Influencer marketing means getting real people with large followings to promote your content through their social media channels. It’s an alternative to sponsored ads, and is one of the most effective ways to drive traffic to your website. It’s popular, too. Think Mean Girls: Influencer marketing is basically going to the Cady Herons of the Internet and paying them to wear your army pants and flip flops for others to see.
Many of the biggest companies found their rise by getting a handful of well-placed socialites to show off their products. Tinder, for example, started out by hiring fraternity and sorority college students to promote the app at clubs and parties. There are a few advantages to using influencer marketing over other forms. First off, it’s a way to genuinely build interest in your products and grow your audience organically. Second, it can be cheaper than posting a paid advertisement; and third, it allows you to promote your content without it being blocked by adblockers.
Finding the right influencers can be quite a task. Here are a few strategies to help you out.
Getting started with influencer marketing
Focus more on influencer engagement than number of followers
It looks awesome when an influencer has 1.6 million followers on Twitter, but the real question is do those followers actually pay attention to the influencer? Finding an influencer who has a following of even a few tens of thousands can mean a lot more if those followers seem engaged and interactive. Look for signs like:
- Long comments lists for every post, with different people commenting
- High ratios of retweets/shares as a percentage of followers
- Hashtags the influencer uses that have a lot of traction
Of course, the point of hiring an influencer with a lot of followers is to expand your audience. The more followers, the better. But if you’ve got a limited budget, look for engagement over sheer numbers.
Shoutouts vs. Your content vs. Influencer content
Your products and services can be promoted in a couple different ways.
Shoutouts are when influencers simply highlight your product line, often in a tweet, instagram post or other shortform message, and say a use or two of it.
Your content is content you create yourself, such as a video, photo carousel, or text, that the influencer then posts either on your behalf or in the form of a shoutout. (Think: Check out this video by SuperCoolCompany. Love their Superinterestingthingtheymade). For companies with very specific branding requirements and high-quality in-house content producers, this could be the way to go to get some extra reach.
Influencer content is anything from an in-depth product review to a photo series to a blog post about your product, created by your influencer. Often this kind of content is more authentic and incorporates the personality of the influencer to a greater degree. This is a great way for small companies to increase their marketing repertoire and generate new content.
All three forms are very common. You should make a choice based on the platform you use, how much you are willing to pay, and the kind of content you are looking for.
How much you pay depends on how big an audience your influencer has and the payment strategy you use. The person you’re paying is providing a service for you - even if it’s a tiny tweet, they’ve spent a long time developing their own personal brand and following. Paying them gives you access to that audience.
Paying per post or video is by far the most common, and is essentially a flat rate based on content. Prices vary by person, industry and demand, but anywhere between $50 and a couple hundred bucks is quite common.
Free products or services is another common strategy. Sometimes you don’t need to pay someone in cash, but you can offer them a freebie in exchange for their review to their network. You’ll still need to find them beforehand and make an arrangement with clear expectations, but it’s a great way to get your products out there without spending a ton of extra money on advertising.
Pay per engagement is the third strategy you can use, though it’s less common. Almost like Google AdWords, instead of paying one chunk per post, you can pay a few cents for every time someone clicks through to your website from an influencer post. This gives an incentive to the influencer to create genuinely good content, and ensures you’re paying for exactly what you want. The downside is unexpected costs can rack up if you’re getting more engagement than you expect - but hey that means more traffic to your site!
Special offers for influencer- generated traffic
If you want to ramp up your engagement coming from influencer marketing, you can try creating a special offer or sale in conjunction with your ad. Sneak peaks, early-bird sales, or discount codes can give extra incentives for people to actually make it to your website.
Getting Your Influencers
Approach One: Go direct to the source
The traditional way of finding an influencer is to do some online digging yourself, shortlist a few people, then send them messages directly. Essentially, open up Twitter or Instagram, then search for keywords in your field. Start pulling up users that appear toward the top or middle of the list, and take a look at their posts. Are they posting about things you and your customers find interesting? Are they giving shoutouts to other companies? How relevant is their content to your products? Remember, these are not generally salespeople, and it’s a good thing if not every tweet is about products. You want people who are authentic, have personalities and are creating their own content.
After you’ve selected a few people who seem to have relevant profiles, engaged users and large followings, send them a message directly through Twitter, Instagram or to their email if they’ve provided it.
In your message, introduce yourself and your brand. Let them know you like their content and are looking to arrange for influencers like them to share your content. Send a link to your site, and ask them to take a look to see if they are interested.
In subsequent messages, you can discuss exactly what content you want shared, when you want it shared, any special offers and pricing.
Approach Two: Use a middleman service
This is becoming more and more popular as influencer marketing grows. There are a few platforms that let you find influencer marketers who are also looking for products to promote.
The largest influencer marketplace is Grapevine, which has a network of 120,000. Introduce your brand, create a request for proposals, and read through pitches that come in. Their platform includes an end-to-end dashboard for proposals, collaboration, and campaign measurement.
TapInfluence focuses entirely on influencer-generated content and has 50,000 creators in its network. It’s a bit more expensive, but it has a large market share, measurement and automation tools, and proven success.
One popular one is Quuu Promoter, which allows you to create your own content (Tweets, Facebook posts, Instagrams), filter for influencers based on keywords, and submit your campaign. Interested influencers will pick up your campaign and post it
Famebit is another connecter service, primarily focused on YouTube. It has very straightforward pricing, and is focused on helping brands keep their branding intact. Unlike some other platforms, you only pay once you approve content (rather than after a proposal), so you can make sure anything with your company’s name on it truly reflects you.
Reelio is unique in that it has three levels of service depending on the size and needs of your company. They let you search for influencers based on demographics, and you can either connect with influencers yourself or pay them to take care of everything for you.
Approach Three: Find Instagrammers in your area
If you’re more inclined to do things face-to-face, you can hop onto an Instameet where Instagrammers get together in person. Find an upcoming meet, bring your products along, and see who’s willing to take you up.
Approach Four: Work with other brands
Much of the focus on influencer marketing has to do with finding individuals who have built up their personal brand. But companies themselves have large outreach through their own social media and blogs. If you find a company that seems to fit really well with your own brand and ethos, you can approach them, too. Without needing to form a fully-fledged partnership with other brands, you can ask them to give you a shoutout or use your product in their next video if you think it’s a good fit.
Looking for more marketing help?
Elkfox is a Shopify Expert, meaning we’re here to help online businesses grow with smart marketing techniques and shrewd data analytics. Get in touch with us to learn more about how we can help grow your business (and influencer posse).