Who doesn’t love a recommendation from a person they admire?
When Kylie Jenner posted a photo and endorsed the Fashion Nova clothing she was wearing, that single Instagram post received over 3 million likes!
Now of course, most small businesses are unlikely to ever engage the services of a mega-celebrity, but using influential people to help promote your product, service or brand is a powerful way to market and the growth of this approach is backed up by research.
The proof is in the stats
A 2015 study by Schlesinger Associates found that 84% of marketing and communications professionals worldwide expected to launch at least one campaign involving an influencer in the next 12 months.
In addition, the 2016 Reuters Institute Digital News Report found that 47% of online consumers use ad blockers making it far less feasible to run ads to attract customers. On top of that, Google Trends shows the growing popularity of the term ‘influencer marketing’ against the more traditional term ‘print advertising.’
These statistics underline the fact that influencer marketing – using influential people to engage with your target audience – can be a creative and cost-effective way for small businesses to take advantage of the power of social media to help promote their products, services and brands.
Types of influencer marketing
When we talk about ‘influencer marketing’ there are a couple of different approaches: paid influencer marketing and earned influencer marketing.
Paid influencers are sponsored or paid for their testimonials on behalf of another company. In the same way a company might pay to put an ad online, they can pay an influencer to talk about their service or product to their existing audience. Compensation can be a monetary transaction or payment could also include receiving something for free.
Earned influencers are unpaid endorsers of a product. Sometimes an influencer might be impressed enough by a product or service that they will provide an unsolicited endorsement. An earned influencer may have a pre-existing relationship with a company and an endorsement could be motivated both by a feeling of goodwill as well as enthusiasm for a product. And it’s also worth remembering that sometimes potential customers view earned influencers as more trustworthy as they are not getting paid.
When you are deciding on the best approach for your business, you need to consider how you identify the influencers, how you market to them, and then how you market through them (earned or paid) and how to market with them (by making them an advocate or in some cases even a partner). Companies have emerged – such as scrunch.com and therightfit.com – who can help businesses find social media influencers to suit their brands and also assist them in managing influencer marketing campaigns.
There are even some companies, like Pretty Little Thing, who watch what celebrities wear and rather than approach them and ask them to wear their clothes, they create identical, cost-effective products and then promote to their audiences that a celebrity has already worn a particular look.
Interested in learning more? Here are some tips on how you can use influencer marketing to help you market your business:
Identify your influencers
Who are the leaders in your industry whose opinion counts and who have a loyal following on social media? Look for influencers who share the values of your brand and have some knowledge of your type of product or service because consistency is critical when promoting your offering. And seek out trendsetters who are early adopters of new ideas as they are likely to be to make an impact and have a strong social following. Your aim is to identify those people who best connect with your business’ target audience so you can equip them to help promote your business for you. For example, imagine you own a handbag company and your target audience is women between the ages of 25 and 45. In this case, you might find potential influencers among mummy bloggers and fashion stylists.
Connect with influencers
Connecting with influencers is all about building a relationship with them. Consider the channels you already use to market your business. It will be much easier to connect with potential influencers if you already have a presence on the same social media channels. Spend some time observing the social media activity of your potential influencers to determine whether your brand is a good fit for their followers. Engage with them online: on Twitter, you could mention an influencer in your own tweet or re-tweet on of their posts. On Instagram, comment on their photos or mention them in your own posts, and share their posts on Facebook. You could also look for opportunities to guest post on blogs and take part in online discussions.
Create engaging content
Social media users don’t want to be talked at or endure a ‘hard sell’; they want to experience engagement with other people. So if you want your product or service to be noticed, make sure your content is current, relevant and authentic. Consider offering your influencers first release on new products or give them exclusive offers to promote – this approach will keep your content fresh to their followers and keep your influencers engaged as well.
Track your progress
One of the advantages of social media is that it is trackable meaning you can collect useful data about your customers or potential customers by measuring their behaviour. You can then use these insights to inform your future marketing efforts to make them more targeted and effective.
Influencer marketing is a clever, creative way to create enthusiasm for your brand, product or service by equipping influential people to help you reach your target audience. We can help you explore how influencer marketing can work for your business.
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