Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Influencer Marketing
You’ve got questions, and we’ve got answers.
Here at The Shelf, we get asked all sorts of questions in our inboxes every day from people and businesses who want to get in on the ever-growing world of influencer marketing. And so, we thought we’d save you guys the trouble (and give our inboxes a break) by answering the most frequently asked questions right in one place.
And, if you still have a burning question after reading this, or we’ve helped so much you want to go right ahead and dive in, give us a call and we will be more than happy to help!
Influencer Marketing 101
Let’s start at the very beginning - a very good place to start - and cover the basics of this sector of marketing we call Influence.
#1 What is influencer marketing?
Influencer, brand advocate, brand ambassador, blog advocate...they essentially mean the same thing. There are a million and one terms floating around right now to describe the same process, and the multiplicity just confuses people.
We feel ya.
So, let's start with a concept that rings true for many of us. Do you remember the cool kid in high school? The beautiful cheerleader? When you saw either of them rock a new fashion, eat a certain food, listen to a certain band - how many other kids followed suit? That, right there, is influencer marketing.
Of course, nowadays, the cool kids may be winning in the school halls as well as crushing it on social media. Some to the point where actual companies are approaching them - hat in hand - to get their input on the best ways to sway the masses. Now, most influencers are already out of high school (even if just barely), but they still have people watching and mimicking their every move, and that level of influence opens the door for an "influencer" to be born.
#2 How long has influencer marketing been around?
Longer than you might think!
Everyone always assumes influencer marketing is a fairly new concept that was born from the growing success of social media, but they’re wrong (sorry!).
Brands have used influential people to convince others to part with their money for hundreds of years. I recently wrote a post that explores the rich and interesting history of influencer marketing that you can read.
#3 What channels are best for influencer marketing?
So, where should your awesome influencer marketing take place? The most popular platforms for influencers to work their magic are Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, Snapchat, blogs… the list is as long as my arm- and so are the possibilities.
Choosing the best channel for your campaign depends heavily on where your target audience is hanging out.
So, if you're looking to land new customers in the over 35 market, you'll find them on Facebook and Twitter. If you're looking to capture Gen Z teens, Snapchat is still the platform of choice, despite recent bad publicity or the slip in Q1 2018 earnings. Are those new customers Moms? Pinterest and Instagram, and don't forget the mommy blogs.
The key here is to figure out who you are looking for and who is looking for you. By identifying your offer and your prospective customers, you can locate them online and start pinpointing who they follow, and who is chiming in on their buying decisions. Once you know who you want to find and where to find them, all that's left to do is to connect with an influencer who can help you create the right kind of content.
Finding an Influencer
So, you’re down with influencer marketing. You know the basics, you’re becoming fluent in the lingo, but how do you actually find an influencer to work with? Well, read on, young padawan. We have the answer to this pressing question as well.
#4 What should I look for in an influencer?
We have a few posts that will tell you how to go about finding the right influencer here, here, here and here. If you're making your first careful steps into influencer marketing, those posts will provide you with top-notch industry info. If you just want the quick hit list, however, here are the top 10 things you need to consider:
Reach - How many people are going to see their post?
Engagement - Are people interacting with their posts? Do they care?
Platform - Are they on the platform your target audience is on?
Reputation - What are they known for? Does it match your brand image?
Content - What kind of quality is their content? Does their style match your brand?
Audience - Who are their followers? Is your target audience in there?
Price + budget - How much will they charge per post? Does this match your budget?
Voice - Do they have a distinctive voice that people want to listen to?
Brand affinity - Do their personal brand, and your business brand work well together?
Potential for future partnerships - Have they had long term partnerships with other brands before?
#5 How do I find an influencer?
There are two ways you can go about finding your perfect influencer, and just like bad cop movies taught us - you can choose the easy way, or the hard way.
The hard way is to trawl social media platforms, blogs, and search engines seeking an influencer who matches all of your requirements. This can take a long time, and a lot of manpower.
Or, you could do it the easy way and work with a dedicated, data-driven platform with an advanced search engine that helps you to easily and speedily find the ideal influencers and predict how they will perform on your campaign. Where can you find a platform like that? Oh yeah - us!
#6 What size following should they have?
We get this question a lot, especially with the rise (and rise) of micro-influencers. The simple answer is... it depends.
Multiple factors play a role in you determining whether you work with a mega, macro, or micro influencer. Usually, we recommend partnering with influencers with at least 3K followers, but ultimately your campaign goals and your budget will determine the influencers you choose for partners.
For instance, if you're building brand awareness, you can do what Marvel did to promote the DVD release of Doctor Strange and work with multiple micro-influencers who are also members of the very niche cosplay or comic book geek demographic. We talked about that campaign in this Valentine's Day post.
Lord & Taylor used micro and macro influencers to promote and ultimately sell out of this summer dress when they recruited droves of influences to post pictures of themselves in the dress on the same day. You can take a look at that dress here and you can read about that campaign here.
#7 How do I know if an influencer is genuine?
With the growing world of “fake news” and the recent New York Times expose regarding people buying fake followers to appear more influential, it can sometimes be difficult to know if the person you are working with will really help your brand or not.
But, it’s not as difficult as you might think to spot a fake. There are some fairly easy-to-spot red flags that should serve to smoke them out, namely odd follower ratios, stepped growth rates, and follower list discrepancies to name a few. You can learn exactly how to spot fake followers with our recent post, and make sure you don’t get left with a dud.
#8 How do I attract top influencers?
Look, let’s get the obvious out of the way first, shall we? If you want to attract top-shelf influencers, you’ll probably have to pay top-shelf prices. Now, that doesn’t mean expensive prices, it means paying them what their influence and their content is really worth. We're talking in the thousands of dollars. Which brings me to my next point...
You need to think about which influencers you're truly targeting. Every brand thinks the fast road to success is to go with a mega-influencer. But you will have a hard time attracting a top beauty influencer to sell your sump pumps. Brand ambassadors and brands must pair nicely.
Make sure you’re creating something inspiring, whether it's your actual product or the way in which you're showing up in the market. People like to be involved in projects that inspire them. Master this, and you increase your chances of finding and collaborating with an influencer who is just as inspiring and influential.
#9 How can I reach out to influencers?
There are a few ways you can get the conversation started once you find your ideal influencer. If the influencer is well-known, he or she will most likely have an agent, manager, or some other kind of representation. An influencer will usually include this information in their bio, as well as up-to-date contact information. But, what if they don’t?
Influencers live and breathe social media - so don’t be afraid to use it yourself. A good direct message or comment can go a long way to getting the ball rolling. We actually go into this in more detail in one of our posts, which you can check out here.
Why Influencer Marketing?
But, why should you and your business be investing in influencer marketing in the first place? Isn’t traditional social media marketing enough? Well folks, let’s find out...
#10 What are the benefits of influencer marketing?
There are some truly awesome benefits from using influencer marketing as part of your online strategy, and way too many to fully answer this question right here. But, we can give you a nice round up to help!
It quickly builds trust with customers - people are much more likely to trust you, if someone they already trust is talking you up.
It improves your brand awareness - not just in cold hard numbers, but it improves brand affinity - you get seen by the right people.
It gives you new and exciting content - helping to boost your own content marketing strategy.
It provides value to your audience - it’s not just you harking on about how wonderful your product is. Instead it shows real people actually use it and liking it.
It builds relationships with both the influencers, and their audiences.
#11 Why should I choose influencer marketing over other forms of marketing?
As with all aspects of digital marketing, influencer marketing is just one cog in the machine. To effectively market your brand online, you need to be using a good mixture of different methods and platforms. And, here’s why influencer marketing should be included in that:
It’s all about awareness vs affinity.
If you pump some good money into paid ads on Facebook or Instagram, then you know, without a doubt, that your ad is going to reach a huge audience of potential customers. But how many of them are likely to stop and listen?
The problem today is that so many people are constantly overwhelmed by advertisements, that they just keep scrolling without even batting an eyelid at your carefully planned and executed ad campaign.
But, working with an influencer means that the people who see that post are already interested. They already have a relationship with this person, and care about what they care about. You’re able to cash in on an influencer’s perceived authenticity. And that, is why you need to include this method in your marketing.
#12 Is influencer marketing right for my brand?
Pretty much any brand can benefit from properly executed influencer marketing. So, whether you make ballpoint pens, jumbo jets, or fancy IT software - there really is an influencer out there for you, you just need to find that person!
And now down to the nitty gritty - running your first influencer marketing campaign. Let us hold your hand through the process.
#13 What are the steps involved in a campaign?
Again, there is so much detail we could go into here of all the ins and outs of a successful influencer marketer campaign, and we did just that in our posts here and here! But, let’s break down the basics for you right now.
You need to set clear goals and objectives. What do you want to get out of this campaign? Why are you doing it?
Choose your platform(s) and your influencer(s) - use all the tips we set out earlier!
Reach out to your chosen influencers and get that conversation started.
Communicate effectively with your influencers - give them as much information as possible, and make sure they fully understand your goals
Double check that everything is above board and FTC compliant (or whatever body of rules you need to follow in your country)
Launch your campaign - just keep breathing and you’ll be fine
Track the campaign - giving each influencer a unique link to your site is a great way to do this
Evaluate the campaign and measure the final results, use this information to form an even better campaign next time
Keep in touch with your influencers! You may want to work with them again one day. And, it’s always nice to share the results of the campaign with them too.
#14 How can I measure the success of my campaign?
The first, and most important, step in measuring any marketing campaign’s success is ensuring you have clear and actionable goals. Saying “I want to increase brand awareness” won’t cut it. “I want to increase brand awareness, reaching 10k new people, and receiving a 10% click rate from the post” is much, much better.
Then, depending on the platform you are using, you should be able to monitor the metrics of your campaign through their system, and see how those figures stack up.
#14 What kind of ROI will I receive?
Even though we left this question until right near the end of the post, it’s probably one of the most burning questions that marketers have when considering dipping their toe into the world of influencer marketing. And, we don’t blame them! We totally get it, you want to be sure that the money and the effort you put in something will reap worthwhile rewards.
Influencer marketing is usually more of a slow burn than a hot flame. The biggest advantage of using influencers is building long-lasting relationships and inspiring trust, so the results aren’t always instantaneous.
A lot of marketers seem to expect higher results from influencer marketing than any other form of online marketing - and sadly, this just isn’t the case. But, the good news is that the kind of ROI that brands do receive is usually pretty similar to that of more traditional means of digital marketing. So you’ll still be getting great results.
#16 What legal stuff do I need to be aware of?
And so, we’ve saved the most groan-inducing for last - legal guidelines.
We know, it’s the most time-consuming and cumbersome part of any campaign, and you’d rather spend that time doing...well, anything really. But, we all know how important it is as well, so let’s get down to it.
The main thing you need to know is that every sponsored post, every brand partnership, every influencer campaign, has to have a disclosure stating that that is the case. The post must say somewhere that it is an ad or sponsored, and that disclosure must be easily visible - not hidden in the middle of a million hashtags.
There are, of course, a whole bunch of other regulations that you’ll need to keep in mind, both on and off screen, but we have a great guide to keeping your campaign FTC compliant, so I’ll let you read that, since it was written by someone who knows much more about it all than I do.
Still got a burning question for us?
Aw shucks. We thought we got them all!
If you haven’t explored the rest of our blog yet - do it now! We have a whole host of awesome in-depth posts about the world of influencer marketing, for newbies and veterans alike. Plus, we have new posts coming out all the time, which you can hear about if you sign up for our email list. And I promise - we don’t spam you, it’s all good quality, corn-fed information from our end.
If your question is urgent though, leave it in the comments below, or give us a call on 212-655-9879 and we will do whatever we can (within reason, of course) to help you out!
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