Despite its growing popularity over the past few years, influencer marketing is not a new concept. Celebrities, socialites, politicians, royals and anyone else who has exposure to the spotlight have been endorsing brands for as long as we can remember, both in a professional capacity and sometimes without even being paid for promotion. How many times have we seen Kate Middleton wear a dress in public, only for it to be shared across media outlets the next day on where you can buy your own version?
It’s not just well-known faces either. We’ve all been guilty of scrolling through Instagram and seeing someone wearing something that you have to have, even if you don’t know them. It even happens with people we do know, we almost have this form of FOMO that has us reaching for our credit cards and splurging on something, just because somebody else tells us it’s great. The influence that others can have over our buying decisions is powerful and it’s one of the main reasons why influencer marketing works so well.
But gone are the days where it was only A-list celebrities being used to promote products and services. This new wave of what we perceive as an ‘influencer’ now means that we are seeing ‘normal’, yet talented, creators building their own brand and presence across social media platforms. We’ve even seen a shift in sectors using this type of marketing, beyond what we would traditionally think of as a product that a celebrity would promote. Whereas you’ll still find that fashion and beauty products are continuing work with endorsements, interests such as gaming, cleaning and even cryptocurrency are all implementing influencer activity into marketing strategies and it’s working.
We’re now at the point where you can think of the most obscure interests and you’ll likely find some authoritative voices in the space. For example, cleaning guru Mrs Hinch has over 4.1m followers on Instagram thanks to her genius cleaning hacks and immaculate home. She’s even managed to coin a new term, ‘Hinching’, which other influencers have even jumped on in their own content. Who would have thought that ten years ago, we’d be actively excited to see how someone cleans their kitchen bench?This interest in influencers and their content has only increased over the years. In 2021, the influencer marketing industry is set to grow to approximately $13.8 Billion, up from $9.7 billion in 2020. These are huge numbers that we are talking about and if you aren’t yet investing for your brand, could now be the time?
With more and more brands dipping their toes, or jumping headfirst, into the influencer marketing waters, discussions around effective strategies are vital. How much should we be investing? Which platforms are the best for our brand? What should we be saying? Who should we be working with? All questions are equally important and when you’ve decided on those all important platforms and a proposed budget, it’s time to pick your influencers.
For global brands, celebrity endorsements are often the first choice when it comes to choosing someone to represent your products and services. Companies such as Nespresso, Chanel and Pepsi have all spent millions of dollars on celebrity endorsements, with the likes of George Clooney, Beyonce, Nicole Kidman and Tiger Woods amongst the stars appearing front and centre of campaigns and advertisements.
But what if you don’t have millions for a budget and can’t afford for Ronaldo or Venus WIlliams to front your new range of sportswear? Does that mean you shouldn’t invest in an influencer marketing strategy? Well actually, it might work in your favour if you use that budget on some lesser known faces.
For those who work in marketing, the ‘micro influencer’ buzzword has been banded around for a little while now. Whereas it had us initially scratching our heads as to what this even meant, we’ve now established that these influencers could actually be crucial when it comes to influencer marketing strategies and according to Influencer Marketing Hub’s recent report, these influencers are actually attracting the highest engagement rates, particularly on Instagram and YouTube.
Typically harnessing communities of followers in the 10k-50k mark, micro influencers aren't known for featuring on our screens and radio. Rather, these influencers are almost exclusively discovered through social media, establishing and growing engaged followers that have a genuine interest in their content. These influencers tend to be really involved in the community they have created also, whether that’s through exclusive Discord channels, Facebook Groups or simply dedicating time to responding to individual comments and messages.
How to Choose The Right Influencer for Your Next Campaign:
The argument for micro influencers
Brand consumption has changed and audiences are now expecting more experiences from businesses that they engage with. This has since been heightened by the coronavirus pandemic and as we were forced to live our lives online, we have become even more reliant on shopping and living almost exclusively digitally. That also has an impact on how we communicate, with digital presence now an absolute priority for success. Aside from the topic of increasing digital engagement, which is very much a conversation in itself, we’re also now competing in a much noisier marketplace, with the need to stand out even greater than ever before. This is why influencers can be so beneficial, because they already have an audience that you can tap into straight away.
When it comes to micro influencers, these audiences are proven to be more engaged and therefore it’s more likely that your brand will be seen. Micro influencers also tend to only feature products and brands that exclusively resonate with their audiences, taking pride in the fact they have this exclusive range of followers who come to them for suggestions and inspiration.
This also ties into the topic of considering values. All influencers are people in their own right, meaning that they all have their own values and beliefs. However as influencers grow in popularity, it has been known for these values to become slightly blurred. We’ve all seen the posts of celebrities being contracted to promote whitening toothpaste and detox teas, only to delete the posts a matter of weeks later. This has also brought in the discussion of how legitimate influencers actually are and it has caused consumers to become sceptical. An effective influencer will only be happy to create content that they truly care about and that they know their audience will engage with, not featuring something because it gives them a high paycheck.
As with many content creators, micro influencers know their audience better than anyone. They know the content they want to see and the conversations they want to have, which contributes to engagement rates.
Of course just choosing a micro influencer without any research is unlikely to result in an impressive ROI. But through engagement rates that are reported from this group of influencers, surely they should be an option we are opting for?
What about macro influencers?
When it comes to choosing between an influencer with 10k followers or someone with 1 million followers, quantity isn’t necessarily synonymous with quality. In fact, we’ve already shared an argument for why using micro influencers can be more effective. But if we look specifically at macro influencers, those who have between 500k to 1 million followers, there are still benefits.
Not requiring the same level of spend as an A-list celebrity would, macro influencers may have less of an engagement rate than their micro counterparts, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t worth the investment. Macro influencers are often considered experts in their chosen sector and can regularly be considered a household name. This can make collaborations fruitful, particularly if the influencer has values that align with your brand. Their potential celebrity status may not make them as relatable as micro influencers are, but their content is likely to be talked about regardless.
Choosing the most effective influencer for a campaign
Whether you are working with a micro or a macro influencer, research is vital for a high ROI. It’s not enough to pick an influencer based on how incredible their content may look, you have to look deeper into the engagement, data and audience.
Start by asking yourself what type of audience you want to attract and in which sectors. Who are the big players? Who seems to engage and interact with their audience the best and iImportantly, who presents themselves in a way that aligns with your brand and key messaging?
Choosing influencers might seem tricky, but it doesn’t have to be. Here’s three ways that can help you to pick the best brand representatives for your next campaign.
Trust in the data
The word ‘data’ can make some marketers want to run a mile, but data does give us a solid basis of why we should implement certain activities over others. In the case of influencer marketing, understanding crucial data on engagement and impressions can be hugely important to the success of an overall campaign.
There are a number of ways to analyse how content posted from an influencer could perform, from requesting individual media packs that outline reach and engagement data, to analysing site traffic or tracking purchases once an influencer has posted content as part of the campaign activity.
One tool, Kairos Insight, is also an option for those who want to analyse influencer activity from the very beginning. When starting out, Kairos Insight allows users to establish which influencers would be the most effective for a campaign and it takes rich performance data pulled from the creator’s social profiles, combined with data from its own proprietary in-platform database of over 1,500 campaigns and 75,000 influencers, to showcase the most effective way to spend budget.
During the campaign you can even track activity in real-time, with the dashboard working with Twitch, YouTube, TikTok, Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook to track content as and when it’s posted, with the added ability to view metrics on live content broadcasts and Reels.
In summary, data is your best friend when it comes to creating a successful influencer marketing campaign and should be incorporated from the initial planning phase.
Know your platforms
Social media channels change rapidly, from introducing new algorithms to updating features that provide a better experience for users. It’s the fast-paced nature of social media that keeps it exciting and it’s crucial that your finger is on the pulse with the channels you are using.
Whereas you don’t need to be an expert in the ins and outs of every social media trend, which would easily take hours out of your day, you do need to familiarise yourself with the platforms you intend to work with influencers on.
- How does my audience use this channel?
- What kind of language is used?
- How does my influencer create content for this platform?
- Is this really where the majority of my audience is consuming content?
- What type of content should we be pushing?
It’s also worth considering that not all influencers will have a strong presence on every single social channel and just because a Twitch streamer has millions of followers on their Twitch profile, doesn’t necessarily mean that they have the same engagement on Facebook. Make sure you are aware of how your influencer performs specifically on the platform you are targeting.
Don’t run before you can walk
Influencer marketing can be overwhelming - from the amount of creators available to transparency issues, fake followers and establishing impact and ROI. When you get influencer marketing right the payoffs are huge, but spending thousands on creators with little thought is unlikely to get those high ROIs.
Do your research carefully, look at what competitors are doing and familiarise yourself with what you can expect from influencer partnerships and endorsements. Establish what it is that you want to achieve and test the waters by speaking to experts that can advise on who the most impactful influencers will be.
Engage with professionals and agencies that focus on influencer marketing so that you can set yourself up for the best chance of success, rather than winging it and hoping for the best.
In short, influencer marketing can have a huge impact on your overall marketing strategy and when you do it right, you’ll see more successful ROIs, stronger relationships with content creators and an increase in audience reach beyond what you are currently working with.