The future is now: everything is online, which means that people are getting their news, information, and opinions from the world wide web now more than ever before in history. It stands to reason, then, that companies must adapt to this new environment in order to maintain advertisement and brand awareness for their product.
As we’ve written before, the logical location to focus much of your online marketing efforts is social media. Whether it’s on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, or LinkedIn, you plug yourself and maintain communication with your customers.
However, starting and maintaining this marketing effort can be difficult: if you’re not already a giant corporation with a household name, how are people supposed to find you or learn about you online? The modern world has an answer to this, as well: the art of hiring, encouraging, or otherwise working with someone to build up your brand using their position in social media of having several followers who listen to their opinions. This is what is popularly known as Influencer Marketing.
Over the course of this article, I will explain more about the details of and necessity for Influencer Marketing, the process of implementing Influencer Marketing, and the final research on which Influencers you should follow.
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To begin, we must emphasize once more the relevance and importance of Influencer Marketing in the current online market. The reason for this is simple: with the advent of product reviews and entire services geared around user-based ratings (such as Yelp), consumers are relying more and more heavily upon other consumers. Many people have grown cynical toward traditional advertising, given that it is known to promise several things that it simply cannot provide . Thus, you’re going to want to garner as much positive press as possible, independent of your own personal marketing.
Marketing Schools categorically defines Influencer Marketing as follows:
“Influencer marketing involves marketing products and services to those who have a sway over the things other people buy. This market influence typically stems from an individual's expertise, popularity, or reputation. Marketing to an audience of influencers is similar to word of mouth marketing, but it doesn’t rely strictly on explicit recommendations” .
As mentioned above, consumers trust recommendations from a third party more than the brand itself. This comes with the democratization of information that has come about with the advent of the world wide web . The upshot of this is that these popular individuals hold a lot of sway when it comes to user reviews and trust. A study by McKinsey has shown that marketing induced “word of mouth” advertising from Influencers has more than twice the payoff than simple advertisements .
The takeaway from all of this should be that individuals are trusted more than companies, so putting trust in Influencers is gaining traction in the business world.
How Do I Use Influencer Marketing?
Now that we’ve illustrated the importance of Influencer Marketing, the next step is understanding how to work with Influencers.
In connecting with an Influencer, offer them your own network and back up their reputation to other circles . Earned personal recommendations outpace paid ones and come off as more genuine-- your product should be good enough that personal recommendations should flow freely after you have an Influencer (who can even be a client of yours) try your service . The idea here is that you haven’t necessarily just paid them to tell people to buy your product: preferably, you’ve got a mutually beneficial relationship without direct benefits, so as to maintain the genuine nature of their influence. It’s worth noting here that the FCC specifically dictates that individuals who have been paid to endorse a product are ethically bound to clarify publicly that they have been paid, or there may be legal consequences. Remember: no amount of retweets is worth federal prison time.
Moving forward, once you’ve started a relationship with an Influencer, it’s important to measure how much they’re doing for you. Identifying quantitative measurements for how much Influencers help your brand and qualitative measurements for how they affect the perception of your brand are important . Consider the amount of likes, follows, shares and comments that your article is getting. Engagement is, of course, more important followers .
To maximize engagement, we recommend getting in contact with Micro-Influencers. Micro-Influencers, people without as large of a following as the highest and brightest but have a more personal touch as a result, are trusted 82% of the time .
Who Should I Follow for Influencer Marketing?
Now that you understand the process for contacting an Influencer and how your relationship works, we’ll talk about who specifically to follow. An influencer should be relevant to your business context ; a food critic is unlikely to garner many engaged customers to your automotive repair store. Do research on who is big in your field and how to contact them-- if you’re confident in your product or service, then you should expect them to have just as high a viewpoint to share with their followers.
The previous statement does beg the question, “How big of an Influencer should I get in contact with and/or follow?” As stated above, Micro-Influencers, or Influencers with only a few followers but a large amount of engagement, work well. Conversely, Macro-Influencers, or influencers with tons of followers who may have lower engagement, can also work well. Business 2 Community recommends that you search for the “Power Middle” between Macro and Micro Influencers, people with a high amount of followers but also a large amount of engagements . While this seems obvious, the specific numbers for your industry’s standard levels of “Micro” and “Macro” Influencers are going to vary from other industries-- Gaming Influencers are going to have very different numbers from Medical Technicians. Search through articles and hobbyist websites to track who gets spoken about often and who is cited as being an influencer, and then compare the amounts of likes, follows, comments, and shares that each of the results get.
While it doesn’t seem like it, Influencer Marketing is a data-driven field: if you crunch the numbers and find out who works best to talk about your business based on some good old fashioned value-per-input calculations, you’re likely to see the right kind of success.
Influencer Marketing has increased exponentially in the past 3 years, and there’s no reason to expect it to simply fall off anytime soon . The simple fact of the matter is that individuals are more trusted than corporations or known shills-- a respected leader talking about why he likes a product is more convincing than a brochure emailed to you nigh anonymously.
The marketing field is always moving forward, and Influencers are a big part of the future. Treat Influencers like long term partners-- they’re unlikely to just fade away, so maintaining a good relationship is vital to your brand’s growth . New technology that allows you to measure the returns for your investment in influencers, as well as new outlets that allow you to show your content through various forms of media (text, pictures, audio, video), have revolutionized the whole field. You can even be creative with how you utilize Influencers through these various outlets .
Do some research on who works in your field, treat them professionally and kindly, and you will have another big force working for your success. In time, with the right degree of networking and growth, you and your company could become Influencers yourselves.
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