Social media and content marketing are widely established ways of nurturing a relationship with potential customers and expanding brand awareness. However, sometimes even the highest quality content isn't enough to convince your audience to convert into paying customers.
This is where influencers come in. People trust peers more easily than they trust brands, which is why brands of different sizes and industries are partnering with digital influencers to increase their brand awareness and expand their customer base.
However, finding the right influencers isn't as easy as it was a decade ago. Influencer marketing isn't as simple as reaching out to the Instagram account with the highest follower count and expecting them to take a couple of selfies with the products.
In this article, we’ll explore the advantages of developing an influencer marketing campaign, how to find influencers that will boost your brand, and the best practices to follow when getting in touch with influencers.
What Is Influencer Marketing?
Influencer marketing follows the general logic of word-of-mouth marketing, relying on endorsements and product mentions from influencers with relevant platforms to increase brand awareness and encourage prospecting customers to convert. While the concept may seem fairly straightforward there is a lot more to influencer marketing than just getting famous YouTubers to talk about your product.
Influencer marketing aims to promote brand awareness by relying on trusted sources for a brand’s ideal customers. This is an effective strategy because followers trust influencers more than consumers trust traditional advertising. Additionally, as the name suggests, influencers have significant persuading power over their audience, their beliefs, and their choices.
Just like social media marketing in general, influencer marketing is constantly adapting and finding fresh new ways to promote brand awareness. Some examples of marketing campaigns are giveaways, social media takeovers, brand ambassador programs, affiliate marketing, sponsored content, unboxing, etc. The possibilities are endless and, when done right, influencer marketing can be beneficial for both the brand and the creator.
Why You Should Find Influencers to Collaborate With Your Brand
Some marketing purists perceive influencer marketing to be a fickle, unpredictable, and unprofessional field of marketing. It is, however, an industry that is massively growing and projected to keep growing.
According to the Influencer Marketing Benchmark Report 2022, this is a market expected to reach $16.4 Billion by the end of 2022. In 2019, it was estimated that for every dollar spent on influencer marketing, brands earned on average $5.78, which would go up to $18 for companies that have studied influencer marketing more in-depth.
Influencers have worked to connect with their audience and gain their trust. The relationship between content creator and followers, while markedly uneven, relies on vulnerability, personal connection, and let’s say it, the often-intentional cultivation of a parasocial relationship in which the follower may feel deeply invested in the influencer’s personal life and choices.
These allusive yet familiar figures may have more influence than what has been studied and are certainly more persuasive than celebrities, who are unrelatable and less engaged with their audience. With younger audiences, this may be even more significant – 4 out of 10 millennials claim to feel more understood by their favorite creators than by their own friends!
So don’t sleep on influencer marketing. Keep reading to learn how you can find influencers, connect with them, and measure your return on investment (ROI) from your influencer marketing strategy.
Follow these seven steps and develop your influencer marketing strategy the right way:
Step 1: Choose the Right Platform for Your Industry and Brand
Before attempting to find influencers to reach out to, you will need to do a deeper dive into the demography of the users of different social media platforms. Where do your ideal customers spend the most time online?
Demographic and social factors such as gender, age, nationality, location, socio-economic background, and even political orientation will help determine which platform will better bring brand awareness to your target. Whether you decide to invest in TikTok users, Instagrammers, YouTubers, or bloggers, ensure that the potential customers you are trying to reach are on that platform.
On what social media platform does your industry operate? Where do industry leaders share their content? Where do you go to stay updated on industry news?
Start by choosing the right platform (or at most two platforms) for your desired audience. Later on, you will focus your search efforts on them and save time by looking in the right place.
Step 2: Understand the Different Types of Influencers
While it may seem counterintuitive, ensuring a partnership with the content creator with the largest following may not be the most helpful in getting your brand to reach the right potential customers. It will largely depend on the product or service you are offering, your target market, your budget, and your long-term marketing strategy.
To make the right choice for your brand, you’ll need to understand the different influencer tiers. These are largely associated with follower count, engagement, and how niche-specific they may be.
Mega-influencers are well-known celebrities, such as Kylie Jenner, Kevin Hart, and James Charles. These mega-influencers have well over 10 million followers on their social media channels and are famous across most industries, not just in one specific niche.
Because of their gigantic influence, and fittingly high rates, working with a mega-influencer is better suited for big brand names, such as luxury fashion brands or big cosmetics companies. A medium-sized company would struggle both to get their attention and, if managing to establish a partnership, to hold it long-term beyond a one-off brand deal.
Macro-influencers are large platforms with at least 100,000 followers (ranging to several million), that dominate their industry and may be known across industries. These influencers typically make social media their full-time profession, therefore they are usually open to working with brands regularly. Despite being more approachable than mega-influencers, macro-influencers usually charge high rates for partnerships.
Examples of macro-influencers include Lauren Singer (sustainable living), Adriene Mishler (yoga and wellness), and Cole and Marmalade (pet care). Macro-influencers are typically better suited for well-positioned companies looking for an ambassador for their brand.
Micro-influencers typically have between 10,000 and 100,000 followers with a strong focus on their niche expertise. They are thought leaders in their field and, having fewer followers, they can cultivate a more authentic and organic relationship with their audience than higher tiers of influencers.
They are better suited for newer startups and brands looking to position themselves within their field. Examples include Bridget Todd (journalism), Squish (pet care), and Naaya (yoga and wellness). These are names that are well-known in their specific niche, but that are not recognized across the board.
Pro-tip: Consider if three micro-influencers would better suit your marketing strategy than one macro-influencer or vice-versa.
Nano-influencers typically have less than 10,000 followers, yet they strongly influence their niche. They cultivate intimate and personal relationships with their communities and have a high influence over their small circle.
In some cases, partnering with a nano-influencer can offer a larger ROI and secure more sales than partnering with a micro-influencer, which can bring more exposure but less immediate sales.
Brands may partner with different types of influencers simultaneously for different campaigns, depending on their budget, marketing strategy, and target niche. As a rule of thumb, the higher the tier, the lesser targeted the influencer’s reach will be. Many people might receive your brand's message, but there are fewer chances of conversion.
Selecting the appropriate influencer tier is essential to estimating the budget of your influencer marketing strategy and determining the key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure its effectiveness. Weigh in whether you might reach more potential buyers through a large or a niche platform.
Step 3: Identify Your Ideal Influencer
Not all influencers will be a good fit for your campaigns, regardless of how large their platform is. It’s also important to note that there are multiple types of influencers. Influencers can be journalists, famous bloggers, YouTubers, or have big Twitter accounts. They can work in the beauty industry, share cooking recipes, review vintage games, and anything in between.
There are different routes you can take when devising an influencer marketing strategy. You could aim for having one ad made by one of the largest content creators, or find a smaller creator with a dedicated niche audience to establish a long-term partnership. You can sponsor a podcast episode, send free items for honest reviews, or promote affiliate programs.
One of the best ways to do this is by narrowing down the core traits of your brand and matching these with an influencer that represents them. For example, if you’re an athleisure fashion brand whose mission is to serve plus-sized women with inclusive fashion wear, you could look for prominent influencers in the body positivity movement that promote body acceptance as a core value. It’s wiser to choose a micro-influencer that accurately aligns with your brand’s message than to partner with a macro-influencer that does not connect with your desired customer base.
You’ll also want to make sure their audience matches your target audience, which will not only increase the likelihood of the brand deal being profitable but also of the influencer committing to supporting your brand. If your brand offers cryptocurrency trading software, for example, a popular vegan cooking channel with 5 million subscribers may not bring either of you as much return as expected.
On another hand, you’ll find that most influencers are on several platforms simultaneously. When you carry out your search, you'll find that their primary focus lies in just one media platform. This is the social media platform where their audience is most responsive, where they have the most followers, and with the most original content. This is the platform you should take into consideration.
Before moving on to the next step, you should be able to answer the following questions:
- What are the core values to look for in an influencer?
- What communication style would be ideal for this possible partnership?
- What are the desired outcomes of this influencer marketing campaign?
Step 4: Search for the Perfect Influencers
Despite your best efforts to outreach influencers effectively, there is no way to guarantee that you’ll find the perfect match on your first try. This is why this step is particularly crucial to avoid flopping your marketing campaign.
On your quest to find influencers, do a deep dive into the platform of your choice, explore hashtags, take note of which platforms are trending, and subscribe to the accounts that align with your brand’s goals and core values. During this deep dive, create a database of the main influencers whose platforms would be beneficial for your brand.
Take note of their follower count, location, direct contact, and frequency of posting. You may also rank them based on how closely they align with your brand’s statement. This ranking may inform the order in which you get in touch with the influencers.
Finding the right influencers is a time-consuming task. Get a headstart in your influencer marketing campaign with Pareto’s help. Get weekly lists with influencers that match your exact criteria in terms of engagement rate, followers count, audience location, and more.
DM'ing your ideal influencer that you'd like to collaborate with them with a generic message and requesting them to share your content with no previous interaction doesn't cut it anymore. Follow the following guidelines when outreaching to influencers to avoid wasting both of your time:
- Express why you are reaching out to them specifically. Influencers have dedicated their time and energy to solidifying their personal brand. They may have shared personal stories, vulnerable feelings, and life experiences in order to connect with their audience as authentic, multi-layered people. As a brand interested in collaboration, it is crucial to connect with them on a personal level. This will mean spending some extra time going through their content, noting down their core values, and finding bridges between both of your brands.
- Explain clearly how your product/service matches the influencer’s audience. You want to bring your service to potential buyers and the creator wants to present their audience with services and products that they might be interested in.
- Make an offer that is adequate to the content creator’s platform, type of work, and social reach. Brand deals should be proportional to the creator’s follower count and how on-demand they are. Some creators even post publicly their rates for brand deals, so make sure to do the homework on the desired influencer. Making an inadequate offer will breach their trust in your brand and could even lead to public ridicule.
- Keep it short. While you’ll want to avoid impersonal templates at all costs, don’t fall into the mistake of making your outreach too long either. Content creators can get an overwhelming number of direct messages, e-mails, and comments. Keeping up engagement with their audience and brands can be a draining element of being an influencer and, while bigger platforms may have a social media manager to filter out business inquiries, smaller creators are likely going through DMs and emails personally. If you want the best shot at a happily ever after, get rid of unnecessary fluff and get right into showing that your brands are a match made in heaven.
If nothing comes out of this first contact, it is acceptable to ask for a follow-up, confirming your interest in working with them. If no reply comes, then it may be time to move on and reach out to the next influencers on your list.
Step 6: Work With Your Influencer
You’ve matched with an influencer, yay! Now, how much input should you give in the creation and execution of the brand deal? What is the brand’s part in overseeing the process?
Brand deals should feel like a collaborative and mutually beneficial project. Avoid misunderstandings and misalignments by being clear about your expectations and possible dos and don’ts you may think of beforehand. If not done right, brand deals may come across as forced or inauthentic and ever turn off potential customers from engaging with your brand.
Let the influencer work their magic and don’t micromanage! Ads that are too scripted or that don’t match the general tone of the content creator will feel out of place and not hold the same persuasion power as if they felt genuine and in tune with the creator’s voice.
Allow for creativity and leave space for the creator to think outside of the box. Some of the best examples of successful influencer marketing campaigns were unconventional, provocative, or downright eccentric. If you did your research and determined that the influencer is the right choice, trust that they know how best to communicate with their audience.
Step 7: Measure Your Success With KPI Tracking
KPIs help you track the progress and success of your marketing campaign. The most common KPIs for influencer marketing are engagement, website traffic, conversions, brand awareness, and click-through rate (CTR). When assessing the impact of your campaign, here are a few aspects to consider:
- All marketing aims to increase sales, measured by conversion rate. Measure conversions generated by the influencer marketing campaign by tracking sales before, during, and after the influencer marketing campaign.
- Website traffic is another central influencer marketing KPI. It represents the amount of traffic the influencer drives to your site. It'll give you an idea of the campaign's reach and success. Google Analytics, Shopify, and WordPress website traffic tracking are helpful tools for keeping track of this indicator.
- Engagement measures how your audience perceived your campaign and interacted with it. It's an indicator of the strength of the relationship between your brand and your customers, bridged by the influencer. Engagement can be quantified by the number of new followers, likes, shares, comments, retweets, and mentions during the influencer marketing campaign.
- Brand awareness is tracked by measuring the impressions data on the content shared by the influencer during the campaign. The best way to quantify it is using social media site analytics and Google Analytics. How many times was your brand name mentioned during the marketing campaign? If your brand was mentioned more frequently than before working with the influencer, you can be confident that you’re in the right direction.
- Finally, click-through rate (CTR) quantifies the frequency of users clicking on a particular link. Google Campaign Manager is a useful tool for keeping track of CTR across different websites and platforms.
These indicators will provide a clearer picture of goals achieved and missed. Make sure to have defined benchmarks and to take the lessons learned into your next influencer marketing campaigns.
Get Your Personalized List of Influencers Today
As we’ve established, partnering up with influencers is a high-reward marketing strategy that growing businesses should not overlook. However, the process of searching for the right influencer involves time-consuming research and data input that you may just not have the time to do.
Pareto helps you find the right influencers for your campaign, by sourcing customized pre-vetted lists of influencers and providing you with their direct contacts so that you can focus on developing your influencer marketing strategy. Find the perfect influencers to partner up with hassle-free!