What is an online influencer, and why is influencer marketing important to your marketing strategies? Influencer marketing is a new method for engaging targeted audiences online. It’s so effective that companies both big and small, independent and corporate, use influencer marketing to get their products in front of audiences on the top social media sites.

In today’s digital age, traditional marketing doesn’t reach every audience. People don’t watch ads as much anymore with the availability of digital streaming content, ad blockers, and DVR. Marketers have to come up with new ways to engage potential customers and build brand awareness.

Photo Credit: https://isys6621.com/2016/04/30/influencers-or-brand-advocates-whats-better-for-your-brand/

In a manner similar to celebrity endorsements, brands partner with influencers to impact customers’ purchasing behaviors. Influencers are “thought leaders” and content creators on social platforms with loyal followings. Bloggers, YouTubers, and ordinary people who publish original content have sway with online audiences and target markets. People may seek out their content while deciding what to buy or their purchasing decisions may be influenced through their content.

There are multiple benefits to running influencer marketing campaigns. Influencer content engages users and increases traffic to brand websites without immediately looking like an advertisement or like brand content. People going about their daily routines and checking up on the content published by their favorite content creators are exposed to new products.

What does an influencer marketing campaign look like? Marketers start a collaboration with an influencer. The collaboration should be beneficial for both parties. Some influencers may seek a price for the promotional post or may accept a free product as payment. In return, the influencer works the product into their content, whether it’s a product review, a promotion on the influencer’s website or social media account, or the integration of the product or brand into a video or blog post.

For example, if you have children, you have most likely noticed how much influence YouTubers have over your kids’ interest in toys and video games. YouTubers conduct reviews on toys and they sometimes receive them for free from the toy brands. In this type of video, the influencer opens the toy and walks the viewer through its features. Children watching the video develop an interest in the toy and begin to ask their parents to purchase it for them. This is just one example of the endless possibilities within an influencer campaign.

Companies run influencer marketing campaigns on all of the different social media networks, including Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, etc. The goal is to expose the influencer’s audience to the brand/product and generate new leads and followers. Influencers’ audiences identify with influencers and are likely to follow the influencer’s recommendations or at least think about the product and become aware of it. An example pictured below from R2Integrated shows an Instagram influencer promoting Ugg boots. Notice how the Instagram post looks like a normal post on the website that expresses the influencer’s love for the product.

Photo Credit: http://www.r2integrated.com/r2insights/influencer-marketing-what-you-need-to-know-today

A campaign is sometimes run with one big influencer or among many micro-influencers. Either way, a good marketer makes sure to follow up with the influencer or influencers after the collaboration. After all, they may want to collaborate again in the future with the same influencer, so it’s important to develop a good working relationship.

Influencer content may include (but is not limited to):

-Videos

-Blog Posts

-Social Media Posts

-Tweets

-Snapchat Stories

-Facebook posts

-Pins

All types of industries use influencer marketing, from fashion, home design, cooking, contractors, to tech. Below are some examples of successful influencer collaborations conducted by big brand names.

Beauty product company Glossier works with multiple micro-influencers through its Reps Program. Influencers are flown into the company’s headquarters in New York. When the influencers blog about the trip or post photos of the trip on Instagram, the company gets placed in front of the influencers’ audiences. In another example, Glossier featured Cecilia Gorgon’s daily beauty routine on the brand blog Into the Gloss. Gorgon is a University of Michigan student who expressed her love of a Glossier skin moisturizer to her followers. Read Media Bistro’s blog to learn more.

In a campaign by Lagavulin Whiskey, Nick Offerman drank Lagavulin Whiskey in a YouTube video. Offerman is well-known for his role Ron Swanson on the comedic television show Parks and Recreation. Ron Swanson is known for being a man’s man who drinks whiskey, smokes cigars, practices woodworking, and has a tough demeanor. In the YouTube video, Offerman is shown in a photo montage doing “manly” tasks like cooking turkey, shoveling dirt, and wearing plaid. The rest of the video shows him sipping Lagavulin Whiskey by a yule log. The campaign successfully exposed new target markets to the whiskey brand.

Photo Credit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_StgHl92v5Q

My Experience with Blue Apron published on the blog Beauty and the Beets is an example of the influencer campaign conducted by the boxed meal company. Blogger Anna-Marie photographed and narrated her experience with Blue Apron, from receiving the box, unpacking the ingredients, and cooking the meals. She also featured the final results and photos of the finished meals. Readers are more likely to order Blue Apron after seeing that bloggers enjoyed the experience. Getting honest feedback from a trusted content creator persuades people to try new foods and services. Anna-Marie’s blog is also authentic; she provides pros and cons and describes who would enjoy the product. She ends the post by encouraging readers to try the service by visiting Blue Apron’s website.

Now that you have a better understanding of how influencer marketing works, you can try it in your own social media marketing campaigns. Look for influencers whose interests align with yours and whose followers overlap with the markets you are targeting. Measure the effectiveness of the campaign and be open to learning.

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