms of brand messaging, post type and frequency, and payment terms.
When you work with influencers, you give up some creative freedom – you can’t control exactly what they post. Make sure that any strict guidelines are clearly explained and understood, but allow for some creativity on the part of the content creator.
As a popular influencer on social media, they still have control over their content, and they most likely know what they’re doing! Influencers have grown their audience already, so try to develop some trust that they will effectively market your product.
Track Progress & Measure Performance
As your influencer marketing campaign progresses, make sure your track the performance and efficacy of your efforts. If you set measurable goals, it should be easy to track your progress.
There are plenty of social media tools and other web and sales analytics tools to track how this new marketing effort has influenced your business.
Influencer Marketing FAQ
How effective is influencer marketing?
Influencer marketing has been found to be effective, at least as much as other marketing efforts. In the study we mentioned earlier, 80% of marketings find influencer marketing to be an effective strategy, with 71% saying that the quality of traffic or leads is better than other forms of marketing.
How many followers do you need to be an influencer?
There’s no exact number that makes you an influencer – some smaller influencers may only have 5,000 followers, while others are in the millions. What matters more than the number of followers is how engaged, active, and influenceable your audience is online.
What platform is best for influencers?
The most popular channels for influencers are Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube. These visual platforms tend to be the most lucrative for influencers and brands, although Facebook and Twitter are viable platforms as well.
How do influencers get paid?
There are different strategies for compensating influencers. Some get paid a flat cost per post, while others may sign contacted partnerships that last a certain amount of time. Influencers can also make money via affiliate marketing or by offering discount codes, where they get a certain percentage when someone uses their code at checkout.
Does influencer marketing work for every business?
Influencer marketing may not be for every business. Some businesses, like law firms, for example, most likely will not benefit from influencer marketing.
Some of the industries that benefit the most from influencer marketing include fashion, beauty, travel, technology, food, and fitness.
Can influencer marketing help SEO?
Influencer marketing can indirectly help your SEO. At the most basic level, better social media marketing and visibility is good for SEO. Social media is not considered a ranking factor by Google, but most search engine marketers believe that social signals can help your SEO.
Moreover, influencer marketing can drive more traffic to your website, or lead to more potential customers searching for your store online. The more traffic to your site, the better for SEO purposes. More traffic suggests to Google that your website is trustworthy and legitimate, which can help rankings.
Influencer marketing is a modern take on word-of-mouth marketing. This strategy is here to stay, as more and more brands work with influencers to improve their social media presence and brand awareness.
Consider working influencers into your overall marketing strategy to take advantage of a huge online audience.