Scrolling through my Twitter feed the other day, I saw a tweet by another marketer who said that ‘influencer marketing’ was no different to advertising. Aggressively shaking my head, I began to reply with a counter argument, only to find that I had too much to say on this particular topic. I decided, therefore, to hold off on the tweet and instead put together a blog post on the subject, including what influencer marketing actually is and a guide to how you can put together your own influencer strategy.
What is influencer marketing?
What is an influencer?
An ‘influencer’ is someone who holds gravitas in a certain sector or subject and has built a community of people who follow them for their advice, suggestions and general updates on a particular topic. This could be a beauty blogger, who has a dedicated following of beauty lovers, a book worm who shares their latest reads with a community of avid readers or a movie fan who has amassed a large following of film buffs. These are busy communities, where people share tips, interact with one another and actively follow the influencer – regarding their opinion similar to that of a good friend or family member.
What is influencer marketing?
Influencer marketing is working with an influencer to help promote your own brand, product or service to their dedicated following. This could be through a sponsored blog post, on a social media platform such as Instagram, or through an influencer’s YouTube channel. This could be a one-off collaboration i.e. one Instagram post or a longer term collaboration, where you pay an influencer a monthly retainer to continually promote your products.
How does influencer marketing differ from advertising?
I believe that there is a huge difference between advertising and influencer marketing. Whilst advertising (online or offline) may mean that your ad is seen by X amount of people, influencer marketing also allows you to tap into an active community, who are far more influenced by the ‘influencer’ than a Facebook advert or glossy photo in a Sunday supplement.
Additional to this, influencer marketing provides far greater insight into the success of your marketing campaign. On the influencer’s platforms, you can see conversations unfold, monitor blog comments and witness word of mouth marketing in action. It’s a transparent form of marketing where you can monitor success yourself.
Five steps to creating your own influencer marketing strategy
- Match influencers to your brand
Your first step is to research and find influencers working in your area, i.e. food, fitness, travel or beauty. One of the best ways to do this is to use the Bloglovin’ app that allows you to search for blogs based on category. Twitter is also a useful tool – try searching blogger hashtags i.e. beauty blogger #bblogger and travel blogger #tblogger. Many influencers will be actively tweeting their availability to work with PRs or brands and you can tap into these by using the hashtag #bloggerswanted.
2. Match the size of the influencer to your budget
The next step is to whittle your initial list down to a more realistic list of influencers who are likely to work with you. For example, if you have no budget to pay an influencer, there’s no point trying to engage with a large influencer who will be demanding several thousand pounds for a blog post. Many smaller influencers are happy to accept products or an experience in return for exposure i.e. if you’re a hotel, you can invite them for a night’s stay.
Please note that an influencer, no matter their size, will not promote you for simply ‘good content’ – an angle often adopted by brands. In order to work with an influencer, you must be prepared to pay them or, alternatively, provide them with a product or experience in kind
3. A large following doesn’t necessarily mean a large return
This leads me on to an important point regarding an influencer’s social media numbers. Working with an influencer simply because they have millions of followers, does not necessarily result in a guaranteed high ROI. Indeed, brands and PRs are increasingly focusing on niche influencers, who may have smaller followings but who are far more engaged and dedicated to a particular subject. For example, promoting a luxury Maldives resort to Zoella’s audience (mostly teenage girls) isn’t likely to bring masses of ROI compared to using a travel blogger, who has an engaged following of active travellers.
4. Make contact
Once you’ve found the influencer(s) you want to work with, approach them with an individual email. Take the time to talk a little about their blog/social media/vlog and show that you’ve done your research on them. There’s nothing worse than receiving an email with ‘Dear blogger’ or ‘Dear [insert blog title]’ to put you off reading on. The more you can convince an influencer that you’ve researched their work and believe the collaboration would be a great fit, the better chance you have of receiving a response
5. Agree deliverables and create a contract
Once you’ve found your influencers and they’ve shown an interest in working with you, it’s time to create a contract with clear deliverables. This should include the amount of content the influencer has agreed to produce for you, the relevant hashtags to use and dates of when the deliverables should be achieved by. This is a form of protection for both you and the influencer.
Many brands will leave it to the blogger to create the content and can be vague on what they’re looking for – this only leads to disappointment in the long term if the content produced isn’t what you envisaged. Influencer’s will have no problem with guidance and instruction – this actually allows them to create more focused and effective content.
Once the contract has been signed, it’s time to handover to the influencer to let them create the content, whilst you enjoy the buzz made around your brand as they share with their dedicated following.
Would you like to execute an influencer strategy but need support? Pop me an email at email@example.com to find out how we can work together.