Of all the ways that the internet has changed society, one the most paradigm-shifting developments has been the creation of the blog. Now, individuals can share their thoughts, opinions and ideas with the entire world in just a few clicks.
Obviously, not all of these bloggers will capture worldwide attention, but some of them will prove to be more popular than others. For marketers, this new breed of content creators represents an exciting opportunity to reach specific audiences via a medium that is both trusted and affordable.
What is influencer marketing?
Influencer marketing is a type of marketing where brands collaborate with online influencers to create, endorse and share branded content in order to increase brand awareness, brand sentiment, sales or a combination of all three.
Influencers can be anyone with a significant online following, from ordinary Facebook users who are influential within their group of friends to well-known bloggers and YouTube celebrities with tens of thousands of followers. Since the methods used to identify influencers differ between these groups, for the purposes of this article, we will only focus on the latter two.
Why should you consider doing influencer marketing?
Influencer marketing allows you to spread awareness about your brand or product via a blogger or online personality that consumers trust. We know that consumers place a lot of stock in product reviews and what others are saying about a brand – collaborating with influencers allows you to leverage this trust on a larger scale.
In many cases, you can convince influencers to collaborate with you for free. Ways to do this include:
- Giving them free products for their personal use or to test out.
- Giving them discounts or prizes that they can give to their followers.
- Giving them high-quality content (e.g. video, photos, infographics) that is of interest to their followers.
The more popular influencers may charge a fee for “sponsored posts”, but it is usually reasonable given the huge readership and social media followings that they command.
Since most blogs are based around a particular interest or audience (e.g. fashion, cooking, motherhood, etc.), you can target consumer groups that are most likely to be interested in your brand.
How to get started:
1) Define your objective:
Determine how many people you want your campaign to reach, what audience(s) you want to target and what KPIs you will use to measure your success. These factors will determine the number and type of influencers that you will need to work with.
2) Identify key verticals or interests that align with your brand and make a list of influencers in those areas:
Keep in mind that while certain influencer categories may not necessarily align perfectly with your brand, they may still be useful for certain campaigns. For example, a fishing lure brand may generally target males between 40 and 60 who are avid fly fishers, but may decide to collaborate with a mummy blog for a “Father’s Day Gift Ideas” campaign.
Where to find influencers:
3) Familiarise yourself with each influencer’s style and choose the most appropriate ones:
For each influencer on your list, read through their blog posts and get a feel for the content, style and tone of their articles. Do they align with your brand? Some bloggers may adopt a snarky tone or may be quick to point out the shortcomings of brands they don’t like.
Be careful to choose influencers who are likely to be impressed by your product or service and who will be able to write about it in a way that your brand is comfortable with.
4) Plan your entire campaign before approaching influencers:
Determine what product or message you would like to promote, what type of content you would like the influencer to produce and on what social media channels you would like it to be shared. Try to design your campaign so that it is highly appealing and relevant to the influencer’s followers. Influencers are much more likely to agree to an idea that they know will interest their audience.
Different ways brands can collaborate with influencers:
- Product review: The influencer tries out your product and then shares his or her experience.
- Giveaway: Often combined with a product review, a giveaway lets readers enter to win your product. Many blogs have a designated section for giveaways and allow followers to earn extra entries if they post about the giveaway on social media.
- DIY article / tutorial: Few people like to be sold something, but most people like to learn something new. By creating a DIY article or video based around your product (e.g. a recipe or a craft), you can not only grab consumers’ attention, but hopefully also convince them to buy your product.
- Video: Especially relevant for YouTube celebrities, have influencers incorporate your brand or product into one of their videos.
- Brand ambassadorship: A long-term collaboration (typically six to 12 months) where the influencer agrees to produce a certain number of branded posts and social media mentions.
- Twitter party: The influencer hosts a “party” on Twitter where he or she leads participants in a fast-paced discussion related to your brand. Usually lasts for an hour and participants may be rewarded with prizes.
5) Write a clear and concise email pitch:
Influencers are busy people and receive multiple email requests from brands every day. They don’t have time to come up with your campaign idea for you and they will be loath to respond to an unclear or ambiguous email. Explain clearly in a couple paragraphs what you are offering and what you expect in return, but leave room for influencers to make their own suggestions. Also, make sure that you have all the additional information influencers might need (e.g. contest rules, discount codes, etc.) prepared so that you can send it to them right away if they agree to collaborate with you.
Once the influencer has agreed to work with you, most of the hard work is behind you. Just remember to do the following to ensure that your campaign goes off without a hitch:
6) Provide links to your website and social media accounts:
Don’t rely on the influencer to know which landing page to link to or what social media account to mention when talking about your brand. This is especially important for large brands that have multiple social media accounts for different markets or business divisions.
When providing links to your website, be sure to include Google Analytics UTM parameters so that you can accurately track the referral traffic generated by each influencer.
7) Ask to see the post before it’s published:
For paid posts this should be a no-brainer, but even for unpaid content, you should (kindly) ask the influencer to send you the post beforehand so that you can make sure the product information is correct and your branding guidelines are respected. As long as you don’t make too may edits or try to change the original tone of the piece, influencers will generally welcome this feedback as they too want their content to be as accurate and informative as possible.
8) Send a thank-you note:
After the campaign has ended, send a thank-you note to your influencers and let them know how it went. It’s a nice gesture that will set the stage for future collaboration down the road.
In the end, influencer marketing is all about relationships – the relationship of trust between the influencer and their followers and the relationship you create with each individual influencer. Don’t be afraid to make the first move. Influencers expect to be approached by brands and – if you do so in a compelling and professional way – they are usually very receptive.
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