There’s the right way to approach influencer marketing and then there’s the wrong way.
While clever advertising and valuable content remain key, nothing says “brand you can trust” like people of influence telling others that they love your product or service.
Third-party credibility is nothing new – word of mouth, press coverage and endorsements have been around forever. The late 1800s saw Queen Victoria and Pope Leo XIII act as brand ambassadors for Vin Mariani (a light, cocaine-based tonic wine) and former slave Nancy Green hired as spokesperson for the popular Aunt Jemima pancake mix – a move slammed today for playing to racial stereotypes.
Modern influencer marketing is a sophisticated business. The omnipresence of social media has allowed more and more relatable, “everyday” people to grow serious social followings. Brands can now take their pick from a huge pool of credible individuals who share their values. This is far less limiting than going after hard to reach, in demand, EXPENSIVE celebrities.
It also tends to work better as a marketing strategy. Celebrity endorsements are great, but they do tend to make us suspicious, conjuring up images of Jerry Maguire-esque boardroom deals and glossy photoshoots. See Nicole Scherzinger advertising yoghurt and you might think to yourself, “Weird – I wonder how much she got paid.”
Influencers on platforms like Instagram are considered credible because they give followers a semi-accurate representation of real, everyday life. Is it heavily curated? Of course. Is it attainable? Not always, but it certainly feels a lot more realistic than the other-worldly existence of our favourite celebs.
The follower considers the influencer an expert in their niche. They may aspire to be like them in some way – using the same products is a good place to start. If your favourite green living blogger posts a picture of herself wearing a sustainable fashion label, there’s nothing to stop you ordering exactly her exact outfit within minutes. If a fitness god you follow shares a video of himself knocking back a protein shake, you might choose the same brand for your next bulk buy.
It helps if the product is affordable – the follower gets a slice of the lifestyle they covet at a price they can afford.
Influencer marketing works, period. But where to start?
Start by doing your research
Think long and hard about the about the audience you want – as well as the type of topics, blogs and posts they might follow. Start by searching for blogs relevant to your industry and then go through them to see if they are discussing topics relevant to your niche. Once you’ve got a good idea of the influencers who fit your brand identity, you’ll need data. Employ the help of some good blogger outreach tools like Tomoson and Buzzstream to locate SEO stats and social media information to pinpoint the the influencers that equal the best outreach for your brand. At this point it’s also a good idea to look at some trending hashtags that would work well with your brand or promotion.
The hard bit
Without a doubt, the hardest bit in any outreach process is tracking people down and getting them involved. Leaving a comment below a post asking them to contact you is fine but will often be overlooked by busier individuals. What information can you get hold of? When a phone call isn’t possible, dropping an email or DM is the next best thing.
Make it about them
The nature of the content depends on the agreement you have with the influencer. If they are willing to collaborate on content then go for it, but remember the golden rule of content marketing: make it all about them. Following an influencer on social media is an “opt-in” experience. People are there because they like the influencer’s authentic voice. Don’t taint that with pushy advertising. Things like how-to guides and follower competitions are great because they let the influencer showcase the product while offering their audience something of real value.
Elegance is everything
Go easy – no one likes multiple posts forced clumsily into the wrong feed. The best influencers won’t risk sharing anything that might compromise the trust they have established with their loyal audience.
There’s no such thing as a free, Instagram-filtered lunch. While you don’t have to compensate influencers financially, it’s often well worth the expense considering the potential reach. Don’t flatter yourself that free products or a shout out will be enough to convince someone to do your marketing for you every time. These people are targeted by hungry brands every day. There’s the kind of publicity that you can’t buy and the kind you can. This is the kind you can.
Need help putting together an inspiring influencer marketing strategy? Get in touch with our Digital PR & Marketing team.