Under the Influence: Digital Influencer Marketing

Until recently, digital influencers were bloggers alone.

Companies took notice—and advantage—of the reach these sites had. In fact, many bloggers became brand ambassadors. One endorsement on a popular site could put an unknown company on the digital map of stars. Networks were born, blogs thrived, and PR was no longer defined by editorial placements only.

Soon after, YouTube stars made their claim to fame as “vloggers” (video bloggers). For brand owners, working with vloggers opened windows to broad new audiences. Finding up-and-comers whose audience aligned with yours was affordable at the time.

Then Facebook and Twitter became mainstream, and the digital influencer footprint expanded again.

Brands began looking beyond videos to new waves of social sharing. Almost overnight, a blogger with only a few site visitors—but boasting a large Twitter following—could prove equally (or more) valuable than many well-established bloggers lacking a social identity. Celebrity endorsements, organic and paid, followed on the heels of this phenomenon (for better or worse), becoming yet another means to reach wide demographics in unusual ways.

Later, Pinterest and Instagram added their own twist to the mix. Today, brands are spending $225 million PER MONTH on Instagram influencer programs. Why? To connect with the 400 million people who use the platform daily.

With over 47% of online consumers now using ad blockers, 84% of marketers reported that they plan to use at least one influencer campaign to reach their target audience within the next 12 months (eMarketer). Health & Fitness, Fashion & Beauty, Travel & Lifestyle and Food, are the top industries that have adopted and benefit the most from influencer marketing while B2B companies have been slow to embrace this trend. Only 11% of B2B brands are using influencer programs compared to 48% of B2C brands (MarketingProfs).

All of this leaves brands wondering where to invest.

The answer is simple: Follow your audience. You can work with the influencer to determine whether it makes sense to run a multichannel program (pushes blog posts, promotes on Twitter, shares out on Instagram) or a single-platform program leveraging just one tool (a popular YouTube channel, for instance).

Getting Started. Selecting influencers, pricing and more.

Identify the rock stars. Think like your audience and select influencers that are relevant to them. Focus on accounts with 100K followers or more (small businesses can start smaller and work their way up) to ensure they have ample share of voice within the platform (and doublecheck to make sure the audience is engaging with the content). Determine what you are looking to accomplish and how you will measure success to select the right influencer. Some influencers are better at driving awareness while others are better at pushing users through the buyer journey.

Do a background check. Review profiles and content CLOSELY and FAR BACK. Make sure they are not (or were not) an influencer for a competitor or have posted negative content about your brand (or any damaging/sensational/controversial content for that matter—remember you’re signing your brand up for a long ride, do you trust the driver?).

Contact influencers. Most influencers will list a way to contact them within their bio. Reach out to see if they are open to discussing opportunities and request a quote.

Negotiate price. Pricing will vary based on the size of their account. Those with 50,000 – 500,000 followers can charge around $2,500 per post (Captiv) but pricing can be negotiated and some influencers will work for less in exchange for products or services.

Create a landing page. A landing page is a good idea for most types of campaigns. This page and the content your influencer is promoting should tie everything together for the audience. Driving traffic to your main site is NOT recommended (unless brand awareness is your one and only goal). A landing page with a specific call to action (product purchase, trial, data capture, etc.) delivers the best results.

Launch your campaign. Continue to educate your influencer about your brand—the more savvy he or she is the better that person will be at sharing promotional materials, creating hashtags and reviewing products in ways that connect with the consumer. Also, empower them to share their honest thoughts about your brand. You can include a review clause in the contract if you wish, but it’s best to allow the influencer to be authentic with their posts (today’s media-smart consumers can sniff insincerity a mile away!). Make sure you measure results based on the success metrics set in place at the start of your program. Awareness can be measured by impressions, views and reach. Interest can be measured by user engagements such as comments, likes and shares. Purchase intent can be measured by site visits, product page views, coupon downloads and e-commerce site visits.

Identifying and negotiating contracts with influencers doesn’t happen overnight. Now is the time to start planning your efforts for 2019. Contact us to help you get started.