Social media influencers are nothing out of the ordinary these days. We have all seen where the craze started on social media; celebrities the Kardashians, whose promotions turn out millions of fans, on the internet, and lined around the blocks of Manhattan.
What kind of marketing mastermind created this phenomenon?
Well, it started a while ago, with endorsements from celebrities on TV and in print; it has made its way to social media in the last few years. You do not have to be a Kardashian to be an influencer in 2018.
Now, any blogger or social media guru can call themselves a social media influencer. And on the other side, it is a fact, 84% of brands or more tried influencer marketing in 2017, and the numbers continue to grow in 2018. But does this work for your business?
Here are some helpful ways you can find out if influencer marketing is your brand's cup of tea:
Know Who You Are Selling to First and What You Offer
It all starts with knowing your target market. Are you going after agencies? ECommerce owners? DevOps?
You want to make sure you have this nailed down. How else are you supposed to know WHO you want being the face of your brand?
Center your brand around a persona; the character, if you will, of the customer you have in mind. If it helps, create a storyboard of who this influential character in your mind is.
Write down their name, gender(s), age, job, income level, favorite activities, likes and dislikes, anything else you can think of to get your target consumer 100%.
It is suggested that you have an idea of what you can give your influencers in return for promoting your businesses. If you are a small business, you may want to set aside some sort of incentive for your influencers.
You may also want to have a budget in mind for those influencers who would also like to be paid as well. Many influencers these days have a going rate or media kit.
This is handy because lately, a lot of influencers have started turning promoting on social media into a full-time business for themselves.Look at your numbers, and ask other business owners in your category what they usually offer.
Have an idea of what kind of promotion would you like them to do. Will they create an Instagram story? One blog post? One graphic on their Instagram or Facebook? And are there any giveaways associated with your promotion? Or all the above?
Be creative with it. Decide this before you begin to reach out, and make sure you ask your influencers if they will be into your promotion.
Find Influencers with Higher Engagement Rate
Engagement/Followers (likes or comments divided by followers or comments divided by likes)
Hold up - what is engagement?
Engagement is the number of interactions someone's social media post compared to how large of an audience they are serving to. You can find this out in a couple of ways: You can divide the number of likes in a single post to how many followers they have.
Or, you could divide the number of comments in a post by the number of likes they have on the same post. Usually, the first option is the best.
Some industry experts will specifically pick out the ones with a larger following. Sometimes this is around 5,000 followers, however, bigger brands may look for a following of about 10 to 50 thousand followers if they want to pay them more. Some brands also opt-in for smaller followings of a few thousand or less with a little bit higher engagement on their page. These, we call, micro-influencers.
Either way, you will probably want someone who has a passion for your niche brand who can influence their friends, family, and others. Then they'll tell their friends, then they'll... You get it.
It might help to keep a spreadsheet with their social media handles, name, and following by the way. Now you can contact them.
Reaching Out: Starting a Dialogue
So, you found your list of influencers. Now is the time to approach. Some influencers are friendly and are totally fine with you sending them a direct message.
Others, not so much.
Find their website (usually in their about me section) or look for an option to email them directly. On their site, they may have a sponsorships and disclosure page with all the right contact information available.
It is always professional to ask if they have a media kit, but if they do not provide much information, then let them know what you offer in exchange for the promotion. They might be smaller, just starting out, and willing to make a deal if your budget does not allow the payment of the said influencers in question.
This is stressed; make sure your dialogue is friendly and professional. Open it up letting them know why you decided to reach out to them. Offer the influencer a link to your website and social media pages. Give them a chance to learn and explore what your brand is.
Produce a timeline of when you would like to start the promotion and what you want your promotion strategy looks like.
The next step in the conversation, if they so choose to write you back, will be the negotiations. This is where you close the deal and let them know what you are worth.
And of course, thank them for their time. Even if they say 'no.' You may want to keep them in mind later down the line, you never know.
Building Influencer Relationships & Growing Your Business
Your influencer relationship is going to be vital to your brand reputation once you have one established. Whether you are currently working on a promotion with them, this is key. It comes in to play when you are thinking about all the bad reviews companies get, or the bashing websites take on social media.
One negative post can make a difference, especially if these influencers are of larger following. Turn this experience into something positive, and keep your influencers happy.
The Bottom Line: Time, Money, and Effort
All of the above are crucial to proper, worthwhile, influencer marketing.
If you own a small business with limited employees and limited time, you may want to think about outsourcing your influencer marketing efforts to an outreach and PR professional.
Most professionals in the area are skilled at discovering, researching, and reaching out to influencers in your industry. They handle all of the guesswork for you, like negotiating, building influencer relationships, and ensuring that all the work ends up where it is meant to be - in front of your customer.
So, is Influencer Marketing Worth it Then?
Influencer marketing is worth it if you are serious about getting your brand's name out there, and if you and your business are dedicated to the practice. Because of the time, money and effort spent doing influencer marketing, it is best if you know what you are getting into before you do it.
And, it's best to know that it may take a few tries before you perfect your brand's influencer marketing strategy and execution.
Remember, the pros out there have been working in outreach and PR for years, and dedicate their lives to influencer marketing. Whether you are doing it on your own or going with a professional, be sure to make sure the strategy is laid out and communication with your influencers is fluid.
This is a fact: Out of 86% marketers who used influencer marketing in 2017, 92% of them found it useful. That means 2018 is now the year where influencer marketing is here to stay. Take it from Kevin Lee, in this article for Marketing Land:
"My take on the risk-reward dynamic in influencer marketing is that 2018 will both be the year of influencer marketing as well as the year of the influencer implosion. The rewards are so high in the current media landscape that brands may feel they simply have no choice but to take the plunge. There will be some high-profile implosions, and brands will become a bit more careful about their influencer relationships.
The best that marketers can do right now is to become familiar with the regulatory environment, learn lessons from influencer fiascos -- both online and off -- and read the guidelines that Google and other private arbiters of the influencer marketing space have issued for those engaged in this potentially lucrative, but uniquely perilous, marketing channel."
Making Influencer Marketing Worthwhile
Remember, if you are going to be doing it on your own or even if you hire a professional, make sure to stick to the FTC's guidelines on full disclosure.
Cutting corners tends to end up being a flop for all parties involved. The best way to make influencer marketing worth it is to be fully transparent; to your employees, your outreach specialists, and your customers.