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Forget the Age of Aquarius, this is the Age of Influencer Marketing! A strategy that has the ability to drive sales and connect with your target audience much more effectively than dreary old traditional advertising, savvy marketers are falling over themselves to hop onboard the influencer marketing train.
But I’ve noticed some businesses have been a little hesitant to embrace the trend, thanks to a common misconception that you have to splash some serious cash to hook the influencers with the biggest followings in order to charge full steam ahead into success. I say this isn’t the case at all; not if you know your influencer marketing etiquette. Here’s what you need to know to make influencer marketing work for you…
1. Let influencers work with you, not for you
Influencers have built an engaged following, based on their personality. So, give them the creative freedom they need to work with you, rather than hemming them in with too many rules or demands. If you go down the latter route, you run the risk of alienating their audience and making the posts featuring you brand look forced, inauthentic and unnatural. You’ll also risk frustrating the influencer you’re hoping to form a partnership with. Trust that they know what works best with their audience, and what will push them away too.
2. Do your research
This is influencer marketing 101, but it’s surprising how easy it is to be blinded by the following and sidestep thoroughly researching who could be representing your brand. Of course, the PewDiePie scandal – Disney and YouTube distanced themselves from the influencer after it emerged he had posted videos with anti-Semitic messages – is an extreme case, but putting their social media accounts under the microscope will ensure you are choosing the right person to represent your brand. It’s also key to ensure their community is made up of the sort of people you want to reach out to.
3. Numbers mean nothing
This is one of the hardest pills for brands to swallow, but numbers really don’t mean anything. In fact, some of the bigger accounts may have even used sneaky tactics like bots to gain their followers. You can usually tell whether their followers are ‘for real’ by checking engagement rates on posts. A smaller account with an engaged following is much more likely to sell your products and services well. It’s always worth considering how much more effective it could be to divide your budget amongst a few micro-followers with an engaged, smaller following than rinsing it all on one big name.
4. Don’t be afraid to haggle
While a model with millions of followers might quote thousands of pounds for a single post, this doesn’t mean that the rate won’t come down – especially if you are sending out samples of a product for an influencer to create content. Don’t be intimidated or afraid to haggle. If your product or service is a good match for the influencer and their audience, you never know just what sort of deal you might be able to strike.
5. Know your goals and measure
While likes and comments can demonstrate engagement, they are hardly the measurement of a successful campaign. Stay on top of your analytics with a weather eye on referral traffic to find out if your efforts are working. Are you noticing a boost in leads or an increase in sales? Are you seeing your own social profiles take a leap in followers? Decide on your goal before you launch the campaign and keep tabs on the results so you can tweak your strategy as necessary.
6. Reach out in the right way
Don’t just assume that an influencer will be interested in your brand because you’re offering money and freebies. You may well need to do some wooing too! Make sure you follow their accounts, make meaningful comments and make the effort to open a meaningful dialogue and form a personal connection. In this way, when your name does pop up in their inbox or on LinkedIn, your brand will hopefully sound familiar to them and they will recognise you have a personal interest in them and are not just blindly throwing out bait to a wide range of influencers in the hope that someone will bite.
Just as when you reach out to your customers, ensuring authenticity and personalisation form the backbone of your influencer interactions should give you the best chance of forming a strong partnership.
Have you tried your hand at influencer marketing? Any top tips to share?