If you're on social media, you've likely seen influencers or people with some sort of following for their unique thoughts, ideas, and lifestyle choices. Influencers are ordinary people with a strong fan base. They could be celebrities, parents, youth icons, fashion icons, artists, teachers, fitness instructors—anybody who shares information and gets attention for who they are. Their fans want to buy and use what the influencers buy or recommend. That's why social media influencer marketing has become an essential puzzle piece in the digital marketing mix.
If you remember the early days of influencer marketing, the focus was on celebrity endorsements and PR stunts. But today, digital influencers have become a powerful marketing tool for businesses of all sizes. Read on to find out how to get the most out of influencer marketing in 2023!
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What Is Influencer Marketing?
Influencer marketing, or social media influencer marketing, is a form of digital marketing that uses influencers to promote products and services. Influencers can influence their followers’ buying decisions by sharing information about products or services they believe in. For example, 63% of 13 - 24 years old said they would try out a brand or product recommended by a YouTuber, while only 48% said the same about a movie or TV star.
For businesses, influencer marketing offers some attractive benefits: it can generate brand awareness and trust; increase website traffic; drive sales; and even increase customer loyalty over time.
The global influencer marketing market size doubled and then some between 2019 and 2022, sitting at 16.4 billion U.S. dollars. But to make the most of this powerful tool, businesses need to be strategic in their approach. Not only should your influencer have a substantial following, but their followers should also be relevant to your target audience.
What Types of Influencers Are on Social Media?
There are different tiers of influencers based on how many followers they have. Each can come in handy when creating your influencer marketing strategy, but it depends on your goals. The most important thing to remember is that the average engagement rate decreases, but audience reach increases with an increase in follower count.
Celebrities or Mega-Influencers
Boasting millions of followers, you would picture this type of figure when you think of the term “influencer.” They often have a lot of authority and can be extremely expensive to hire, but they often make up for it in terms of reach and exposure.
However, since these influencers are so exclusive, it’s often hard for a small brand to establish long-term partnerships with them. And don't expect to get any direct feedback from them or much interaction with their followers - they're usually just paid for their endorsement.
Make up artist Huda beauty is a mega influencer on Instagram.
Thought Leaders or Macro-Influencers
These influencers have between 20,000 and 100,000 followers. They differ from celebrities in terms of the content type they share - thought leaders tend to focus on a specific niche or topic, and their audience is usually made up of loyal followers interested in that particular field. Compared to nano-influencers and micro-influencers, though, you’ll still need to fork out a decent amount of money to hire them. Chef Billy Parisi is a macro influencer in the food niche.
These influencers have 5,000 to 20,000 followers, so they’re not quite as established as the first two. However, because of their smaller audience size and comparatively lower fees, small brands can easily establish a more personal relationship with them. This is great for building long-term relationships and getting more direct feedback from their followers.
Collaborating with multiple micro-influencers helps to boost brand visibility. For example, you can recruit five nano-influencers specializing in beauty, fashion, or food to promote your product on social media. Jenn Rigby is a microinfluencer on Instagram.
Nano-influencers aren't celebrities, nor are they public figures - they’re just regular people that focus on a specific vertical. They typically have between 1,000 and 5,000 followers, and their content is usually relatable and more down-to-earth than that of their counterparts. For instance, this type of influencer might be a mom with an Instagram page dedicated to family life or a makeup artist who shares tips and tutorials.
What makes them special is that their followers tend to be more active and engaged with the influencer's content. They also have a better chance of creating organic conversations around your brand since they’re usually seen as more authentic than celebrities or mega-influencers. Research shows they have the highest engagement rates out of all influencers at 5%. Simply Homeschool Now is a nano-influencer on Instagram.
How Much Does Influencer Marketing Cost?
The cost of influencer marketing varies greatly depending on the type of influencer you’re dealing with, along with other factors such as:
- Their engagement rate
- The type of content they create
- The duration of the campaign
Generally, you can expect to pay anywhere from a few hundred dollars to tens of thousands for a single campaign.
5 Steps to Create an Influencer Marketing Strategy
You're not going to want to dive in head first without a plan - so here are 5 steps to guide you on how to use influencer marketing effectively in 2023.
1. Decide on Your Goals
Are you trying to increase brand awareness? Drive more sales? Increase engagement rates? Knowing your objectives will help determine which influencer tier is best for your brand. For example, brands seeking mass awareness (and who have the budget) should go straight for celebrities and macro-influencers. Those looking for more targeted conversations around their product should look to nano-influencers or micro-influencers. Use your goals to focus and refine your strategy for maximum success.
2. Define Your Target Audience
Defining your audience is another key to choosing which influencers to partner with. Start by asking yourself: Who is my ideal customer?
- What is their gender preference and presentation?
- What age range do they fall into?
- Where are they located?
- What are their interests, values, and passions?
- Which platforms do they use the most?
- What sort of content do they like to consume?
Once you have your answers, you’ll be able to find influencers that speak directly to your ideal customer.
3. Learn the Rules for Influencer Marketing
Influencer marketing is an unregulated industry. You could end up losing money and getting nothing in return if you are not careful. It’s always best to have a clear contract before any money is exchanged. Make sure to outline all your expectations, like posting frequency, how your brand is presented, and how many content pieces you expect them to create. Ensure your contract includes all payment terms, campaign timeframes, and content types like images, videos, etc., you want your influencer to create and share. Some more points to keep in mind:
- Be aware of FTC guidelines – influencers must disclose any sponsored or paid content they create to their followers.
- Be respectful of privacy – don’t ask them to provide sensitive personal information without permission.
- Be open to feedback – this is a partnership, after all!
- Show your appreciation – thank them for their work and provide feedback on what they’ve done.
4. Choose the Right Influencers
The key here is to find someone who aligns with your brand values and can reach the audience you want to target. The 3 Rs of influencer marketing strategy can be a great guide when deciding who to work with:
Relevance is how well your influencers align with your brand values and target audience. If you're selling health and wellness products, for example, you'll want to pick a fitfluencer who regularly posts about their own health and wellness journey. It pays to invest in someone who is passionate about your brand.
Reach can be looked at with the analogy of a bird in the forest. No matter how beautifully it sings, there’s no one around to hear it’s song. In other words, no matter how great your influencer is - if they don’t have enough followers or engagement, your campaign will fail. Make sure to analyze their engagement rate, follower count, and the average number of likes they get per post, before hiring them.
Resonance is how well your influencers can get your message across. You can measure this by looking at the overall sentiment of comments on their posts. You also want to ensure your influencers have solid relationships with their followers. If they’re able to connect with their audience on an emotional level, then that will help strengthen the connection between them and your brand.
5. Keep track of results
After you’ve launched your campaign, take the time to measure its success. You’ll want to know which strategies are working and which need improvement. Use a combination of metrics such as reach, impressions, clicks, followers gained, website visits, and more to get an idea of how successful your influencer marketing tactics have been.
To illustrate, if you notice that your influencers are doing a great job at driving website traffic, but aren’t getting as much engagement as you would like, then it might be time to adjust your strategy.
Influencer Marketing tools
Newsflash! You don't have to go on this journey alone - there are a number of tools out there that can help you manage your marketing strategy. These tools provide insights into the performance and engagement of influencers, as well as help streamline the process of finding new ones. What else? They’ll help you tackle the analytics stuff we discussed, such as tracking cost per click, conversions, and ROI.
Time to introduce yourself to a few key players in this space.
Buzzguru Influencer Analytics
The Buzzguru Influencer Analytics tool is a data-driven platform that helps you find, analyze and manage influencers, create and manage campaigns across your organization, and analyze your reports and competitors. It’s a fantastic end-to-end tool packed with features to help you get the most out of your influencer marketing strategy. Some notable features include:
- 27M+ database of influencers
- 30+ smart filters to help you make a choice
- Brands’ ad performance analytics
- Data-based performance forecasts
Collabstr describes itself in a nutshell as a place to “Find and Hire Influencers.” It helps you find and connect with the right content creators on Instagram, YouTube, and TikTok in several niches, make safe purchases through the platform and receive quality content.
Collabstr lets you track campaign performance, analyze engagement metrics, and more. There are also powerful collaboration tools that help you manage multiple campaigns at once, so if your goal is to work with a large network of influencers, this one’s for you.
Key features include:
- Advanced search engine
- Campaign planning and tracking
- Analytics and insights
- Influencer performance tracking
- Integrations with leading influencer platforms
Video Submission Management
Two-thirds of customers say they’re more likely to buy after watching a positive testimonial video. Semrush’s Video Submission Management tool allows your influencers to upload feedback videos, helping you build trust and increase sales. You can create a landing page with a full brief and customer questions, infuse your branding, and set up standardized formatting to promote consistency across platforms. And this collection of testimonials can all be shared with a simple magic link anywhere you need to!
The power of the influencer is undeniable. So, it’s time to get ahead of the game and create an effective influencer marketing plan. Choose the right influencers for your brand and leverage tools to help you manage your efforts more effectively. Let influencers take the creative lead but make sure expectations are set using a legal contract. There isn't exactly a perfect science to influencer marketing, so track your metrics and tweak as needed. Optimizing your campaign makes for better results going forward - it’s essentially how to do influencer marketing right!
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Influencer marketing is just one type of marketing strategy for ecommerce sellers. Read our article on digital marketing strategies for your small business for the complete guide.