It’s hard to make a single scroll through Instagram without seeing #sponsored, #ad or #partner pop up on a post. Influencers are everywhere, and MediaKix estimates that influencer marketing is currently a $500 million industry and expected to reach $5 billion by 2020.
With more and more brands deciding to #collab with influencers, it may seem like working with influencers is a winning strategy. But be warned—influencer marketing isn’t right for every brand. Before deciding to invest in working with influencers, consider the following:
- Are you willing to invest more than just money? In addition to monetary costs (which can be substantial), influencer marketing requires time. It takes time to research relevant influencers, determining key messages, reviewing content, campaign management and negotiating agreements and rates. Creating a successful partnership demands both your time and attention.
- What does success look like to you? Just because you strike a partnership with someone who has millions of followers does not guarantee you millions of likes or millions in sales. When it comes to influencer marketing, you have to look at how metrics, such as likes and engagement rates, can translate into increased brand awareness or customer retention.
- Does your company have a story to tell and not just a product to sell? The real value for influencer marketing comes from the emotional connection they’re able to create with their audience and your potential new customers. Your brand needs to be able to “connect the dots” when it comes to answering why your product or service is relevant to the influencer and their audience.
Whether with money or time, influencer marketing is an investment. But with the right strategy, the value in influencer marketing can extend way beyond a double-tap or click of the “Like” button.
If you think influencer marketing is right for your brand, get more from your company’s investment with these tips:
Influencer marketing does not mean celebrity endorsements. Most brands can’t afford the half-a-million-dollar price tag of a post from Selena Gomez, plus research suggests it may not be worth that payout.
According to a study by Mobile Marketer, engagement rates for micro-influencers are much higher than their mega-influencer counterparts. Micro-influencers, influencers with fewer than 100,000 followers, are likely to have more engagement while also being far more budget-friendly.
Look into partnering with these more local influencers who directly reach your target audience. After all, it’s these people who already organically interact with your brand and are viewed as a trusted source by their community.
Set Your Own Metrics
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to influencer marketing, so the results of an influencer partnership will look different for every company. Determine ahead of time what your business’ goals are and what metrics matter to your business to align your campaign goals accordingly. A brand awareness campaign should result in more impressions and traffic while a sales-focused campaign should track conversions from affiliate links or unique promo codes.
Develop a Partnership
Any investment in influencer marketing should be a mutually beneficial relationship. While your business should have key deliverables, you should also be open to feedback and suggestions from your influencer partners. If all goes well, be sure to follow up with a thank you note and keep in touch. The influencer may just continue to promote your business informally and you’ll have an established contact for any future marketing push.
Respect Their Voice
Influencers have a defined voice and brand of their own–that’s part of the reason they are able to influence their audience’s decisions. Your brand should be willing to let them create content that speaks to their audience.
Sam Carrell, the owner of pet-influencer Tinkerbelle The Dog often creates posts of the papitese traveling, eating and exploring popular places but from the dog’s perspective. This provides powerful exposure to smaller-to-medium-sized businesses that she visits. Beyond these smaller businesses, Tinkerbelle has even partnered with major brands, including Sprint. By allowing Sam to stay true to Tinkebelle’s brand, Tinkerbelle’s followers actively engage with the content and many of her hosted trips and event appearances are later picked up national media outlets.
While letting influencers take the lead on content can have winning results, the most successful influencer marketing push happens when you work with an influencer who is also directly aligned with the values and voice of your company.
Amplify the Content
Influencers want brand exposure for themselves, too. Consider sharing their content, tagging them in posts and engaging with them directly in their comments sections. Getting their content noticed by as many eyes as possible is a win-win.
Ultimately, there’s a lot more to investing in influencers than what you see on your feed. It’s not a tactic you can simply throw money at and expect results. It is a tool that demands extensive strategy, goal setting and relationship building, but if done right, can yield big results. Just remember, with the right approach to influencer marketing you can earn the attention and trust of new customers.