Image source: Real Business

Influencers are individuals who use their social platforms to connect with the public. Over time, their audience grows bigger, and eventually they seem more like a trustworthy friend than an online influence.

Influencer marketing is the process of leveraging third-party influence to expand a brand’s reach, and resonate better with target markets. And research has shown that the power of influencer marketing is phenomenal.

The Power of Influencer Marketing
According to a study conducted by Collective Bias, 30% of consumers are more likely to buy a product that’s recommended by a non-celebrity blogger. The same study showed that non-celebrity influencers are 10x more likely to drive in-store purchases than traditional celebrities.

This is largely because consumers find influencers more relatable than celebrities. Many people understand the way celebrity endorsements work: celebs vouch for a product when they’re paid to do so, but don’t necessarily use that product or believe it in. Because of this, traditional celebrities are adored and copied, but not necessarily trusted when it comes to promotion.

Examples of this are found throughout the cosmetics industry. Think of all the times you’ve seen an A-list celebrity vouch for a drugstore brand like L’oreal. Would you believe that a multi-millionaire is using a $7 tube of mascara? Now imagine a YouTube blogger who not only tries the product during a live video, but provides thoughtful commentary and genuine opinions. Who would you trust more?

Source: Celebrity Endorsement Ads

Today, social proof and authenticity is prominent.

Another study found that for every $1 spent on influencer marketing, businesses make $6.50. With such a high ROI, it’s no wonder that companies are pivoting their marketing budgets to accommodate a new kind of direct-to-consumer.
The Micro Influencer
Influencers can be categorized into two types: macro influencers, and micro influencers. For startups and growing small businesses, micro influencers seem to be the way to go. In fact, Inc. Magazine called 2018 the “year of the micro influence.”

According to ExpertVoice, on average, working with micro influencers increases your chance of success. The study found the micro influencers saw conversions 22.2x higher than the average batch of macro influencers. Furthermore, 82% of consumers said that they were highly likely to take action based on a recommendation from a micro influencer.

As you think about potential influencers, one of the main things to consider is reach. And in theory, it might seem like the wider the reach, the higher the return on investment. But this isn’t necessarily true. And this is great news for the average startup: after all, not every business has the budget for macro influencers and celebrities (though budgets are getting bigger: Linqia, an influencer-focused marketing company, found that 39% of marketers plan to increase their influencer budget in 2018).

Another study went even further by revealing that large followings don’t necessarily correlate with successful influencer campaigns. Research conducted by Markerly found that the more followers a person had on instagram, the less engagement there was. Users with under 1,000 followers had roughly an 8% “like” rate, while those that had between 1,000 to 10,000 followers had a like rate of nearly half that.

So what is a micro influencer, exactly? Typically, they have cultivated a loyal following, and can cater to them appropriately. They can have as low as 500 followers, and as high as 100,000. Most importantly, because micro influencers have such manageable follower counts, their pages are much more community-minded. They’re able to respond to comments and messages, and take the time to fully immerse themselves in audience interaction.

Unlike macro influencers, they tend to be more committed to the product, simply because they have more time and energy to do so. This extra attention can make a brand’s coverage feel much more exclusive. Rather than just taking a photo with your product, for example, they’ll provide meaningful captions that go beyond the standard description.

The Rise of AdBlock

There is a direct correlation between the rise of influencer marketing and the rise of “AdBlock.” With so many tools at consumers’ disposal, traditional digital ads are going unnoticed, and marketing dollars are being wasted. According to a recent AdBlock report, 615 million devices–or 11%of the global population–utilize some type of ad blocking software. Usage has ballooned over the past several years, and 74% of Americans will leave a website that has adblock walls.

Every year, adblock usage increases 30%. It’s clear that consumers aren’t happy with the current methods of digital advertising. Eventually, traditional online ads will become obsolete, and influencer marketing is just one of the effective tactics poised to take its place.

Another reason influencer marketing is so powerful is because technically it’s not advertising, and therefore can never be blocked. This means that no matter how many firewalls consumers use, they will always see social, promotional content published by real influencers. Simply put, “native” content cannot be ignored.

Influencer Tools

According to one LaunchMetrics study, identifying the right influencer is the hardest part of launching an influencer campaign. To help you shape your influencer marketing strategy, there are a handful of tools at your disposal.

BuzzSumo

BuzzSumo is one of the most popular tools for influencer marketing. In one dashboard, view your influencer stats and content sharing analytics. Through the content sharing portal, you’re able to see which content is most popular, and who’s sharing that content. Armed with insight about the people who are already engaging with your brand, you’re much better positioned to approach them about influencer opportunities.

Through the influencer dashboard, you can find potential influencer marketers by searching for certain hashtags and keywords. You’re then able to sort and filter those results by bloggers, journalists, and other companies. For example, let’s say you’ve developed an app for real estate agents to collaborate with one another. You might search for hashtags that include #realestate, #realtor, #realestateagency, etc. You can then break down those results even further by searching by location.

Source: Builtvisible

Grin
Another less popular but equally effective tool is called Grin. Unlike some of the other tools, Grin solely focuses on influencer marketing. Its platform allows you to sort through over 100,000 influencers across dozens of niches using powerful sorting capabilities that allow you to filter based on factors like location, age, gender, follower count, and much more.

HYPR
Just like other influencer marketing tools, HYPR allows you to search across a wide pool of influencers, while also providing detailed analytics about each influencer. This way, you no longer have to go through each profile independently: view key interests for each influencer, get a high-level overview of their followers, shares, and comments across all social media platforms, and analyze their performance in terms of engagement, amplification, and reach. With information for over 10 million influencers, the platform is self-described as the largest influencer marketplace.

InsightPool
Dubbed the “Google For Influencers,” this tool works much like your average search engine. Type a request into the search bar, and you’re matched with hundreds of relevant results across over one hundred social networks. Rather than just focusing on the main platforms, like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, it also considers platforms like Reddit, Vimeo, Yelp, and LinkedIn.

With InsightPool, you can view the number of subscribers and followers for each influencer, as well as what blog platforms they’re on. View their most recent activity, check out brands they’ve worked with in the past, and learn more about their interests.

Influencer Marketing Examples

It helps to examine some of the more successful influencer marketing campaigns to give you an idea of how you can benefit. Success stories can also give you an added dose of inspiration. Here are some examples:

Klean Plate
Klean Plate is a food startup that was launched by chef and nutritionist, Kelly Sanders. Originally started as a meal delivery service, Klean Plate successfully transformed into an ecommerce product line, with its protein pancake batter at the forefront.

Sanders understood the power of social media, and began searching for “female fitness foodies” who could serve as brand ambassadors for her influencer marketing campaign. Once she identified her influencers, she created an influencer media kit to help guide them. This way, she could have consistent branding and messaging across all social networks. Most importantly, because she chose influencers in her local area, she was able to foster her own influencer community, and even hosted influencer events for everyone who helped promote her brand. The result? Klean Plate was able to increase its sales 14x and increased traffic by 204%–in just 4 months.

Source: Instagram

ASOS Insiders
Clothing brand ASOS identified several key influencers from around the world, called ASOS Insiders, and worked with them to portray their lifestyle brand. “Insiders” are a group of 20-something men and women around the world who use ASOS clothing to portray their personal style, offering fashion advice to their followers in the process.

Each ambassador sports a different look, ensuring there’s a style for every fashion-forward consumer. They also use a tracked link to make all content easily shoppable. When a user clicks on a link, they’re taken directly to a curated ASOS page of that influencer’s “looks.”

ASOS insiders use several platforms, including Pinterest, Snapchat, and Facebook to show off how ASOS supports every taste in clothing. Lastly, what makes the ASOS insiders campaign especially unique and successful is its focus on long-term engagement. Followers aren’t just seeing a single post: they’re witnessing a lifestyle, and each post is an additional push for the ASOS brand.

JORD
JORD is a brand of wood watches that does a great job of leveraging micro influencers. As previously mentioned, micro influencers may not have hundreds of thousands of influencers, but they’ve cultivated a loyal following and community. And this is exactly what JORD was able to tap into with a series of micro moments.

One YouTube channel, Gloss & Sparkle, only had 23,000 subscribers when JORD approached them to review their product. While 23,000 sounds like a lot, it’s not much in terms of “macro.” However, the video received over 13,000 views; a powerful move for a channel with a smaller following.

Gloss & Sparkle was just one reviewer. JORD has commissioned hundreds of micro influencers to work on their behalf. JORD also incentives the audiences of those influencers by offering discounts to them.

Source: CrazyEgg

What NOT To Do

With so many tips on how to launch a successful influencer strategy, it can become pretty confusing. There’s plenty of advice to follow, but there are just as many tips on what NOT to do. Here are three of the biggest mistakes in influencer marketing:

1) Choosing Any Influencer

Just because an influencer has a solid following in your market doesn’t qualify them to represent your brand. Like any investment your business makes, you should do your due diligence. At the most basic level, you should be investigating their online presence—this includes social media channels, Google search results, and professional websites.
You wouldn’t want your fin-tech startup to hire someone who was fired for stealing from a previous company, no matter how popular they are. In some cases, you may want to conduct an official background check.

Another thing to consider is your influencer’s demographic. Does it align with your brand? For example, if your product caters to college students who care about budgeting, it wouldn’t make sense to work with a high-end influencer whose audience tends to splurge on the finer things.

Always meet with the person outside of social networks, whether over the phone or in person. You can tell a lot about how they conduct their business based in initial conversations. Lastly, always follow your gut feelings. If there’s something about an influencer that bothers you or doesn’t give you a good feeling, move on to the next. There are plenty of other great influencers in the sea.

2) Sending A Boilerplate Email

Great influencers are inundated with emails on a daily basis. Unfortunately, they cannot and wouldn’t respond to every email, no matter how tempting the offer. To stand out from the pack, you should be writing personalized, well-thought emails that really speak to the influencer. These days, boilerplate emails won’t get you anywhere far. To really set yourself apart, you should mention:

● How the product/service is related to their brand
● Why your company would like to work with them (cite specific examples)
● How the product/service benefits their subscribers and followers
● Ways that they can frame the product/service across different social networks
● How you intend to compensate them

The reason why finding the right influencer is so difficult is because there is so much research to be done. To avoid the boilerplate email, you need to investigate each potential influencer to cite specific, personalized talking points in your introduction. For example, let’s say you created an app to connect real estate agents with first-time home seekers. You might mention that the influencer themself recently shared their experience buying a home. Or, you could reach out to influencers who help others make money off of platforms like Airbnb.

Their are endless ways you can spin and angle your product to connect it to influencers–especially when you’ve done your research and can put together the pieces.

3) Asking For Too Much

Influencers come in all shapes and sizes. These are bloggers, athletes, celebrities, entrepreneurs, politicians, and so much more. These are all busy people, and some are even influential enough to have their own PR teams. While this is less common with micro bloggers, the fact remains that everyone has their own agenda, and are working towards achieving success for their own brands.

One of the biggest mistakes marketers make is asking for too much. They falsely assume that because they’re compensating them (whether with product or financial compensation), the influencer owes them their time and demands.

Your goal should be the opposite: you want to make their job as easy as possible. As such, your requests should be simple and minimal. Additionally, don’t deprive them of creative freedom. While it’s helpful to provide influencers with angles they can work with, you also want to refrain from putting them into a box.

The following is a great proposal template to follow when reaching out to leads. Notice that the paragraphs are short, concise, and highly personalized:

Source: Neil Patel