We’ve all heard of her. The popular girl. The it-girl. The influencer. She’s the one who knows everything and everyone and just so happens to know a thing or two about how to make money on social media. Whether it be her increasing star power, collaborations, or a keen eye for “Instagram aesthetic”, she knows how to make every follower count and come back for more content. In the digital age, more companies are handing over their marketing to social influencers, or influential people who can help them gain exposure to the now coveted millennial market. Influencer marketing has become an increasingly important way to take marketing and sales to the next level because the business focus is placed less on the target market and more on a single person who represents key demographics.
In our recent post about Instagram, we talked about why it is important to focus marketing on millennials. According to an influencer marketing survey conducted by Collective Bias, 70% of millennial consumers are influenced by the recommendations of their peers in buying decisions. Because of this, influencer marketing is becoming one of the most important strategies when it comes to social media marketing. Here are the ABC’s of influencer marketing:
A: Ask Around
When you’re first starting your search for the perfect influencer to represent your brand, you may not know where to start. Because there are so many accounts to choose from, and the fact that virtually anyone can become an influencer, you may fall victim to the social media hole, which can include a lot of scrolling and no product. Many people simply browse through Instagram or YouTube but come up short. One way to bypass the search is to not limit yourself strictly to one social platform, or even to conduct the search yourself. Try asking people you know in your industry who some of their favorite social influencers are, or try using an influencer search engine such as BuzzSumo.com that allows you to find influencers using keywords and hashtags on multiple different platforms. Other sites like TapInfluence allow companies to find influencers by category and manage your workflow straight from your desktop.
B: Be Proactive
The best way to score the influencer you want to work with is to be proactive. Social media influencers know what they’re doing and while they rarely do not turn down a collaboration, they don’t mess around when it comes to negotiations (and you’re likely not the only one who’s looking at them either). When you find the influencer you want to work with, send a direct message or email and let them know how much you love their work and want to set up a time to chat about a potential business partnership.
C: Create Useful Content, Not Ads
Let’s face it – the world of marketing is changing. With the popularity of social media, people are becoming more aware of how to spot an ad. Just having someone hold a product and read a few lines simply don’t cut it anymore and the previous thought that marketing and promotions have to look a certain way has fallen flat. Consumers want to see more. They want to see personality, creativity and what makes your brand exciting. One of the best ways to combat boring advertising is by using social influencers who have a whole social toolbox in their hand. Through the use of Instagram Stories, Snapchat and YouTube, influencers can show a company’s product in action. One example of great marketing is when Vineyard Vines paid three popular Instagram women to go on a weekend vacay on a local northeastern cruise line while taking great pics along the way, including the hashtag #vvpartner. Through their combined following of over 2 million users, Vineyard Vines was able to expose their brand to millions of millennials that otherwise would not have seen it.
D: Don’t Underestimate Smaller Influencers
Let’s get real- many, or even most companies like to work with social stars with a large following – we’re talking no less than 500k followers. Although this is the usual occurrence, it is not the rule. Several brands have chosen to leave the big influencers behind and work with users with a smaller following. Just because a user may have less than 2,000 followers doesn’t mean they aren’t worth working with. Many local companies choose to work with smaller accounts, for example, college students, because it fits into their key demographic. Boutique’s love partnering with these type of influencers because it is local level marketing. If a boutique works with a college student, people who see the collaboration are more than likely other college-aged students and local businesses, thus spreading the word about your brand.
E: Encourage a Business Relationship
Influencers don’t want to simply be thought of as a marketing device. Because influencer marketing is one of the most personal forms of business marketing, they should be treated as just that. In order to get the most from your collaboration that will allow both parties to benefit from the work, it is important to build a long-term relationship with them so they may want to work with you again in the future. They don’t call it having a “social partner” for nothing. The brands that see the most success are the ones that provide a partnership that focuses less on the dollar signs and more on the content.
F: Follow FTC Guidelines
Back in the early days of influencer marketing, companies could get away with not being very transparent with their consumers. However, as of 2017, the FTC has established several guidelines pertaining to the business of social partnering. If you want to avoid any possible legal issues in the future, it is important for your influencer to establish that their post is paid for with the hashtag #ad or #sponsored. In fact, Instagram has made it even easier to work with influencers as they have created a branded content option. This allows influencers to clearly disclose when a post is a paid partnership above the image or video.
G: Gather Results
When working with influencers one of your first questions is going to be whether or not it is making a difference when it comes to sales figures. It may be a nice to tell people you’re working with influencers, but it only really matters if it works. Tracking influencer campaigns is an important way to determine the effectiveness of your marketing strategy. One of the best ways to do this is by using a social media monitoring tool, such as those available by Sprout. If you’re looking for a way to track your campaign in real time, try having the influencer use a creative branded hashtag. This way you’ll be able to see how many people are using your company’s hashtag.