Whether you’ve been in the industry for years or you’re just now dipping your toes into the social media pool, you might still have a few questions about influencer marketing. Understandable. So, you know us – always trying to meet the need. So, we’ve updated our Influencer Marketing FAQ.
A lot has changed since we originally published our influencer marketing Q&A back in 2018. In that time, influencer marketing has gone from being new and shiny to being new and shiny and ever-changing. So, it’s not unusual for brands to feel unsure when it comes to knowing what works and what doesn’t when it comes to running influencer marketing campaigns.
It’s definitely tough to keep up with, even for seasoned pros (our strategy team literally updates the team on changes in the sapce in our weekly meetings. . But it’s an industry that marketing professionals, influencers, investors, and innovators have started committing their lives to, so if you’re looking to dive into the industry, it’s more important than ever to understand the basics.
We, at The Shelf, consider ourselves one of the die-hards, and with our devotion comes great knowledge. So, we want to answer some of the more common influencer marketing questions that come up with clients, influencers, and marketers alike. Think of this page as your go-to when you find yourself scrambling for the influencer marketing FAQs, and be sure to bookmark it.
What is influencer marketing?
Likely one of the first influencer marketing questions that comes up in your mind is, well, “what is influencer marketing?”
Influencer marketing is a type of marketing that leverages influencers on different online platforms. It’s a virtual version of word of mouth marketing where an individual endorses a product or service to their online community.
There are several platforms that countless influencers live on to share different forms of content such as photos, written thoughts, videos, vocal discussions, etc. And different types of influencer collaborations take different shapes.
For example, a dog account on Instagram may partner with a brand to promote dog food or treats that are thoughtfully incorporated into their usual content. Like @2husketeers in their Instagram post featuring Stella & Chewy’s. The influencer understands their community and is an expert in connecting authentically with their followers in their chosen niche.
Much of the process relies on finding where your audience is as well as the influencers that are going to help share your brand’s message or story best. It’s this type of engagement that brands should capitalize on as it maximizes effort and increases ROI.
Check out our article addressing “What is influencer marketing?” for more insight into this foundational question that kicks off our influencer marketing FAQs.
How many followers do you need to be an influencer?
An influencer, by definition, is someone who is able to influence the views and actions of their community. So, we typically think of an influencer as first and foremost, someone who is deliberately and actively exercising their influencer. Meaning a post may do well or go viral, sure. But in order to be an influencer, someone has to have the intention of being an influencer. So, keep that int he back of your mind – being an influencer isn’t just about growing a following.
Does the size of said community matter though?
Yes. Well, sorta.
There are different types of influencers that range from nano influencers with 1,000 followers to celebrity influencers (1 million or more followers). In fact, The Shelf platform automatically starts pulling social media profiles once a social media user hits 1,000 followers on a single platform.
There are 5 types of influencers: nano, micro, mid-tier, macro, and mega (celebs like Johnny Depp or Lizzo). The account should specialize in some topic (niche) and be a good/credible source of information, entertainment, etc.
This may be one of the influencer marketing questions that doesn’t have a clear-cut answer. However, accounts on Instagram with 1,000 followers or more can be a good starting point as a minimum for being considered an influencer.
How do brands find influencers?
Brands typically conenct with influencers in one of five ways:
- Contacting influencers directly
- Subscribing to an influencer database or search tool
- Subscribing to an influencer marketing platforms with searchROI and capabilitites
- Hiring an influencer agent who represents influencers, or
- Bringing in an influencer marketing agency like The Shelf that manages influencer marketing campaigns.
That said, there are steps you should take ahead of time to make the influencer selection process more effective. First, make sure you have set out your goals or desired outcomes and campaign ROI you expect to see, as this will influence your selection process.
What do brands look for in influencers?
Brands create detailed personas or criteria to keep them on track during the influencer selection process. While following or engagement are key influencer marketing metrics, there are other aspects that many brands overlook.
Alignment is critical, which means elements like values or style should naturally coincide with the brand. You might seek out experienced influencers that are professional, responsive, and offer analytics or a portfolio.
Think of this influencer draft as your hype team that acts more like long-term ambassadors for your brand as opposed to fulfilling the needs of a single campaign.
Depending on your campaign goals, you can adjust some of your criteria as you seek out influencers that match your checklist with followings that include current or soon-to-be customers.
Here are some of our best practices when it comes to optimizing your influencer marketing tactics, especially in relation to finding rockstar influencers.
Who owns the sponsored content that influencers create?
In the United States, the copyright goes to the creator, so you’re going to need explicit written permission. This is true whether it’s organic like user-generated content (UGC) or if you paid the creator for content (sponsored).
UGC is the gateway to influencer marketing heaven. It can revolutionize your influencer marketing strategy, so it’s in your best interest to secure content rights – in writing – ahead of time so that you can avoid complications. Be proactive and get your ducks in a row before capitalizing on sponsored and non-sponsored content as it can level up your content, authenticity, engagement, and sales.
Are there laws governing influencer marketing?
Many influencer marketing questions we get have to do with the legal structure of influencer marketing. The UGC and copyright laws we addressed in question five come up regularly in campaigns, which is why content ownership should be clearly outlined ahead of time.
Brands and influencers also need to abide by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) guidelines, which require clear disclosure. This means that influencers need to explicitly note whether they were paid or sent free product. Mediakix reports that a celebrity may post roughly 58 sponsored posts in a year with only 3 being compliant. Don’t be like them.
Familiarize yourself with the guidelines here to avoid having you or your brand’s name in a legal battle. And be sure your influencers are abiding by the rules and regulations for each platform before they post their content.
Does Instagram pay influencers?
Instagram is a platform that primarily helps brands and creators promote their message and connect with the right audience so that they can make money from third-party companies and individual followers.
Instagram has features that allow influencers to make money within the platform alongside the revenue they can make with brand deals, affiliate programs, etc.
For example, just last year, Instagram released IGTV ads that work similarly to YouTube’s where creators receive a 55% cut of what this feature generates. Influencers can also receive badges in their live sessions, which is similar to Twitch and TikTok. Think of them as tips received for their time and work.
Which social media platform is best for influencer marketing?
Social media platforms continue to grow and adapt in the fast-paced industry of influencer marketing. This is one of the influencer marketing FAQs that doesn’t have a perfect answer.
It’s all about where your audiences live and your overall campaign goals. For some, this might be capitalizing on the growth of e-sports and partnering with popular Twitch users, or possibly Instagram for aesthetically-pleasing photos and reels. Or, you might seek out TikTok for its viral nature and growth. The start of 2021 reported 9% of marketers using the platform, and by the middle of the year showed that more than half of all agencies intended to sponsor influencers on TikTok.
While there isn’t a perfect answer to this influencer marketing question, diversifying your approach can support a winning campaign as you expand your efforts.
What is always-on influencer marketing?
“Always-on” is a phrase that translates into long-term and sustainable marketing efforts that create consistent progress. This could mean seeking out ambassadors instead of one-off influencers for a single campaign to create lasting trust and ongoing content. This helps you achieve brand affinity over transactional interactions that can feel less authentic or effective.
This usually involves broader campaigns that give you more wiggle room when it comes to the timing or messaging of your strategy. You may set up automated gifting or find ways to deepen your relationships with influencers to increase your chance of real, high-quality content.
How can you tell if an influencer campaign worked?
One of the challenges of influencer marketing is the ability to track the data. While some campaigns may be cut and dry when you look back at the increase in sales after a new launch, others that focus on brand awareness may be harder to interpret.
Set clear goals and strategies for tracking and reviewing the results before starting the campaign, so you know your KPIs from the get-go. This could mean measuring engagement rates, referrals, sales, hashtags, reach, promo codes, etc. You’ll likely use a mix of these indicators depending on the platform, campaign type, and niche, among other things.
Does influencer marketing lead to sales?
Mark this as one of the easiest influencer marketing questions to answer.
YES! A thousand times, yes. If it didn’t, we wouldn’t be crushing it at The Shelf. Influencer marketing has become the industry standard for helping brands steadily grow and offers 11 times the ROI than other forms of marketing. Businesses are making roughly $6.50 for every dollar spent on influencer marketing.
Pretty awesome, right?
Does influencer marketing affect your SEO?
A search engine is designed to give the searcher the best, most relevant answer. However, just like this influencer marketing question, it’s a little complex.
Search engines can use social signals to inform ranking, which take into account collective shares or general social viability. This can improve organic search just like a healthy backlink profile. Some social media platforms like YouTube or bloggers with their own website are easier to analyze or track.
While you may not be able to see it, everything from someone mentioning your brand on Reddit to a Facebook share could impact your SEO. One the flip side, social media greatly boosts your SEO strategy as many find themselves redirected to a product page after seeing an influencer with something they fancy.
Both SEO and influencer marketing are intimately connected and can work together to guide your customers to you.
What are the benefits of influencer marketing?
Influencer marketing helps you increase everything from audience size to your quarterly sales. You can shape brand perception, affinity, and overall value with a well-designed campaign.
You can achieve your goals with ease when you use influencer marketing to your advantage. The potential is only limited by your imagination when it comes to the benefits that this marketing format can provide you and your brand.
What does an influencer marketing platform do?
Word of mouth is often spread by people meeting up at events or gatherings where one person recommends something to someone else. This could happen at one’s house or at a holiday party. Think of a social media platform as a virtual location for these “word of mouth” conversations to take place.
Brands want to join the online chatter and find people that others trust who love what the brand sells so they can help spread it to more people for a mutually beneficial partnership. Think of influencer marketing platforms as the best friend that connects you to these people that are or will be your biggest fans to help you grow your business.
They help you connect with the most aligned influencers to help you run high-ROI campaigns, which means they take care of the influencer outreach, selection process, campaign tracking, and more.
How much does influencer marketing cost?
We’ve covered the influencer marketing FAQS that show you the ROI potential and undeniable benefits, but you might wonder how much this is all going to cost you. And the answer is: it depends on some other factors.
There isn’t a perfect standard for influencer rates. Influencers will often charge based on the size of their audiences, the platforms on which they wield influence, and their experience. So, you may see common practices when it comes to influencers pricing their services. For instance, many YouTube influencers charge somewhere between $50 – $100 per 1,000 views, but for the most part, influencers set their fees based on an array of things.
In the end, some influencers may be happy with free products while others may charge more than the average if they serve a more niche audience or produce high-quality content. So, be sure to set up a budget ahead of time before you start reaching out, so you know what kind of influencers can provide you with the best bang for your buck.
Agencies, on the other hand, – ours included – may have a more performative view of how to structure influencer pricing. Meaning that things like audience size and demographics, platforms, and experience are hugely a part of our influencer selection process. But to determine what to pay a creator to participate in a campaign, agencies will look at metrics like engagement.
As far as agency services, you can check a directory like Clutch and find out that many companies that self-identify as influencer marketing agencies have listed their prices starting at $1,000.
Does that mean you can run an influencer marketing campaign for a thousand bucks??!! Uhhh… 😳
But you can certainly partner with smaller nano and micro-influencers who may charge anywhere from $50 to $1000 to create sponsored content. Influencer marketing platforms charge monthly subscriptions in the hundreds of dollars to get access to