There’s a lot of noise on the internet and it’s getting increasingly harder for small and medium businesses to cut through all that racket and be heard.
The chances of cutting through all the commotion in this noisy marketplace are slim.
So what do you do? How do you go from being a small fish in a vast ocean to creating waves with your brand and not just tiny ripples?
If you haven’t guessed it, the answer is – Influencer Marketing. It’s fast proving to be one of the most effective marketing tools to get your word out there.
A huge number of SMEs have effectively used this technique to grow exponentially over the last few years.
What Is Influencer Marketing?
Now, for those of you who are not quite sure what influencers are or what they do, you might be thinking “Ah, this is just another buzz word for social media marketing”. Not really.
Let me take you through this.
So, what is a social media influencer? Simply put, as the name suggests an influencer is someone who carries influence and wields that influence through social media. This can have a huge influence on consumer purchase decision.
These influencers can be anyone. He or she can be a marketing guru, an entrepreneur, a journalist or simply a popular blogger/vlogger with a die-hard following.
Here’s an example – a 24-year old video game enthusiast from U.K has got gaming companies of all size and shapes including Lego begging for attention. Why? He has more than 8 million subscribers and his audience, mostly kids follow every word he says and buys every game he plays.
We all know how valuable word-of-mouth marketing is. It’s been shown to influence 20 – 50 percent of all purchasing decisions.
In today’s world of new digital relationship, word-of-mouth goes well beyond recommendations from friends and family.
And here’s the answer to why use influencers.
A current Twitter research shows that 49% of consumers seek purchase guidance from social media influencers. Another 20% revealed that a tweet from a social media influencer inspired them to share the product recommendation with their peers.
That’s not too shabby, right? Wait, there’s more.
74% of people turn to social networks for guidance on purchase decisions. (Ogilvy Cannes)
40% of people say they’ve purchased an item online after seeing it used by an influencer on Instagram, Twitter, Vine, or YouTube (Twitter and Annalect, 2016)
73% of Millennials see it as their responsibility to guide friends, peers, and family toward smart purchase decisions. (Fleishman-Hillard PR & Hearst Magazine)
A staggering 96% believed that advertising is misleading and does not reflect integrity in their message.
Another study from Mediakix showed that brands are spending over $1 billion a year on influencers. Some of these brands might be your competitors who are swiftly nudging ahead of you harnessing this awesome influence of social network rockstars.
Why Influencer Marketing is Ideal for Small Businesses
There’s a plethora of reasons why influencers are becoming a popular choice of marketing for many smart thinking SMEs.
- Cost-effective marketing campaign – Influencer marketing can be extremely flexible. It allows businesses to start off with a small initial investment and then scale up once successful.
- Build brand loyalty fast – Startups and small businesses often do not have the luxury of being able to play the waiting game to build customer relationships. You can use an influencer’s long pre-established trust within your market to get quick brand loyalty.
- Highly targeted advertising – This form of marketing lets you zero in on very specific variables, like geolocation, sex or age group.
- Create premium content without breaking your bank – Good content takes talented individuals, whether that be writers, photographers, models or all pf them together. It saves money and time when you outsource this to market influencers.
If you’re in fashion, take a stab at a fashion influencer. She will pair up proven content with professional photos or videos.
How To Find The Right Influencer For Your Business
Incorporate existing customers into your marketing outreach
Current study shows that customers pay more attention to people with who they can identify themselves. Not only do they listen, they trust people with similar interests.
Your current customers are your greatest ambassadors, your best micro-influencers.
So dig deep and start looking at your customers’ social profiles. See who’s talking, who’s getting heard and who’s engaging the most.
Make sure to count the number of friends and followers they have.
Do not be discouraged at this point if you cannot find customers with a million subscribers or followers. Even a following of a few hundred to 10K can greatly impact your sales figures.
Once you have listed these customers, connect with them to see if they are willing to endorse your product in their posts, tweets or YouTube videos.
This usually calls for a gift, whether that be a discount for the next purchase, a genuine gift or a freebie. Be creative.
Use tools to identify influencers
It’s no surprise that social media influencers’ celebrity status has led the way for many tools and methods that help identify the perfect influencer for your businesses.
One of my personal favorites is BuzzSumo. You can not only identify influencers based on keywords but also filter them by geo-location, date, type (blogger, journalist, company etc.).
What I find really useful is the feature “View Links Shared” tab. Once you find an influencer here who looks like a good fit for your niche, use this feature to identify links he/she has recently promoted.
You can also tell:
- How many Twitter followers they have
- Their retweet ratio
- Reply ratio
- Average retweets
This is the best way to start creating your business’ influencer marketing strategy.
It’ll give you a clear picture of the type of contents they typically share and how well they perform.
Use an influencer marketplace.
Famebit is a platform solely focused on connecting Youtubers with brands for sponsorship.
You will need to sign up as a ‘brand’ and pick the YouTuber you think best fits the purpose and accept her.
It can be as simple as that, to begin with.
Some other platforms to consider are –
- Influential – An influencer platform boasting a ton of credibility.
- Izea – One of the largest social media influencer marketplaces with reasonable rate for smaller businesses
- Tapinfluence – Helps you automate your influencer marketing.
- Tribe – A favorite of mine that specializes in Facebook, Twitter and Instagram influencers.
Who’s The Best Person For The Job?
Not all influencers are the same. Like most other business aspects, you need to do your homework by which I mean research.
So who do you trust for your product recommendation? Surprisingly, not always the one with the largest following is the best man for the job.
Look at social media engagement and reach.
These are all key factors to consider.
You should look at the reach their posts and tweets typically get. Also, check the conversion rates in similar campaigns.
Ask yourself “Do people seem to actually be interested in and engaged with what they have to say? Do they actually respond to questions they have been asking on social media?”
Relevance to your business or product
Past engagement can’t necessarily predict the success of a campaign. RELEVANCE is key to choosing the right influencer for your brand. Trouble is, relevance cannot be defined by any specific metric.
So, you might need to ask yourself some more questions.
- Is my target audience aware of this person, do they see him/her as a trusted advisor?
- Has this person been involved in promoting similar products or brands before?
- Is she an expert in this niche?
- Is her audience aligned with mine?
Asking the above questions will help you know if the people who will be reached are likely to buy your product.
Micro or Macro?
Bigger is not always better. Contracting an influencer with a celebrity status might not be ideal for smaller businesses.
Given the high cost, this marketing strategy becomes an almost impossibility for startups and businesses with limited resources.
So what’s the solution? Micro influencers – people with couple hundred to a few thousand followers. They might be less popular than their bigger counterparts but recent studies show they are more effective and come across as more authentic.
According to Digiday, audience engagement actually decreases once social media influencers reach a certain of followers.
(Image Source: Digiday)
Influencer Marketing – ROI
Unlike most other forms of marketing ROI is easier to quantify. You can draw on a wide array of metrics to track the effectiveness of your campaign.
But calculating the ROI of something so fluid must be fiddly, right?
Remember what they use to tell us back in school? Be S.M.A.R.T – Specific, Measurable, Attainable and Time-based.
Make sure to settle your metrics before setting goals. You should consider some common metrics like:
- Website views
- Referral visitors (people who visit your website through your influencer’s work)
- Brand buzz on social media
- Social media reach
And if you’d rather have a simple formula to calculate your ROI for influencer marketing, I happen to have it right here for you. This’ll give you a basic measurement of your campaign’s effectiveness.
(x unique viewers – bounce rate) – (% of who actually read/watch) – (% of who buy)
Related Topic: How To Calculate Marketing ROI
Using an influencer to boost your profit and sales seems simple enough on pen and paper.
Even though this new form of marketing is often less complicated than its counterparts, you’ll find twists and turns along the way.
But influencer marketing has huge potential and many top marketers see it as the future of marketing.
This is something you can definitely do successfully with the right approach and persistence. Once you get it right, there’s only one way to go – up.
From there on rinse and repeat and keep growing your brand.
I hope you got some juice out of this post. Let me know what you think in the comments.