Social media channels boast over 3.5 billion users worldwide. Most are active on at least one platform every single day. When it comes to executing digital marketing strategies, social media is a no brainer. More and more businesses turn to popular platforms like Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and TikTok to reach and engage with their target audiences.
Influencer Marketing Definition
Have you considered an influencer marketing strategy? It’s a popular tactic in the realm of social media marketing. Influencer marketing involves endorsements and product placement from people with specified knowledge or social influence.
It can be effective and relatively easy to execute an influencer marketing plan. When you partner with notable figure with has a large social media following, you can instantly expand your reach, garner additional awareness, align yourselves with that individual’s personal brand, and hopefully generate sales.
There are many ways to execute influencer marketing. Depending on the preferred media, an influencer can promote a brand in an Instagram post to their own page, or collaborate to create content for the business’ page. They can incorporate a business into a blog post, take over a company’s Twitter account for a day, or launch a hashtag competition in conjunction with a brand partner. The goal is to encourage consumers to buy your products or services. The more creative your strategies are to reaching that goal, the better.
Influencer marketing, like any other marketing strategy, comes with its own set of challenges. Here are four of the biggest ones, and how you can overcome them:
1. Find the Right Influencers
The most important part of influencer marketing is the influencers you choose. According to TapInfluence, a leading influencer marketing automation software, finding relevant influencers is the biggest challenge marketers face. It’s imperative to work with individuals whose following aligns with your company’s target demographic. They should also share your company’s values.
Think of the right influencer as a needle in an ever-growing haystack. As social media becomes more and more ingrained in our everyday lives, the number of influencers on each platform increases and the haystack grows. So, how can you simplify your search?
To start, create parameters for your search. Identify your target influencer’s niche. Is it fashion, food, travel, art, or a combination of things? What type of voice do you want? Comedic, snarky, inspirational, aspirational, etc.? What type of follower count do you want the person to have? Is it a micro-influencer with 10,000 followers or someone with a bigger presence like 100,000 followers? What is your budget? Think of these parameters as a checklist to guide your search. Only consider influencers who tick all the boxes.
If your budget permits, employ the services of an influencer marketing agency. These companies specialize in this process of pairing the right influencers with the right campaigns. If you’re an entrepreneur or small business owner, chances are you have a lot on your plate. If you can afford to outsource this type of work, do it.
2. Measure the ROI of Influencer Marketing
Influencer marketing works to increase awareness and expand a brand’s reach. But, it can tricky to quantify that reach. The California-based influencer marketing agency, Mediakix, conducted an influencer marketing survey in 2019. It noted “measuring and improving ROI” is the number one challenge when working with influencers.
One reason is brand awareness is a difficult measurement to track. For instance, when an influencer posts about a brand to his or her Instagram, we can see how many likes the post gets – or views if it’s a video – but it’s tricky to figure out how many of those views translated to sales for the brand.
Instagram doesn’t support clickable links embedded into captions. An influencer can either write out a website in their caption – for example, checkout xyz.com – in which case followers would have to manually enter the site into their own browsers. Or, influencers can direct followers to check out the brand’s own Instagram page which includes a link to its website in the bio.
Either way, it’s hard to determine if traffic to the site is driven from the initial influencer post. You can certainly gauge if an influencer partnership is driving sales when there’s a big spike immediately following a post, but quantifying the exact number of sales is hard to do.
That said, there are ways around this challenge. In sticking with the Instagram example, instead of having the influencer include your website in a caption, give them a unique promo code to include instead. Promo codes, which activate an exclusive discount or deal of some kind, allow you to track which sales were generated from the influencer post.
This is because the only people who have access to the code are the ones who saw the post. This not only makes it much easier to quantify the success of an influencer marketing campaign, but it adds an extra incentive for customers through the discount component which can drive sales.
Another strategy that makes it easier to quantify ROI is isolated marketing. Through this tactic, you choose one product to promote solely through influencer marketing. This way, any sales of that specific product can be attributed to your influencer marketing efforts.
3. Consider the Rising Cost of Influencer Marketing
As the industry becomes more saturated, marketers and influencers have to work harder to cut through the clutter with content that is visually appealing and engages their audience. On top of partnership and collaboration fees, meeting the growing standard of content quality means shelling out for production costs as well.
Partnering with micro-influencers is a cost-friendly alternative to tapping big names with hundreds of thousands or even millions of followers. Micro-influencers are those who have followers in the 10,000 to 50,000 range, and generally focus on a specific niche. While celebrity influencers have a wider reach, micro-influencers tend to have better engagement rates as a result of their smaller follower base. Micro-influencers are also cheaper to work with. Depending on your budget, you may be able to afford multiple posts or reoccurring partnerships as opposed to putting your whole budget into one celebrity post.
If your company’s budget is very tight, you can also leverage nano-influencers – people with followers in the 1,000 to 5,000 range. Nano-influencers may ask for a nominal fee, or in some cases, may agree to work with you in exchange for free products or services.
4. Incorporate Sincerity into the Brand
As social media marketing becomes more and more prevalent, certain influencers may be growing too promotional – meaning their content is too saturated with #ads. The last thing you want is to pay for a campaign that gets lost in the shuffle. Influencers who partner with too many brands can start to come off as insincere. Make sure any influencer you partner with has fostered trust among their followers. They should have a reputation for only partnering with brands they genuinely love.
Once you narrowed down potential influencer partners with who you’d like to work, do a deep dive into their various pages. Make sure they aren’t constantly promoting different things. If they partnered with brands in the past, what did those posts look like and how were they received by the person’s followers? Were the comments mostly positive?
When marketing to millennials and gen Z, sincerity is critical. This is another instance where working with micro or nano-influencers rather than high-profile celebrity influencers can benefit. These individuals are more representative of the average person, and tend to have more trust from their smaller followings. When it comes to celebrity endorsements, it’s impossible to overlook the fact that the celebrity must have made a big profit on the partnership. This can detract from the authenticity of the promotion.
Influencer Marketing: The Takeaway
Collaborating with influencers can be a great way to market your brand to targeted audiences. It’s critical, however, to recognize and understand challenges these types of partnerships can present. When you plan ahead and conceptualize your campaigns. Overcome these hurdles through research and calculated strategies. This will allow influencer marketing to help take big steps forward in improving your company’s bottom line.