The field of marketing never stops evolving. Outdated strategies lose popularity and are soon overtaken by innovative approaches that pair tried-and-tested techniques with new technology. One of the latest strategies is influencer marketing, which takes word-of-mouth advertising and amplifies it through the huge social networks of high-profile individuals. Two-thirds of marketing professionals worldwide are pairing with influencers who can create original content to promote the brand to thousands or even millions of social media followers.
It’s a long-tail approach that builds brand awareness, bringing in new leads so you can woo them to conversion. And it’s effective, too, with one study showing an average earned media value of $9.60 for every dollar of paid media spend. Sounds appealing, doesn’t it? Here’s what you need to know:
How does influencer marketing work?
Influencers have earned that title because they’ve managed to gain and keep the attention of large audiences. When an influencer posts interesting content that speaks positively and authentically about your brand, it generates interest from audiences you wouldn’t otherwise be able to reach. You’ll inherit some of your influencer’s fans and followers, which is why it’s so important to make sure your influencer really understands your brand and is connected to the right audience for your products. If you’re selling activewear, you’ll have more success if you pair with influencers specialising in fitness and wellness than with those in travel or photography.
How do I find the right influencer for my ecommerce store?
The right influencer is someone who:
- has a large, engaged audience that matches your target market
- publishes on the social media platforms you’re interested in using
- can reliably produce content that fits with your brand image
- understands what you want to achieve
- is easy to work with
A good place to start is right there on the social platforms you want to use. Influencers are already at work, publishing content for other businesses, and you can use that content to find them.
Start by searching for your competitors. Whose content are they resharing? Do any of those users have thousands of followers and lots of engagement? They should be considered influencers. What hashtags are your competitors and their influencers using? Who is posting prolific and engaging content with those hashtags?
Once you’ve got some influencers’ names in mind, you can narrow it down based on their previous work and their style or service offering. But I think it’s better to step beyond that platform and see what they offer. Do they have websites, describing their services? Are they offering single- or multi-platform marketing services? Is their audience massive and diverse? Or do they target a specific niche and, if so, how closely does it match your niche?
If you’d rather just search for influencers with certain skills, or even have influencers come to you with quotes, try influencer networks and marketplaces. Each has a different feature set:
- self service or fully managed
- free access, or pay per project or per month
- single platform (e.g. Whalar for Instagram), single media type (Applause for live streaming for Periscope and Facebook Live), or universal (Cycle, FameBit, and Tribe).
How many influencers do I need?
That depends on exactly what you’re trying to achieve and how many influencers you can afford. For a general campaign, you might choose a couple of massive influencers; if you’re marketing a particular product line, you might choose a few niche influences to narrow down your target audience.
When deciding whether or not to hire one more influencer, it can help to think about their incremental value-add. If you’re selling men’s apparel and you’ve already selected a couple of men’s fashion influencers, you’d probably only add a third if they had a very different audience you’d like access to, such as a different age group.
How do I work with influencers?
The key thing to remember here is that your influencers are social media experts and knows how to reach their audience in the most efficient and effective way. All you need to do is tell them exactly what you want to accomplish, when, and any constraints that apply; then let them run with it. Let’s break down how to get the best results:
1. Show them the big picture
Your influencers are more likely to hit the mark first go if they understand your big picture, so give them access to your content marketing calendar or plan. (But make sure they can’t access any Top Secret campaigns that should be off-limits.)
2. Let them do their job
Set boundaries for your influencers to work with. Make sure they know what’s off-limits, but beyond that, don’t tell them how to do their job. If you’ve got content ideas, offer them up as suggestions or examples, not instructions.
3. Pay fairly
Your influencers are creating original content, granting you the rights to use that content, and giving you access to their hard-won audience. That’s like three jobs in one! They also save you a lot of effort and free up time for you to focus on your customers, so keep all these things in mind when you’re working out rates. Most influencers are paid per post; high-profile influencers rarely accept products as payment for their services.
4. Reuse content
So long as your agreement allows it, you should be sharing content to multiple platforms. Use your own accounts if your influencer doesn’t access all the social platforms you want to use. You can even use the content in your email and print marketing collateral.
5. Check usage rights
Make sure your agreement outlines where, when, and how you can use the content without paying extra. Even viral content only lasts a few years, so there’s no point seeking exclusive rights beyond that window. If your influencer is using stock images, make sure they’re licensed appropriately for commercial use. You don’t want to get caught out on a copyright infringement.
As with any professional relationship, it’s a good idea to formalise your expectations with a written agreement or contract. In addition to affording legal protection in the unlikely occurrence of a dispute, a signed agreement ensures that both you and your influencer know exactly what you’re paying for, when it will be delivered, and how you’re allowed to use the content in future.
How do I know if influencer marketing is working?
- Influencer marketing success can be difficult to measure, but you should be looking for:
- engagement on your influencer’s posts.
- increased fans, followers, and likes on your own social media accounts
- increased website traffic from those platforms
- increased conversion rates, after time.
- If you’re not seeing these improvements, you might need to change your approach or work with a new influencer.
How can I get started?
Next time you’re on your favourite social media platform, start looking for influencers. Which pages or public profiles are talking about your competitors or using your favourite hashtags? How many followers have they got, and how engaged are they? Before you know it, you’ll be hunting down influencers for your ecommerce store and expanding your social reach.