As I write this, I'm day one into a two-week, statewide quarantine, and I've already tried (and failed) to make my own cold brew concentrate. In between adapting to the new normal and listening to my seventh true-crime podcast episode of the day, I've also been spending a lot of time on Instagram. This is not just a convenient segue into this blog post; my screen time is up 47% this week over last. Please send help...or a maybe book?
One industry that has done well during this time has been influencer marketing. As someone who has been the target as well as the initiator of influencer advertising, I have some tips for businesses on how to market your product via social media influencers and how you should pick the influencers with whom you partner.
Get Your Attitude Right
First things first - influencing can be a full-time, laborious job. If you start this venture as if you're partnering with someone with no work ethic, you are underestimating both the platform and the person you will be partnering with. As with any business partnership, an influencer partnership should include four steps: introduction, proposal, contract, and payment.
First, introduce your brand and the product you wish to advertise. Also, explain how your brand and product align with the influencer's current strategies. Next, if the influencer shows interest, send a detailed proposal that outlines the timing of posts, what they must include in their content, and payment amount and method. Follow up the proposal with a contract to be signed and returned. Lastly, pay the influencer on time and in amounts that are fair for both the amount of work completed and the audience size. One of the first mistakes businesses make in this process is offering far too little money. Do your research to see if offering $200 for 17 stories, four in-feeds, and a video is really market price for an influencer with 20k followers. (Hint: It's not.)
Pick The Right One
It is estimated that every dollar spent on influencer marketing can earn up to $18 in revenue. Only a goof would turn down the potential of a 1,800% return on investment. A goof would also reach out to any and every influencer with a large audience size in hopes that they'll get a response. The throw-and-see-what-sticks approach is ineffective with influencer marketing. Instead, research the audience size, engagement rate, and targets that make the most sense to your product.
A great place to start is to develop the ideal audience persona for your product. Based on that, you can search for hashtags and profiles that align with the assigned persona. JH Specialty is currently working with an organic cleaning brand called Naturally It's Clean. The products are targeted toward women with families or pets who are concerned about the safety and environmental impact of their cleaning routines. Using this audience persona, we were able to identify hashtags like #cleanliving and #organichome that lead us to a plethora of influencer matches.
Perhaps the most significant factor to consider when picking an influencer is engagement rate. An influencer with 150k followers but 57 likes on in-feed posts is not going to market your product effectively because their audience is disengaged. Search instead for micro (fewer than 50k followers) and nano (fewer than 10k followers) with higher engagement rates. These influencers will often be more affordable and excited to work with small brands as well.
Adjust Your Tone
You probably already have marketing collateral prepared for your product, but an Instagram or Facebook post is not a press release. Include the required details about your product or brand for the influencer to include in their posts and let them do the rest. Audiences will immediately detect a promotional rat if forced to read through a blatantly unoriginal marketing spiel.
Social media is a place for genuineness and originality. Followers engage with chosen influencers because of the online persona said influencer has built. They are not following someone to be marketed to, so you must adapt to the platform and the audience in order to succeed.
Influencer marketing is a great way to reach a new audience or reach your existing audience in a new way. It's a tool that is still fresh and scary to many, but the payoff can be huge. Marketing through social media influencers is one of the best ways to individualize your marketing without having to do it all yourself. You can utilize the trust and authority built by the influencer to market your own brand or product - often for much less than traditional marketing efforts.
Tools & Resources
If you're unsure where to start, I've put together a small list of Influencer Marketing Tools and Resources to get you started: