Traditional digital ads aren’t the only way to reach new people in your target audience. We live now in the age of influencer marketing and it can be an incredibly valuable thing to leverage in your business.
Influencers used to be just celebrities and those with huge platforms, but that isn’t the case anymore.
Partnering with the right influencer(s) can mean expanding your reach, making new sales, adding new people to your audience, and growing your own social media following faster than you can through other methods.
Influencers are Trusted Friends
Why is that? Put simply, many of our followers view us as trusted friends. If someone has 100,000 dedicated fans, they’ve built trust with an incredible amount of people.
Mark Schaefer points out in his book Marketing Rebellion that an influencer’s posts can be 400-700 times more effective than that of a brand’s.
We trust them because we don’t feel like they’re trying to sell us all of the time. They’re a real person. And the numbers show they can be incredibly impactful for your business’s marketing strategy.
How to Choose an Influencer
Working within influencer marketing can be tricky, because you’re literally relying on another human to promote your business.
You don’t want to just find someone with a lot of followers, either. There are definitely levels of professionalism with certain influencers. Choosing the right person to promote your business takes a few discerning steps.
Decide Which Social Media Platform
Of course, the first thing you want to do is decide which social media platform you’ll be looking for influencers on. Are you trying to grow on Instagram? Look there. Do you want to increase your own TikTok following? Look there.
One important thing to keep in mind that 100,000 followers on Instagram and many other platforms is a huge number, but not as impressive on newer social media app TikTok.
When you decide what platform to use, make sure you do a bit of Google research so you can answer the next few questions.
How Many Followers Do They Need?
Are you looking for someone with a few thousand, highly engaged followers? Or do you want a bigger platform?
You might be wondering why you’d choose an influencer with 5,000 followers when you could have the influencer with 100,000.
With fewer followers, your costs will be lower. But fewer followers often mean that the influencer is more likely to be dedicated to one or two brands they love instead of running promoted posts for anyone that can pay their rates.
There are advantages and disadvantages to each, but if this is your first influencer campaign I’d start with someone who has a lower follower count. They’ll be likely to push and promote your business more.
Check Their Engagement Rates
This piece is super important. Make sure that whatever influencer you’re choosing actually gets good engagement on their own posts.
I once sent free product on behalf of a client to an influencer who had 80,000 followers. Should’ve been gold for us right? Nope, it totally fell flat. Not a single sale.
Because even though that influencer had 80,000 followers, no one was liking or commenting on her own posts. That means a bunch of people followed her at one point, but she doesn’t really have a built-in audience or trust with that audience.
Whomever you choose should have a decent ratio of likes and comments to follower number. Higher engagement rates mean they’ve built trust and their audience is far more likely to jump on something they’re selling.
Make Sure Their Brand is a Fit for Yours
Another key factor that’ll feel like a duh – make sure they’re actually a fit for your brand. I’ve been harassed recently by a jewelry company to sponsor my podcast. Free money is great right? But how does a podcast about digital marketing have anything to do with jewelry? It doesn’t.
My letting them run ads would not make sense because my audience of web designers, developers, and marketers probably aren’t looking to buy jewelry.
Whomever you choose to be an influencer for your brand should feel like a seamless fit for your brand.
You’ll Need an Influencer Marketing Budget
Something that a lot of business owners forget is that they need to have an actual budget for their influencer marketing plans.
Influencers with fewer than 5,000 followers might be willing to take free product or an affiliate link in exchange for traditional pay, but most will require compensation. After all, you’re hoping to make money off of their posts; it’s only fair that they’re paid for their time, creativity, and platform.
To get a basic idea of what to budget, Influencer Marketing Hub has a recent budget breakdown.
How to “Meet” Your Influencer
There are apps and platforms to meet influencers, but you can also find one by digging around Instagram, TikTok and other apps.
A great way to get a feel for if they’re the right fit for you is to follow and engage with their content. Build up a rapport with them, because chances are you need them to trust you, too.
Don’t just dive in to their DMs and try to make the sales pitch either. Build a bit of a relationship first. Then reach out and see if they’d like to chat about a partnership.
And hey, you might just find a long-term influencer partner that benefits both of you!