Influencer Marketing – Where Do I Begin?
Where do consumers look first when it comes to evaluating a new product or brand? Their peers and those they trust. This is why influencer marketing is a smart tactic for businesses—influencers are master content creators and are trusted by a large audience of loyal followers.
The Difference Between Celebrities and Influencers
So where to start? First, let’s break down what differentiates a celebrity from an influencer. Celebrity endorsements are contracted deals between brands and influential people whose fame is used to promote a product or overall brand. Influencers, on the other hand, fall within your target demographic, align with your brand image, and may be considered “trusted and professional reviewers.” They focus on a specific niche and influence other category members.
Understanding Your Buyer Persona and Identifying Influencers
Before diving into influencer marketing efforts, have a comprehensive understanding of your buyer persona to paint a picture of how your target demographic prepares for a purchase. It’s important to identify this persona before you build out an influencer program, because influencers who are going to be the best match for your brand are the ones who reflect the behaviors, motivations, and goals of your buyer persona.
You can enroll companies devoted to helping brands find and engage relevant influencers, or you can perform your own research on platforms like LinkedIn and Twitter to find appropriate influencers for your brand. Before approaching potential influencers, it’s crucial to gain an understanding of their level of audience engagement, what other brands they promote, and whether they’ll do a good job of influencing your particular target audience.
Once you’ve found a handful of strong prospects, reach out to them; for example, send them a free version of your product in exchange for a review on a social media platform or contact them via email or direct message on the social channel they predominantly use. When crafting your message, be concise and to the point. Include who you are, explain that you and/or your company are an avid fan/follower, and provide reasons why they would be a strong fit as an influencer for your brand and your products.
When leveraging influencers, it’s crucial to ensure that they line up with your brand image and that they are publishing authentic content pertaining to your brand. If their posts feel scripted or disingenuous, the influencer will lose authenticity. You can ask for their support in the form of guest blog posts, sponsored social media posts, event collaboration, product giveaways, affiliate programs, product reviews, and more. It’s important that you and your influencers be on the same page and share mutual goals. Both parties should share the work equally and feel comfortable and engaged with the promotion.
Creating an Influencer Campaign
Once you’ve defined your target audience and engaged the right influencers, it’s time to prepare and create a campaign together. Be ready with a campaign outline, goals, and expectations. Remember that authenticity is a critical factor in an influencer marketing campaign—it won’t work if the material sounds scripted. Let your influencer be open and honest with their followers. Empower them through information and brand accessibility, but don’t take over from a creative standpoint.
Carefully choose the platforms that your influencer will use, and then negotiate rates, compensation, and contracts to ensure deliverables and schedules are met. There are various ways to compensate influencers, including cash payments, free products, commissions, and promotion on your own channels.
After the influencer has published or created your content, it’s time to analyze the campaign and determine the level of success. Key aspects of these campaigns are reach, engagement, and revenue generated. Metrics to monitor include impressions, followers, shares, and click-through rates. Based on set goals and expectations, it’s your responsibility to evaluate prioritized metrics.
To build a strong and lasting relationship with your influencer, follow them on social media channels, repost their content, make time for face-to-face meetings, and stay in touch after they have posted content for you. This will show your influencers that you care about their personal brand and are invested in them, too.
Influencer Marketing Helps the Entire Funnel
Influencers are trusted, credible individuals who can have a significant impact across the sales funnel. They grow your brand reach and awareness by sharing your products and services with their large networks. And they are key when it comes to the consideration phase of the buyer’s journey, as consumers seek out information and look to those they follow for their expertise and recommendations. Finally, when it comes to a buyer making the decision to purchase, that final push over the finish line is stronger and works better when it comes from someone they trust and admire.
Written by Emma Komrska
Emma is an Account Services Intern at Icon, graduating from the University of Cincinnati in December 2019 with a degree in Marketing and Business Analytics. She's been with Icon for two semesters, and, following graduation, she'll be starting a full-time gig as an Associate Search Specialist.