How to Build an Influencer Marketing Strategy
(If You Haven’t Already)
Thankfully, the days of agencies dismissing influencer marketing as a fad are behind us. While many people used to claim that investing in influencers was a waste of money, it’s safe to say they’ve been disproved. In 2021, 67.9% of marketers will use influencer marketing. Stats don’t lie. Social media influencer marketing has become a large part of the marketing industry, and it’s here to stay. However, it is still a relatively new method. Many brands are still experimenting with the best way to reach their target audience through influencers. So, if you’re not sure where to start, keep reading.
Do Your Research
If you have the right strategy in place, influencer marketing can be very lucrative for your company. If you try to implement influencer marketing without doing any research beforehand, it’s probably not going to work out. You have to spend some time getting to know your target audience and its habits first, which means spending a lot of time combing through social media. Assuming you already know basic information about your customer, such as age, gender, values and beliefs, use that info as the basis for your research. Look through the social media accounts of people who represent your customer. What are they posting, reposting? Who are they following? Whose content are they interacting with? Who are they emulating?
Once you start to gather information about your audience’s social media habits and who they look to for recommendations or suggestions online, you’ll have a better idea of which influencers you should think about partnering with. It may sound slightly intrusive to poke through the social media accounts of people you’ve never met before, and, in a way, it is. I promise that all your competitors are doing it, though. Just be careful not to like that old photo from 2017. Embarrassing, much?
Secure the Right Partners (Don’t Forget about Micro-Influencers!)
Now that you’re looking in the right place for potential brand partners, you have to reverse engineer your approach from the first phase of research. Instead of looking to see who the influencers are following, check who is following them. Do most people on their followers list match the characteristics that define your target customer? If the answer is yes, then they might be a good match to represent your brand, even if they don’t have 100K+ followers.
When it comes to influencer marketing, there is a common misconception that it is only beneficial for brands to invest in influencers with massive followings. Yes, it may technically be true that an influencer with 100,000 followers has a wider reach than an influencer with 1,000 followers. However, an influencer with only a thousand followers may have an audience made up entirely of exactly the type of consumer you are trying to reach. Conversely, an influencer with 100,000 followers may have an audience made up entirely of consumers who are only somewhat what you’re looking for. In that case, it’d be better to invest in the influencer with a smaller following, or micro-influencer. It’s all about relevancy.
We’re not saying it’s a bad investment to partner with influencers who have large followings. Just make sure the majority of those followers represent your target consumer well. Quality over quantity.
Micro-influencers with niche followings are also more accessible to consumers and have knowledge of specific trends within their immediate communities. Consumers have an easier time putting themselves in the shoes of someone they can relate to. So, a consumer might think, “If a person like me is wearing, eating or doing that thing, why shouldn’t I?” Whereas a brand promoted by a well-known, celebrity-status influencer could feel out of reach.
Time to Put in the Work
The last step to building a successful social media influencer marketing strategy is to reach out to the influencers you’ve selected in a way that will pique their interest. Since you are looking for brand partners to promote you through their social channels, that’s also one of the best avenues to reach them. A good old-fashioned slide into the DMs. However, we’ve all gotten some variation of a “Hey girly!” or “Hey dude!” message from someone we barely know who’s trying to recruit us for a pyramid scheme. That is not how you want to come off.
Instead, create an account specifically dedicated to recruiting influencers and write up a template message to use for outreach. Make sure that your recruitment account is linked to the official account of your company so that potential partners know you are legitimate. When reaching out to more high-profile influencers, you might want to contact them via email or use the contact information listed on their profile. Either way, your outreach message should include some basic information: your name, the company you represent, your contact information, an overview of what your company requires from brand partners and all incentives your company offers to brand partners.
Depending on the type of influencer you are appealing to, the types of incentives you offer might look different. For example, if you are reaching out to micro-influencers who don’t necessarily make a career out of their social media presence, you might choose to offer free products in exchange for promotion. However, if you want to collaborate with a more established influencer, you’ll likely have to negotiate a rate. So budget accordingly.
Influencer marketing is not as much of a mystery as some would like to make it seem. If you have a solid strategy and clear goals going into the process, you’ll do well. Social media is the future, and the number of companies using influencer marketing is only going to increase. Don’t get left behind. Just start scrolling through your social feeds like you do every day anyway. Except now, you can call it work.