Influencers are opinion leaders that can generate product engagement and sales via social media for brands.
In our social media driven marketplace many companies are choosing to use ‘influencers’ to help sell their brand and their products. This concept harnesses the profile of bloggers and publicly active social media users to help them to promote your products. Advertising in the traditional sense has been found to switch audiences off but using influencers is a way of getting your product noticed in a more subtle way by people that your target market follow and admire.
Influencers have been successful to such an extent, that Amazon has launched its own influencer programme.
Influencers can be focused in various different areas – fashion, entertainment, family life, fitness, food and parenting to name just a few. Each respective blogger could offer something unique to a particular brand and the right choice is often crucial in order to generate the most successful outcome on both sides. Consequently we are seeing a rise in companies engaging with influencers in order to promote their products – fashion brand boohoo.com for example uses former Love Island contestants to be seen to promote their clothing and internationally Topshop and UK fashion retailer Selfridges have been seen to use international influencers to sell products overseas. The biggest increases in the use of influencer marketing have been seen in travel, fashion and parenting.
The result of using influencers over web advertising is that any audience may feel the result is more authentic and that even when they know that the blogger is ‘paid’ the story is more transparent and relevant.
Types of influencers
There are well-known celebrities or those with 1,000,000+ followers who act as influencers as well as micro influencers, those with a smaller, but potentially more dedicated and more engaged following. Typically, a micro influencer has around 5,000 followers. The key is to understand why one influencer stands out more than others.
Types of influencer posts
Influencer posts may be described as a celebrity endorsement in their crudest sense. However, they are so much more in reality – they can be a blog post, a social media post, a video (live or otherwise) and an Instagram or Facebook story. They don’t have to be from a celebrity either – more often than not from a blogger in a particular specialism or someone of social media notoriety.
The post of blog itself may share a product they have used or a wearing or a trip they’ve been on or a meal they’re eating – anything really. ‘Payment’ by way of the product, free tickets, holiday etc is usually made on the proviso they will have nice things to say. The brand or company may already know a particular person uses their product and are simply piggybacking on the fact that they are already bought in.
Being paid – whether in cash or kind – should be noted on the post as a ‘sponsored’ or ‘promo’ post. If not, this breaks Advertising Standards guidelines.
Finding influencers to promote your product
If you’ve agreed your objective and what you want to achieve, the next area is about finding influencers. There are 5 main steps which are discussed here as working with the right people is a key aspect of successful influencer marketing and it is important to look at the bigger picture and not just number of followers or visitor figures.
- How relevant they are – finding a blogger that resonates with you and your key messages could lead to a fruitful relationship. Looking over previous posts and blog archives should give you an insight into the type of blogger consumer they are along with the language and style they use.
- Is their audience active? – Engagement with an audience is another flag to signpost you to your ideal blogger influencer. If a person has comments and responses to their posts from their audience from new and repeat people then it is a sign that they could be the one. Ensuring content is meaningful and read is an important measure for success. If the audience is less active, they could be a fake influencer! One set up to win your budget but without the capacity to deliver your objectives.
- How far is their reach? – Whilst the only consideration it is still an important one in that it will give you an idea of how widespread a person’s message travels. Having said that it is still a case of quality over quantity and a smaller reach from a relevant blogger could play a bigger part than a blogger with a massive following who isn’t as aligned with your products or message.
- How authentic are they? – Authenticity is a two way street and whilst you are looking to generate a more authentic message through influencers it is equally as important they that too are authentic in return. Lots of sponsored content or paid posts could symbol that a blogger isn’t as trusted as someone with more genuine content in terms of the products they use in real life.
- Frequency of posts – Someone who has posts here and there isn’t likely to have as established or loyal a following as someone who posts daily. Posting regularly and across several platforms could have much more appeal when selecting the right influencer for you.
Attracting influencers to you
Once you have found a blogger you would like to work with, part of the battle may be getting them to notice your product or services. Ways to do this could be:
- Follow them on social media and comment, link or share their posts.
- Write your own blog post that includes or is about them.
- Send them your product or offer them access to your services.
- Approach them to write content about you or your products.
- Provide them with a guest post.
What’s your experience with influencers? Do share!