Influencer marketing isn’t just the newest buzz in social media strategy or the next hack to beat the digital algorithm that’s been killing your organic reach. In fact, there’s nothing new about influencer marketing. Big brands and companies have been banking on the emotional connections between influential people, like athletes and celebrities, and their fans for decades.
Social media platforms have ratcheted up our direct and immediate access to one another. Made our world feel much smaller and made previously untouchable people feel very accessible. This illusion of knowing someone is the tide that launched a thousand Kardashian products. Those were the early days of online influence.
Things evolve quickly in the digital space. Potential customers are well informed and have become highly skilled at sniffing out disingenuous content. Currently, we are seeing a demand for more authentic interaction and connection. We have blown past the effectiveness of celebrity endorsements, and even major social media influencers who boast millions of followers.
We’ve actually come full circle back to a tried and true marketing principle. People like to do business with other people. Word of mouth marketing is still king. As a whole, we value the recommendation of a trusted friend or neighbor. A relationship like that is grown over time as we get to know another person that we can identify with, look up to, and exhibits admirable traits we would like to emulate. Hence the rise of the effectiveness of partnerships with “micro” influencers. (Generally considered those influencers with a following of 100,000 or less).
Working with Influencers can be extremely effective when you’re working with the right people on the right plan with the right objectives. An effective influencer partnership strategy begins with effective Influencers. The right partnerships paired with solid strategy can boost your business or brand’s awareness, connect with potential new customers, generate content for you to use across your own platform and ultimately convert casual observers into sales.
The initial step and lynchpin in your influencer marketing efforts are finding the best influencer for your brand or business. Just like the perfect marriage, there is no “perfect influencer.” Just the perfect influencer for YOU.
Chances are you’ve already been exposed to a bevy of lovely influencers in your specific space, and have a decent idea of who you’d like to work with. When making your final selections, keep your ideal customer in mind. You’ll want your influencer partner to be someone that your ideal customer would look to for inspiration and guidance. That matches your ideal customers' tastes, style, and conversational tone.
Examine both the imagery and copy that an influencer shares. A picture is worth a thousand words, but there are still 2,200 available characters to tell your story in the caption below. The success of your influencer marketing efforts banks on the emotional connection between your influencer partner and your ideal customer. Through your partnership, you’ll be simultaneously cultivating new customer relationships and deepening current customer attachment.
Remember, an Influencer is not a brand rep, social media model or client testimonial. Though each of those people can fit nicely into your comprehensive digital marketing strategy. They can be Influencers in ADDITION to those other roles. An Influencer is something a little MORE.
Who is an Influencer
As simple as it sounds, an Influencer is a person who has influence. Someone who others look to for inspiration and information, and take action as a result of those two elements. Without audience action, there is no influence.
Determining the precise amount of influence an individual wields is honestly not an exact science. There has been a considerable buzz around the topic of calculating and valuing social media influence. The previous status quo of audience size as the benchmark of influence has been swept aside. Due to services providing accounts with fake followers became more and more prevalent. Recently, even engagement rates have become less reliable with services that promise to boost those rates with automatic responders that will like an Influencer's content.
The verdict? Take a little time to get to know the influencer you are interested in working with and their audience as well. Review their numbers and basic insights, but also scroll through a few past months of their content.
Influencer Metrics to Consider
At this juncture when things are changing so much across platforms, there really is no hard and fast rule in determining if a person is a “good influencer.” Following are a few indicators of influence to consider. Remember to consider these points as a whole as no single indicator is the golden ticket of influence.
- Audience Size: The total number of friends and followers an influencer has.
- Audience Reach: The total number of friends and follower who actually see the content an influencer shares.
- Percentage Reach: The percentage of friends and followers who actually see the content an influencer shares.
- Audience Engagement: The total number of friends and followers who are compelled by the content an influencer shares and interact with that content. Depending on the platform this could be a like, love, comment, share, link-click, etc.
- Engagement Reach: The percentage of friends and followers who see the content and interact with the content.
- Social Proof: At its core, social proof is the human tendency to follow the crowd. For our purposes here, look for indicators of social proof in comments and direct messages. This is where friends and followers are asking for additional information, affirming they will or have made a purchase and thanking the influencer.
Once you’ve made a love connection with an influencer (or three!) that you’re excited to work with, it’s time to settle on a strategy. As the saying goes, a goal without a plan is just a wish. A strategy turns wishes into goals. An effective strategy turns goals into results. Hope is not a strategy. You on board?
Having an intentional strategy from the beginning will ensure you have a far less stressful partnership experience. You’ll know what you want to achieve, how you’re going to achieve and IF you’ve achieved it when it’s all said and done.
When drafting your influencer marketing strategy you’ll want to build based on two core concepts:
1) the specific objective of the campaign
2) the roles of the people involvd
You won’t know if you’ve had a successful partnership if you haven’t defined the outcome you want to achieve. Influencer partnerships are particularly effective at helping to build brand awareness, promote new products or specific product sales, and driving digital traffic. Choosing a single objective that is specific and measurable will keep you and your influencer partners accountable, as well as, provide clear direction for your potential customer.
There are three people entering into this new relationship: your brand, the Influencer you’re working with and the audience. Each of these people has a role to play. Like the brand, you want to position yourself as the solution, goal or prize for your influencer’s audience. The influencer serves as a trusted bestie providing sincere advice and direction, guiding their audience to you. The audience, your potential customers, become the heroes of the tale who have secured a little piece of their own happiness in the end!
The final stage is to outline the logistics of your strategy. This should include the time frame you’ll be working within this partnership, the type of content that will be created, the number and frequency of posts, and which platforms will be engaged. Get all these details down in writing so there’s no confusion about expectations.
Most importantly, don’t feel overwhelmed or intimidated. At the root of your influencer marketing efforts, you’re meeting new people who are thrilled to be introduced to you and your business!
If you loved this piece check out our peice by contributor Michelle Knight on how to monetize your influencer marketing strategies for better business.
You can find Thea at home on the range wrangling cowboys, babies and Boss Babe ambitions in the remote Sandhills of Nebraska.
A windblown gypsy soul with Bachelors degrees in both Business and Journalism, she has over a decade of experience in executive management and marketing, holding positions in the western lifestyle industry traditionally occupied by the “good ol' boys.”
Thea has settled down and found her calling developing effective engagement strategies through her own boutique marketing agency, MetaWest, and as the hostess of The Cowgirl Diaries and Thea Does The Things, inspiring women to conquer life with that special blend of cowgirl grit and grace.