Over the past few years, influencer marketing has certainly earned its wings. It's no longer a niche strategy; it seems nearly every brand is engaging an influencer in some form or fashion.
It makes sense: According to Nielsen, 92 percent of people trust a recommendation from a person over one from a brand — even if they've never met or spoken with that person! Influencer marketing gives brands a face to put in front of the message, boosting engagement through authentic connections. With 59 percent of marketers upping their budget for influencer marketing this year, the brands that use this tool most effectively will come out on top.
The Pick of the Bunch
That said, it's important to ensure you're not picking potential partners' names out of a hat. There are four overarching types of influencers, and the best fit for your brand depends on your overall marketing goals.
- Brand advocates: Brand advocates have an existing affinity for a brand or product and pass on positive word-of-mouth messages about the brand or product to other people. Brand advocate partnerships vary wildly, with some becoming massive successes and others bringing public relations nightmares.
- Micro-influencers: Micro-influencers are a category of specific entertainers and content creators with highly engaged social audiences. They can be beauty enthusiasts, solo travelers, or foodies — they represent any passion with an audience.
Our newest product, Ripple, specializes in better connecting brands to micro-influencers. If a brand wants to connect to Millennial foodies, for example, we can cross our database of micro- and macro-influencers to see which ones have the most engaged audiences in the right markets.
That process usually involves five or six stages, starting with a discussion about brand and campaign goals and ending with a creative partnership that delivers on those objectives. By measuring those results, we can see which influencers are worth the money and get brands the most engagement at the best price.
- Premium social influencers: These are regular people with large followings, usually between 100,000 and 1 million followers. Although they may not be able to match the engagement rates of micro-influencers, they do offer a good blend of reach and authentic conversation.
Micro-influencers usually achieve around 8 percent of active engagement per post, while premium social influencers come in around 4 percent. That’s still a great number and can be a great bargain, depending on the size of the audience. However, these influencers tend to be significantly more expensive than their small-scale counterparts.
- Social celebrities: The definition of a celebrity has changed dramatically over the past few years. Today, a social media celebrity can be anyone from a famous athlete to a funny gamer to a bonafide movie star.
Celebs offer one major perk above all others: a massive list of followers. When Michelle Phan tweets, the world sees it. Of course, social celebs aren’t cheap, and their audiences tend to be anything but niche. Brands that partner with these influencers must understand the type of reach they’re trying to achieve or risk disappointment when engagement metrics don’t pop.
Finding and Partnering With a Great Influencer
No matter what type of influencer is right for your brand, the following tips can help you make the most of your new partnership.
- Nurture the connection. Don’t start the conversation by sending over a nondisclosure agreement and a contract. Woo your influencer organically. Pick the platform where your influencer is most active and reach out. That could be on Twitter or in the comments on a personal blog. By contacting the influencer in the same way other audience members do, you can start an open conversation and get a sneak peek at what it would be like to work together.
- Give and take. You want more customers; influencers want things, too. Money is a good (and usually necessary) starting point. However, you can provide other things to strengthen your influencer relationship: early product access, networking opportunities, and other industry perks that the influencer might not otherwise have access to. The more niche your influencer, the more appealing these extra perks will be.
- Cooperate on messaging, and collaborate on creative. Every influencer takes a different approach to speaking to an audience. When you find one that matches the tone of your brand, understand that both messages will need to remain consistent to make the partnership a success. No quality influencer will start singing just because you want your jingle in a video. Similarly, a company with an inclusive image shouldn’t sponsor someone who only caters to a very specific group. Provide and listen to feedback to build a partnership that works for both parties.
- Measure everything. Good influencers back up their claims with data. Even if you get along well, an influencer won’t be the right fit if the audience doesn’t care about your brand. Measuring the impact of an influencer campaign can be challenging, so perform A/B testing in different markets to look for differences. Are areas where your influencer doesn’t reach growing slower, faster, or at the same rate? Check your company mentions on social media to see whether the buzz around your brand has picked up.
Every brand should take advantage of the perks influencer marketing offers. Whether you need an A-list celebrity or a niche mommy blogger, we can help you find new voices and make the most of all your influencer partnerships.