How to make influencer marketing work for your business

As digital communication and storytelling has become a prerequisite on social media, the importance of influencers and bloggers as marketing tools continue to rise in the online space. More and more people are chin wagging about influencer marketing, but few people know how to apply it to their business. If you’ve heard of influencer marketing, but you’re not quite sure how to make it work for you - here’s a breakdown of some key points to consider before developing your own influencer marketing strategy.

 
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What is influencer marketing, anyway?

First thing’s first. What is an ‘influencer’, exactly? Well, an influencer can be anything from a popular fashion photographer, a fitness model, a healthy chef, a respected life coach or a successful marketing executive - the list goes on (and on). There are influencers within any and every industry or niche, it’s just a matter of finding them. Their followings on social media platforms means they have a strong reach and influence within a specific target audience.

Influencer marketing is the name used to describe the collaboration between an influential person and a brand to promote a product, campaign or service on social media. It’s a similar concept to celebrity endorsement, only used in modern day content-driven campaigns on social media channels such as Instagram, Facebook, YouTube and LinkedIn.

How to find the right influencer for your brand

Before reaching out to a potential influencer to represent your brand, let’s consider the three R’s of influencer marketing, also known as ‘Pillars of Influence’ which describe the fundamentals of influencer Marketing;

Relevance

Is the influencer you’re considering working with sharing content that is relevant to your business and/or industry? It’s no use collaborating with an artist and asking them to promote your high-speed blender. You should take the time to consider who would best represent your brand in terms of their target audience, personal values and the content they are posting. Influencers that spruik seemingly irrelevant products to their audience quickly lose their trust and credibility as it seems as though they are only promoting a product/service to make a quick buck, rather than in the interest of providing genuine value to their followers.

Reach

Does this influencer have a large enough follower base to bring value to your business? You might think your potential influencer is completely ‘on brand’, however if they don’t have an adequate following – they will have very little, if any impact without the necessary reach. This is not to say that influencers need to have a huge following to have influence. In fact, quite the contrary. Influencers can have a smaller, more targeted and more engaged following and generate a better ROI for brands than influencers with hundreds of thousands, or even millions, of ‘followers’. The key is in how engaged that following is, and how much trust that influencer has earned with their following.

Resonance

Now we know that bigger isn’t always better when it comes to choosing an influencer for your brand. A huge follower count is useless if those followers aren’t interested in the product or service your business is offering. A ‘micro-influencer’ with a smaller, more niche following can be much more powerful to you if their audience is highly engaged and more targeted. While influencers with larger followings may be useful for brand awareness due to their wider reach, the main benefit of using micro-influencers is that they are viewed in the online space as more accessible, trustworthy and authentic, and are therefore more likely to resonate with their audience.

So, you’ve found the right influencer. Now what?

Once you’ve selected some influencers you’d like to work with, don’t be shy. Slide into their DM’s, or email them and let them know you’re keen to work together! Reaching out privately and personally rather than using a generic message is definitely the way to go in terms of increasing your chances of a reply – it’s worth it even if it takes you a little more time. Remember, influencers are contacted by brands all the time, and they know the difference between a genuine proposition and a copy/paste message. Take the time to set yourself apart from the pack and focus on building a real relationship.

Before you go contacting anyone, make sure you’ve done your research! Know the influencer’s brand, values and vision before pointing out how the collaboration can be of mutual benefit. When you do reach out to your chosen influencer – be clear of your expectations and what you are willing to exchange for their support. If you’re targeting an influencer with a larger following, that may mean a budget per post in exchange for a number of high quality images to be posted on both of your accounts. Micro-influencers who are still growing their following may be willing to exchange promotion for ‘barter’ – aka, free products or services in exchange for exposure on their accounts.

Once you receive the fruits of your collaboration, whether that be Insta stories you’re tagged in, posts on your chosen influencer’s account or high quality content sent to you for promotion of your own business – make sure you leverage these outlets as much as possible by cross-promotion. Share, repost and engage on any and all promotional posts about your business to maximise your ROI.

Be mindful that influencer Marketing is not about quick payoffs. It’s a ‘slow and steady’ approach aimed at building the respect and trust online by showing your authority and credibility within your industry. Be patient when laying out the groundwork and trust that with the right knowledge and approach, results will come!