Influencer Marketing Strategy 101
Remember when you used to go shopping, back in the day, and there were products that had the big “As Seen on TV” stickers on them? We’re talking those entirely covetable infomercial products like the Snuggie, the George Foreman Grill, the Bowflex Home Gym, Proactiv and, who can forget, the Shake Weight?
The hay days of Infomercials are now in the past. Although we’ll always have a place in our hearts for the bewildering people that appeared in them, like really, how are those people still alive? Pouring juice, putting a blanket on their lap and getting something out of the cupboard were all too entirely too difficult for those that lived in the infomercial world–for a reminder check out this hilarious compilation. So, you heard it here first, if infomercials are dead then Influencer Marketing is the new “As Seen on TV” stickers.
Here at PUNCH digital we recently ran a survey to business owners and marketers, from micro to large enterprises, and discovered that Influencer Marketing was one of the hottest trends brands were planning to focus on in 2017. And we’re not alone in this finding either, another survey published in Inc. also found that 84% of marketers they surveyed plan on launching at least one influencer campaign within the next 12 months.
So, with Influencer Market slated to be the next big marketing thing we thought we’d share some insight about how and why Influencer Marketing can help your business grow in 2017.
What is an influencer?
The first thing we need to establish is what exactly an influencer is. Truth be told influencers come in many shapes and sizes. There are big celebrity influencers like the Kardashian/Jenner clan who have audiences in the millions, right down to micro-influencers who have audiences a few hundred or thousand strong. What defines someone as an influencer is, unsurprisingly, the impact that person has on their niche audience. Because influencers are seen as ‘experts’ in their niche–be it yoga, motherhood or Melbourne food trucks – an influencer with an engaged audience generally has an impact on their audiences buying habits. For example, if a mommy blogger posts a picture on her Instagram of an amazing new children’s brand she’s just discovered and fallen in love with, you can be sure that a number of her followers will make a purchase from that brand or, in the very least, the seed of curiosity will be planted. In fact, a recent study by BrightLocal found that 84% of customers trust online reviews by strangers as much as they would recommendations from friends. If an influencer isn’t just a “stranger” online but actually a figure that someone respects and admires, imagine how powerful their impact will be.
Before you start your Influencer Marketing campaign there are a few foundational elements that need to be in place. Lucky for you, we’ve prepared a handy little step-by-step guide to help you with your Influencer Marketing journey.
Step 1: Define your Audience
Before you begin any influencer campaigns it’s important you have a really strong understanding of who your target demographic audience is and what impacts their buying decisions. These days it’s not enough to know that your audience is females, aged 25-35, that have a child. You need to understand the unique selling points of your product or service that attracted your current customers and what specifically about your business potential customers in your target demographic would find appealing.
A great way of doing this is to come up with an ideal customer avatar or personas, of sorts, and give it a name and interests to humanise your customer. What does your ideal customer like or dislike, where do they shop, why do they choose to shop where they do, what hobbies, TV shows, books or movies do they enjoy and so on and so forth. In the early days of the Oprah Winfrey Show, Oprah and her team created “Susan” – a woman that represented their target audience. Every time they produced a show, booked a guest or made a business decision they kept “Susan” in mind and, well, we all know how they went for them (read: it worked really damn well).
Step 2: Set goals
Once you’ve defined your audience it’s important to identify the goals you want to achieve with your influencer marketing campaign.
Goals could include:
- Content promotion
- Product launch
- Content creation
- Event management
- Corporate communications
- Crisis management
After you’ve settled on the goal of your campaign it’s important to establish 2-3 Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for each, so you can track your progress and everyone has a clear understanding of what success looks like to you.
Step 3: Find Influencers
The key to a successful influencer campaign, and something that is often overlooked is to align with influencers who have an engaged audience, not just those with the most followers. Brands are often blinded by the vanity metric of follower numbers, but with so many ways to get fake followers, numbers alone are not enough to go on. In fact, Digiday published a study that shows that the influencers with the most engaged audiences have between 10,000 and 100,000 followers, not followings in the millions. So if you’re going to go with an influencer, finding one that has a high level of engagement and is well respected by their followers will get you more bang for your buck.
So, how do you find influencers?
It’s not like you can wave a magic wand and the perfect influencer will appear – but there are a number of methods that you can do about finding the perfect influencers for your brand.
If you’ve got a bit of time up your sleeve and don’t mind doing the hard yards you can search for influencers manually by doing a hashtag search. Try searching hashtags that are relevant in your niche, paying attention to ‘Top Posts’.
Another good trick is to look at who your competitor’s are following and follow the rabbit hole from there. Once you come across influencers you feel align well with your brand, platforms such as Instagram, will give you options for other Instagram users that people who follow that Instagram user follow as well. This is a great way to follow the virtual breadcrumb trail and find more influencers that are in the same niche.
You can also use Influencer Marketing software or platforms. Using one of these services is great if you don’t have time to go trawling through Instagram accounts and doing lots of manual outreach. Using these platforms is also a great way to get a better understanding of how authentic an influencer’s audience and, well, influence are. These days it’s not uncommon for people to buy followers, so you want to make sure you’re paying to get in front of a relevant, engaged audience not just bots and people off in other countries that will never buy your product.
To get started you might consider checking out a few of the following platforms. We’re in no way sponsored or endorsed by these, but according to Australian Community Managers these platforms are highly recommended, each for different reasons.
Step 4: Build a Relationship
Good Influencer Marketing is more than writing a brief and handing it off to an Instafamous mommy blogger to do a piece of sponsored content for your brand. The best Influencer Marketing plans centre around a good working relationship between brand and influencer. The better you get to know the influencers you work with the better, and more authentic, your content will come across.
Creating a lasting working relationship with influencers can also help shape your own content strategy as it can give you a better understanding of what your audience responds well to, has questions about and, ultimately, what types of creative and copy are more likely to make the purchase.
Step 5: Tracking
Influencer Marketing in some ways lives in a hazy land where it can be difficult to measure precisely the impact each influencer brings. This is similar, in some ways, to social media marketing where it’s almost impossible to understand the full impact of the work you’re doing and how this contributes to the overall client purchase journey.
When possible, try to put tracking in place so you can get an understanding of tangible results such as visits, introductions, mentions and leads as much as possible. How you measure your own ROI depends largely on your objective. Although the end goal is almost always sales, there are also many different metrics to look at that can contribute to that end purchase. Looking at metrics like referral traffic, increased engagement, follower count and number of conversions are all good metrics to look at.
Influencer marketing has the potential to be incredibly powerful and we’ll be watching this space closely to see how brands are leveraging this strategy to grow their businesses. But like any other marketing strategy, Influencer Marketing needs to be tracked properly. By taking a measured approach to Influencer Marketing brands have a better chance of succeeding and turning this “hot new trend” into a staple in their digital marketing arsenal. So go forth, conquer and kick some marketing goals!
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