How to Get Started with Influencer Marketing
In today’s innovative digital media space, influencer marketing is a key component of a well-rounded strategy. Once a vanguard for social media trailblazers, it’s quickly becoming the norm. From burgeoning fashion lines to premier vacation destinations, everybody is using influencers to promote their brand. So why aren’t you?
The data doesn’t lie: in 2022, the influencer marketing industry was valued at $16.4 billion. Far from a blip on the radar, influencer marketing is here to stay. This increase in popularity (and funding) is due to the growing popularity of short-form video content on platforms like TikTok and Instagram. These bite-sized pieces of content are easy to consume, driven by content creators with niche audiences and loyal followings.
That’s where influencer marketing comes in, gaining unique exposure for your brand and driving conversions. And with 2023 projections valuing the influencer marketing industry at $21.1 billion, it would seem the sky's the limit. Are you ready to get on board?
What is influencer marketing?
In simple terms, influencer marketing is a relationship between a brand and an influencer. But in reality, influencer marketing is much more. It’s an extension of your brand presence and a valuable component of your marketing strategy. It’s also a more organic way to get your name out there. At the end of the day, people trust people, and influencer marketing allows real faces with real followings to be your mouthpiece.
While influencer marketing may seem like the new kid on the block, it has a lot in common with tried-and-true marketing tactics like celebrity endorsement models. But instead of just attaching a familiar face to a brand name, influencer marketing uses endorsements and product spotlights to create brand awareness and drive conversions within an influencer’s audience.
Influencers are seen as experts in their specific niches, amassing loyal followings and building out their audiences. Followers place a high degree of trust in their favorite content creators; influencer marketing leverages this loyalty to drive conversions and win new customers for sponsor brands.
How does it work?
Influencer marketing involves in-depth planning. From finding creators who gel with your brand identity to negotiating sponsorships and contracts, executing an effective strategy requires time, energy, and elbow grease.
Ultimately, influencer marketing helps businesses locate and advertise directly to their target audience. By advertising through an influencer, brands engage with a targeted audience that trusts and regularly interacts with that content creator. This helps dial back the skepticism modern consumers feel watching TV commercials or traditional social media ads. Because these niche communities are so devoted to their favorite influencers, they’re more likely to buy into the product or experience the influencer promotes.
It’s also important to note that influencer marketing is a pay-to-play strategy, meaning you won’t get influencers for free. Audiences will know when content is sponsored. When influencers spotlight your products or show off your vacation destination, they are required to clearly disclose the partnership or sponsorship. This may come in the form of hashtags like #ad, #[Company Name]Partner, or #Promotion. Some platforms, like Instagram and TikTok, have built-in disclosure tools that plaster a “Paid Promotion” notice on the post.
These measures let viewers know which content is sponsored and which isn’t. This not only helps them make more informed purchasing decisions but also helps influencers maintain transparency with their audience. After all, recommendations are the lifeblood of their influencer’s brand, and they want to keep things sincere.
So, how do you find influencers who align with your brand?
Here at Zehnder, we use in-house software to identify and rank influencers. Our social team works hand in hand with research and analytics to sift through data and provide meaningful insights to determine which influencers best fit your brand’s voice and marketing goals.
The software also allows us to measure success by impressions, likes, shares, and comments, providing metrics and hard data on how a partnership can boost your brand. And no matter your location, geographic targeting features ensure we can find a best-fit influencer for you.
How do you measure success?
Measuring the success of an influencer marketing campaign isn’t always as straightforward as a traditional marketing plan – it’s more fluid and harder to quantify. Despite these challenges, it’s a proven strategy to reach new customers.
One tried-and-true way to measure success is to track impressions. Impressions are hard data that show exactly how many viewers have seen (and hopefully interacted with) your influencer campaign. At Zehnder, our in-house software helps us keep tabs on these metrics.
You can also source data directly from the influencers themselves. Go beyond likes, shares, and comments by asking for honest feedback from the influencer. Ask them questions about audience reception, and take the temperature of their viewership. This first-hand information can help you improve your influencer marketing strategy for the next go around.
What are the best strategies?
For a successful influencer marketing campaign, the influencers you choose should fit naturally with your brand, which means you need an organized marketing strategy. Here’s how to get the ball rolling:
1. Define your goals (and budget)
So you’ve decided to incorporate influencers into your marketing strategy to drive conversions and stay current. Now what?
First things first – you need to define your goals. Do you want to build brand awareness and earn more organic promotional content? Or do you want to drive reviews and generate more leads? How about all of the above?
After you determine what you’re trying to achieve with your influencer marketing strategy, decide how much money you’re willing to spend on it. When it comes to budgeting, expect to pay influencers based on their follower count and how many posts you’re requesting. And while a bigger budget can help you hire influencers with larger audiences, you don’t need to break the bank to participate in influencer marketing. If you’re a smaller brand, consider hiring a micro-influencer rather than a celebrity macro-influencer. Micro-influencers have smaller audiences, but better engagement rates on average. And because you pay less per post, your ROI skyrockets.
2. Always vet your influencers
Before you hire an influencer, you need to thoroughly vet them. Sadly, social media influencers aren’t always who they make themselves out to be, and sometimes influencers will purchase fake followers to pad their audience.
But don’t let that deter you from incorporating influencer marketing into your strategy – it just means you need to be careful when hiring influencers. Before you do anything else, make sure influencer followers are real. Look at the engagement on their posts to investigate. Influencers with fake followers may have low engagement rates and lots of repetitive comments on their posts.
3. Hire the right influencers
Believe it or not, influencer marketing is not limited to one or two industries – it can truly work for any business. You just need to find the right influencers. From social media influencers to B2B bloggers and industry thought leaders, there is always someone with credibility influencing consumer decisions.
When looking for an influencer to be the mouthpiece for your brand, ask yourself a few questions:
* Do they post content in my industry niche?
* Has the influencer worked with comparable brands in the past?
* Does the influencer’s personality, style, and professionalism complement my brand image?
Next, think outside the box about how you want to utilize the influencers you partner with. If you’re marketing a vacation destination, consider giving an influencer a budget and sending them to explore different attractions around town. And if you’re trying to promote a workout clothing brand, consider hiring a TikTok fitness influencer to spotlight your sportswear on their platform.
Even if you run a tech company, you can utilize influencers by commissioning them to attend and advertise your conferences or webinars. If your campaign runs smoothly and you want to continue working with an influencer, don’t be afraid to build a lasting relationship.
4. Be patient and let it grow
As with any marketing strategy, good results take time. Unlike paid search where you can calculate the ROI in the blink of an eye, seeing results from influencer marketing is more gradual. Give your results room to grow before you make any drastic decisions. Allow your influencers to be as organic as possible, and you’ll see organic results. And if you decide to call off your influencer marketing campaign, always communicate with your influencers first and leave on good terms. You never know when you may need to rekindle your campaign.
Kickstart Your Influencer Marketing Strategy
Influencer marketing isn’t just a flash in the pan – it’s a key feature of a modern content marketing campaign. Not only does it help you engage hard-to-reach customers and level up your brand voice, it builds trust in your brand. As you develop your 2023 marketing strategy, consider taking the plunge into influencer marketing.
Want to blaze a trail or break new ground with your influencer marketing efforts? Reach out to the pros at Zehnder to learn more about how influencer marketing can generate exposure for your business.
Call Jennifer Boneno at 225-448-0756 or email firstname.lastname@example.org