The Basics of Influencer Marketing (And why you need to know it)
Some business experts predict that influencer marketing is going to explode this year and that as many as 84% of marketers plan on using it in their overall marketing plans. But we would argue that it's already arrived and that it's been officially mainstream for a few years now.
But if the term 'Influencer Marketing' seems foreign or new to you, then don't worry. We'd be willing to bet you're already familiar with the strategy and likely see it executed daily. Here are the basics of influencer marketing to get you up to speed.
Tell it to me straight, what is it?
Influencer marketing isn't a new concept at all. It's really not that different from celebrity endorsements that we've been seeing all our lives. However social media has given us different pods of 'celebrities' or people of influence. The most influential social media star would be a Kardashian while a smaller influencer or 'microinfluencers' can be your next door neighbour Debbie who has an Instagram account for poodle clothes.
Realizing that almost half of people online use ad blockers while finding content online has left marketers to get creative by creating advertising and promotional tactics that involve influencers of all levels and it can take on many forms. It can be as simple as free product for an online review or as complicated as a multi-level sponsorship.
The best thing about influencer marketing is that there is almost no barrier to entry, your budget could be as small as some free samples or you could have a vast budget to pay for sponsorships, takeovers, or content creation.
So does it work the same as traditional sponsorships?
Well, yes and no. In truth, influencer marketing is going through a transition from infancy to established advertising tactic. Up until recently, as a consumer, you really had no idea what was a paid sponsorship or a genuine recommendation from someone who authentically loved a product. That's much different than a magazine ad that has to specify that it's an advertorial or paid content, right?
But recently regulators have started to crack down on these types of ads and insist that they must be labeled as such to avoid misleading or false advertising. (Even the Kardashians were penalized).
Is this a fad? Why should I care?
This type of marketing strategy isn't going away. In fact, it continues to grow and we would argue that to remain competitive, most brands need to establish online partnerships and an influencer-marketing strategy. Social media is where the majority of the world gathers to communicate, work, relax, and content- shouldn't you be there? Increasingly more people are turning to micro-influencers for credible advice, recommendations, and inspiration, so these can give authentic reviews or recommendations of your product.
Does it really work?
Yes. We like to describe influencer marketing as a necessary undercurrent to most campaigns. It's estimated that customers need to be exposed to your product or brand 7-8 times before they buy, so continually introducing or reminding them of your company while they are engaged with the content of someone they like and trust is effective.
You'll also be able to reach new and relevant audiences and drive them back to your own social and digital sites.
What should I know before I get started?
You need to be ready to invest in influencer marketing for at least a year. It could be as simple as reaching out to one blogger a month but the thing to remember is that it takes time and you're looking for consistent repetition. Our experience shows us that creating relationships with influencers yields much more value than simply paying their fees and moving onto the next partner.
Spend some time collecting rate sheets and talking with influencers to see who is a good fit and who provides the most value. (Or you can hire some experts- like us!) The single most important element to a successful influencer marketing campaign is authenticity. The influencers need to make sense with your brand and most won't promote your product unless they feel it would provide value to their supporters.
It's also a good idea to have reasonable expectations. Depending on your outreach, calculating ROI isn't always easy. Remember that influencer marketing is part of a repeat-exposure tactic and that the results aren't always instant.
There are ways to see if you've hit the mark and that can be through social engagement and follower growth, feedback, and online traffic. If you're an e-commerce site you can give discount codes to influencers to see how they directly affect sales or tagged links to see who is coming to your website through them.
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