One of the biggest obstacles that nearly all companies face consistently is marketing themselves to their audience effectively. Most smart consumers today are somewhat resistant to conventional advertisements via TV or print. Influencer marketing is a relatively new method of reaching these people, and beyond, without much resistance. As such, it is well worth any good entrepreneur’s time to understand the fundamentals of influencer marketing and apply them to his/her own projects.
At a basic level, influencer marketing is just word-of-mouth advertising with extra steps. A company forms some kind of an arrangement with an influencer whereby their product is featured or ‘plugged’ by said influencer, hopefully convincing some of their followers to engage with that product. There is no doubt that this can be very effective, some influencers have millions of followers over multiple platforms and if even 1 per cent of them are converted, it can mean huge success for a company. However, there are a few things that one needs to consider before jumping into influencer marketing.
Not all influencers are made the same. There are multiple parameters that will determine if an influencer is right for your company or not.
o It’s not the numbers, it’s the engagement-Do not be swayed by thousands of subscribers alone. Look at how many of them regularly view, like, comment or otherwise interact with the influencer’s content. A high percentage of active followers is a sign of a good social media influencer.
o The niche- Many of these influencers may have gathered their large following by making content that fits a specific, popular niche. E.g. A guy who vlogs about vintage anime and retro videogames might get millions of followers, but it wouldn’t make him ideal for a company trying to sell shoes. So, find someone who fits your products for the best effect
o Consistency is key- It has been observed that followers react much more positively to content when it is uploaded on a regular basis. A scatter-shot of posts about your product will be far less effective than one post per week on a specific day by all of your social media influencers. Coordinate your influencers to maximise the effectiveness of the marketing.
Gathering a large following on any platform is not easy. If it was, you wouldn’t need influencers. But since you do, it is only logical to pay them fairly for their services. This may be done via:
o Cash- The simplest and most direct form of payment, money will certainly be a useful motivator for just about any influencer. However, in recent years, there has been some stigma attached with creators ‘selling out’ to companies which may be something to look out for. Also, consider our 2nd point for vetting influencers before paying this way.
o Free products- This method works wonders if the influencers actually enjoy or use your industry’s products for work or leisure. It does not suffer quite as much ‘selling out’ stigma as cash does and allows the influencer to be relatively genuine when he/she features your product.
o Commission- This is like a contractual payment agreement. Rather than up-front money, you pay the influencer for every sale they generate. This is usually done with unique codes or links to be redeemed, allowing tracking of the converted audience.
Some Final Things to Consider
Do not expect instant success with just one influencer. You may be considering examples like ‘Beats by Dre’ where only one influencer was involved. But the fact is that you most probably don’t have an international celebrity at your disposal. The good news is that you don’t need to. You can have a dozen smaller, but targeted influencers pitching your product in coordination for the same money you would need to hire a ‘real celebrity for a week. Play to your strengths and within your limitations for the best results. Finally, check your progress regularly with influencer marketing. How much you are investing for how much return. This is often by a simple formula: (number of products sold via the influencer X average price of product) / (price per post X number of posts). The higher this ratio, the better your campaign has done.
Now that you have some of the basics down, you can start implementing influencer marketing yourself. There is still a lot we haven’t covered yet, but this is a solid start. Good luck and happy influencing.