With content marketing at an all-time high everyone is asking the same loaded question “how do I stand out from the crowd?”
Influencer marketing is one solution.
An influencer is someone who is active on social media and blogs. Someone who has the trust of a small, niche group of consumers they call a community. They can amplify your content, extend your reach and as Jay Baer puts it, an influencer is someone who drives action not just awareness.
To define the type of influencer every campaign or even a brand is looking for would be complicated- each influencer has their unique field, product or service. However, we can guide you through the details of influencer marketing and most importantly help you start measuring results.
What Is Influencer Marketing & Why You Should Use It
When it comes to influencer marketing the first thing you need to identify is your audience. The better you can understand who your targeted consumer is, the easier it will be to find the influencer you are looking for. Once you understand your audience you can get a better pulse on who the consumer is, knows and identifies with- who they look at for guidance around their purchasing decisions. This is key to a successful campaign. The audience needs to trust and relate to the influencer your brand has picked. Think of the influencer as that friend who always gives you a great recommendation. Most consumers trust recommendations from a third party over a brand. In this case, the influencer becomes that connection, humanizing your brand by bringing their audience to your product.
On the other hand, you need to remember that just because everyone has the ability to hit the publish button on social media does not make them an influencer. When you are investing in an influencer you need to keep several things in mind:
- Who is their reach?
- What form of social media do they use?
- What is their message?
- Do they use video?
- What’s their overall vibe?
- What language do they use?
- What content are they already putting out there?
- How do they engage with followers?
- How do followers engage with them?
- What would success look like? Views, clicks, shares? Or purchases and site visits?
Take a look at the content they are already producing, is that how you would want your brand represented? Would your content fit in flawlessly with what they are already doing? Are they someone you already consider a brand cheerleader? Remember it needs to feel natural for it to work.
This criteria can help you identify the right influencer for your brand. Influencers take connecting with their demographic to a new, more personalized level. You will see their followers leaving meaningful comments and questions on their posts and these influencers not only take the time to answer them but to continue the conversation. They understand their relationship with their followers is important and earned; it takes work on both ends.
Another thing to keep in mind is that courting an influencer is no easy task. Someone who agrees to work with you just because you send them some free stuff probably isn’t in this for the long haul. You want your influencers putting out information about your product over a long period of time, this is not just a one post pony. This is about the influencer generating their own content around your brand and product, cutting through the noise of other advertisers, recommending it to their followers, continuing to have conversations around your brand and products, which hopefully leads to high engagement and purchases. The influencer is doing a lot of the heavy lifting by converting their followers to your brand and that does not happen overnight. Like every relationship, this takes time and lots of communication. A level of trust has to be built on both sides. You have to be okay with giving creative freedom over to another person and they have to believe in your product.
Influencer Marketing & Celebrity Endorsements Are The Same, Right?
Some people consider celebrity endorsements the same type of marketing as a brand influencer, but I disagree. Why the big shiny follower count that many celebrities come with make working with them seem like hitting the marketing jackpot they don’t have the same type of relationship with followers that influencers do.
Influencers create a community. Celebrities have fans. Influencers create content. Celebrities are given content. While someone with millions of followers could expose your brand to a lot of people, are the people who idolize them the same ones who would purchase your product? If not, your message will fall on deaf ears and have little impact. That is why an influencer can be so much more reliable. Influencers may come with much smaller follower counts, but they are considered queen in their niche market.
Where influencers and celebrity endorsements differ the most is when it comes to content curation. With an influencer, their content is going to focus on the product they are sharing. With celebrities, the attraction can often be on themselves. The content celebrities put out are often given to them and posts can feel inauthentic and scheduled. With an influencer, they are going to write every tweet and take every picture. It truly is their project from start to finish and their work doesn’t stop after they post. They continue to build on the content by the conversations they have with their followers after the post goes live.
Remember an influencer marketing is not just about having large audience numbers, it’s quality over quantity. An influencer is someone that had a community before you even came to them, they have an engaged audience and relevant content that aligns with your brand- can you say the same about a celebrity endorsement?
If You Can’t Measure It, You Can’t Improve It
With great popularity comes great responsibility to measure correctly! With that said, influencer marketing was rated the fastest-growing online customer-acquisition channel, so it’s time to tackle the metrics that define success.
When it comes to influencer marketing you have to measure more than reach. You can’t just look at an influencer as a large following and amplified voice, reach is passive participation. While one of the reasons you have decided to partner with an influencer is because of their community size, it takes more than a lot of people looking at a post to make a sale. You have to look past the vanity metrics and into performance metrics like audience participation, engagement from their social following, brand awareness, and sentiment.
Brand engagement and participation are ways to measure the reaction an influencer is receiving when sharing your message. This is why it’s not just about reach, engagement gives you trackable actions that happened as a result of someone seeing their content. Influencers have had to earn every follower and the way they keep them around by having personal interactions with them, that is why their engagement is often times higher than a celebrity. ZEFR did an analysis comparing the reach and engagement of “traditional celebrities” with some of the today’s biggest social-media influencers and they found that online influencers can deliver greater engagement than some of the biggest celebrities. Before partnering with an influencer dive into the data to see where they get most of their engagement from so you can ensure it aligns with the channel you want to use. This can help when it comes to planning your message and putting together their campaign, it will take the guesswork out of what you might expect.
For sentiment analysis be on the lookout for discussions of your brand through all social media channels. This is the best way to gauge the perception of that campaign and audience buy-in. While positive posts are a sign you have picked an influencer who is a good fit for your target audience negative ones can signal that the campaign is feeling too salesy and it’s time to re-think your strategy. You can also use sentiment to see which influencer-if you are testing a few, has the most favorable reaction from their audience. This would give you the signal to continue the campaign and create more awareness around them.
I think it comes without saying that the greatest affect your influencer campaign should have is on brand awareness. You can measure this by:
- Traffic generated to your website
- Brand mentions online
- How many followers are acquired on social networks during the campaign
- New subscribers to your blog or newsletter
- The number of inbound sales and referrals the sales team receives
To get numbers directly attributed to the influencer make sure to give them their own unique trackable URLs to measure impact. This is an easy way to get some concrete numbers on the campaign, whether the goal was website views or actual sales you can get the metrics needed to show brand awareness impact.
It’s also important to keep in mind that an influencer should not be looked at as just another number to measure, depending on the product or service the customer journey and purchase cycle might take longer than the duration of your campaign. Continue to measure results even after the campaign has ended.
When it comes to measuring your influencer campaign the most important step you can take is setting goals and KPIs with the influencer from the very beginning. Have them show you past campaigns, what those goals and objectives were and how the results measured. From there you can emphasize what goals are most important for your brand but don’t forget to ask them what they are hoping to gain from the campaign too. It’s important that you have mutually beneficial goals and then plan the path the will best get both of you there. Make sure to pick milestones, check-in dates and the metrics that matter most and your campaign will be off to a great start.
Wrap It Up
Influencer marketing is more than just the digital version of a word-of-mouth campaign. A relationship with an influencer is a long-term commitment that takes just the right amount of pruning to ensure the campaign feels authentic and honest. It’s more than video clicks and shares, it’s the conversations influencers have with their followers about brands and products they believe in- that then turn into purchases. It’s more than their follower count, it’s about being identified (by their peers) as a trusted advisor in a community they have built. They know how to connect, talk and share with consumers in a way brands just aren’t able to.
Want more content about influencer marketing? Check out this post How To Influence The Influencer here.