The landscape of the marketing world is ever-changing and traditional campaigns are no longer seen as enough. New avenues have opened up and, thanks to social media, companies can be in touch with millions of potential customers with a solid marketing strategy.
Going it alone and creating a social media campaign is a solid plan and a route that many businesses go down. However, there is a way to get a lot of attention through the creativity of someone else – social media influencers.
The number of influencer marketing-related services grew by 26% in 2021, proving how important they are becoming for worldwide businesses. Also called ‘content creators’, they often have huge online followings and we are looking at how social media influencers (and their platforms) can be used to your advantage.
What is social media influencer marketing?
To understand social media influencer marketing, it’s important to dig a little deeper into what makes someone an influencer. A social media influencer is someone who has a dedicated audience and following on one or more social media platforms.
They could be into fashion, food, movies, make-up, or anything in between. Some have a niche following, say like a book reviewer, while others appeal to millions, such as David Beckham or Cara Delevingne.
The reach influencers enjoy over their audience provides companies with the perfect opportunity to get an endorsement from them, boosting their reputation among those followers.
Perhaps the most important word here is ‘influencer’ as these social media personalities are opinion leaders in their industry. They are in touch with what their audiences like and for that reason are a great option for any business’s marketing campaign. Influencer marketing is much like a celebrity endorsement, but often targets niche audiences, which typically adds value to brands.
Ways influencers showcase a brand
Influencers generate buzz for a brand by simply endorsing it on a social media post but there are other ways influencers showcase brands. They could use a particular brand or product in many of their posts, serving as an aspirational goal for their followers.
One method for generating buzz is to do an unboxing video, where influencers receive a product and then film their reactions as they open it. Another is by appointing the influencer as a brand ambassador, which is a win-win for both parties. The influencer often gets the products from a loved brand for free, plus a fee, while the brand gets plenty of exposure.
Working closely with influencers
Some brands choose to collaborate with influencers to create an entirely new product. For instance, video-game influencer Ninja recently teamed up with Adidas to create a signature sneaker.
Giveaways and competitions are ideal for bringing attention to a brand while creating an additional desire for an influencer’s audience to get their hands on it. Further commercial offers, like discount codes and affiliate links, help drive sales through influencer marketing.
Brands can give social media influencers the reins of their communications in what is known as a takeover. For example, a fitness brand can combine forces with a popular fitness instructor to demonstrate its products. This takeover can go one step further and become a brand experience event, which involves inviting an influencer to a launch event.
Understanding social media influencer levels
It’s important to understand that not all social media influencers are the same. Finding one with a huge reach might bring plenty of eyes to your brand but alternatively, a more niche influencer can add value to your business by engaging with your target market.
Brands may discover that an influencer with fewer than 15,000 followers can be more engaging than one with millions. Those first 15,000 followers and under are commonly a dedicated bunch with some of the highest engagement rates.
Social media influencer categories:
- Nano-influencers – 10,000 followers or fewer. Example: Dad Blog UK
- Micro-influencers – Between 10,000 and 100,000 followers. Example: Sandie Roberts
- Macro-influencers – Between 100,000 and 1 million followers. Example: Steph Elswood
- Mega-influencers – Over 1 million followers. Example: Joe Sugg
Not only is the potential audience of an influencer something to consider but so is the cost of using them for your brand. Naturally, the more famous the influencer, the more expensive or harder it will be to use them for social media influencer marketing.
Although a ‘Follower Count’ is important, choosing a realistic target is crucial. One of the biggest social media influencers in the world is PewDiePie, who specialises in video game content.
He plays video games that his audience loves, so a video game studio might consider him as an ideal target. However, his fame is so great that it’s not an easy pitch, especially when his audience tunes in to watch him play specific video games.
Just like that same video game developer might take advice on tax relief from an expert, your brand might consider an agency that specialises in finding influencers work. Getting in touch with the right professionals can lead you to the perfect influencer you may have missed through your research.
The cost of influencers for brands
Budgeting for influencer spending is becoming more popular for brands as they are seeing the benefits. It’s estimated that the worldwide influencer industry is worth over £10 billion. The budget allocated for influencer marketing changes depending on the level of personality you are looking to use.
With a greater audience comes a greater price, and brands can expect to shell out over £7,000 per post for mega influencers. On the lower end of the scale, nano-influencers command much smaller fees, typically in the region of £8-£80 per post, although it’s also possible for products to be enough.
Creating an influencer marketing strategy
To enjoy the benefits of influencer marketing it’s important to create an effective and manageable strategy. From identifying which influencers you should use to measuring the results you get from them (i.e. ‘a strategy’) is key to their success.
Needless to say, doing your research before hiring a social media influencer is vital. When identifying an influencer to use, they must align with your brand values and appeal to your target audience. Sure, it would be great to have someone with over 100,000 followers promoting your brand but if it’s not relevant to their audience, much of that effort will have been for nothing.
Ultimately, you need to understand who you are trying to influence. Influencers may simply reject your approach if they don’t feel like they are aligned with your brand, so it’s essential to understand who you are dealing with. The influencer and their audience are important to research but so are the platforms they use. Your brand should have a presence on the platform your chosen influencer uses.
Setting a budget, goals and a strategy
The most common goal for brands using social media influencers is to reach new target customers. Other objectives include improving sales, increasing product consideration and communicating brand values.
Whatever your goals for the marketing campaign are, it’s important to allocate a budget to achieve them and a strategy to ensure goals are met. Measurable goals allow you to report and track them to see what your return on investment is. Results can be monitored using social media marketing tools like Hootsuite, Trufan or Facebook Brands Collabs Manager.
Choosing the right platform
Knowing which platform to use for social media marketing can make or break your campaign. Let’s take a closer look at the main types of social platforms.
Video content is critical for the success of most social media marketing strategies but it comes in different forms. Platforms like TikTok or Instagram Stories give followers short format content that can be easily digested. They benefit from sharp and punchy clips, typically with humour at their heart and often appeal to younger demographics.
Other video platforms like YouTube or Twitch are commonly used as long-form content like video game streams or in-depth product reviews. With over 122 million daily active users, YouTube has great reach and plenty of niche corners. These videos can often be educational, informative and help bring products to life much better than still imagery can.
Some social media platforms lend themselves to showcasing products and services in their best possible light. Platforms like Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube and influencer blogs are perfect for serving up information and inspiration across a wide range of topics.
They allow for impressive visuals plus hashtags and SEO terminology to bring more eyes to your collaboration with an influencer. For instance, travel bloggers are great at optimising their YouTube videos and blog pages for common searches like “X things to do in [Destination]”.
Live streams and disappearing content
If you are looking to add a sense of anticipation to your brand then two different types of platforms can achieve it. Firstly, there is the live stream option on platforms like Twitch, YouTube Facebook Live, or Tik Tok. This broadcasts a live video to many viewers and offers the viewers the opportunity to interact live with the hosts. They can ask them questions, allowing them to find out more information about your product.
The other option is disappearing content. This is available on Snapchat, Instagram Stories and Facebook Stories and is only available for 24 hours. These are great for posting timely content or announcing an upcoming live stream. Short-form content like these feel more genuine and personal, and you may wish to use them to announce an upcoming collaboration with a particular influencer.
Collaborate closely with influencers
If you hire an influencer to promote your brand, it’s important to be open to a collaborative experience. It’s no good dictating to an influencer what you want them to do, for a few reasons.
Firstly, they know what their audiences like and expect from them. While you may be passionate about your brand, they might not be. Outlining some guidelines would be a fair compromise but it’s impossible to expect to manage the promotion.
The influencer knows their audience and their audience knows them. Something removed from the norm would stick out like a sore thumb and have more chance of failing than something the influencer would naturally do themselves.
Handling negotiations with an influencer sensitively is also important. Often they like to be seen as creators and may become offended if you use the term ‘influencer’ when communicating with them.