Marketing and the places we give most of our attention to have dramatically changed over the past decade (our attention has really been evolving for much longer)! From a word no one has heard of 20 years ago, to an established multi billion dollar industry, influencer marketing isn’t a fad. It’s a critical marketing channel to anyone looking to grow their business.
Influencer marketing is essentially an endorsement deal a brand has with another human, instead of paying a platform for distribution (aka paying Facebook for Facebook Ads) you have the opportunity to pay another individual for what may comparatively be very underpriced distribution and awareness. Not only do you pay for distribution but based on the campaign you may also pay for the ad or content the influencer creates, which really has the potential to move the needle in your marketing efforts because the people who follow that influencer inherently trust them or value their opinion on the content or niche they create around. At the end of the day that’s what influencers do– they’re trusted voices in their space and they influence the culture around them through the community they cultivate.
The Current State and Value of Influencer Marketing
Influncer marketing has been on the rise for years. According to Business Insider, the influencer marketing industry is worth just under 15 billion dollars. And it’s only going to get bigger. This is why I recommend tasting and learning as many platforms as you can – each platform is nuanced in it’s own way and can have huge potential in returns if you find the right influencer to partner with. Instagram is the most popular market for influencers and almost 80% of brands use it when they do social media campaigns, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t look at other platforms as well.
Influencer Marketing Hub states 36% of businesses use Youtube for marketing, then Twitter with 24%, and LinkedIn with 12%. If you’ve been following me for awhile, you know how bullish I am on LinkedIn and TikTok. I really feel it has so much underpriced attention, aka organic reach. The same is true for new apps like Clubhouse. As you continue to explore and do homework on different platforms, it is crucial to be an early adapter and practitioner on emerging platforms that have the most attention.
How to Create a Influencer Marketing Strategy
When you’re planning an influencer marketing strategy you have to think about who you’d like to target and where their attention is. Most of you know where this is going; I’ve spoken about underpriced attention before. Basically, it’s the most valuable place to spend your budget and make your pennies work like dollars. Clubhouse and LinkedIn have so much potential because people are just beginning to see the value of influencers on that platform. Now what does that mean for your business?
In general, there are two types of influencers: macro and micro. Micro influencers have a more dedicated fanbase and they’re good for brands to collaborate with if they want to target their audiences with intention. Macro influencers (think Logan Paul, Kylie Jenner, or Mr. Beast) have huge audiences–but as a rule, targeted reach, cost-effective value, engagement, and accessibility are harder to obtain with the heavy hitters. It’s like a laser, it’s easier to hit your target with a smaller beam. A big beam might reach your target, but not with as much impact as you’d like. That’s why you see so many brands out there that have really utilized micro influencers and crushed as a result.
When you’re planning your strategies, it makes sense to prioritize influencers that have an engaged community and come in at price points that are competitive to the marketplace. Choose influencers you trust and build a relationship with them–whether or not they have five thousand followers or five million followers, you want to make sure you are getting the best bang for your buck. Of course, there may be tremendous upside if you really believe in a micro influencer that is on their way to become a macro influencer. And if that sounds unlikely, just look at Fashion Nova’s deal with Cardi B. I’ve written about the value of micro influencers before, so check that article out if you’re still not convinced that investing in micro influencers is one of the best marketing strategies there is.
Once you’ve found an influencer, you have to think about what you’d like them to do. Don’t limit yourself to the platforms they are on; influencers have massive potential to review brick and mortar stores like Sephora and Ulta. Here’s a free idea for all the entrepreneurs that have physical storefronts–hire an influencer to come to your store, promote your products, or do a Q&A. Maybe offer your location as a safe place to do a meet and greet?
Now, a lot of people are going to have trouble working with influencers because their ego gets in the way. They’ll have trouble giving the influencer a hundred percent autonomy and eliminating their subjective opinion on creative. I know exactly what my brand stands for and exactly what it means to people. I think the biggest eye-opener to me in corporate America and the brand world is the level of ideology, audacity and ego. The thought that Coca-Cola, Heineken, and Adidas have the same meaning to all people is just laughable.
When I say the word Supreme or Kentucky Fried Chicken, different people think different things. Brands need to trust an influencer’s interpretation of a chocolate shake or sneaker or blow dryer…they decide if it needs to be funny or snarky. It has to be authentic to them. If a brand wants more business, the best thing for a brand to do is get out of the way. Stop micromanaging.
As a brand, you get to pick the influencer you work with. But once they pick them, they need to let the influencer do their thing–that’s the reason you picked them in the first place.
The ROI on influencer marketing is 11 times greater than digital media and 10 times greater than paid media. So, don’t be afraid to spend your sweat, or your coins because it’s likely to pay off.
How To Budget and Negotiate
Influencer rates vary widely, but a good rule is to conserve as much of your budget as possible. First of all, have you already tried reaching out to everyone in your network and asking them to promote your brand? It’s likely you already know a few micro influencers that would be glad to help you out. This is a strategy I feel no one talks about, but it’s an important one.
Where most people get confused is, they think they might be bothering people close to them. Other people don’t want to come off as too aggressive. But negotiations are all about self awareness, giving value, and candor. Be kind when you’re asking friends, and influencers. If your budget is small, think about what else you can offer them. Business is a “them game” and no matter what you have to provide value.
When you’re leveraging your relationships, or asking for something, you have to think about what you’ve given to this person. Every budget should be value driven–and it’s the only strategy that matters. Now, how do you scale a budget, that’s based on value, that you’d like to conserve as much as possible?
Ask more people.
That’s it. There’s no magic or algorithm. Every influencer will charge something different, every influencer wants something different. Get nice, get cozy, and DM people. Figure out if they’ll promote your business for a fee or if they’re willing to promo as long as they’ll get to use your product or service for free. Scaling things that are not scalable comes from sheer effort and time.
If you want to get technical, I would personally spend 30% to 50% of my budget on influencer marketing. It is incredibly cost effective. But, this is just one man’s opinion, formed by my own research and experience.
How To Find The Right Influencer
Now, you’ve figured out your strategy, and how much you want to spend–how do you decide who’s the right influencer for your brand?
This one is simple: the person who is authentic and gives you the best creative at-bat for meaningful distribution to a relevant audience. Aside from identifying the most cost effective influencers to work with, I truly feel one’s authenticity is more important than any other trait you can look for. And you can’t measure it. This is where intuition and knowledge of your business’s target audience and the influencer marketplace come into play.
There are tools you could use to measure things like engagement rates or the ROI on your deal. But if you want a long lasting, successful relationship with an influencer, go for authenticity.
I know some of you skipped to the bottom of the article. To recap:
- Influencers marketing is the modern day endorsement deal.
- There is a massive ROI on influencer marketing.
- Your strategy should include ways to capture underpriced attention by using influencers and emerging platforms.
- In order to effectively identify the best influencer opportunities for your brand, it will require lots of research, outreach and negotiations.
- Based on your business you could be spending 30 to 40% of your budget on influencer marketing.
- The right influencer will be authentic and gives you the best creative at-bat for meaningful distribution to a relevant audience for your brands.
Bonus tip: When you find the right influencer, don’t micromanage!
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