How to Start Influencer Marketing for your Business
Any company interested in promoting their products or services will probably have heard of the term ‘influencer marketing.’ And, in fact, anyone who uses social media a lot will typically be exposed to it on a daily – definitely a weekly – basis. But what exactly is it and how can you get onboard?
What is influencer marketing?
The concept of influencer marketing has been around long before the internet came along – but social media has certainly transformed this area of marketing and made the whole process a lot more accessible and effective.
Influencer marketing involves getting a popular and trusted individual with a large following to endorse your products to their audience. (The influencer needs to be relevant to your industry so that their audience matches your target market). Using TV and Showbiz celebrities, sport superstars, successful business people etc has been around since the first newspapers and flyers were distributed. TV made it more prominent while the internet has just seen it explode, especially for brands and companies who target young people and millennials since these groups are biggest users of the web.
The most accessible influencers today tend to be bloggers and vloggers who you can either pay or gift product in exchange for photos, mentions and reviews on social media. This is a much simpler, cheaper and safer method of influencer marketing as opposed to the traditional methods of paying a celebrity to become a brand ambassador, and be the face of multiple lengthy and costly ad campaigns.
How does influencer marketing work?
One way is to pay them for their time and services, another is to give them your products for free in exchange for a photo, video, review or ‘mention’ on social media. Fashion brands use this a lot as they get the celeb/blogger to picture themselves wearing their clothes/carrying their handbag etc, and tag them on social media.
The more established the influencer is, the more likely they will ask for payment. If this isn’t in your budget, try to think outside the box and offer something more special/specific to the influencer, such as something bespoke or personalised.
Rather than just having a blogger or celeb post a photo of your product, another popular method of influencer marketing involves running competitions. The influencer will often ask people to follow them and your brand for the chance to win your product as the prize. This is a great way to gain exposure, increase your audience and your engagement. Be sure to check out their previous competitions for stats and success rates.
Product reviews are another ‘biggie.’ These days, of course, influencers often declare that they are being paid to promote a particular item or service to remain transparent and trust-worthy, but reviews that ‘come from the heart’ always come across as true and genuine so you’ll find that the ‘advert’ tag doesn’t really matter for the reader or viewer.
You can also organise a digital marketing campaign organising multiple influencers. Razor company Gillette used a handful of influencers to promote their new blade by writing posts about it then getting followers to click through to a main central Gillette advert. By using influencers alongside the hashtag #ChooseToSmooth, they were able to get their ad in front of an audience of 476,000 people using Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Top Tip: Always be sure to set out guidelines at the beginning of any new influencer partnership so you both benefit from the agreement. It’s often wise to ask them to sign an agreement outlining exactly what they must deliver in exchange for the agreed payment or product.
How to pick the right influencers for your business?
Your ideal influencer is, as we said, someone who holds your potential customers in thrall. If you’re aiming at a teen group, then chances are this is a Tv celeb or pop star (think Katie Perry). Then again, it’s actually more likely to be a vlogger or blogger who has a huge reach amongst a certain niche, usually fashion, make up, fitness, nutrition or travel, and whose endorsement of your product or celebrity really holds sway amongst their following- because they truly are ‘influencers’.
It’s helpful to carry out market research and find out what magazines and newspapers your customers read, what TV shows that watch, who they follow on social media and where they like to shop. A simple questionnaire is a great way to find out who the celebrities are that they are interested in – or which celebrities their favourite brands are using. You want to find someone who is an expert in your field to add credibility to your brand. For example, if your product or service is sports related, you’ll want a famous sports star or blogger, or even a celebrity who is known for loving that sport and attends all of the matches. It’s important to be realistic with your influencer, as the more famous they are, the more expensive they’ll be.
Where to find influencers for your business
Once you’ve carried out your research, create a list of potential names for your influencer list. Be sure to consider their reputation and be confident that they suit your brand image before going any further.
There are plenty of online talent agencies where you can contact the managers of celebrities and bloggers/vloggers, although this can be expensive and restrictive. You can also try to research their details and contact them directly, although there is a slim chance that they’ll reply unless you can get a direct email or phone number – which will be hard to find. (Consider how many fans and companies contact them on a daily basis).
The quickest and easiest way to find celebrities is to appoint a PR or digital marketing agency who already have the contacts to reach them directly. Have a discussion with the agency and ensure they understand your target market first.
How to approach influencers
If you’re going through a talent directory, you can simply enquire on their website and a manager will get back to you and guide you through the process.
Likewise, if you appoint an agency, they’ll do all the work for you – even if you don’t know who your industry specific influencers are, they’ll be able to research and suggest these for you.
If you opt for contacting them yourself, there is a bit of work you need to do. This will involve following all of your chosen influencer’s social media accounts and reading any recent articles and blog posts to ensure you know what’s currently happening in their life and so you are able to make an informed decision. You want them to know that you are a genuine follower and have taken the time to get to know them first before contacting them. Also, if you see that they have only just endorsed a competitor’s product, then maybe now isn’t the right time.
When you do reach out to an influencer, you’ll need your initial contact to be amazing and stand out from the crowd. They’ll have brands asking them to endorse their products all the time, so you’ll really need to think about your pitch and be creative to convince them to reply. Show them what you can offer them, how great your brand is and why it will benefit them.
Benefits of influencer marketing
- Your potential customers aren’t being ‘sold to’ by a company, your product/service is being ‘recommended’ by someone they trust and approve of (probably even emulate). This tends to lead to more word of mouth advertising which is the best form of promotion you can possibly get.
- Your brand and your product or service is instantly exposed to a whole new audience within your target market.
- An influencer, when selected correctly, will add credibility to your brand.
- The influencer will likely promote your product or service in an interesting way i.e. through a YouTube tutorial or as part of a blog post, which is a great way to gain new content for your business and improve your SEO.
- Influencer marketing beats advertising hands-down – especially on the web where advertising spam can be switched off using software to block adverts.
- An influencer can come up with fresh and creative ways to promote your products or services – perhaps in ways that you might never had thought of before.