The growing influence of influencers
Influencer marketing is predicted to become a 6.5 billion dollar industry in 2019. Instagram, with 1 billion active users, is now the most popular place for it.
More and more brands are investing in influencer marketing, recognizing it as a key tool for growth.
But what makes influencers so, well…influential?
It’s mainly thanks to their relatability. Unlike traditional celebrities, influencers grow their fan base by speaking directly to people who are interested in what they have to say. They engage with them on their favorite social media channels, delivering personalized, compelling content.
Trust also plays a huge role. When a multi-millionaire actress promotes a $10 anti-wrinkle cream, we get a little cynical. We assume she’s just reading lines from a script, in exchange for a fat pay-check. Her perfect complexion is more likely the result of high-end luxury cosmetic treatments, or photoshop.
However, when a social media personality raves about a bargain beauty product, it comes across a lot more genuine.
Is it because they’re ordinary people, just like us? Maybe.
How micro-influencers connect you with customers
Today’s top influencers can pull in massive earnings from their posts, but many of them started out by just doing what they loved online. They were following a passion, rather than chasing success. That authenticity continues to shine through.
Some may be motivated by money, rather than quality, and of course, there are fraudsters out there. However, there’s a strong sense that integrity matters. It doesn’t serve influencers to build fake followings, promote bad quality products, or work with companies that aren’t aligned with their personal brand – as they would soon see their followers move elsewhere.
From a business perspective, influencers have the advantage of communicating directly with ready-made customers. They don’t blow up overnight – often, they’ve spent years gathering a following based on a mutual interest. If your product fits that niche, the right influencer can successfully introduce it to the people most likely to become buyers. In addition, they might be even more likely to trust it, as it comes with a high-value recommendation.
Think of a beauty brand making ethical, vegan products. They hook up with an influencer running a popular Youtube channel, making content centered around ethical lifestyles.
The brand gets to expose their product to the people most likely to buy. The influencer has material to create engaging content for their fans to enjoy. And people with a vested interest in vegan beauty discover a great new product.
It’s a win-win for all involved!
Bigger is not always better
Given all that, you might think that the key to getting the biggest returns on your investment in influencer marketing would be to partner up with the most powerful influencers who boast enormous follow counts.
Surprisingly, it doesn’t work that way.
Remember what we said about the success of influencers being related to their ability to connect closely with their specific niche?
The Influencer Marketing Benchmark Report 2019, from Influencer Marketing Hub, found that influencers with higher numbers of followers actually had lower levels of engagement. And we know that it’s engagement that really drives sales.
Mega influencers, those superstars with over a million followers, demand hefty fees, and are only really useful to extremely large brands. In fact, influencers with 50,000-250,000 were shown to deliver a 30% better ROI per dollar spent, compared to those with 250,000-1m followers, and 20% better than those with over a million.
Defined as having 1000-100,000 followers, the micro-influencer’s following is relatively small, but they are perceived as more authentic, and this can be reflected in higher conversion rates. Plus, they charge much less for sponsored posts.
So, you’re better off looking for micro-influencers in order to drive your brand’s growth. Partnering with several can help extend your reach even further.
Beware of reputation risk
The main problem many companies face when incorporating influencer marketing into their strategy is selecting the best influencers for their brand.
Research shows that businesses with a successful influencer marketing strategy can gain up to $18 in earned media value for every dollar spent on influencer marketing.
But while influencer marketing can boost a business’s profile, there are some reasons to be cautious.
Controversial behavior can quickly damage a brand’s image. And fake influencers have been known to trick brands into paying top dollar for a campaign, despite the fact that most of their followers are just bots or paid follows.
Choosing the right influencer is crucial – so how do you go about it?
How do you find the right micro-influencer?
Here are some things to take into account if you want to get great influencers on board with your brand.
Which channels are most effective for your brand? Start looking for micro-influencers who are successful on that platform. While Instagram is the biggest right now, there are plenty of other places to check. Pinterest, for example, is growing fast, with 265 million monthly users.
Research their engagement rate. High engagement shows authenticity and ability to connect with their audience, but remember that it’s quality over quantity. Check the comments sections of their posts. Are they involved in a natural, two-way dialogue with their followers?
Beware of robotic, nonsensical comments – that’s a sure sign of fakes.
You’ll also need to know their location, and that of their audience, to identify whether they are suitably placed to promote your product. Simple demographics like age and sex are vital. The more information you have about their audience, the better – it will help you figure out how well they fit your buyer persona.
Frequency and consistency are key traits for successful micro-influencers, so make sure your potential partner is posting plenty of good content on a regular basis. It’s better if the majority of this content is organic, rather than sponsored. This is likely to foster a higher level of trust with their audience.
Finally, don’t just focus on the short term. Evidence suggests that long-term partnerships will be crucial in the future of influencer-brand relationships. So start developing on-going relationships, rather than just one-off sponsored posts.
Influencers aren’t going anywhere. According to The Digital Marketing Institute, the influencer marketing industry is expected to hit $10bn by 2020. From mega to micro, and now even nano (those with 1000 followers or less), they exist at all levels and are an essential resource for your brand to tap into.
Instagram is the biggest platform for influencer marketing right now, but they operate on multiple channels, and in every niche category imaginable.
It’s no good reaching out to someone with tons of followers who have no interest in what your business does. In fact, micro-influencers with integrity will probably refuse to work with a brand that isn’t relevant to their audience.
In order to get the best results from micro-influencers, you must do plenty of research, and team up with the perfect persona who will introduce your brand to the right people – raising awareness, building your reputation, and driving up sales.
Need help with your digital marketing strategy? Want to unlock the power of micro-influencers? Get in touch with our experts, today.