The evolving nature of the marketing landscape can be tough to keep up with. Every week, it feels like there is a new strategy to follow. And even then, it can be challenging to discern which trends are “real” and here to stay from the fads that will wear off quickly.
One direction that seems to becoming a more and more permanent pillar in the marketing world is the power of influencer marketing. If you are not familiar, influencer marketing, according to TapInfluence, is a type of marketing that focuses on using key leaders to drive your brand’s message to the larger market.
Rather than marketing directly to a large group of consumers, you instead inspire / hire / pay influencers to get out the word for you.” Instagram has become a haven for influencers, as many have grown their following from zero to millions in just a few short years. This new age of internet celebrities has immense power over a growing audience of untapped consumers.
These social media celebrities have tons of influence over their audience, and can dramatically impact viral trends and shopping patterns. If you are able to work with influencers in the right niche for your business, you will be able to accelerate the growth of your product/following in a really short amount of time.
Although it is definitely an appealing opportunity for many brands, tapping into this emerging ecosystem can be a real challenge without any experience. It is very easy to get scammed while fishing for the right influencers to partner with.
You and your team should start by identifying the right influencers to work with. This is likely the hardest part of the whole process, as there are lots of things you can mess up during this stage.
Picking the wrong partner, because you are in a hurry or have a specific person your mind is fixated on, can have long term negative consequences for you and your brand. It is important you take your time, do your research, and carefully plan out your influencer marketing strategy. This process may take lots of experimentation and failure before you find the right partner, knowing that going should help you set your expectations.
It is important that you do not force a relationship onto an influencer. If they are not interested in working with your brand, for whatever reason, stop trying. Even if you get them to say yes after begging, chances are they will not be as excited when promoting your product. “Fake praise” is just as bad, if not worse, than getting no partnership at all – because the audience can always see through spammy advertising.
Once you’ve found the right person, and contacted them appropriately, you should offer to run a trial campaign before going all in on the relationship. Run a short trial, in the ballpark of 1-2 weeks, in which you can see whether or not the influencer’s audience is receptive to your message / product.
You can use an Instagram analytics tool like Owlmetrics to measure the effectiveness of the campaign. You should be tracking the important metrics that have measurable business impact – things like new follower growth are far less important than comments, engagement, and click-thrus.
Setting up your influencer partner for success by providing them with the right tools and resources they need to be successful will also help you ensure you are getting the most for your money. Many marketers glaze over this step, and give all the responsibility and content ideation work to the influencer to do.
Your campaign will likely be more effective if you share the work and collaborate on the strategy for the campaign. Provide them with input throughout the campaign design process, and help them ideate on things like captions, content schema, and timing.
If you execute on this correctly, you will be amazed by the benefits that influencer marketing can have on your business. Social media influencers are viewed by their followers as trustworthy and reliable. Nearly as many people trust recommendations from influencers (49%) as they do their own friends (56%). When an influencer genuinely promotes a product they really like, their audience tends to take it at face value.
With trust, comes long term, tangible relationships. Advertisements generally feel like sales pitches, whereas influencer marketing promotions feel like genuine interactions. This little nuance is what separates long term customers from the rest of your base.
If you can optimize for customers who are likely to stick around and engage with your product long term, you will save tons of money that is currently spent on customers who churn quickly. This process of optimization is a long term bet, but one that the best brands are investing in every day.
While a lot can be said about the volatility of trends in social media marketing, many are confident that Influencer marketing is here to stay on the big platforms like Instagram. Today, over 66% of marketing professionals claim that their brands leverage social media influencers in advertising campaigns.
As Generation Z gains more and more purchasing power in the economy, and develops longer and deeper relationships with influencers, we can only expect more and more brands to jump on the influencer marketing train. There is still time to get ahead of the curve, for now.
This post is part of our contributor series. The views expressed are the author's own and not necessarily shared by TNW.