Influencer marketing is taking the world by storm. And influencers are giving traditional celebrities a run for their money.
According to eMarketer, almost half of US marketers intend to increase their budgets for influencer marketing in 2017. 70 per cent of teenage YouTube subscribers say that they relate more to influencers than traditional celebrities.
Courtesy of eMarketer
Unfortunately, influencer marketing has been much maligned in digital marketing, primarily due to the missteps taken by brands and bloggers alike.
As a small business that is just starting out, how can you work with influencers to grow your brand? After all, it does make sense to leverage on their wide reach and expansive social networks.
Before you do so, however, consider taking these steps:
Are you setting the right objectives?
Like any digital marketing techniques, influencer marketing begins with setting the right marketing objectives.
Here, there are four main ones to consider:
- Awareness: Improving public brand awareness and perception
- Engagement: Increasing their interactions with your brand
- Conversion: Driving online (and offline) sales or member acquisition
- Loyalty: Growing customer lifetime value (CLV)
From my experience, I find that influencers are more effective in driving awareness or increasing brand engagement more than stimulating sales or growing loyalty.
Are you choosing the right influencers?
This is probably the hardest part of influencer marketing. After all, there are literally hundreds of thousands of them – from A-listers like Pewdie Pie to that kid down the block with a kickass LEGO unboxing YouTube channel.
Consider these key factors and questions:
- Brand fit: Are they right for your brand? In other words, would your CEO be comfortable taking a selfie with them?
- Content fit: Which media do the influencers rule in – text, photos, videos, or audio (podcasts)? What about their tone and style?
- Niche fit: Do the influencers create content regularly in your industry?
- Audience fit: Check out the folks who follow your influencers on Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram. Would they be your ideal customers?
Are you engaging them correctly?
Once you’ve ascertained that they are the right influencers, you’ll need to consider how you can work with them. There are four main ways to do so here.
This is similar to traditional PR working with mainstream media journalists. It may involve pitching stories to social influencers, extending invitations to press conferences, or providing complimentary tickets to events like conferences/workshops, concerts, and parties.
Often, this extends to the widest range of influencers (since the relative costs of doing so is lower for brands).
These normally cover a wider range of social influencers including mid-tier influencers who may not have the reach of top influencers, and include the following:
- Complimentary sample products
- Complimentary service packages
- Free holidays, overseas trips, and media junkets
Contests and Competitions
Sometimes, you may wish to spice things up a little by organising an influencer contest.
While these are unlikely to attract top tier influencers, you may have a chance of generating wide participation amongst everyday influencers who could help your brand reach a wider and more diverse audience.
These may include blogging contests (most votes win), Instagram photo contests (most likes), and other options.
The last option would be to pay for sponsored “advertorials” on the influencers’ blogs, Instagram photos (with shares on Facebook and Twitter), and YouTube videos. This would normally involve top tier influencers who have a huge network and reach, who are almost akin to celebrities online.
The amount ranges significantly depending on the following performance indicators:
- Number of views/ unique visitors (for blogs and YouTube videos)
- Number of fans/followers/subscribers (for Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube)
- Degree of engagement, eg “likes”, comments, #hashtags populated, retweets and shout outs, and shares/re-shares for posts
- Business KPIs like number of new social media fans/followers, increased visitors (to corporate brand page), web referral traffic (for links shared through influencers’ networks), and ultimately paid members and sales transacted.
Are you tracking their performance?
Last, but certainly not least, you’ll need to consider the performance of your influencer for your brand.
If you’re interested in tracking engagements, Socialbakers has a pretty nifty way of doing so. This is related to the engagement rate of your influencer, and can be derived using the formulae below:
Courtesy of Socialbakers
If you wish to track conversions, the best way to do so would be to use two free tools from good old Google:
- Google Analytics to track the impact of an influencer campaign on visits to your website
- Google URL Builder to build a custom URL (with your influencer’s details) so that you can ascertain their impact on site visits
What you need to do here is to provide a unique URL to each influencer, and then direct them to a specific sales page on your website. Through Google Analytics’ goal setting and attribution capabilities, you can determine how much traffic and even conversions can be attributed to a specific influencer.
(You can learn more about attribution modelling here.)
The science of influencer marketing
As you can see above, effective influencer marketing isn’t just about hiring your favourite YouTuber to sing for your brand. Nor is it about hiring the biggest blogger you can afford.
Rather, it is about adopting a nuanced step-by-step approach to identifying your marketing needs, finding the right influencer, determining the right partnership model, and measuring it effectively.
The next time you think about hiring influencers for your brand, consider these steps above. I can assure you that you’ll enjoy a much better outcome.
Walter Lim is the founder and editor of Cooler Insights – a critically-thinking content marketing, public relations and personal branding agency. You may reach out to him by dropping him an email here.
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