What is Influencer Marketing?

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Influencer Marketing involves collaborating with people of considerable influence over your target audience to market your products and services. It is essentially a content marketing strategy of promoting your products and/or services on social media by collaborating with an Influencer.

Sponsored posts, stories, blog posts, etc. are some examples of influencer marketing.

Most influencers are content creators themselves, and all you have to do is define the campaign goals with them. By knowing these goals, these influencers can create the campaign content on their own, or it can be provided to them by you (the brand).

And influencer marketing is not free.

Influencers are almost always paid in some way – money or free products. So influencer marketing can put a dent in your overall marketing budget, but it’s still worth the investment. Simply because influencers can connect more to their followers as themselves, as compared to you engaging your audience directly.

Influencers are their followers’ friends, while you, as a brand, are not. So it’s best to leverage that influence to promote your services and products.

Who is an Influencer?

An Influencer has market influence that stems from the individual’s expertise, popularity, or reputation. They have tons of followers on social media. These individuals are passionate about their niche. They share content that makes them an authority in their niche. And they actively engage with their audiences, so their followers become true loyal fans.

When a brand collaborates with an influencer whose followers make up the bulk of the brand’s target audience, the influencer publishes posts on their social media channels to promote that brand.

If the target audience and campaign goals align correctly for this type of collaboration, those influencer posts can improve the quality of traffic that comes from the campaign. And also boost the overall ROI of the campaign.

A good example of an influencer is Kylie Jenner. She is paid around USD 1.2 million for a single sponsored post on Instagram.

Examples of Influencers

Most of Hollywood and Bollywood celebrities are influencers. But there are other influencers as well, who don’t necessarily belong to the film industries.

Cristiano Ronaldo, Selena Gomez, Virat Kohli, Huda Kattan, Elon Musk.. these are popular names you’ve heard before and would love to hear from.

And then there are influencers who are bloggers, vloggers, etc who have hundreds and thousands of followers, like Bucket List Family, Massy Arias, etc.

In fact, depending on your brand, non-celebrity influencers can bring more success to your campaigns, as compared to celebrity influencers. Just don’t be surprised if the costs are still the same. That is the power of influencer marketing!

How does Influencer Marketing Work?

Consumers are tired of sales tactics. They want a friend in their corner to discuss the pros and cons of buying something.

As a brand, you can use digital listening tools to find those online conversations about your brand, or relevant to your brand. But if you jump into those conversations directly, you will still be a stranger to those people in those conversations. You won’t be an authentic voice. Your self-interest will loom large.

However, when you collaborate with an influencer whose followers match your target audience profile, you are more likely to win. The influencer is an authentic voice. Their followers have known them for years and years. They trust that influencer. And that trust shapes their purchasing decisions.

Moreover, you can engage far better with your people via those influencers. You will become a part of the conversations. You won’t have to force yourself into conversations anymore.

Examples of Influencer Marketing

I love Adidas campaigns. And their influencer marketing campaigns on Instagram are incredible.

Same goes for Netflix. They use celebrities and non-celebrities to keep things lively on their social media.

Then there are those micro-influencers who collaborate with Clinique, Garnier, and others on Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube, and TikTok as well.

We see a lot of influencer marketing happening around us. The conversations are more authentic now, and hard sales tactics are a goner.

How to use Influencer Marketing for Your Business

  • Start by searching for suitable influencers on social media. It doesn’t need to be limited to Instagram only. It can go beyond Instagram. Depending on your niche, look for suitable influencers in Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Pinterest, Quora, and more.
  • Connect with them via DM or email. Be clear with your expectations.
  • Negotiate till both parties are satisfied. This only includes payment, but also responsibilities and deliverables.
  • Don’t mistake influencer marketing campaigns with ad campaigns. Make sure your influencer is publishing interesting content.
  • Measure the ROI of your campaigns. Try UTM parameters to track those campaigns and accurately measure the ROI. Give it some time to see returns, but don’t wait too long either.

And don’t forget to nurture your relationship with the influencers directly. Make them feel special by giving them titles like “Brand Ambassadors”, “Evangelists”, or whichever term you feel is appropriate.

These influencers are special to your brand, so make them feel special. There’s a popular game called HayDay, and they invite their influencers for a special day with them at their headquarters.

Even LinkedIn invites influencers to their HQ as a special incentive.

How to Measure ROI with Influencer Marketing

The obvious ways to measure the return on investment (ROI) on influencer marketing campaigns are by tracking the:

  • increase in the number of followers
  • number of engagements (likes, comments, shares) on each piece of content

As mentioned earlier, you can use UTM parameters on links shared by the influencer to measure ROI with influencer marketing.

One project that I am currently working on also uses conversion pixels. For my project, I am using the Facebook Pixel to track conversions. But there are other conversion pixels (like Google Ads) available too.

You can also measure the ROI with promo codes. Like, how many visitors have used that special promo code that you had shared with your influencer?

These promo codes can be a set of unique numbers and alphabets that you will create specifically for each of your influencers. And every time one is used to avail discounts and special offers, you will understand which influencer’s efforts contributed to that sale.

Nowadays, you can also create specific hashtags for your influencer to publicise on their social media posts. Once the campaign is over, you can use tools like Hashtagify or RiteTag to measure the popularity of each hashtag and understand how much each of your influencers contributed to each campaign.

How to Become an Influencer

I didn’t want to include this section in this post because I was writing this article for brands. But then I realised brand collaborations are a type of influencer marketing too.

Case in point – Lego and Adidas.

If you go to the Lego account on Instagram, you will see the Adidas shoes with legos on them. And I find it an ingenious way to promote both brands.

To become an influencer, you have to:

  • be active, regular and consistent on your social media channels.
  • engage with your audience with relevance to your niche.
  • optimise your relationship with your audience by positioning yourself as an authority in your chosen niche.
  • let the world know that you are open to collaborations.

and of course, create content for your audience, not necessarily for the brand you are collaborating with.

Now, over to you..

Are you ready to become an influencer, or use influencer marketing for your brand? You won’t need an elaborate budget to get started. But a bit of planning will go a long way in ensuring your success.

Before I wrap up, just a few more points to note:

  • large number of followers in someone’s account does not necessarily make them an influencer of that niche. Look for engagement activity instead.
  • avoid personalities who choose to add the word “influencer” in their tag lines. They usually are most definitely NOT.
  • go with your gut feeling when you are approaching influencers to work with you. Your relationship with the influencer needs to be nurtured for a long time (ideally), so make sure you choose someone you are comfortable working with.

And that’s it from me.

Now you are ready to delve into the world of Influencer Marketing.

Let me know if you have any questions for me in the comments below ⬇

Read my other articles on Digital Marketing.

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