Influencer marketing has exploded lately and it doesn’t look like it’s going away anytime soon. With social media becoming a crucial part of the marketing arsenal of many large brands and businesses, it is unsurprising that individuals who have managed to build up a close and loyal following would be asked for access to advertise to that following. And thus, influencer marketing was born. But what exactly does influencer marketing involve, how does it garner any kind of measurable result, and is it the right route for your business to promote itself? We will try to answer all those questions and more so continue reading for your crash course in influencer marketing.
What is an influencer?
An influencer is an individual who has built up a large following on social media, usually due to a particular talent or interest they have. For example, there are large communities on social media dedicated to fitness and working out, and someone who has gained prominence within this community, who has a lot of followers or fans on social media, would be considered to be influential within this community, and therefore an influencer. Influencers are often also content creators, creating content around their interest for their own social media platforms. This is why influencers are particularly attractive to work with – unlike partnering with a large A-list celebrity, an influencer will often curate content for their own social media to promote your product or service which can then be used as content on your social media feeds too.
What constitutes influencer marketing?
As mentioned in the previous paragraph, influencer marketing is not just paying a celebrity to endorse your product. In fact, as we mentioned in our Top Marketing and Social Media Trends for 2019 article, brands are starting to shy away from this kind of promotion due to its inauthenticity with consumers. Influencer marketing is based on the most ancient form of promotion which is essentially word of mouth. If, for example, your friend gets an amazing new haircut, you are likely to ask them where they went and go yourself because a) you saw how amazing their hair looked and b) that recommendation has come from a source you trust. An influencer has often gained their following over a long time period, simply through their passion for what they do, and as such their audience trusts their opinion and recommendation. Influencer marketing often will not mean your brand is exposed to millions upon millions of people, but it will expose your brand to a smaller, much more targeted audience – if you do your research correctly.
Influencer marketing is not a quick fix
According to Influencer Marketing Hub, influencer marketing is not about quick payouts. They go on to state that it is about ‘becoming synonymous with whatever it is that you offer, like when people say they’re going to Xerox a document instead of photocopying it.’ Influencer marketing is slow and steady and should be factored into a long-term marketing strategy. You are trying to cultivate genuinely loyal followers and customers which, long-term, will benefit your business and help you achieve authority and synonymity with your offering, as mentioned above. Working with the right influencer can introduce your brand to the right audience early, enabling you to begin to build your brand in a targeted way and increase your social following.
Is influencer marketing right for my business?
An effective influencer marketing campaign takes time, planning, research and requires a budget. While some influencers will work for free in exchange for free goods, those who are well established recognise that they are providing a service to a brand or business, as well as allowing access to their following, which they have taken time and effort to build. However, the beauty of influencer marketing is there are so many different kinds of people out there with large followings. If you are a local business wanting to increase brand awareness in your area, a local influencer with a following in the tens of thousands is unlikely to charge the Earth, so building a relationship with them would be an excellent way to test the waters. It’s about finding the right influencer for your product or service. If you find the right person and put into place a detailed plan of content releases and continually review its successes and failures, you may be able to include influencer marketing as a viable and profitable arm of your marketing strategy.