People buy from people they trust. That’s why paid partnerships with influencers took up an average of 37% of total marketing budgets in 2017.
An influencer is someone who uses social media to educate and inspire their followers. They are typically on Instagram, YouTube, a blogging site, Twitter or Facebook, and they could be anyone from a mom in Utah who loves to decorate or a famous, household name actor.
For income, influencers use their status as a trusted role model to spread brand awareness for a company in exchange for payment, commission or free products. In return, companies using brand ambassadors can expect to see up to a 10x lift in conversion, increased brand awareness, engagement with a new product, high turn-out at events and additional blog links for SEO.
Major brand names often use celebrities with hundreds of thousands to millions of followers to represent their brand and promote the company’s product. While effective, a shoutout from an Instagram account with a following that big comes at a hefty price tag, one which many small businesses can’t afford. But there’s still a way for SMB’s to utilize this trending form of marketing: micro-influencers.
Niche or micro-influencers have a smaller following but higher engagement, which means more ROI. Since micros have less reach, they are cheaper and often have a localized following ideal for local businesses. As social media continues to desensitize people to ads, influencer marketing is quickly becoming the best way to reach consumers. The new “word of mouth” marketing is products recommended by knowledgeable bloggers and trusted role models.
There is some discrepancy about what should qualify as a micro-influencer. Some say micro-influencers should have anywhere between 1,000 and 100,000 followers, while others feel the sweet spot is between 25,000 and 250,000 followers. Regardless of the exact parameters, you can definitely expect more engagement with the post and a more effective campaign within your budget, compared to the spray tactic of using major influencers.
“A 2016 survey by influencer marketing research company Collective Bias found that 60% of respondents had considered recommendations by a blogger or social media post before making a purchase. The same study found that 30% of consumers were more likely to buy a product endorsed online by a non-celebrity than a celebrity. Among Millennials, 70% preferred a non-celebrity endorsement.” USA TODAY
When choosing an influencer to work with, do your research. Find a person whose following is in line with your brand. For example, a restaurant would want a food blogger, a health supplement company could benefit from a Instagram Yogi, an athletic clothing line could see a lift in sales from a YouTube fitness trainer, and makeup and fashion companies are always seeking out beauty bloggers on any platform. You WOULDN’T want to choose a fashionista to promote your home decor products because they won’t have your targeted demographic.
It’s important to verify the validity of the influencer’s account and the activity of their blog. With today’s ease of buying likes and followers and stealing pictures, some brands have fallen prey to false influencer accounts run by robots with little authentic engagement rates. Instagram just released a new feature allowing influencers to formally disclose their paid partnership (instead of using #ad or #sponsored). This feature will allow you to directly access the sponsored post’s analytics like reach and engagement metrics. It is required by the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) that influencers must clearly state when they are being paid to promote a product and when it is an opinion of their own.
If this aspect of marketing seems like too much for your abilities but something your business could benefit from, there are companies that offer services to match and manage your business with influencer campaigns. Collectively, RevCascade, Unity Influence are all agencies that connect brands with influencers and do the middle work for you.
Would you be more likely to buy a product because an influencer recommended it?
For more marketing tips, read our article about OneHope Wine.