Only recently have we seen influencers take control of platforms like Instagram, YouTube, and TikTok. What is it that makes their influence and popularity so valuable for businesses? And how can businesses figure out which influencer relationships are right for their message, target market, and overall brand? Many often question the legitimacy of an influencer strategy as it relates to proven financial results and ROI.
Wondering if the risk is even worth the investment? Or if the industry is oversaturated altogether? All of these questions are easy to answer, as the world of influencer marketing is really not so scary after all.
Be Honest: What Are Your Goals?
Before creating relationships with influencers, ask yourself: what marketing goals have I set out for my business? These can be both long and short term goals, such as building a more diverse audience, developing a stronger target demographic, or even getting consumers more familiar with your brand. Influencers are salespeople. They are selling your product and/or service to a captive audience, so if they’ve got access to a set of predefined goals, they can properly gauge their influence in favor of whichever areas of business you feel need attention.
Often times, when businesses work with influencers, it’s likely because they are preparing for the launch of some new product(s). In 2017, Pottery Barn aimed to develop a wider social media presence following their KenFulk x Pottery Barn interior collection release, to increase their website engagement rate. In doing so, the company teamed up with renowned decorative blogger Holly Becker, who runs the forum Decor8; think HGTV but in blog form.
Becker showcased each piece from the collection on both her blog and Instagram through live demonstrations, Q&A’s, unboxings, and giveaways. The social reach of this campaign neared 4.5 million users, assuming at-least 30% engaged with their website.
Now, that’s impressive. I’m not suggesting that you push your goals to the levels of Pottery Barn, but to give an idea of what valuable pre-defined goals look like, and how when strategized correctly, they can serve your business well in the end.
Be Realistic: Who Would Best Represent Your Business?
Face it. A Kylie Jenner-esque influencer relationship is unrealistic for the time being as a smaller developing business. Mega or “macro” influencers are those like the Kardashians, Bella Hadid, Kaia Gerber, etc. Their reach spans across hundreds of millions as far as followers go, charging a hearty fee of around $500,000+ per post. No wonder Kylie Jenner grossed $1 billion in 2019 alone. What does this mean for your business, then?
There are benefits to hiring macro-influencers, such as gaining rapid attention, boosting brand popularity, and having the satisfaction of knowing your hair vitamins were featured in a celebrity makeup tutorial. But where is the long-lasting value there? Today, we see more mass-produced content than ever before. Businesses are becoming deaf to the fact that their audiences can easily distinguish between genuine and phony messaging. Why waste millions of dollars on an influencer strategy when all you get in return are disingenuous consumer relationships?
Success, therefore, lies in the micro-influencer relationship. These individuals, unlike macro-influencers, carry humble followings of less than 500,000. What makes them so unique is how much more authentic they appear to their followers. For businesses looking to increase audience attention, this is crucial. Micro-influencers span across all areas of social media: they could prioritize yoga, interior design, food/cuisine, and film reviews, to name a few. Here is a list of micro-influencers that have been growing on the radars of both small and large brands alike.
When micro-influencers post a product or service to their feed, followers are more likely to trust their outlooks and opinions on what is hot or not, given that tight-knit, niche relationship. Not only that, but engagement rates among micro-influencers are also stronger than macro-influencers. Quality resonates more with valuable outcomes. So, be sure to invest in authentic influencer relationships, align those relationships to the profiles of your consumers, and understand any changes in your target market, so you’re not left with a mismatched relationship in the end. Bottom line: always stay true to your brand.
Ensuring Your Success in the End
When it comes to working with influencers, there is a dreaded ambiguity that exists when trying to measure long/short run ROI. Everybody knows it. Don’t worry, though, this is a bridge you can easily cross (with the right tools)!
Take a look at some effective KPI’s that will ensure your strategy remains successful throughout:
- Conversions – Outcomes of the consumers’ journey are indicated through conversions, or landing pages consumers’ interact with. Be it email sign-ups, discount codes, etc. These give business’s clear data-driven models on how well their Influencer strategy is doing in terms of reach, whilst stacking up against original investment costs.
- Click-Through Rate (CTR) – With an overwhelming amount of clickable ad’s on the internet, it is often hard for businesses to monitor exactly how consumers’ reached their site. CTR remediates this issue by showing businesses how many people clicked through an influencer’s post to get to their website. CTR is also a strong indicator of brand recognition among consumers, as it shows the locations where they first recognized a brand’s product.
- Engagement – Likes, comments, shares, mentions, etc. all live under the umbrella of user engagement. These metrics are key to understanding how well audiences are responding to your influencer strategy. As such, engagement rates quickly let businesses know if they should keep or drop an influencer based on their popularity with audiences. A moderate to high engagement rate sits between 3%-6%.
- Reach – Influencer relationships are generally focused around reaching new audiences. Therefore, it’s important to track how many people your campaign has reached and the amount that has become (newly) familiar with your brand. This data is measured through impressions and can be harvested through platforms like Google Analytics and Hootsuite.
Obviously, there are a variety of other methods to ensure your campaign soars beyond expectation. But, these are among the most fundamental and valuable for new businesses looking to get their hands dirty in the influencer marketing arena.
Even for smaller businesses, influencer marketing can become a serious attribute to one’s business plan. Establishing those pre-defined goals will drive forward your plan on exactly who you’d like to work with. Remember to always stay true to your brand (and goals) when acquiring relationships with influencers, and understand that audiences are masters at recognizing authentic messaging. Above all, never give up. Really, find something that works for you!