What? Influencers are proven to be a huge growth asset for many businesses, but do you really need them?
Why? Using “influencer marketing” can enhance ad campaigns, build brand awareness and reach new audiences, all within a reasonable budget.
Will This Affect Me? Yes. Influencer marketing, when done correctly, can up the game for businesses of all shapes and sizes.
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If you need more info on whether influencers are a good fit, just scroll down to learn all you need to know about whether my business needs influencers?
Every new customer counts whether you’re a small business starting out or an SME launching into a new market. You’re going to try to do everything you can to grab a potential customer’s attention.
That means standing from the proverbial rooftop and shouting about your brand for all to hear.
But what if you could get someone else to do the shouting for you? A louder voice and one which is already well respected in the industry?
Introducing the new explosive market of… Social Media Influencers!
However, working with influencers isn’t as simple as walking up to Tom Brady and asking him to wear your business’s t-shirt at the next Super Bowl.
You have to find the right influencers for your business and your brand.
What are Social Media Influencers?
An influencer is a person who has a large captive audience of “followers” who actively engage with their content in a certain industry. Crucially, an influencer has the power to “influence” or change the buying behaviors or brand perceptions of their audience.
Broadly speaking, influencers are categorized into four segments by audience size:
- Mega-influencers – These are the largest influencers and have 1,000,000+ followers
- Macro-influencers – These influencers hold audiences of 50,000 – 1,000,000 followers
- Micro-influencers – These are smaller, yet still popular, influencers with around 1,000 to 50,000 followers
- Nano-influencers – The influencers usually have no more than 1,000 followers, however, may target very niche audiences
What makes an influencer successful isn’t the size of their audience, but their persuasion over their audience. They are seen as trusted experts in their field as they have built up a relationship with their followers.
To some people, influencers feel like an authentic voice in the midst of annoying marketing BS. Getting that authentic voice to speak about your product or brand can do wonders for your business.
Pros & Cons of using Social Media Influencers
Let’s start with the negatives and end with the positives, shall we…
1. Measuring Results
It’s quite difficult to measure the results obtained from your influencers. Once you incorporate an influencer into your campaign you can’t really track or monitor their addition to the campaign. How are you to know if your new customers are from your own clever marketing or from the influencer? Maybe you’re overpaying for something you’re achieving on your own.
To get around this, some businesses use personalized promotional codes for their influencers that customers can use. That way you can monitor which customer is from where.
2. Brand Risks
Choosing the wrong influencer can do much more harm than good. Maybe you think you’ve got the right influencer and one day they post something outrageous and relate it to your brand… that could cause major public damage to your business. Collaborating with the wrong influencers can cause a great deal of damage to the reputation of your brand.
For example, Felix Kjellberg of PewDiePie is the number one YouTuber in the world with over 106 million subscribers. However, Kjellberg has a history of including anti-Semitic remarks and imagery in his YouTube videos. Not the type of influencer you want promoting your product!
If an influencer, especially one in a really niche field, is big, they’re going to be seeing offers from a lot of companies in that space. If you work with an influencer this week, but next week they’re promoting your competition, it’s not a great look. Make sure to talk about exclusivity, at least for a defined period of time, so your content shines.
Our Expert’s Opinion
Kevin Stagg, Optily’s Marketing Director, comments “The greatest risk, in my opinion, is that marketers have to rely on and trust that the influencer knows their audience and knows the product they’re endorsing is appropriate. There are too many examples of influencers being paid to promote a product that they legitimately didn’t engage with. Perhaps because the money is more attractive than the product itself? Be very careful choosing the influencers you work with.”
Availing of social influencer marketing allows you to instantly reach a large number of engaged and relevant audiences. You should very carefully choose influencers that are relevant to your industry and, even better, your niche within that industry.
It doesn’t matter if a person has 1,000,000 followers if only 10 of those followers are likely to buy your product.
To help find the right influencer for you, check out those who endorse your competitors or brands similar to yours.
And if you need a hand clarifying who your ideal customer is, check out our blog on Developing User Personas.
2. Customer Trust
Building trust with your target audience is a fool-proof method to create a strong customer base. What better way to gain trust than being endorsed by someone who has already gained the trust of their followers? If an influencer speaks positively about a brand, then their followers are more likely to believe them and trust your brand.
Trust takes time to develop. However, this might just be a quick way to successfully achieve it.
Instagram is becoming more and more popular for influencer marketing, if you haven’t already you should start a business Instagram page!
3. Save time
Marketing and content creation takes a lot of time. Working with an influencer, oftentimes, will cut out the content creation element for your team. They’ll make the videos, take the pictures, and curate the posts for you. Of course, any guidelines you can provide will take up a bit of time on your end, but these can easily be reused over and over again to ensure consistency across posts related to your brand.
Our Expert’s Opinion
“The size of the engaged audience is the biggest pro for me. Influencers have spent time, effort, and money cultivating their audience. They’re ready to listen and respond to influencers and the products and services they recommend,” notes Kevin.
While researching social media influencers you might come across the term “dark posting.”
Dark posts are essentially unique targeted ads on social media.
These posts don’t appear on your timeline. Instead, they are shown as “sponsored content” on the feeds of the users you’re directly targeting with your ad set.
Because of their subtle design, they fit seamlessly in with other content. The targeted user could stop and be enjoying the content without even realizing it’s an ad.
What sets “dark posts” apart from other ads is that they only exist for the targeted users that see them.
To create an influencer dark post, the influencer grants advertising permissions from their Facebook and Instagram accounts to the brand’s business manager. The marketer can then post on behalf of the influencer to fully optimize ad performance across target audiences.
Our Expert Review
A chat with the Marketing Director at Optily, Kevin Stagg.
Can you tell the readers about your experience with past influencers?
I’ve worked with comedians, actors, pop stars, chefs, soccer pundits, industry geeks, and YouTubers. From Charlie XCX (launch of Microsoft rewards to give away a chance to be in her next music video) to Dom Jolly pranking people on the street. I’ve also pulled bigger stunts with the collaboration of lots of colleagues working to make tech cool, such as the launch of Cortana with stunt rider Danny MacAskill
Influencer Marketing seems affordable and can provide great exposure, should all businesses be using it?
It can be but prices directly reflect audience size. Focus on engagement, up-and-coming influencers, and those that command some authority before audience size.
If they’re considered an influencer, they’ve met a minimum viable audience size already and it’ll only grow thereafter (if they’re any good). There is the potential for longer-term relationships and growth as the influencer’s audience grows.
There is also the potential for securing a lock-in – influencers shouldn’t endorse competing brands and the brands themselves wouldn’t (shouldn’t) allow it.
You’re a marketer trying to convince your boss to use influencer marketing, what do you say to them?
Depends on the individual situation. If it’s a new brand then… “nobody knows who the f*** we are but they all know [insert influencer name]. We NEED their audience and their audience needs us.”
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