Influencer marketing is one of the tactics many businesses around the world have successfully deployed to build brand awareness and ultimately drive sales and revenue. Influencer marketing has become one of the buzzwords in the digital marketing space and whilst it has been an extremely successful tactic for many businesses, is it the right tactic for your business?
What is influencer marketing?
Influencer marketing is a form of social media marketing. It is carried out by individuals and organisations that are deemed to have influence over their followers or social impact in their field.
Influencer marketers provide affirmation about products and services, essentially advocating for a particular business or individual and their products/services.
Influencer marketing is an advanced form of word-of-mouth advertising, however, instead of businesses relying on individuals taking the initiative and talking positively about your brand, products or services, influencer marketers are instead engaged to do the same job.
What stands an influencer out from the crowd when it comes to social media marketing is not necessarily the size of the audience (although this will be a factor), but more the level of engagement they enjoy from their audience. Engagement is typically measured in reactions and comments and taken as a percentage of the total following.
Influencers are tasked with advertising your products to their engaged audience, enabling you to extend your reach, and awareness and ultimately, to drive more prospects to the top of your sales funnel.
An influencer marketing campaign can be a standalone campaign or used as part of a wider marketing campaign.
Influencer marketing continues to grow apace and Forbes reported in January 2022 that brands are projected to spend USD $15 billion on influencer marketing in 2022.
6 benefits of influencer marketing
So far so good right? It seems like influencer marketing is a tactic you should consider as part of your overall social media strategy and here are six of the main benefits of influencer marketing to further support the potential value influencer marketers could add to your overall marketing strategy.
- Improve brand awareness
- Build trust
- Enhances your content strategy
- Reduce sales cycle
- Drive sales and revenue
1. Improve brand awareness
One of the biggest drivers of influencer marketing is the opportunity to expand your reach. By working with influencer marketers that are relevant to your brand, products, and services, you are not only expanding your reach and improving your brand awareness, but you are also reaching out to an audience that is much more likely to be interested in your products and services.
It is important to research potential influencers in your sector and do the relevant background checks to ensure the content they produce aligns with your business. There are lots of influencer marketing platforms available today that can help you to identify the most relevant people to reach out to and whilst it is still a growing sector, there is a lot of data on influencer marketers to help you to make an informed decision.
When you choose to work with an influencer marketer, you need to think of it as a partnership. You are both looking to get something out of the arrangement and your products/services should add value to their own social media followers. Over time, influencers have become more selective about who they work with as they also have a brand image to maintain, and it is important that you are both aligned and understand what you are both hoping to get out of the arrangement.
2. Build trust
The reason influencers are able to work with brands is because they are seen as experts in their field. They are able to “influence” people because of the content they publish and the value they add to their audience. When they endorse your brand or products/services. They are helping you to build trust in your own brand. This is because their audience trusts the content they publish so if they endorse you, it’s because they trust you.
This makes selecting influencer marketers even more important for your brand. They need to be genuine influencers in their field and someone that people trust.
Just as you are more likely to trust a recommendation from a friend over a sponsored branded post on Facebook, for example, people are much more likely to trust an endorsement from someone they admire on social media and someone they resonate with.
Obviously, this is the first part of the trust-building exercise. You need to justify the trust shown in your products/services by an influencer by delivering when it comes to quality – both in terms of your products/services and your customer service. Influencers can quickly lose the trust of their followers if they recommend brands, products or services that don’t meet the expectations of their audience so this is where a “partnership” approach is an important one.
3. Enhance your content strategy
Influencers are relatively easy to manage as they essentially know how to create content that resonates with their audience. They don’t want to push out branded content on their own pages – that isn’t the point of influencer marketing. Instead, they need to be trusted to create content that will drive engagement with their audience and reflect well on your brand.
This content can help to plug gaps in your own content strategy in a similar way to the use of user-generated content (UGC). UGC is great if you have an audience that is proficient at taking photos or recording videos. Unfortunately, a lot of UGC can look amateurish and not really reflect your brand.
Influencer marketers spend a lot of time creating content for their platforms as they know that they need to stand out in a crowded market. The content they create to promote your brand, products, or services should be of a high standard and be something you are happy to share across your own platforms, helping to fill content gaps.
Whilst some of the leading celebrity influencers can be extremely expensive (it is rumoured that some celebrity-endorsed posts on Instagram cost over $1m), there are some great opportunities when you target influencers with fewer followers but really high engagement.
This type of influencer tends to be found in more specific niches and is sometimes referred to as nano-influencers or micro-influencers. They can charge as low as $10 per post or anywhere up to $500 per post.
Nano-influencers tend to have between 1,000-10,000 followers and micro-influencers have 10,000-50,000 followers. Whilst their reach is lower, the engagement they can achieve with their followers can be high and this makes them cost-effective when it comes to driving visitors to your website or attracting new followers on your own social platforms.
5. Reduce sales cycle
Compared to other marketing channels, influencer marketing can lead to a much shorter sales cycle. This is because influencer marketers spend a lot of time cultivating their audience and working on engagement. These metrics are just as important to influencers as they are to the brands that work with them – it’s the way they continue to grow.
As influencers build trust with their audience, engagement increases, and the growth cycle continues. By partnering with these influencers, you are buying into the trust they have built up and this means that when an influencer endorses your brand, product, or service, it is much more likely to lead to a sale than another customer that sees an ad, or even a branded post on your own social media platforms.
6. Drives sales and revenue
Ultimately, for most businesses, the goal of working with an influencer is to drive sales and revenue. According to a study by HubSpot, 80% of marketers say influencer marketing is effective, and 89% say it works just as well (if not better) than other marketing channels. The study goes on to report that 71% of marketers say the quality of customers and traffic from influencer marketing is better than other sources.
Just as many of us rely on recommendations from friends when it comes to making a purchase (especially for big items), influencers are starting to have the same impact on purchase decisions. According to the Digital Marketing Institute, 49% of consumers rely on influencer recommendations when deciding whether to make a purchase.
Influencer Marketing Hub goes on to say that Influencer campaigns focused on branding and engagement generate eight times the ROI.
All of these stats point to the fact that influencer marketing is having a direct impact on sales and revenue for those brands that are getting it right.
This all sounds great, right? So why is influencer marketing not right for every business out there right now?
Here are a few of the potential cons of influencer marketing.
3 cons of influencer marketing
1. Hard to find the right influencer
One of the biggest challenges faced by businesses is finding the right influencer. With so many people now claiming to be an influencer, it is often difficult to cut through those that are simply “faking it” and find the real gems out there, especially when it comes to micro-influencers.
One of the biggest issues brands face is working out whether an influencer has genuine followers. That’s why engagement stats are much more important than follower numbers. If an influencer has 10,000+ followers but an engagement rate of less than 1%, this would be an immediate red flag.
This is why it makes sense to use platforms that provide you with as much information as possible about prospective influencers to your can properly assess their suitability to partner with your brand.
2. Hard to measure success
The thing most of us love about digital marketing is that success is fairly easy to measure. We specialise in SEO and our success metrics are pretty clear. Social media, however, has always been more challenging and when you are trying to measure the success of content posted on someone else’s platform, it becomes even more of a minefield.
You need to be very clear about the goals of your campaign when working with an influencer. This will enable you to put metrics in place to measure your success and these should be agreed on in advance to ensure you can collect the data you need to measure your success.
There can be some degree of subjectivity to the measurement of success, especially when you are trying to measure positive sentiment or brand awareness, and this can make it difficult to truly understand whether the campaign delivered a positive ROI.
3. Hard to control
Influencer marketing is still a relatively new field and as such, there are still some things that are out of your control. Whenever you engage with an influencer, you are putting the trust in them to positively reflect your brand.
Mistakes still get made by influencers, including celebrities when it comes to the posts they publish. Things like not declaring a post is sponsored are common mistakes, however, this can lead to a backlash from their audience that reflects poorly on your brand.
They can also post content about your brand, products, or services that don’t resonate with their target audience, and this can lead to a negative impression of your brand through no fault of your own.
Is influencer marketing right for my business?
If you haven’t already, you should seriously consider influencer marketing as part of your social media strategy. The benefits can be huge, and whilst there are some cons, when you screen your influencers properly, the benefits can far outweigh the potential drawbacks.
Of course, a lot of the success will depend on the sector your brand is based in and where your audience chooses to engage. If you have an audience that primarily uses LinkedIn, there is little point in engaging with an Instagram influencer for example.