A new career path is taking the internet by storm: influencing. There are all sorts of influencers out there. If you have a niche interest, there’s probably an influencer (or 100s of them) for it! Companies are taking notice of the loyal audience influencers are able to build and how they interact with each other.
There are multiple types of influencers, but all of them have something in common: an audience that wants to interact with them and trusts them. This type of engagement, reach, and trust is a goldmine for brands, thus the birth of the influencer marketing industry.
You may be wondering, “What is influencer marketing?” Here’s a guide to social media influencers and how your company can get involved with and benefit from a relationship with them.
Influencer Marketing: The Basics
Influencer marketing is a form of social media marketing that relies on endorsements and other recommendations made by people with a large social media following. It differs from paid social media marketing because the communications are coming from a trusted individual with a large, engaged audience rather than serving brand-sponsored ads to a broad audience.
How It Began
When Instagram rose in popularity about a decade ago, the groundwork was laid for influencing careers. Back when Instagram was just starting, “influencers” were very limited to celebrities and avid, pre-established bloggers.
As social media adapted and more people joined the online community, the demand for niche groups increased, and the micro-influencer was born. Now, there are scales of influencers from macro to micro, and each interest has a following.
What It Is
Influencer marketing uses influencers to sway their audience’s decision-making in regard to product or service purchases. Companies pair with influencers with a similar audience to their target audience to expand their reach and increase brand awareness—and, ultimately, conversions.
Influencer and brand marketing typically consists of a brand providing products to the individual and then the individual making posts, stories, or videos about the product or brand. This can occur on multiple platforms or just one depending on the influencer, the brand, and the following on each.
How It Works
Influencer marketing is a complex form of marketing. Each partnership differs based on the marketing strategy used and which influencers companies work with. The posts need to promote the business while meshing with the influencer’s established aesthetic or “brand.”
Businesses looking to break into the world of influencer marketing should begin by setting goals, finding the right influencer or influencers, setting a budget, and refining their strategy. This form of marketing varies significantly depending on the goals of the brand.
There are different levels of influencers. With the many popular niche markets for content, there are plenty of influencers on every platform imaginable. The classes are based on the number of followers.
A macro-influencer is likely a person whose full-time job and primary source of income are from social media. Typically a macro-influencer has a minimum of 100,000 followers, but this definition varies greatly depending on the platform and the level of engagement and active followers.
Many macro-influencers work on social media alone; some are also celebrities in other faucets. These more prominent influencers tend to have a lower engagement rate than micro-influencers but a much larger reach.
Macro-influencers tend to be at a significantly higher cost to work with than micro-influencers due to their massive reach. A smaller macro-influencer may charge a minimum of $1,000 per post, while a larger influencer may charge more than $20,000 per post. It all depends on follower count, engagement percentage, and how in-demand that influencer is.
Micro-influencers are more likely to work a job other than social media or have another source act as their primary income. They have a range of between 10,000 and 100,000 followers on their chosen platform or across additional platforms.
Micro-influencers often have a loyal following that engages at higher rates than macro-influencers do. They are much more affordable to work with than macro-influencers. A small influencer may charge a minimum of $100 per post, while those nearing the 100,000 follower mark may charge about $1,000 per post.
Pricing varies from influencer to influencer, and many factors can affect it.
Influencer Outreach: What To Expect, Offer, and Accept
The first step to getting a company involved in influencer marketing is to research and refine how you want to do it. There are countless options and understanding what makes the most sense for your goals and brand is vital.
To participate in influencer marketing, companies must find the right influencer or influencers, contact them, negotiate a deal, and measure the success of the efforts.
How To Find the Right Influencer
Start by choosing which platform makes the most sense for your brand and your goals for the collaboration. When choosing a platform, ensure your brand is already visible on it. For example, if a business is partnering with an influencer on Instagram, that business needs an established Instagram profile.
Decide if you want to work with macro or micro-influencers—budget is often the deciding factor in this decision.
Tips for Reaching Out
Every influencer has a different form of accepting marketing requests. Many will put an email address in their bio on their preferred platform to help brands contact them with business inquires. Others prefer a direct message on the platform you want to work with them on.
Furthermore, some influencers are signed to agencies or have a talent agent that brands must contact before getting in touch with the person.
When reaching out to an influencer, ensure you keep the communications clear and informative. Indicate what your brand does, what type of marketing partnership you’re looking for, and how it fits with their personal brand.
Influencer Management and Contracts
Once a brand decides which influencers to work with and reaches out, it should prepare its terms for the collaboration. It is essential to create written agreements to eliminate confusion and avoid legal issues from arising.
The best contracts outline brand goals and ways both the brand and the influencer benefit from the deal. There should be room for adjustments from both sides until both feel adequately compensated in the agreement.
Additionally, companies need to consider the behaviors influencers exhibit outside of the communications the influencer has about the company. It is not uncommon for influencers to engage in controversial behavior or make questionable statements. This can affect the influencer’s following and the perception of all the brands that the influencer works with. Adding in a “continuity of persona” clause is an excellent way to protect brands from these consequences.
Here are a few other things to include in your contract:
- Frequency of posts
- Types and lengths of posts
- Due dates for deliverables
- Exclusivity terms
- Content ownership outlines
- Termination of agreement rules
Be willing to work with your chosen influencer. They may or may not agree to all the terms in your first contract draft—outline which are flexible and which rules are firm.
Setting and Measuring Goals
Influencer marketing is typically measured in the following ways, although measurements depend on the campaign’s goal as a whole.
Number of Clicks
How many people click on the URL from the influencer’s posts or use it to get to your site contributes to the number of clicks. This is a reliable metric to use to measure success if the goal is brand exposure.
Total impressions are how many people saw the post by the influencer. Pay attention to this metric if your goal is to increase brand awareness.
The engagement rate is the percentage of the influencer’s followers engaged with the post through liking, sharing, commenting, or another form of engagement. This is the metric to look at if the goal is to increase brand engagement.
Conversion rate is how many of the influencer’s followers converted on your website. Conversion could mean signing up for emails, sharing text consent, or making a purchase. This is the most vital metric when taking a conversion-driven approach to digital marketing.
If you still find yourself asking, “What is influencer marketing?” A guide to social media influencers may not be enough to prepare you for embarking on the journey. Reaching out to professional influencer marketing agencies, digital marketing agencies, and influencer agents can provide additional insights and a more comprehensive breakdown of how it can impact your business specifically.