Now that it is 2018, we are basically living in the future, and most people have likely heard the term “influencer” or “social influencer” by now. So, what (or who) is an influencer? Is it Kylie Jenner? Is it the pretty girl that came in 6th place on The Bachelor that somehow convinced you to buy a teeth whitening kit? Is it the fashion blogger that made you question your own personal fashion sense enough that you decided to purchase every item of clothing she was wearing in her recent Instagram post? The answer is yes – to all of them.
The term “influencer” is actually pretty self-explanatory, as they are someone who “influences” other people to do something – like get out their credit card and make a purchase. Influencers have found their way into the lucrative business of advertising and are slowly taking over the world (or at least Instagram).
Influencer marketing is something that has very much evolved in the last few years, and is something that most brands have either already done, or should strongly consider doing.
Instagram and Influencers
Instagram is by and large the biggest platform for social media influencers, given the extremely visual and easy-to-follow nature of the app. Those who have thousands, hundreds of thousands, and even millions of followers tend to have aesthetically pleasing feeds, a common post theme, and real people who engage with their content. The magic of influencer marketing is that people are more likely to trust people that they can relate to. This means influencers are in that sweet spot where their posts – that are filled with product placements – don’t really feel like an advertisement when it pops up.
There are a wide variety of different types of influencers (foodies, fashionistas, outdoor adventurers, health and fitness gurus, makeup/beauty trend setters, activists, comedians, and much, much more.) Even if your brand or product is fairly obscure, there is still most likely an influencer out there who is currently reaching your audience – you just need to find them.
How to find the right influencer
The first step in starting to work with a social media influencer is to find someone who you feel would appropriately and enthusiastically represent your brand, and more importantly, who is currently reaching your target audience. Once you have identified an influencer you would like to work with, it is important to do a bit of research and homework.
Ask yourself the important questions: Have they recently posted something for a competing brand? Have they ever posted something that members of your target audience may find offensive? Do they have enough followers for a paid campaign to be worth it?
Another thing to look for when doing influencer research is their engagement rate. If someone’s profile says that they have 30,000 followers, but they typically only get 27 likes on a photo – something is wrong. As sad as it is, there are apps on the market that let people buy fake robot followers, so be sure that an influencer’s likes seem to be matching up with their number of followers. Also be sure to check their post comments to see if real people are positively engaging with their content. If all of that checks out, then it might be time to reach out with a campaign proposal.
So, how does it work?
Although influencer marketing is a fairly new concept and something that many people are still figuring out, it is important to remember that this is a very real type of advertising and something that will not be free. Successful influencers have built their own brands and have gained thousands and thousands of loyal followers – so they are not going to post about your brand or product just because you ask nicely. It is best practice to reach out to an influencer, or their manager, and first ask if they would be interested in a possible collaboration. Depending on the influencer, and their number of followers, social content can sometimes be created in exchange for goods or services (overnight hotel stay, free massage, free product, etc.), but when you are dealing with influencers with hundreds of thousands of followers, you will likely be paying a lofty fee per post.
Have clearly defined expectations and deliverables
Since influencer marketing is new and not as cut and dry as traditional advertising, it is important to have clearly defined expectations for the influencer you are working with. Save yourself a headache and create a detailed contract ahead of time that both parties will sign. Make sure you are clear in what types of posts you expect, how many, and what hashtags or location tags you would like them to use.
Influencers ultimately have editorial control over their content, so it is important to make sure they fully understand your brand and are able to convey your message to their audience. Once a campaign is over, be sure to look at the data to see if it is worth working with that particular influencer again in the future. How many likes the did the post get? How many real comments were posted? How many people viewed their instastory? How many new business leads or product sales came out of the partnership?
How long will this type of advertising last?
When influencer marketing first became a thing, a large majority of people did not realize that the posts they were seeing that feature specific products or services were actually paid advertisements. Now that this has become a popular form of advertising, social media platforms have lifted the veil a bit and have started requiring that influencers use #sponsored or #ad on any posts that they have been paid for. Instagram has also started putting “Paid partnership with _______” at the very top of paid posts so that there is no confusion. This type of advertising is evolving every day and there are constantly new influencers popping up. Now that people are privy to the fact that influencers are paid to share content, it will be interesting to see if the trust that was once there begins to falter in the coming years.
Our team has won several industry awards for our work with national influencers and we also have extensive experience in working with micro or local influencers. If you think your brand might benefit from influencer marketing, and you aren’t quite sure where to start, feel free to reach out to us today to get a plan in place!