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  • Writer's pictureClaire Elbrow

Influencer marketing – what’s that all about?

People still trust other people over brands. In fact, according to a report released by data analytics and global measurement company, Nielson, 92 percent of people trust people over brands. We don’t even have to know these people! We trust online reviews and referrals from people we don’t know more than we trust the brand. For businesses and brands, if another person is marketing your product or service, other people will give your brand greater credibility.

Influencers are the people that businesses are using to market their products or services for them. Any business, small or large, local, national or international can work with influencers to the benefit of their business. What an influencer does is create what feels like a personal connection between the brand, themselves and the brand’s audience.

Can your business benefit from influencer marketing?

It’s a pretty old strategy really, but it is something marketing bods are looking into in greater depth now with the aim of understanding the psychology behind why it works, and which strategies are the most effective for their brand. If you look back, you will find brands using people or characters to do their advertising for them, from Tony the Tiger for Frosties cereal, right back to Josiah Wedgewood who used a royal endorsement on his china. Moving forward to today, the power of influencers is more well known. Celebrities and well-known vloggers and bloggers are making a very healthy income form endorsing products through their social media channels.

For small businesses with a lower marketing budget, your influencer could be a normal person or what we call a micro-blogger. At the end of the day, whatever your budget, your brand’s influencer will be someone who has influence on your audience.

What small businesses do have to keep in mind is that most influencers, however small, are paid to promote a product. To be fair, they should be – they have spent their time, money and considerable and daily effort in building their own audiences for you to tap into. However, it’s not just about making money. If they are going to promote a product to their audience, whether that is on Twitter or Instagram, they do need to believe it in and in you – and your audiences need to mesh. In basic terms, they are lending you their own relationships, clients and platforms. For them to stay credible and retain the trust of their audience, they will be truthful. It is this authenticity that you are buying into and which can convince an awful lot of people that your product is exactly what they need.

The elements of an influencer marketing strategy.

The most effective influencers will be the ones who understand your message, know your audience and the ideal platform and timing to use. They will understand and be comfortable with your product or service.

Very similarly to every other strategy you employ for your various marketing efforts, you will be thinking of customers first. In this case you need to determine your audience first. Defining your audience or ideal customer will let you and your influencer know what product and, importantly, what price point will communicate value. Once you have refined your understanding of your ideal audience, you can craft your messages and choose the right type of messenger.

Research and select your influencers! You may or may not need a celebrity. For most small businesses, their cost will be way beyond your marketing budget and should you choose to use one you may find your ROI is not great as their output is too low to make any impact. A more sensible approach for a small business or SME is to look for an influencer in your niche.

Obviously the number of followers they have is a part of your decision making process, but beyond that you should look at the types of followers, overall engagement levels and quality of their relationships. As social media platforms prioritise engagement, the higher the engagement rate the influencer gets, the more expensive the campaign will be.

Small businesses are much more likely to partner up with micro-influencers, who usually have anywhere from 1,000 to 10,000 followers. Although they have smaller follower counts, micro-influencers usually have a leg-up on macro or celebrity influencers for niche businesses.

Define your goal – what is it you want to achieve from this marketing activity? Once you have this, you can start selecting the right influencers.

You can find people to work with by scouring social media and looking for people who post about your desired subjects or niches — or you can use an influencer marketing marketplace or platform to search for and connect with influencers.

Be prepared to negotiate the payment rate. Be fair! You are asking your influencer to put their hard-earned reputation on the line for you and your product. It might be a one-off fee or a retainer depending on your campaign.

Content needs to be authentic and meet your key messages. Ensure your influencer knows exactly what you are aiming to achieve with each piece of content you provide and, as with all things, don’t be over-salesy! If the influencer is providing content for you, ensure you approve it before it goes live.

Next is the monitor and evaluate stage. Some content will work and some will not, but keep an eye on the overall engagement to ensure it is meeting the objective you set. If it is not working, address it quickly.

You can use online tools such as Kred or Social Mention to help you measure your success. Buzzsumo is a great tool which allows you to see what content is trending depending on the topic or website. Basically, it lets you spy on your competition, to know what topics or posts get more visits. This way, you’ll be able to craft the right articles or posts that you can use for influencer marketing. This is a good way to ensure high success rates for your posts, making the most of your influencers’ connections plus the trending topics on your competitors’ pages.

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