Influencer marketing is one of those buzzwords that has been floating around for a few years but has really gotten hot in the past 12-18 months.
Everyone has this innate craving to be known – to be considered an influencer in their industry, whether it be interior design, cooking, art, or even… social media marketing (yes, I’m calling myself out on that one). Being an influencer is one thing, working with influencers to help promote your business is another.
You don’t have to me some mega-company like Chanel or McDonald’s to use influencers, likewise you don’t have to use big celebrity names either. Find those who are passionate about your brand/company who have a good-sized following (it doesn’t have to be a million followers) and start there.
James talked about how traditional digital media is trending towards obsolescence. Consumers are expecting more. They want to be inspired.
Take a look at Instagram, for example. Think back and look at how the posts have changed over the past 2-3 years. You see more creative posts involving more people. Companies are sharing more user-generated content. Brands are featuring their most passionate fans, or as Mark Schaefer calls them, your alpha audience. You see accounts with Instagram take-overs from industry influencers.
Enlisting these influencers, or creatives, is often driven by passion, not profit. The influencers doing these campaigns and posts for these brands/companies, are not doing it for the money (well, maybe a few are) – they are doing it because they love that brand.
Example: me and Sprout Social. I have been a loyal Sprout Social customer since 2012. Actually, more like a raving, passionate fan/customer. I could go on and on about why I love and continue to use their program when, honestly, there are less expensive ones out there. Sprout saw my passion for their company and invited me to be a part of their inaugural All-Star Influencer Program. I do not get paid for it. Yes, I’m asked to post about them a few times a month, which I was doing anyway, but in return for being that passionate customer, I’ve been featured on their Sprout Insights blog, gotten some awesome swag, and even had one of my largest consulting clients referred to me. I do not have a million followers. I do not live in Los Angeles or New York. I’m just a passionate, committed customer who has a good-sized following.
In his talk at the Summit, James Ford shared with us lessons learned from his Drink with James video series (which I highly recommend)…
15 Influencer Marketing Items to Consider
1. Why are people following you?
You or your client must be doing something right if you have a continual growth of your community. If people are following you, you have to deliver great content.
2. Have a business mindset.
If you are wanting to grow your following (or your client’s), you have to think about it everyday – it will be like a part-time job. It’s intentional, much like knowing why you are using social media in the first place.
3. Invest in your business.
Make sure you have the right products, equipment, education. Continually be growing as a leader in your industry.
4. Be consistent.
Your social feed is your landing page (think Instagram). People who visit your accounts need to know what to expect. This same principle applies to branding. All accounts need to flow across each other.
You have to be yourself, but you also have to be different. What makes you better than your competitor? What can you deliver that they cannot?
6. Build relationships
Influencers for your brand are not built overnight. They are cultivated through a relationship. This is very important. In fact, building a relationship with all of your followers (as a whole) is important. They are your reason why you have anyone looking at your social posts anyway.
7. Figure out what it’s worth
If you want to be an influencer, figure out what you should charge. If you are looking to use an influencer in a campaign, figure out what they charge and what you’re willing to pay (cash, trade, free product). A model James gave in his talk, for example with Instagram, take your following, divide it by 1,000 and then multiple it by 10. But also think about the niche. Real life example, @memarketingservices has 1,224 followers. Divide that by 1,000 and that equals 1.22, then multiply by 10 and I could charge $12.24 per post to a company who wanted me as an influencer. For Twitter, it’s the same formula, but you divide by 10,000.
8. Work the negotiation
Not all influencers want to be paid. Shocking, I know. Some actually do it simply for the exposure. And that can be big.
9. Cold emailing
The thought of cold-calling sends chills down my spine, but cold emailing isn’t as bad. If you are going to cold email a person or brand about an influencer campaign, do your homework first about them and have a great pitch.
10. Know how to have your photos taken
James suggested the subject have some alcohol first so they’ll relax, but I’m not going to advocate for that. You do what you think is best. However, whether you are the influencer or you are working on an influencer campaign, having the right photo is key. Work with a photographer – educate yourself – look at other posts for inspiration (but do NOT copy).
If you are an influencer for a company or you are working with one, you MUST disclose the relationship. If not, there could be legal ramifications for all parties involved. You can also use a hashtag to disclose such as #brandnamepartner.
12. Do NOT, and I repeat, DO NOT buy followers
Not only is this a Terms of Service violation on EVERY platform, Instagram is working on a ratings tool, much like the Twitter ones floating about.
13. Know your growth rates and what to look for
You want to make sure you are getting positive ROI (return on investment) on your influencer campaign. Below are some benchmarks to look for.
14. Speak outside your niche (go off-brand)
There are certain times and places to go off-brand. You want to stay consistent, but there will be times it’s okay to stray off the path for variety sake. Just make sure it’s relevant.
15. Look ahead
Once this campaign is done, where do you go next? Was this a good experience? Would you do it again? Constantly be planning for what’s coming.
Still considering influencer use? Here are some statistics to consider:
- Influencer marketing content delivers 11X higher ROI than traditional forms of digital marketing. (source)
- Twitter users now trust influencers as much as they trust their friends.
- Influencer Marketing is more effective than advertising since 47% of online customers use ad block technology.
- 73% of Millennials see it as their responsibility to guide friends, peers, and family toward smart purchase decisions. (source)
Have you thought about using influencers for your company/brand or have you been tapped as an influencer yourself for a company? We’d love to hear how that experience went. Share below in the comments!