Influencer Marketing: The Giraffe Guide
Influencer marketing is the new(ish) and popular way to market your business and products, but many do not fully understand what it is and what they need to do to get influencers on their side.
There’s so much to influencer marketing, that it can be a daunting and confusing branch of digital marketing. However, Giraffe are here to help you untangle the mess and show you how you can start using influencer marketing to promote your business as soon as possible!
What is Influencer Marketing?
Influencer Marketing takes aspects of both old and new ways to market a product or brand. It takes the traditional route of celebrity endorsement and updates it to the new modern era of content-driven marketing campaigns. However, these campaigns usually result in collaborations between brands and potential brand ambassadors. Therefore, social media strategies in Influencer Marketing are aimed at individuals who influence your own target audience.
Our Social Media Manager Dominic states that, ‘Influencer Marketing is any process that promotes or advertises a product, service, website, or brand by using the reach and mass appeal of influential individuals. This includes sponsored content featured on the influencer’s social media profiles and their blogs, recommendations and reviews by the influencer, and promotions featuring the influencer talking favourably about the product or service.’
The History of Influencer Marketing
Influencer marketing has been around a lot longer that you’d think, just not in the way we know it now. Before social media, influencer marketing was more associated with influential characters that invoked emotion. For example, a cartoon character on cereal boxes that featured on TV adverts, or the use of Santa in Coca Cola Christmas adverts. As with all marketing, eventually the most popular trend died down, and marketers needed a new way to sell brands – enter…celebrity endorsement. Brands would get celebrities to talk about their products in testimonials or get them to feature in television advertisements. When social media evolved, celebrities became ambassadors online as well, meaning they’d post pictures with products to platforms like Instagram and Snapchat.
You can read a bit more about the history of influencer marketing in our blog article ‘What is Influencer Marketing?’
What’s an Influencer?
The best thing about influencer marketing is that anyone can be an influencer. Their only credentials must be that they have a large following on social media. According to Mediakix, an influencer must be ‘a content creator with a social media following’. They ‘develop a following by sharing high quality content that inspires, entertains, informs, and connects them with their followers’.
Influencers aren’t just people you can pay to get what you want. Good influencers have built their own brand, collated a huge following and are responsible for a lot of people’s trust, as well their own reputation. They have a lot of respect for their followers as they have helped to contribute to their career. As Alexa state, ‘Influencer marketing is about gaining exposure, but it isn’t always about working with people who have the largest audience’. It’s about finding a person who shares the same values as you, has a similar audience and can promote your product or service in a way that you both deem fit.
Creating an Influencer Strategy
Before you begin trying to find your influencers, you need to come up with a plan.
According to Jeff Bullas, there are five steps to building your influencer strategy (all of which are listed below):
Step 1: Goals and metrics – and how you’re going to measure them
Step 2: Finding the right influencers – ones with the same audience you want to attract
Step 3: Connecting with the influencers then building the right or editing your original campaign around them
Step 4: Tracking and optimisation
Step 5: Finally, measuring your ROI and seeing if your influencer marketing is successful
For step one, you could pick your goals and what you’re going to measure to see if your influencer marketing strategy is working from a long list. Alexa identifies all these as potential goals for you to choose from: ‘brand awareness: getting more people to know, recognize, and like your brand; building brand identity: getting people to see your brand personality and values; audience building: getting more people to follow and subscribe; engagement: getting more shares, comments, and likes for your content; lead generation: getting more people to sign up for your lead magnets and offers; sales: getting more people to purchase your products/services; customer loyalty: getting people to stay interested and connected with your brand, and finally link building: getting more links directed back to your site.’ You can personalise these goals and tailor them to your own business aims and strategy. You could even have multiple goals, but you may struggle to handle all at once and lose focus on one while concentrating on the others.
Choosing the Right Campaign Type
After you’ve chosen your goals, then it’s time for your next step – the influencer marketing campaign.You can come up with a strategy and build a campaign around your product or service, but your potential influencers may not like it. For example, you could build a competition where an influencer will get free clothes if they share a competition, offering their audience free clothes if they like, share and comment on the post and follow your account too. However, some influencers may not feel a competition fits in with their feed or it’s not what they want to give out to their audience. Thus, you’d have to change your campaign if you wanted to get the influencer on board. It’s important to be flexible and understand your dealing with real people.
According to Alexa, influencer marketing campaigns involve three types of relationship triggers, ‘inspire, hire, or a mix of both’. They continue, ‘You can inspire an influencer to share your content or messaging on their own. You can pay them to promote your brand. Or you can create a situation that uses a little bit of both.’ It all comes down to what you want, what they want, and what you’re willing to give away.
Alexa have provided a few types of influencer marketing strategies that you may want to use in your campaign:
- ‘Gifting: Giving free products and services to an influencer in exchange for a review or mention.
- Guest Posting: Creating and contributing content for an influencer’s blog.
- Sponsored Content: Paying for your brand to be featured on an influencer’s blog or social channel. You may or may not create the content for the post.
- Co-Creating Content: Partnering with an influencer to create content that is featured on your website, their website, or a third-party website.
- Social Media Mentions: Getting a social media marketing strategy going with a personality or brand to mention your brand, share your content, or post about you.
- Contests and Giveaways: Running a contest and asking an influencer to share your giveaway event with their followers or readers.
- Influencer Takeover: Allowing an influencer to take control of your social media accounts for a set amount of time.
- Affiliates: Providing a unique code that gives influencers a percentage of each sale they drive.
- Discount Codes: Giving an influencer a unique discount code for your product or service that they can promote and offer to their audience.
- Brand Ambassadors: Forming relationships with loyal brand fans wherein they mention or promote your brand, products, and services in exchange for exclusive offers, free products, or being featured by your brand.’
However, remember you may have to opt for something different or chop and change if you want to get the influencer of your dreams. They’ve got a reputation to uphold, so if they don’t like your idea, you can either change it or go your separate ways. Remember to stay flexible and do some research on the kind of influencers you want. This means you can come up with a customised strategy that influencers will want to say “yes” too.
Different Types of Influencers
There are different types of social media influencers depending on the number of followers an individual has:
Nano is a fairly new category for influencers to be broken down into. Nano-influencers are social media users with 1,000 to 10,000 followers. They have the smallest following out of the different types of influencers.
Micro-influencers have anything between 10,000 to 50,000 followers on their social media platform.
On the other hand, macro-influencers have between 500,000 to 1,000,000 followers!
Mega-influencers have the highest number of followers, without being of celebrity status. They can have a following of anything between 1,000,000 to 5,000,000.
Probably the hardest influencers to target, especially if you’re a smaller business, is the users in the celebrity category. These have over 5, 000, 000 followers and are usually famous.
Remember to choose your influencer based on their audience and message, rather than the audience size they have.
Influencing on Different Social Platforms
Influencer Marketing can be on any social media platform, including Youtube, Snapchat, Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn – as long as there’s an influential individual in your industry on a social media site, it will work.
Each platform offers a different type of following, so each influencer offers a different kind of service. Each social media site has different post types too, so what platform you pick should reflect what you want to achieve. For example, going live, posting videos and sharing dreamy images all work well on Instagram, making it one of the most popular platforms for the influencing service.
How to Find Influencers
Finding influencers is perhaps one of the lengthiest parts of influencer marketing. It comes down to a lot of trial and error.
Dominic also provides us with a great way to search for influencers:
‘Finding influencers in your niche market is important; their followers are more likely to be interested in your account if it is similar to what the influencer posts and values. This will increase the chances of your account gaining new followers and engagement through an influencer tagging your account on a post they share. One of the best ways in which you can find these influencers is to search specific hashtags that relate to your brand/products. This works well for Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn. For Facebook, it may be a lengthier task of going through related profiles and searching for key terms in the search bar. For example, if you’re a company selling mints, we can simply search for ‘#mints’. You will have to look to find a hashtag with a decent size following and see which accounts have the top posts.
You’ll have to run extensive research into potential influencer accounts that are relevant to your niche market, considering the following:
- Their amount of followers.
- The authenticity of the followers.
- Are the followers within your target audience?
- Post engagement rate.
- Posting activity and consistency.
- Does the account reflect your brand’s values and ethics?
You must ensure that your chosen influencer has built a genuine community.
Influencer Marketing, alike to Social Media and Content Marketing, is a steady process that grows over time. It’s not an overnight success, it’s a slow race that will help you win.
How Much Should You Expect to Pay?
There’s no set price for influencer marketing. It’s down to how much you want to pay and how much the influencer wants. Sometimes your business may not even be offering money. For example, if you’re a restaurant you may want to encourage influencers in with a free five-course meal or if you’re a hairdressers’, you’ll be offering free haircuts and hairstyles to those who’ll promote you online. You may even be offering a free trial of service or your products instead of cash. Many influencers will accept products, gifts and services as a payment method, it just all comes down to whatever you’re willing to give away and what they want.
Some influencers could charge £500 for an Instagram Story, others may refuse to do competitions, and others may accept a new t-shirt as their reward.
What are the benefits to Influencer Marketing?
Influencer Marketing tends to be a lot cheaper and efficient than the other ways of marketing, as marketers won’t have to put large sums of money behind advertisements to gain reach or engagement. Influencer Marketing now exists in a time when people are questioning the aspects of social media and advertising. Each day more consumers are questioning the credibility of marketing messages and have become cynical towards the assumptions and huge claims advertisements sometimes make. As Marketing-Schools.org explains, people are more likely to buy a product or listen to an ad, if it’s been recommended by a trusted friend or relative.
Therefore, people are more likely to trust an influencer, who they see the daily life of on social media and who’s shared with them their secrets and stories, than a new brand who’s surfaced on their Facebook feed claiming to change their life. As AdWeek states, people have begun looking at each other and their favourite social media personalities for purchasing decisions, rather than the companies themselves.
If influencers trust a business enough to promote their products and services, then a fan is likely to trust that business too, like they would if their friend or family member had recommended it.
Influencer Marketing Case Studies
Influencer marketing is everywhere at the moment. It’s rare not to find it on your Instagram feed these days with lots of influencers teaming up with all sorts of brands to promote their products and services. Here are just a few successful influencer marketing campaigns created by big brands:
Youfoodz, an Australian fresh meal company, wanted to promote their new winter menu. They opted to work with influencers that specialised in food, as well as in health and fitness, as their company promoted healthy eating as well.
In total, ‘they partnered up with around 81 influencers which ended up creating 176 pieces of content’. They carried out the campaign on Instagram and Facebook and ended up with a staggering result – ‘70,000 direct engagements and over 500,000 impressions’.
American Express has firmly rooted itself in the influencer marketing world. In 2018, it took centre stage at Coachella, and urged influencers to get involved. Their ongoing campaign ‘#AmexAmbassadors, just requires influencers to be in certain places and hashtag the campaign. For instance, at Coachella, ambassadors and platinum card members were hashtagging #AmexPlatinum, and in return they got to attend a star-studded party. Now if that doesn’t make you want to be an influencer, we don’t know what will.
As one of the first companies to try the art of influencer marketing, with Santa Claus, Coca-Cola is no stranger to trying to evoke emotional with its brand. Their goal was ‘to promote Coca-Cola’s original Coke beverage throughout the Western European region.’ They created a campaign with the hashtag, ‘#ThisOnesFor’ and asked fourteen influencers to share their story on who the Coca-Cola drink was for. Each sponsored post had to have @cocacolaeu tagged too. Interestingly, although the company is big, the drinks business didn’t go for influencers with staggering audiences. They opted for six macro-influencers with more than 100,000 followers and eight micro-influencers with less than 100,000 followers.
In 2018, the Coca-Cola Instagram campaign has made a total of 173,000 likes and 1,600 comments for an average engagement rate of 7.8%. It seems the mix of macro and micro was a huge help to the beverage business.
Perhaps one of the strangest collaborations on the list, Hinge, a dating app, decided to partner with meme accounts to promote their business. This is definitely a new perspective on influencer marketing, considering meme accounts are likely to be run by multiple people and you will never see a photo of them posted on the profile.
For example, Hinge started working with Instagram account ‘@betches’, which posts humorous content instead of photos of the owners drinking smoothies or out at nightclubs. Hinge then started created memes with their business included in the joke – perfect for Instagram accounts like @betches and others that post memes and funny content.
Their audience is exactly what Hinge wants too – young, ingrained in technology and looking to have fun. Also, when they have big competition with other, more popular dating apps like Tinder, Hinge had to do something a bit different to get ahead in the market.
Maybe it’s make believe, or maybe it’s influencer marketing. Make up brands and influencers make a pretty perfect match because of the visual nature of the content on Instagram. Maybelline wanted to promote their new mascara, so paired with beauty influencers to raise awareness and drive sales of the new product. The influencers created content with the mascara included, like beauty hauls, how-to videos and beauty tips and hacks. According to Influencer Marketing hub, ‘These influencers worked to drive in-store traffic and promote the in-store displays to highlight the product.’ The results of the influencer marketing campaign were incredible with the brand’s total media value increasing by 1.3 times. Also, ‘the content created by these influencers garnered 73,700 views and 35.7 million total impressions. There were 10,900 engagements to the influencers’ blog page.’
You can see from just these case studies how successful influencer marketing can be for your business.
The Future of Influencer Marketing
Influencer Marketing is most successful when it’s honest and transparent. For instance, influencers should advertise and talk about a product because they want to, not because they’ve been paid. In the words of Grin, people want to listen to an authentic voice above all the noise, and who’s voice is better than an influencer’s?
The future of influencer marketing looks bright, and it’s only going to get more and more popular. It won’t be long before children in school want to be Instagram influencers when they grow up, and the career path becomes a legitimate job title. How long until influencer marketing becomes a university degree?
How Giraffe Can Help You
For more information on the benefits of influencer marketing, on influencers in general or if you want to discuss and take advantage of the new and popular way to market, please get in contact with us today.