The rise and rise of influencer marketing is hard to ignore, raises some big questions, and offers opportunities to reach targeted audiences in new ways.
Perhaps the biggest question is, “Will my audience trust what an influencer has to say?”
If they don’t, your campaign won’t be successful and you could actually damage your organisation’s reputation rather than enhance it. Try explaining that to the boss.
On the other hand, a well-chosen influencer might actually know your audience better than you do, becoming a highly effective way to speak directly to them.
If this is new territory for you, learning how to work effectively with influencers is more likely to get great results.
I’ve been on both sides of the marketing/influencer fence, so with both my food writer and communications hats on, here are a few of my top tips and things to think about when engaging social media influencers.
- It’s all about authenticity. Do your research and make sure you know as much as possible about the audience you’re trying to reach. What matters to them?
- Find someone you like. Go where your audience is (online), pay attention to who they engage with and listen to the conversation. Follow a range of influencers relevant to your business, who could naturally be a user of your product or service, or advocate for your cause. Find someone you like, that has a great relationship with their followers and whose opinions and values align with yours.
- Micro or macro? Micro influencers (typically those with less than 20k followers) have higher engagement rates. They’re real people, they’re relatable, and they’re often expert in their niche. Macro influencers (those with huge followings) can be thought of as ‘billboard advertising’ with the potential to reach many, but in an untargeted way.
- Fake followers. It’s very easy for someone to whip out their credit card and buy fake followers to bump up their numbers. Scroll through their followers and take a good look – do the accounts have real names and contain real content? How about comments on the influencer’s posts? A high number of irrelevant comments could be a warning sign.
- Collaborate. It’s smart to have a good idea of what you want an influencer to do for you, but it’s wise to be open to their ideas too – they know their audience.
- Negotiate a fair deal that clearly outlines your expectations, deadlines and deliverables. Importantly, don’t under value their time or expect the world in return for free product. It doesn’t pay the bills, and nor does ‘exposure’.
- Be transparent. Don’t attempt to hide the fact it’s a paid relationship, or ask an influencer to. There are plenty of ways to talk about it in a positive light, while being open and honest.
- Learn from your experiences and fine tune your future plans around working with the influencers that bring the most value to you or your clients.
If you can master understanding your audience, find influencers who are a perfect match and work collaboratively with them, you’ll create a natural partnership that comes across authentically – a partnership people can trust.
Don’t forget, you can use influencers for more than product-based marketing. Influencers can share ideas, reinforce messaging or become social change campaigns or role models too.
Finally, remember there are no fixed rules here. What works for a multi-national with significant market share is quite different to what will work for a local company selling a niche product. What is true, is that influencer marketing can work well for everyone, given a little thought.