While social media influencer marketing is a relatively new concept, it has quickly made a serious impact. The search term “influencer marketing” increased by 325% on Google over 2017, making it the fastest-growing online acquisition method of 2017. And this trend is showing no signs of slowing down.
Roughly two-thirds of marketing departments look to increase their budget for influencer marketing over the next year. We don’t blame them either since generally, their money is well spent. For each dollar spent on influencer marketing, marketers see an average of $7.65 in earned media value returned. It therefore brings little surprise that by the end of 2020, social influencer marketing will be an industry worth $10 billion.
The idea behind the social media influencer industry is that if brands relay a message to a handful of influencers, they will promote it to their trusting networks, thereby creating a quick way to reach wider audiences and potential new customers. In return, influencers are compensated either monetarily or with free products and perks from the brand.
The industry is a win-win. Brands have their message sent to massive audiences they wouldn’t usually have had access to (and without even doing it themselves), influencers are given free products from their favourite brands or they’re paid for campaigns (many have quit traditional jobs and can live comfortably on their income from influencer marketing), and the audiences are learning more about the industry they’re passionate by gaining insight from those they trust and follow on social media. So, what makes these influencers so powerful?
What really sets social media influencers apart from other types of endorsers is their relatability. Despite their impressive followings, influencers are still perceived as ordinary people that their followers can easily relate to. They post about everyday life, are easy to get hold of – some reply to every single comment and DM – and they often have age group, interests and demographics in common with their target audience.
It’s part of human nature to be swayed by our circles. Consumers are 92% more likely to trust their peers over traditional advertising when it comes to purchasing decisions. So, seeing your peer, colleague or someone from your ‘hood speaking highly of a brand, is likely to make you remember it, and agree with it. The large numbers of followings, likes, comments and shares add social proof to the equation – this gives audiences the impression that it is already validated and trusted by many.
The success of an influencer marketing campaign depends primarily on the brand’s ability to identify and collaborate with the right influencers. As the number of influencers and micro-influencers increases rapidly, finding the right ones for your brand becomes more of a challenge. To help provide some clarity for your influencer search, we’ve detailed tips to help optimize your search.
When choosing influencers, we need to ensure that they have some sense of credibility. Do their fans trust them? Ideally, we want someone who is an expert in their field so that our fans trust them too. Google their name and see how they’re known both on and off social media. You will also need to gain an understanding of whether they are experts in their field to decide how well they will fit in with your brand. Check if they’ve ever been invited to speak at an event, received awards or been recommended by anyone in the industry etc.
Before choosing influencers, we should also be taking note of whether the influencer engages with their community (and whether the community engages back!) If your influencer has a large following but ends up talking in a vacuum, it’s a red flag. Decipher how engaged their community is – what questions the community asks and how well the influencer answers them. Fans feel more valued by people who respond to questions and chat to them. Likability is key, not to mention the fact that engagement increases reach. A passive audience that doesn’t take action and just sits and watches the world go by is no good for our brand. We want the influencer’s community to spread our message onto their community, who will hopefully spread our message on to theirs… and so on
Reach is one metric that should be added to the cocktail of metrics to look at in order to determine true influence, prior to choosing influencers. Why? Because reach can help us understand how many views an influencer’s post is likely to get. The more eyeballs on our content, the higher the chance of boosting brand awareness.
It’s all well and good choosing influencers who have an engaged community, but if their audience won’t care about our product, we may as well not bother as ROI will be minimal. Deep dive into the demographics of the community to ensure our brand is relevant to them – particularly if we target a very specific demographic. When choosing influencers, consider their audience demographics such as interests, gender, age group, and locations. Then ask ‘will we be targeting the right people if the message reaches them?’
Don’t forget that influencers will have different audiences on different social media profiles. The message may need to be tweaked depending on what channel we’re targeting.
Choosing influencers who have worked with other brands isn’t a 100% no no. In fact, looking at who they’ve worked with can help us decide if our product is likely to appeal to the influencer and its target market. For example, if we’re an ethical skincare brand, and the influencers worked with other ethical brands, this would be a good person to consider. However, if the influencer has worked with a competitor for a very long time, it can be difficult for us to shift the attention away from our competitor since their association with the influencer may stick. Keep this in mind when choosing influencers.
We should look for someone who posts multiple times a week since frequency will have a direct impact on other metrics such as engagement rate, reach, loyalty etc.
Ask yourself these six questions before choosing an influencer to work with.
Use social listening to follow keywords, trending hashtags, and topics related to your market, and get to know potential influencers that talk about these topics You can also start the hunt by using Twitter to search for key industry keywords and locate Twitter profiles with the keyword in their bios and/or username. We can also take a look at who our competitors follow, as this can indicate active people in our industry and help us when choosing influencers.
Research media sites that talk about your market/industry and look for bloggers, analysts, and journalists who cover your market extensively. A media intelligence tool makes it easy for you to search across blogs, media sites, and even your competitors’ websites to find analysts, bloggers, and journalists to reach out to.
Meltwater social influencers tool can also be used to discover relevant thought leaders and influencers. Users are able to search through over 500 million profiles in 60,000 different categories, no matter the niche making the process of choosing influencers a whole lot easier! The tool analyses and locates influences on various platforms such as Instagram, Twitter, YouTube in one go.
As with any big trend, there are people who will want to exploit it. “Fake influencers,” where so-called influencers artificially increase their followers and engagement to seem more influential is, unfortunately, becoming a popular phenomenon.
To ensure the influencers you’re looking at are real, there are a number of things to consider such as looking at their comments and how they reply, looking at who they’re following and who’s following them, and their rate of engagement over following. A tell-tale sign of a “fake influencer” is having a large following – as this can easily be bought online – with either very few comments or lots of spam comments. The comments section can also be a giveaway – thousands of likes but only 3 comments? Probably not a real influencer. Are the comments all the same? Probably a bot and not a real influencer.
Seasoned digital marketing professional and current Head of Business at Twitter, Kanika Mittal, says in the exclusive Webinar, “How to Build an Influencer Marketing Strategy That Works,” that you’ve got to “work together to create magic together.” You should be looking for an influencer who will be able to incorporate your brand into their usual style of storytelling—not someone who’s only willing to cut-and-paste your brand message (and sometimes your instructions) into a social media post for anyone who sends them a check. With this in mind, here are a few tips for building a fruitful relationship once you’ve chosen the best influencer for you:
If you are aiming to be authentic at all, you cannot expect your influencer to share exactly what you have handed them – word for word. You should be co-creating content that their followers will enjoy and that resonates with your band followers. You shouldn’t even want an influencer who blindly reposts everything without making it their own – consumers can see right through this.
Influencers should always post their unique content first, followed by the brand’s reposting it. The idea of co-publishing is to decide with your influencer how to publish your pieces of content so that it can reach more and more people.
Once you and your influencer have created and published the content as a team, it’s time to co-promote it. The essence of content creation with influencers is to work on it together, be creative together and boost it together.
Our final tip is, you only have one chance to make a good first impression, so make it count! When approaching an influencer about working with you, it can help to share a summary sheet about your company including any impressive content or media highlights, your reach and engagement across social media (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, etc.), number of blog subscribers, newsletter open and click-through rates, and other metrics that demonstrate your content reach and engagement. Showing how you can promote them to your audience is important to show the relationship is a two-way street with benefits to both parties. If you fumble your initial pitch, you may not have the opportunity to try again.