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Is influencer marketing really all that?

Social media has become an embedded part of many people’s lives. 

Not only does social media connect family and friends across the globe, but it has also given rise to the influencer, people who have amassed a large number of followers.

Influencers can be the key to massive amounts of brand exposure, and the “in” to reaching niche audiences. 

So it comes as no surprise that businesses are pouring large sums of money into influencer marketing strategies.

We sat down with one of our digital specialists to ask the questions every business should consider before jumping into the influencer pool.

Q. Let’s start at the beginning: what is influencer marketing?

A. At its most basic, influencer marketing involves working with people that have a significant online following to promote or endorse your product or service.

There can also be a content creation element. For example, you might ask influencers to take photos or videos of a product or write a blog post for use on your website or theirs.

Influencer marketing encompasses a wide range and there are many different ways of using influencers.

Q. Do you think influencer marketing is worth the time, money and effort associated with it?

A. The answer to that question is that it really depends. 

Considerations include:

  • Budget 
  • Campaign goals
  • Expectations
  • The influencers selected
  • Agreements with influencers
  • Alignment between your brand and the influencer

Q. Do you think the influencer marketing landscape is too saturated to be successful?

A.  Yes and no. I think the brands going after influencers with huge followings is certainly oversaturated. There are only so many brand partnerships one influencer can take on without alienating their audience. 

However, there is still plenty of opportunity with micro-influencers (under 100,000 followers) and influencers that truly align with a brand.

Q. What sort of industries do you think would find the most success by trying an influencer marketing strategy?

A. Most companies can use influencer marketing.

Obviously there’s a natural fit for the fashion, makeup and travel industries. 

But influencers are underutilised in the B2B space.

Influencer marketing is often defined very narrowly with a large focus on Instagram, but influencers do exist outside of Instagram.

You can find people writing and posting about almost everything under the sun. For instance, say you have a SAAS product. You can almost definitely find someone blogging about marketing, web development, etc who can review and endorse your product.

I encourage B2B or less obvious companies to experiment with influencer marketing, as the opportunity is there.

Q. Are there any potential risks associated with influencer marketing and can they be mitigated?

A. There are two main risks that you might encounter.

  1. An influencer posts something that reflects poorly on your brand.

At the end of the day, influencers are independent people, and they might post something inaccurate about your brand, or something that doesn’t convey the message you were hoping for. In very extreme cases, they may also post something offensive or against company values. 

To mitigate this, make sure you agree with the influencer that you will be able to pre-approve the post, either manually or with an influencer marketing tool like Tribe.

  1. An influencer doesn’t fulfil their side of the agreement.

The second risk involves an influencer failing to fulfil their side of the agreement, by not posting as agreed.

Although most people are honest, you have to accept that you can’t have complete control over influencer marketing. Depending on your risk tolerance, you might decide to skip influencer marketing.

You can mitigate this risk by looking through their posts to see how they have handled past brand partnerships.

Q. What are some of the most common misconceptions about influencer marketing?

A. Some of the most common myths or confusions about influencer marketing include:

  1. Influencers are only on Instagram. Branch out and look at blogs, Twitter, YouTube and more.
  2. You can have complete control over the campaign. If you want to have 100% control, don’t work with influencers. The best influencer campaigns are a partnership. 
  3. The more followers the better. Not necessarily, the engagement rate can be more important than sheer numbers. In fact, as the number of followers grows, engagement rate typically drops.
  4. Influencer marketing is expensive. You can find influencers who are happy to work with you in exchange for products or services.
  5. You don’t need to allocate any budget for influencer marketing. You can certainly run a low budget campaign, but you’ll have more success if you’re willing to pay influencers for their work. 
  6. You need to make best friends with influencers in order to work with them. I read this advice all the time and it drives me crazy. At the end of the day, it’s a business collaboration. If you’ve done your research and feel that the influencer is a good fit for your brand, reach out and be explicit about what kind of partnership you are hoping for.

Q. What are some of your top tips for businesses considering jumping into influencer marketing?

A. When it comes to exploring influencer marketing, there are a few things businesses should keep in mind:

  • Clearly define your goals. What are you hoping to get out of your campaign? 
  • Understand that influencer marketing isn’t a guaranteed success. Manage your expectations, especially if this is your first time working with influencers.
  • Know your risk tolerance. If you can’t handle ceding some creative control to the influencer, influencers may not be right for you. 
  • Approach influencer marketing with an open mind. The best partnerships are collaborations and work best when you allow the influencer to have some input as well. 
  • Pick an influencer that truly aligns with your brand – followers can sense a phony partnership. 
  • Don’t be seduced by large followings. An influencer with 50,000 followers may have a much stronger relationship with their fans than one with 1 million followers.

Q. What is the best way to go about finding and approaching influencers?

A. There are two main ways to find influencers.

Option 1: the DIY way

This involves searching platforms for users who are posting in your niche, compiling a list of ones you like and reaching out directly to them with your proposal.

On Instagram, this can look like: 

Step 1: Use relevant hashtags to find popular posts

Step 2: Make a list of any accounts who post content you like

Sept 3: Now do your due diligence. Go to each profile, read through past posts, see what they are posting about. Make sure that you are happy with what they post and how they communicate. 

Step 4: Check their engagement. You want accounts with high engagement and real engagement. Bot comments don’t count. 

Step 5: Reach out. Many people will include content details on their profile, and if they do, email is best. Include a quick rundown of what your business does, how the influencer aligns with your brand and a brief outline of what kind of partnership you’re hoping for. 

Option 2: using a tool

There are heaps of tools out there that help you connect to influencers.

When looking at influencers, we like to use Tribe. Here’s how it works:

Step 1: Post a brief covering what you are looking for in an influencer

Step 2: Influencers can approach you with their pitch, pricing, and an example of what they would post for you

Step 3: You can communicate with the influencer via Tribe to refine your agreement

Sept 4: The influencer sends you a draft post for approval. You can request changes or approve it

Step 5: When the post goes live your payment will be sent through (so you need to be committed to paying for it!)

Boom! You’ve got yourself an influencer.

Q. What’s the best way to measure influencer marketing outcomes?

A. It can be hard!

If you have an online store, one of the most accurate ways to track success is to give your influencer a discount code that’s unique to them. You can then track the number of times the code was used. 

If the influencer is linking directly to your website, provide them with a UTM tracking link, so you can measure any traffic they drive to their site.

Other metrics to look at include engagement, reach and follower growth.

Q. How much should you be budgeting for influencers?

A. Like most things, the answer is that it depends. 

If you’re a small, local business, you may find people that will be happy to post in exchange for products or services.

For influencers with a larger following, you should expect to pay, but there is no standardised price.

It all comes down to how much it is worth to you.

If you’re looking to expand your horizons and venture into the world of influencer marketing, reach out and let’s get your brand seen by the right audience!