According to research from Nielsen, 92 percent of people trust recommendations from individuals over brands — and this holds true even if they do not know the individuals. Research also shows that 81 percent of people who have used influencer marketing judged it to be effective — and that 59 percent of marketers increased their influencer marketing budget in 2016.
For a very long time, smart businesses have realized a golden principle of effective marketing — especially on social media: it’s always people over corporations.
If you don’t have an influencer marketing strategy yet, it’s time to do something about it. If you do have an influencer marketing strategy, you need to be absolutely sure that you’re doing it right.
Many businesses wrongly assume that influencer marketing is about the influencer. Wrong! Influencer marketing is about the audience — it’s about the audience you are trying to attract.
Most of us have influencers we really respect. They have millions, or hundreds of thousands of followers, and they get hundreds of likes and shares to their content. It will be cool to have them endorse you, isn’t it? However, are they in the same niche as you?
The very first step towards getting influencer marketing right is to target the right audience. If your brand is in the food niche, there’s no point recruiting influencers in the marketing niche.
Understand What Motivates Influencers
If you want to effectively recruit influencers to help promote your brand, you need to understand what motivates them. Many people, especially small businesses, wrongly assume that influencers are mostly motivated by financial compensation or some other kind of compensation (such as product samples), but research disagrees. According to a study by Augure, that tried to find out why influencers work with brands, the biggest motivation influencers have for working with brands is support with creating content — a whopping 31 percent of influencers will only work with brands if this is guaranteed. By contrast, however, only 16 percent of influencers really value financial compensation while just 9 percent value product samples.
So, yes, money makes a whole lot of difference but it takes more than just money to have influencers support your brand.
Actively Recruit Influencers
We all have top bloggers and social media juggernauts that we want to champion our cause. However, it is very essential to realize most of the top influencers on your list are the top on everybody else’s lists — they get bombarded with pitches and requests to work with brands every day, and they have to carefully select who to work with. Your chances of getting them to work with you are very slim.
However, by significantly extending your list of influencers — perhaps by actively scouring social media and the media, or by using sites like Influence.co or the advanced search feature of sites like Buzzsumo — you significantly increase the number of influencers that can champion your cause as well as the likelihood of your influencer marketing succeeding.
Also, kind of a spin off from the above point, it is important to realize that a core part of an effective influencer marketing strategy are micro-influencers.
Of course, it will be cool to have the big shots with millions of followers promote your brand. However, this is unrealistic for so many small brands. For so many reasons: the fact that they get a lot of offer and can decide that they don’t like your offer for one. There’s also the fact that they might ask for more than your monthly marketing budget just to do a mini promotion. All hope is not lost, though — you can fall back to micro-influencers.
Research has shown that mid-grade influencers with a smaller network of followers have more loyal followers, thus making it much more effective to have several mid-grade influencers promote your work than to have just one major influencer do so.
Give the Influencer Free Rein
Nothing burns an influencer marketing campaign faster than a brand trying to micro-manage everything. Things will seriously go south when you are the one influencing an influencer’s every step.
Of course, you know your brand better so you should highlight key points and critical factors you want them to focus on. However, it is also important to realize that the influencers built their reach, their profile and their audience. They know their audience much better, and it is this audience that you’re trying to attract. Once you’ve communicated the core points of your product/service to them, give them free rein and let them influence the messaging. They know their audience better.