Influencers have really boomed in recent years when it comes to paid ads and sponsorships. In fact, when you’re scrolling through your Instagram feed or watching YouTube videos you’ll probably encounter a few ads or sponsorships and barely even notice. From well known beauty brands like L'Oreal to cereal like Kellogg's, countless brands are cashing in on influencer marketing.
What is the impact of an influencer? Whether it’s a paid placement or an organic comment, influencers have loud voices. I’m sure you’ll remember back in February when Kylie Jenner commented on the changes to the Snapchat app, saying: “sooo does anyone else not open Snapchat anymore? Or is it just me... ugh this is so sad.”
This tweet alone apparently caused a $1.3 billion drop in Snapchat’s market value, while some sources say the tweet may or may not have had an impact, with steady user download figures before and after the tweet, there was a definite media storm surrounding the events. Leading us to our point, one tweet from a social influencer like Kylie Jenner, with 25.2 million followers on Twitter alone, was enough to cause a frenzy online. This is the impact a large social influencer can have on a brand.
What is an influencer?
Social media platforms are full to the brim with people aiming and claiming to be social influencers. What once was a rarity, has now become a full-time career. So much so, that Forbes now does an annual list of the most influential people online. From bloggers to vloggers there is a wide variety of people using online platforms to showcase their lives and, in turn, showcase products they have been sent or paid to advertise. An influencer is someone with a significant following who has sway over their audience’s opinions, habits, purchases, etc. In short, they are the ideal person to promote a brand to an audience, in some cases, more so than traditional advertising. In fact, influencer targeting has become a form of advertisement all on its own.
Last year over half of the young people in the UK bought products directly due to influencers, with 18-30-year-olds being five times more likely to purchase something that had been recommended by someone they follow online. However, contrary to popular belief, those with a smaller to mid-sized following are better for advertising, due to their more intimate engagement with their audience. Ryan Detert, CEO of ‘Influential’, and previously an influencer himself, also recommends that you go for the middle ground influencers when it comes to targeting, saying:
"You want people who have the highest level of engagement - meaning likes, retweets, comments and shares - versus their total follower count. Celebrities have half a percent of engagement, versus someone who might be a domain expert that has half a million followers."
"They all have a place in the marketplace. But if you want a digital buy, you wouldn't necessarily go with the biggest celebrity, unless you plan on surrounding them with a bunch of other smaller influencers."
So, If you are going down the route of influencer targeting, don’t just jump on the person with the highest following. Think about it.
- Consumers trust third party recommendations, think about who your consumers are and who they are likely to follow. Who will be a good name for promoting your brand? Does their personal brand align with the values of your brand and audiences? Relevancy really is key.
- Think about your product. If you’re promoting protein balls, you won’t want to contact an iconic beauty blogger, you’ll want to target a fitness one. Make sure you’re matching the right product with the right person. This doesn’t mean you can’t be creative in your approach, but always make sure the affiliation is credible and authentic.
- Do you have the budget for a paid post? If not, there are options, you can also choose to send products out to influencers in the hopes that they will love it enough show it off or offer them experiences. If you do, think about what calibre of influencer you can afford, the more followers, the more it will cost.
- Do you have someone in mind? If you do, why not think about working with them for an extended period of time. It’s not unusual for brands to work with particular people for a while, or even to have a brand ambassador if you have someone in mind, there’s no harm in reaching out and seeing if you can come to a longer-term agreement.
- Have a look at similar brands and competitors. Are they utilising influencer targeting? If so, you can learn a lot from the audience that engages with their content. You don’t want to copy it, but you can learn a lot from it and, in turn, find out who and how you should be targeting in a way to beat the competition.
- Can they cause action? It’s all well and good finding someone who kind of suits your brand, but will they have the ability to get their followers to action what they’re saying? Obsessing over finding the exact fit in terms of influencer is key. With the right reach and the right audience, actionability should follow hand-in-hand. Also, you need to make sure you’re providing content and assets that have a clear call to action.
- Find your perfect match. Think about their look, personality, the genre of product/interest, topic to discuss, the tone of the content and their audience. If you can get someone to wiggle into all the right boxes, they’re the one for you!
Hunting them down and staying up to date
It’s all about searching and researching, if you’re involved in marketing, it’s just another form of market research. Of course, the best place to start is often social media. Exploring hashtags and related content to what you’re looking to promote is a great way to find someone who is likely to be relevant to your products and services. You can also simply reach out to people you think would be a good fit, contacting bloggers about potential outreach content could also be worth your time. Outreach is all about making connections and building relationships - so be authentic, approachable and up-front.
Alternatively, use search engines and set Google Alerts to find out if there is someone championing your brand that you didn’t already notice or talking about topics relevant to your offering. If there is someone out there tweeting excessively about how much they love luxury skincare, and that’s your brand, then they are the ideal person to get in touch with! For example, our very own Glasgow girl, Jamie Genevieve, a long-term fan of Kiehl's has been all over their brand recently with paid advertisements and trips away to places like Vietnam to promote the brand. Finding someone who already loves your products is a great way to create a lasting and loyal connection. What’s more, if it is built on a preexisting love for the brand it feels genuine to consumers and will build greater trust.
Going down the influencer route can be incredibly rewarding, in fact, some brands have made their name almost entirely from influencers and online ads. A few examples of this are brands like Audible, Blue Apron and MVMT watches (author note: I actually bought a MVMT watch for my partner because I saw them so much on social media, luckily he loves it, but that’s influencer targeting in action right there). MVMT even have their success story on the Instagram business page and have had various influencers, including the Kardashians, wear their products in sponsored Instagram posts. These are brands who are never seen on television or radio and rarely seen in any other older form of advertising, but all over podcasts, display ads and influencers social media accounts, with personalised pages and discount codes specific to the influencer who is promoting it. They have used this discount feature to make it seem more personal to the influencer they’re channelling at the time and it appears to have worked. They’re now all fairly well known and the sales figures speak for themselves.
Wrapping it up
During the Christmas period, around 40% of shoppers agreed that their phone helped inform them about their purchases, with 53% the year before using their mobile devices to carry out purchases. It’s no wonder that advertising is transitioning to a more digital platform and involving the use of influencers. However, the landscape of advertising changes (as we have seen by the growth in digital advertising), as will your products own market and audience. Keeping on top of who’s buying what you’re selling and who’s loving it is key, especially when finding someone to promote your product for you. When you do eventually approach someone, stay tactful and respectful and build up a great relationship with your influencer. Promote their content in return and they’ll continue to promote you.
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