Traditional forms of advertising are no longer enough. Commercials and online ads are easily overlooked, skipped, and silenced, leaving budgets with little to show for customer acquisition and brand awareness.
We are in 2018 and people are looking for information from those they trust or see as experts. That’s what makes influencer marketing so valuable. It opens the door for authentic stories and experiences to be built around brands in a way that cannot be achieved through other types of advertising.
If you’ve been hesitant to jump into influencer marketing, then hopefully these five strategies that big brands implement will change your mind.
1. Celebrities or non-celebrities? That is the question.
It makes sense to think that if a brand hired a celebrity with millions of followers, their campaign would be more successful because it would reach a wider audience.
But this couldn’t be further from the truth.
Recent research has shown that engagement actually starts to decline as the number of followers increases. After evaluating more than 800,000 Instagram users, Markerly found that those with 1,000 followers or less had an 8% engagement rate, while users with more than 10 million followers only had an engagement rate of 1.6 %. Research continues to show that hiring influencers with 10,000 to 100,000 followers gives you the best results.
One of the main reasons for this is that micro influencers tend to build a following based on what they share on their blogs or social channels. If someone is constantly posting about being a mom, other moms are likely to follow and engage with that influencer’s content. With each new post, more and more credibility is built and eventually this influencer can become the subject matter expert of their audience.
By the time the influencer publishes a sponsored post about a product they’re excited about, they’ve already built their audience’s trust and those followers will want to try the product too. This is a win-win situation because as more followers start talking about or buying the product, the brand should see an increase in its own follower counts, as well as its sales.
In addition to having better engagement rates and a more targeted audience, micro influencers also cost significantly less than celebrities. Hopper HQ recently shared that a single Selena Gomez Instagram post costs $ 550,000. On the contrary, it costs $ 214 on average to hire a micro-influencer in the United States to post on Instagram. That means a brand could hire roughly 2,570 micro-influencers in exchange for a Selena Gomez post.
Bigelow Tea, in collaboration with Walmart, realized that their money was best spent with micro-influencers, so they worked with Collective Bias on their Tea Moments campaign and the results were amazing. By hiring influencers in the healthy living and wellness verticals, the product authentically fits their blogs and social channels. The content was so well received by influencer audiences that Bigelow Tea saw a sales increase of 18.5% and more than 44 million impressions of the campaign.
2. Creative freedom: what it means and why it matters
A common mistake brands make when first working with influencers is trying to have too much control over the process. If you chat with an influencer, they will most likely tell you that creative freedom is one of the most important things they look for before agreeing to participate in a campaign. They understand their unique voice, and if they are not offered the ability to maintain that voice, they are likely to decline to work on the campaign. Or worse, if they participate in the campaign and their followers do not respond well because it seems inauthentic, the brand can develop a negative conversation among its target audience.
While it can be difficult for brands to relinquish control of the creative process, it is important that influencers are trusted to do their best work. That is why it is so important to hire influencers who are on the brand with your values and style.
DSW’s 12 Days of Converse campaign found five influencers that fit their ideal demo and hired them to design two or three pairs of Chuck Taylors, then announce to their followers that they could win a pair of their own. Those simple details paved the way for influencers to unleash their creativity, and the response from their followers was insane. For less than $ 15,000, the campaign generated more than 3 million impressions and more than 100,000 interactions.
DSW continues to actively participate in influencer marketing campaigns and its revenue has been steadily increasing year over year. For fiscal 2016, DSW company’s revenue was $ 2.7 billion, and it is now $ 2.8 billion for 2017, which is a record for the company.
3. Exist where your audience exists
Ten years ago, blogs and websites were some of the only online ways to inform the public about your product. Today, there are various social platforms available to advertise, such as Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and YouTube. So how do you know which platform is best for influencers to post?
Since social media is constantly changing, it’s difficult to determine exactly where you should have live content for your ideal target audience to see, so an alternative strategy is for influencers to post to multiple platforms.
Bertolli hired nine influencers to post blog posts, social amplifications, and videos about their olive oil products so that no audience was left out. In doing so, their campaign generated an estimated 6.8 million total views and $ 14.37 in media revenue earned for every $ 1 they spent on the campaign.
The blog posts were great for sharing recipes that required using the product, and those recipes, in turn, were easy to pin on Pinterest. Instagram was a useful platform to display one of the final recipe images and to direct readers to get the full recipe on his blog.
Airheads had a similar strategy. In his campaign, the anchor videos lived on YouTube and were amplified on other social platforms to generate more traffic. This strategy resulted in more than 1.3 million video views from just three influencers and more than 44,000 social interactions across all channels.
4. Do you think numbers are everything? Not so fast!
It’s easy to get caught up in the numbers you see from the viewer’s perspective. For example, if the goal of your campaign is to get more than 20 million impressions and 10,000 interactions, it can be very tempting to search for influencers who have many followers and many comments or likes on their posts.
The unfortunate reality is that the numbers don’t tell the whole story. In fact, many influencers participate in Instagram pods and Facebook threads where they share their content with their fellow influencers, and then everyone likes and comments to help make it appear that the influencer has engaged followers.
On the outside, the numbers seem solid, but on a deeper level, the goal of reaching the target audience is not achieved.
One way brands can avoid this pitfall is by hiring influencers who consistently create quality content and fit the brand image. According to Jonathan Long, founder of Market Domination Media, small accounts often outnumber large accounts, sometimes as much as 300%. That’s right, 300%.
When brands stop looking at numbers, they are forced to consider each influencer as an individual. What does that person bring to the table? Do they regularly interact with their followers? Do your photos tell a story?
These are all questions brands should ask themselves before launching an influencer marketing campaign.
Subaru understood the importance of quality over quantity and hired influencers to publish a total of 58 sponsored posts for its Meet an Owner campaign. Since almost everyone owns a car, Subaru found relevant influencers in a variety of verticals, such as fitness and art, to share their story.
1.9 million likes and 9,000 comments later, Subaru not only received increased brand sentiment and awareness, but also positioned itself to have another standout year in the auto industry. In fact, influencer marketing is due in part to their sales growth of 10% in 2016.
5. Surface data doesn’t tell the whole story
Once a campaign is over, it can be easy to walk away from it and get started on the next big project. But to continually execute a strong influencer marketing strategy, it’s important to review the data and drill down into the analytics for each campaign.
For example, knowing how many referrals are sent to you, how many new leads you’ve gotten, what sales growth you’ve seen, and customer acquisition costs are all metrics that need to be evaluated on a deeper level.
Charmin partnered with Mavrck to help track coupon clicks, product reviews, and registrations for an entire quarter so they could look for trends in the data, like the ones mentioned above. Over the course of that quarter, Charmin could see they received over 5,300 coupon clicks, 1,800 product reviews, and an average product rating of 4.82 out of 5.
If you’re not sure how or where to look to analyze your results, Social Media Examiner has great advice on how brands can perform analytics on their own with a little help from Google Analytics.