An influencer is someone who can influence the actions of their fans and social media followers. The action could be anything from changing opinions to buying a specific product.
An influencer could be absolutely anyone, it all depends on the community they’re part of and what you’re trying to acheive.
For example, Kendall Jenner is a classic example of an influencer. She’s a huge celebrity, has tens of millions of social media followers, and her fashion and make-up choices influence her fans to do the same.
But then so is Louisa Clements, a food blogger with followers only numbering in the thousands. While not famous like Kendall Jenner, her following engages with her recipes and blog influencing how and what they cook.
You don’t have to have gigantic followings or appear on TV to be influential. Smaller niches have their own influencers, like Clements, and these are often just as valuable.
Micro-influencers are influencers with small audiences and followings. While they are not well-known, they are often very connected and involved with their area, and being influential within it.
There’s not set definition, but you wouldn’t expect a micro-influencer to have followers in the tens of thousands (although you can define an influencer as ‘micro’ relative to their area).
While micro-influencers don’t have the reach of the bigger names, they still have a lot of value and are often more genuine and discerning with promotion.
Influencer marketing is the use of influencers to achieve business or organisational aims. The most common way is for an influencer to recommend or talk about your product or service in order to promote them to their fans and followers.
They’re just like celebrity endorsements, except an influencer doesn’t have to be famous. They just need an engaged audience who takes them and their opinions seriously. Therefore, when an influencer talks up a product, people will be genuinely interested in it.
Influencer marketing has surged as social media has grown. Platforms like Twitter and Instagram allow anyone to build huge followings, whether they’re an artist or a cyclist.
Due to the social nature of these platforms, people gravitate towards one another to form communities around things like interests. It’s these communities that companies can reach with the help of influencers.
- A boxing equipment company pays 20 amateur boxers, popular in their area and on Instagram, to use and review their boxing gloves. They agree on a video review, and that the boxers will use the gloves in all their fights for the next year.
- A finance company is releasing a new app for saving money. They contact over a hundred influencers around various topics that their target market (21 – 26 year olds) might be interested in. They’re given the app for free and encouraged to talk about it on their social platforms.
- A video game company is struggling to build hype for their next release. They strike up agreements with three YouTubers and Twitchers with huge followings to play through their game in a series of videos to get people interested.
If you’ve decided influencer marketing might be something for you, the first step is to set out clear and identifiable goals for the project.
It’s all too easy to start throwing money at big influencers to talk about your products, but this isn’t the best approach for everyone.
You need to decide what success looks like.
To get started, consider the following:
- Who are you trying to reach? Is the target audience broad or niche?
- What are you trying to acheive? Are you selling products or raising awareness?
- What metrics will you use to measure the project?
Once you have that sorted, you can start thinking about what form the influencer marketing will take.
Think about what platforms will work best, whether there will be video involved, if it’s just the matter of a review, or if you’re expecting something more substantial from the influencer.
Also consider events and how the influencer work will fit into your wider strategy. Getting things aligned will help you achieve stronger results.
Here are some of the most common ways:
- Search on social media platforms
- Search on Google
- Use influencer marketing tools like Brandwatch Audiences or Buzzsumo
- Ask your customers
- Research around your target audience, such as attending events
- Keep an open eye on all types of relevant media
- Hire an influencer marketing company like Inbound Hype to do the work
Once you’ve found your influencers it’s time to get in touch to see if they want to work with you.
You should approach this like you would any other business interaction. Be professional, clear, and upfront.
A lot of influencers will have plenty of experience with all this (while the bigger ones will have managers or agents to do it for them). Many will have details on how to get in touch on their website or on their social media profiles.
For example, Zoella, a huge influencer and vlogger, has a link to a contact page on her manager’s site for business enquiries. Once Upon A Wine, on the other hand, asks for enquires through direct messages or email.
Once you’ve found the right contact method, explain what your project is, what you’re hoping to achieve, and how you’d like them to be involved. It’s likely they’ll have some ideas too (if they’re interested) so be sure to take their experience on board.
It’s a good idea to get budget and outcomes decided as soon as possible. This means everyone is on the same page and everyone can move in the same direction quickly.
More established influencers will be used to tracking their activities and os should be able to provide results for you, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be tracking things yourself.
For a start, an influencer might provide false data or make mistakes. For micro-influencers, this might not be an activity they’re used to doing (or even want to do). So it’s best to take as much of this into your own hands.
You can use a tool like Brandwatch Analytics for this. This will enable you to see the reach and performance of social posts and create a dashboard to bring all this data into one place.
You could also simply track performance manually by looking at the social posts and seeing how they’re doing in terms of engagement.
If you’re going to be driving traffic to your site, be sure to use links with UTM codes (if you use Google Analytics). This means you can assess the traffic specifically coming from the influencer campaign (here’s an explainer on UTM codes).
Ultimately, you won’t be able to get all the data you want yourself. Discuss this area with your influencer before work starts. There’s little point in shelling out money if you have no idea what the ROI is.