The Power of Influencer Marketing
If your business has been on social media over the past five years, you’re probably aware that influencer marketing can be a useful tool for growing a brand.
But are you aware of just how much of an impact this marketing strategy has?
The influencer marketing industry is on track to be worth up to $15 billion by 2022.
According to a survey by mediakix, 89% of participants said ROI from influencer marketing is comparable to or better than other marketing channels. And as any good business owner or marketing professional knows–– generating ROI is key to brand scalability.
And unsurprisingly, Instagram is ranked the number one most important and impactful influencer marketing social platform. With over a billion users and millions of sponsored posts from influencers each year, Instagram is an absolute influencer powerhouse despite competing with Facebook and YouTube. There’s something about the ease of photo sharing on Instagram that has exploded micro-influencers with niche audiences.
And that “something” that’s so alluring to both influencers and brands goes beyond just an appeal to celebrities and big-box corporations that have oodles to spend on promotions. Instagram makes influencer/brand partnerships far more accessible–– to influencers with followings as small as 1,000 to 50,000 ––and that’s why we will primarily focus on Instagram when referring to successful strategies in influencer marketing in this article.
Let’s talk about the steps your brand can take to get it right with influencers.
Setting Objectives for Influencer Marketing
Tracking a positive ROI requires measurables. Start with setting some objectives and KPIs. These will guide whom you partner with and the type of campaigns you run and what you will measure.
Influencer objectives typically fall into the following five categories.
The goal is to expose your brand to as many people as possible and to inspire meaningful interactions with those people. The name of the game is showcasing your brand to the world to turn people into customers eventually. Awareness is the first step in the marketing funnel: getting people to recognise your brand.
2. Website Traffic
Influencer campaigns can drive website traffic. An effective influencer partnership generates leads on your website, which means the next step down the marketing funnel to making the sale.
The influencer marketing goal here is to increase revenue and making the sale– monetary gain. However, the purpose of conversion can also include actions such as email sign-ups, e-book or other free resource downloads, form submissions, etc. This objective is at the bottom of the marketing funnel.
4. Content Generation
The goal here is to get original, user-generated content (UGC) to support your marketing efforts. It’s an ideal objective for brands that struggle to generate content to fill their Instagram feeds–– mainly bootstrapped brands.
This objective is about curating a widespread and positive sentiment of your brand amongst your target demographic. The aim is to go a step beyond your brand’s exposure to strengthen the brand image and build trust in your target market.
Defining Your Ideal Influencers
Partnering with the right influencers is the most critical aspect of influencer marketing. However, it’s also one of the most challenging issues. In fact, according to an industry study, two-thirds of marketers consider finding relevant influencers their biggest challenge.
There are many tools out there designed to help you identify influencers that make a good fit. We like GRIN, Tribe and Influencity if you like to work with platforms , but nothing beats local knowledge and an organic people- based approach to complement the data.
But let’s talk about what factors you need to consider when defining your ideal influencers.
Who is your target audience? Your target audience is information you must know before searching for influencers. If you haven’t defined this, how can you find influencers who reach the same target audience you want to reach? You need to pursue partnerships with influencers with access to and influence over your target audience to make sure it’s getting in front of the right eyeballs. Quality of audience matters.
Finding and connecting with your ideal influencers can require a little digital elbow grease, so you’ll need to make sure that your potential influencers have a large enough following. An influencer’s follower count is easy enough to find on any Instagram profile. But what is a following that’s “large enough?”
There are three basic types of influencers:
- Celebrity influencers–– At least 1 million followers, social media superstars. IE. Casey Niestat, Jenna Marbles, The Kardashians
- Macro influencers–– 50,000 to 1 million followers, social media stars with a considerable amount of recognition in a community.IE. Amy Sedaris
- Micro-influencers–– 1,000 to 50,000 followers, experts and beloved individuals of their respective niche or industry IE. Hayley Xerri @Miss.Muck, Kevin Gonzalez @Rolex_225
Most brands opt to work with micro-influencers because they tend to get the highest engagement and be much more cost-effective than investing in influencers with more significant followings with less targeted audiences.
A survey by Markerley of over 800,000 Instagram accounts with over 1000 followers found that:
- Influencers with 10,000 to 100,000 followers were most effective at providing a balance of engagement and reach
- Influencers with fewer than 1,000 followers get their audiences to like their posts 8% of the time and comment 0.5% of the time
- Instagram influencers with 10 million+ followers get their audiences to like their posts 1.6% of the time and comment 0.04% of the time
Reach and audience on their own aren’t enough to justify outreach to an influencer. The influencers you work with also need to be posting content that fits with your content goals. Otherwise, your influencer outreach will just look awkward and disingenuous, and it won’t help you get a positive ROI.
You also need to ensure that the influencers you partner with are brand safe. Look at the media they’re uploading, how they speak in captions and comments, and what comes up when you Google them.
Here’s a checklist to keep in mind for identifying a brand-safe influencer:
- NOT racist, sexist, or prejudiced
- NOT inappropriate, violent, or reckless
- NOT currently or recently partnered with your competitors
- NOT burdened with a questionable past that could come back to haunt them (and you)
Crafting Your Pitch to Influencers for Optimum Results
Once you’ve boiled down a list of influencers you want to target, you need to get into the mind of an influencer before reaching out to them. Why are the influencers on your shortlist doing what they do, and how can you execute the right approach to working with them? Are there any particular approaches that will increase the likelihood of successful outcomes?
Influencers won’t necessarily agree to partner with you just because you pay them. A more particular influencer is desirable because it means they’re authentic and interested in working with a brand that is the right fit.
Here are some tips for creating the perfect pitch to influencers:
- Keep it authentic–– Authentic influencers want to work with trustworthy brands. Influencers will see right through brands that try to fake it with them.
- Show respect to influencers you approach–– You’re trying to establish a partnership, and partnerships require mutual respect. Be the first to extend that respect in your pitch, as you would any potential publisher of your content.
- Make it easy for the influencer to see the alignment between your values and theirs–– Create a one-page overview of what your brand represents to provide influencers.
- Ensure the freedom for influencers to express themselves creatively–– Relinquish control of your brand enough to let the influencer create the messaging that resonates with their audience, an audience they know best.
Outreach to Your Influencers
For the best results with influencers, your goal in reaching out should be to build a relationship–– not just to fulfil your campaign goals. And a single direct message is just not going to cut it.
Do yourself a favour and try to get out of the “transactional” mindset with influencers. Influencers are people–– use your communication and relationship-building skills to connect with them.
If you opt not to use one of the tools mentioned earlier to help you find influencers, your outreach efforts will require you to contact your influencers multiple times by DM or email. If their email address is not in their bio, you can ask them for it.
Here are the steps to effectively reaching out to influencers:
- Send a Brief Introduction–– This is a short initial message to gauge possible interest and put your brand on their radar. You want to mention something unique about the influencer, so they know you’ve done your homework and are sincere. The last thing you want to do is sound spammy! Here’s an example of a quality intro message:
“Hi _______(Influencer’s Name), This is ______(Your Name) from ______(Your Company). Your Instagram content is pretty inspiring and aligns closely with what we want to do. I’m seeing a lot of shared values between you and us, particularly your _____(value 1) and ______(value 2). We’d love to partner with you. If you’re interested in making that happen, let me know, and I can call when it’s convenient for you.”
- Follow Up–– Your follow-up message will vary depending on their response, but be sure to follow up regardless. If the influencer says no to your initial pitch, thank them and let them know the offer stands if they change their mind in the future. If they say yes, email or call to discuss the details such as what you’re trying to achieve and your budget.
- Stay in Touch–– Even after you have run the campaign, it’s essential to stay in contact with your influencers and support them by sharing their content if it’s useful to your followers. It keeps the door open for future partnerships.
Needless to say, this can be very time consuming for brands and many attempts are made to establish the right rapport with influencers as well as getting the right influencers to share the right message to the right audience across the right platform at the right time . This is where an agencies insight, know how and know when can often prove invaluable in terms of delivering a campaign faster, better and cheaper then brands initial attempts .
Designing Your Influencer Campaign
As mentioned earlier in the article, there are many types of influencer campaigns. Before you begin collaborating with your influencer to make a campaign that suits your goals, you may want to create a mood board with your influencer to inspire creative direction and act as a guideline for content.
Then, decide which of the following types of influencer campaigns you want to pursue.
- Sponsored Posts–– where you pay to sponsor a post on an influencer who in return is providing exposure of particular products/services of yours
- Branded content–– where you work with your influencer to weave your brand name or products into their content in an informative and engaging way
- Contests–– where you partner with an influencer to run your contest on their account or promote it to their followers
- Brand Rep Programs–– where your influencer acts a brand rep whom you send free products to and they, in return, communicate their enthusiasm for your product to their followers
- Reviews–– where an influencer provides a thorough review of your product or service to inform their followers
- Influencer Takeovers–– where an influencer agrees to take over your Instagram account for a day and draw interest from their following onto your account to increase your following
Best Practice Tip: If it’s a sponsorship post, be sure to use the “Paid partnership with…” and if it’s a post that involves you giving an influencer free product, make sure to use a hashtag such as #sponsored, #ad, or #freeproduct to be transparent about your paid partnership.
Tracking Your Influencer Campaign
The metrics you decide on in the first step of this article will provide insight into the ROI of your campaign. It’s vital to have this insight so you can know whether the campaign is successful, whether you need to pivot your strategy, or whether you need to try something entirely different.
We recommend using analytics tools to make it easier to follow the data. Tools like Nimble and Onalytica are helpful. However, you can also manually track the data you that matters most to the ROI of your influencer campaigns by using a spreadsheet with a table as simple as this:
|Influencer 1||Follower Count||Likes||Comments||Shares|
|Influencer 2||Follower Count||Likes||Comments||Shares|
If your influencer marketing objective is brand awareness:
- Track branded hashtags, and use an analytics tool to help you
If your objective is web traffic:
- Track how much your website has spiked since the beginning of the campaign
If your objective is getting leads:
- Track how many new leads you’ve gotten from each influencer
If your objective is getting sales:
- Track how much revenue is directly attributed to the influencer marketing campaign
The Cost of Influencer Marketing
The bottom-line question: What is this going to cost me?
And: Is this worth it?
Like with any marketing endeavour, you don’t want to throw money at Instagram influencer campaigns. But many businesses write off influencer marketing as expensive because they associate it with the cost of paying celebrities to endorse a brand.
That doesn’t mean the stakes of influencer marketing with micro and macro-influencers aren’t high– because they are. If you target the wrong influencers, it’s a very costly mistake.
But the right influencers paired with well-developed relationships over time can yield great ROI without a high cost.
Post Pricing Guidelines
Many businesses struggle to understand what’s realistic when it comes to compensating influencers–– and that’s due in part to it being an industry with wildly varying rates.
Many influencers quote flat rates per post, but others base their fees on the number of sales or leads in a commission-based type arrangement.
A global influencer survey of micro-influencers reported that 84% of respondents charge less than USD 250 for a sponsored post on Instagram and 97% charge less than $500 for a sponsored post. But it’s important to note that the cost of posts can vary from industry to industry.
For micro-influencers with under 10,000 followers, $250 to $500 is generally the right amount to budget. For influencers with more than 10,000, you can pay upwards of $5000 per post, and upwards of $10,000 for influencers with hundreds of thousands of followers.
As mentioned before, it’s smart for most brands to target micro-influencers rather than the bigger fish out there. In addition to micro-influencers being more accessible than bigger influencers, their rates are much more affordable, especially for small businesses.
It’s All About The ROI
While measuring the ROI at the end of a campaign can be challenging due to Instagram’s limited capability to capture figures, the tools above in this blog can help fill in the data blanks and make it easier to piece together ROI.
Influencer marketing is found to generate 11 times more ROI than traditional marketing, and reports from 2015 indicate that businesses make $6.50 for every $1 spent on influencer marketing.
Team VISU.AL are busy connecting brands locally and internationally with influencers for campaigns. We have the talent and technology to help you activate campaigns at the right time, at the fraction of a cost it may end up costing brands running , managing and optimising them directly. If you’re a brand or an influencer in the UK, US, Gibraltar, Malta, Spain or the Philippines , reach out to help navigate around any obstacles you may be facing. Let’s get social !