Back in the day, companies would pay celebrities millions of dollars to wear their brands or promote their products. But things have changed in the past ten years as the rise in social media has created a new niche in the world of marketing.
Sometimes referred to as branded content or creator marketing, influencer marketing is a foolproof tool business can use to broaden the reach of their brand or product. The catch? They have to do it right. Unfortunately, there is no hard and fast rule to implementing influencers, and, depending on your business, it might not be worth the investment.
We’re here to help you determine if influencer marketing is right for you.
What is Influencer Marketing?
Influencers are exactly what they sound like; someone who influences. Influencers are influential people on social media that brands tap to promote goods and services. Just like MJ sipping Gatorade, influencers take a product and use it or promote it in the hopes that doing so will cause their followers to try it out.
Themost significantt difference from yesteryear’s massive celebrity ad campaigns is that audiences are more niche than ever, allowing you to find out who is the best influencer to push your product. It might seem crazy, but this is a big business.
More than two-thirds of marketers will use influencer marketing this year and that number is only rising. It is especially popular among young people, with 26% of gen-z and millennials claiming to have bought something they had seen an influencer recommend. With Instagram already at 1 billion users you can expect to see those numbers rise.
Ultimately, influencer marketing is about people. “People can break through the noise. People trust people. Influence is about relationships.” — Ty Heath, Global Lead of The B2B Institute at LinkedIn.
If you are having trouble locking down your audience, influencer marketing might be a great choice. Because influencers are ultimately promoting their brand, they have already done most of the hard work of finding your audience. Rani Mani, head of Social Influencer Enablement at Adobe, puts it best, “I often start my discovery conversations with influencers by finding out what really makes their heart sing — what does success look like to them?”
If an influencer tells you they are all about healthy eating, your burger chain will not be a great fit for their brand and vice versa. “We want a true partnership with our influencers. They should be as excited about working with us as we are with them,” Dylan Trussell, Co-Founder at Culprit Underwear chimed in.
Influencers have an audience that has shared interests. If you are able to find one that has an interest in your product, it is safe to say their followers will too.
It’s All About Trust
Companies have had a bad reputation lately. Most young people see corporations as evil, money-hungry entities. Influencers, on the other hand, are perceived as being just like us!
People feel a sense of kinship with the people they follow on social media, says Yuvi Alpert, Founder, and CEO at Noémie, a jewelry company. “If an influencer is wearing one of our pieces, a follower might ask, ‘Where did you get that?’. That is a perfect opportunity for the influencer to drop our brand name. It doesn’t feel in your face. It feels like a friend letting you know where they found a great product.”
Reach and Niche
These are the two primary ways of categorizing influencers. In addition, some influencers are considered Micro-Influencers (10,000 followers or fewer), while others are on the level of the D’Amelio’s and are considered Mega-Influencers (1 mil or more). The more followers, the higher the cost to partner with them.
But it isn’t all about the reach in a lot of cases.
“Succeeding on social media has become one of the most important pieces for business in the modern age. Gaining followers, demonstrating your project in use, and engaging with your followers can be difficult–both in time needs, and monetary needs. Working with influencers through giving them your product, asking them to represent it, seeing if they will get hyped for it will spread word of your product to large groups of people within your niche. It is critical to vet your influencer partnership to ensure that they in fact meet your target audience, otherwise you can end up wasting money or effort. When done well, however, you can find highly successful results. While it is not the only way to push your product forward on social media, it is an excellent way to gain traction in the present digital marketing environment.” – Karina Karassev, Founder and COO at Stori.
Karina is spot on. Going big and casting a wide net can sometimes be detrimental. What is really important for smaller businesses is finding a niche and an influencer who operates in that sector.
Companies that researched and applied niche influencer marketing had an average earned media value of $5.20 per dollar spent and even up to $18 in some cases.
Heidi Streeter, Founder of Holiday St. added, “Everyone wants to be able to push their product through the Kardashians because they have the biggest audience. But not every company has that kind of cash flow. What is more effective for my business is partnering with an influencer who has a following from their photography because my product is in that market. If a photographer with 15 thousand followers mentions my brand, I can expect a huge ROI because most of their followers are following them because they appreciate photography.”
Ads Are Becoming Less Prevalent
You probably have an ad blocker activated on your web browser right now and for a good reason. Ads are incredibly invasive and annoying. People are sick of seeing them. Influencer marketing is a way to push your product in a less intrusive manner and get around the blockers.
“In this current digital age, using influencers in marketing campaigns is essential, especially for small businesses. Brands have the ability to connect with their target audience and where they spend the most time – social media. Influencers expose their followers to new ideas and new products, which results in an extremely high ROI due to endless opportunities to share content on social platforms. Instead of traditional advertising methods, influencer marketing can increase brand awareness and drive sales more effectively than newspaper ads or flyers. While these traditional methods can still be beneficial, influencer marketing can gain traction to a brand and its values consistently while maintaining a digital presence.” – Hayley Albright Senior, Brand and Customer Experience Manager at Xena Workwear.
And the numbers back this up. 89% of marketers say influencer marketing ROI is as good or better than other marketing channels. “Influencer marketing is the future,” says Daniel Patrick, founder of the eponymous luxury clothing brand DANIEL PATRICK. “I can have an influencer comment on the comfort of my clothing or I can have a banner ad that is going to get blocked by an ad-blocker. Influencer it is!”
Influencers Can Create Content for You
One of the most significant benefits and reasons to consider partnering with an influencer is because they are creative. Social media is a visual medium, and influencers have gained a following because their content is eye candy that sticks out from the pack. To stay relevant, influencers are constantly coming up with new ideas to engage their audience, and they generally know what will hook them. Use that to your advantage.
“My job is to create a great product. If I have done that, I can then share it with an influencer and let them find a way to market it to their followers. I can give them some copy to read and things to avoid, but as far as how they advertise it? That is their world. I know my product and they know their product [engagement], so I can let them take the reins,” says Adelle Archer, CEO and Co-Founder of Eterneva.