Influencer marketing is now an established form of online marketing. It has been a buzzword for a while now, and the mainstream media regularly refers to it. Yet, there are still people who do not understand what influencer marketing is about. Indeed, some people come across the phrase for the first time and instantly ponder, “What is influencer marketing?
Influencer marketing involves a brand collaborating with an online influencer to market one of its products or services. Some influencer marketing collaborations are less tangible than that – brands simply work with influencers to improve brand recognition.
Influencer marketing is a hybrid of old and new marketing tools. It takes the idea of celebrity endorsement and places it in a modern-day content-driven marketing campaign. The main differentiator in the case of influencer marketing is that the results of the campaign are collaborations between brands and influencers.
But influencer marketing does not just involve celebrities. Instead, it revolves around influencers, many of whom would never consider themselves famous in an offline setting.
Who is an influencer?
An Influencer is someone who has:
the power to affect the purchasing decisions of others because of his or her authority, knowledge, position, or relationship with his or her audience.
a following in a distinct niche, with whom he or she actively engages. The size of the following depends on the size of his/her topic of the niche.
One of the biggest mistakes that traditional media makes is a failure to see the difference between celebrities and online influencers. The major difference between them is that a celebrity is someone famous, especially in areas of entertainment such as films, sport, music, or writing. In contrast, an influencer is a person who can influence potential buyers of a product or service by generating content to promote or recommend them on social media.
What else should you know?
It is also important to realize that influencers have built a keen and enthusiastic audience. It is not accidental that these people follow influencers, not the brand. In reality, the audience is not particularly keen on your brand. They only care about the opinions of the influencers. Therefore, do not try to impose rules and business practices on an influencer. The audience is theirs, and they can simply walk away taking their followers with them.
Influencers, unlike celebrities, can be anywhere. They can be anyone. What makes them influential is their large followings on the web and social media. An influencer can be a popular fashion photographer on Instagram, or a well-read cybersecurity blogger who tweets regularly, or a respected marketing executive on LinkedIn.
Within any industry, there are influential people—you just have to find them. Some will have hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of followers. But many will seem more like ordinary people. They may only have 10,000 followers, less in some cases. Yet they would have developed a reputation for being the experts in their field. They are the go-to people that provide the answers to people’s questions.
Depending on their sphere of expertise, they are the people who make the most engaging social posts on topics in their field. They share the best pictures, make the most entertaining videos, and run the most informative online discussions.
How to Get the Best Out of Influencer Marketing
Be organized, put together a strategy, plan, and budget, spend time on research.
Decide on your approach to finding influencers. Subscribe to a platform, or work through an agency.
Be patient when relating to influencers.
Have a Plan
Does the influencer prefer to work with you on a monthly, quarterly, or annual basis?
Integrate your plan with your PR schedule (product release schedule).
Send emails on behalf of key executives.
Plan travel schedules for executives and arrange face-to-face meetings with the influencers.
What Influencer Marketing is Not
Influencer marketing is not just about finding someone with an audience and offering them money so they can say good things about you. That is what viral celebrities are for.
Influencers are people who have spent time building their brand and cultivating their audience; they will be naturally protective of their reputation and the people who trust them. They are people who had the patience and focus to succeed in social media, one organic follower at a time—people like this are not interested in doing influencer marketing solely for the money.
Influencer Marketing is also not about quick results. It is the same kind of slow-and-steady approach as Social Media and Content Marketing, where your campaign is not about directly selling your wares but about demonstrating your authority, credibility, and thought leadership within your industry.
Now that you understand what influencer marketing is, you will need to decide if and how to use it to your brand’s advantage. The first step is to develop a clear goal. Do you want an influencer to help drive sales? Build authenticity and brand awareness? Encourage email sign-ups? When you have decided what you want, you can develop a clear plan of action.
From there, you can start scoping out potential influencers that mesh well with your brand’s mission and start building a relationship.