Influencer marketing is actually fairly easy to understand. You find influencers who are popular with your target audience, and they spread the word about your products or services, for a fee.

There’s usually either a social media element or a content marketing element when it comes to influencer marketing, or sometimes even both. One of the most common ways for influencers to market your business is through their own media influencer accounts. As far as content marketing is concerned, an influencer may create content to spread the word about your business, or you may create that content for them.

Here’s an example of how influencer marketing often works over social media. A brand will find a celebrity to endorse their products. Then, the brand pays that celebrity, who in turn goes on their social media and mentions the product. Instagram is one social media network that features quite a bit of influencer marketing.

Kylie Jenner is one celebrity who posts pictures of herself wearing Fashion Nova jeans, and mentions the brand in her caption for the photos. Since Jenner has a large fan base consisting of Fashion Nova’s target market, this partnership is beneficial to the brand. Influencers don’t need to be real-world celebrities, as many of them are primarily popular online. Brands may choose anyone who has a large social media following.

Influencer Marketing Benefits

Influencer marketing works because it’s targeted to your brand’s specific audience and it’s a subtler form of marketing. Because it’s the influencer who is recommending your brand, the audience doesn’t feel like you’re selling to them. In a way, influencer marketing serves as a blend between the testimonial and product placement.

It’s more direct than product placement, but not as overt as a testimonial. That’s because although your brand is the focus, it’s not the only element of the marketing.

Traditional marketing methods are becoming less and less effective, which is why it’s crucial that your brand embraces new options, including influencer marketing. Consider the return you can get on influencer marketing as opposed to paid advertising. Many people simply don’t pay attention to traditional ads anymore.

For television ads, viewers will pull out their phones and check their social platforms – social networks with potential influencers that you could be hiring. If it’s an online ad, people may not even see it. When it comes to online consumers, 47 percent install ad blockers so they don’t even need to look at ads.

Consumers don’t want businesses to talk at them or try to sell them something. They value connections, and with influencer marketing, you’re leveraging the connections an influencer has already made to grow your brand.

Best Time to Use Influencers

Influencer marketing is growing rapidly, but it’s still underutilized. Many brands haven’t caught on to the power of influencers yet, which means that you have a large number of potential influencers available for a bargain.

Think about what happened with Facebook advertising. When it first came out, brands that purchased Facebook ads were getting an incredible return on their investments, because those ads were available at a low price and reached a huge number of users. Then, as more brands started realizing this, both prices and the number of ads on Facebook went up dramatically. That means brands were paying more, and Facebook users were seeing more ads, making those ads less effective.

Influencer marketing is still at the stage where you can obtain an incredible return on your investment because of how few brands are taking advantage. For the best results, consider some of the newer forms of social media, such as Snapchat and Periscope. There haven’t been many brands marketing on these services yet, so you can get great deals.

Getting Started with Influencer Marketing

You can launch your first influencer marketing campaign by following a few simple steps.

The first thing you’ll need to do is figure out your target market, if you haven’t already. If you have a fitness product, perhaps your target market is health-conscious men and women between the ages of 18 and 35. It’s important that you determine not just your target market, but also how that target market makes their purchasing decisions.

Once you have defined your target market and you know where they hang out, it’s time to look for influencers on that platform. You can do this yourself, but there are also many influencer marketing services available that can help you find influencers.

Finding the right influencers is the most important part of influencer marketing. You must find influencers who don’t just have a large number of followers, but have a strong connection with those followers. Anyone can accumulate a large following on social media with time or even just the money to pay for followers. But if the majority of those followers are spam or don’t really care what the person has to say, then you won’t benefit from hiring them as an influencer. Look at their engagements to see how many people are actually liking and commenting on a potential influencer’s posts. The more interactions, the better.

When you’ve found one or more influencers that you want to work with, get in touch with them about marketing your brand. Many influencers include an email address for marketing opportunities in their bios, so check there first. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about how the influencer can market your brand and what kind of results you can expect. Communication is key for the most successful influencer marketing campaign.

Influencer marketing is one of the best ways that you can build your brand. If you find the right influencer, your brand can experience huge growth through an affordable campaign.

Micro Influencers

The term “influencer” is no doubt a familiar one by now, particularly if you work in digital marketing. There’s a chance, however, that the term “micro-influencer” is a relative unknown to you.

Micro-influencer marketing is just reaching its hey-day, and is emerging as a tool as successful as— if not more successful than— celebrity campaigns and advertising. As is becoming clear, people are more significantly more willing to trust the opinions of someone they know and admire; they feel as if they are being shared an honest opinion, not a paid rave review.

Micro-influencers are social media users with between 1,000 to 1,000,000 followers and are typically considered experts in their niche fields. This could include food blogging, fashion photography, fitness tips or travel guides. As more focused niche experts, micro-influencers are able to connect on a much deeper level with their audiences and enjoy much greater engagement with their followers.

Moreover, influencers with 1,000 followers have been shown to generate up to 85% higher engagement than those with 100,000 followers; as a general rule, as the number of followers increases, the engagement rate of an influencer tends to decrease. Retaining between 1,000 to 100,000 followers, then, seems to be the social media sweet spot of the moment.

So what exactly are the benefits of working with micro-influencers as part of your influencer marketing strategy?

High Engagement Rates

The kind of engagement that micro-influencers enjoy is a major benefit to businesses that elect to work with them. Compared to celebrity influencer accounts, micro-influencers can interact with their audience more holistically, responding to questions and comments in a faster and more personable manner.

Higher engagement translates to a better return on your investment, with micro-influencers more likely to be an advocate for your brand rather than simply posting about your product once before moving on. If your goal is to truly connect with a new audience, micro-influencers should be at the top of your influencer marketing strategy list.


Let’s face it: few businesses have the budget to even get the Kardashians’ attention, let alone drag them out of bed. By contrast, micro-influencers are typically a much more affordable option. Rates obviously depend on the number of followers and engagement, but the average rate for engaging with a micro-influencer seems to float around $1,000 per post for those with 100,000 followers.

Greater affordability also gives you the chance to work with more than one micro-influencer, allowing you to sow your seeds more broadly and reaching a variety of audiences.

Higher Conversion Rates

This last point is perhaps the most important one when formulating your social media strategy. Almost 50% of people say they trust recommendations by influencers when making their purchase decisions, and this should come as no surprise: reviews and recommendations are a time-tested means of drumming up business.

Take, for example, the decision to eat at a restaurant you haven’t yet visited. Most consumers will first check Yelp or Google reviews to get an idea of public opinion, and they might also call on a few friends for their experience and advice. Other people’s opinions hold a lot of weight when someone is making a purchasing decision, and this is no less true for the followers of micro-influencers.

Today’s consumer is a savvy one, and businesses need to be proactive in anticipating online trends. The big trend of 2019, it seems, is the rise of micro-influencers.

Creating an Influencer Marketing Campaign

Influencer marketing has become a highly effective way for businesses to increase their brand exposure and get more sales. Despite how easy it may look, there’s a lot of planning that goes on behind the scenes to achieve what seems to be enviable results. Businesses that have cracked these five tricks are enjoying huge returns.

Essential Elements to an Influencer Marketing Campaign

  • Your target market. Who are you targeted customers or audiences? 
  • What should be considered “success” for this campaign? What outcomes are being pursued the most? 
  • How will the brand be highlighted by the information that is conveyed? 
  • Who are the most important influencers in the targeted niche? Are there particular influencers that would benefit most from the product or service? 
  • Is the entirety of the team on board with the outcomes or the focus of the campaign? Have they been allowed to weigh in on any of these subjects? 
  • What are the best platforms for the campaign? How will it serve to move the company’s goals forward? 
  • How is the campaign getting started? Will there be an event (even a simple unboxing)? Is the influencer going to require instruction on how to use the product/service? 
  • How are you going to measure your results?

Using Micro-influencers

While a big name like Dwayne Johnson would be great to partner with, that’s not possible for most businesses. In fact, it can sometimes yield far less returns than working with micro-influencers. They might not have as much star power, but businesses who work with them do save a great deal of time when it comes to reaching agreements.

Businesses that turn to micro-influencers have another big advantage. People with a few thousand followers generally seem more genuine and trustworthy than those with followers running into the millions, resulting in better leads.

Building Relationships with Influencers

Working with an influencer once and calling it a day might result in some sales, but it leaves much on the table. The businesses that are getting gangbuster results from their influencer marketing campaigns are those that are building relationships directly with the influencers.

Followers generally warm up to a product or service – and the idea of buying it – the more they see it. When that effort is scattered across several different influencers, that effect won’t be achieved.

A long term partnership with an influencer also helps a business to understand how to work with them better.

Using Different Channels

Instagram is undoubtedly the best influencer marketing channel, but there are other businesses that can take advantage of to propel their results. Of course, a fashion brand certainly shouldn’t overlook Instagram. In fact, it should be the main focus of the campaign. However, using a website like Pinterest would also help with getting another corner of the internet and increasing sales.

Businesses that cater to a geeky audience can reap more rewards by turning their focus to Twitch. Likewise, TikTok is a great option for products and services that are targeted towards a youthful audience. Instagram’s the biggest game in town but it’s not the only one.

Allowing the Influencer to Have Some Input

What some brands get wrong is that working with an influencer means more than just bland product placement. After all, the influencer is popular for a reason. Allowing them to use their skill, charisma or whatever helped them to amass a following can lead to a spike in ROI as it feels more natural for their audience.

Getting Involved

Instead of having the influencer merely pose with the product, a much better influencer strategy is to create content that shows an organic relationship. That way, the audience will feel that the influencer genuinely believes in the product or service they are recommending, as well as the company behind it.

As big as influencer marketing has gotten, going into it without certain insights puts a hard limit on results. When those insights are applied, however, campaigns can achieve incredible results.

Measuring Influencer Marketing Results

Before you start a campaign, whether it’s influencer marketing or not, set the goals for what the company wants to gain. Whether it’s increasing exposure, improving sales, or improving the relationship between the company and its consumers, having something to measure the success of the campaign is important. 

In nearly every situation, measuring the quantitative and qualitative outcomes is going to be key. The quantitative are the numbers of the campaign: 

  • How many unique views were received? 
  • How much interaction was there with the influencer (likes, shares, comments)? 
  • Have sales been impacted at all? 

The qualitative has to do with whether the reputation of the brand was affected. Specifically, was the reputation enhanced? While this can be difficult to measure, the easiest way to do so is to read through comments and ask questions to people that interact with the influencer. 

Recruiting Influencers

Finding key influencers have become one of the more prominent and visible marketing channels online. With their hundreds of thousands of followers, picture perfect feeds, and a propensity to promote products authentically, brands have jumped on the bandwagon. Eager to promote their products or services with influencers, they shell out money and free products to each influencer and sit back to watch the sales pour in.

But the sales don’t pour in. In fact, save a few new followers on the business page, there really isn’t much happening. What went wrong?

The fact of the matter is, not every influencer is created equal. Additionally, not every piece of content is created equal. While influencers’ claim to fame is just that — the influence they have — this doesn’t always translate well with every partner promotion.

Why is this? Let’s explore common mistakes that are made when partnering with influencers, and how those mistakes can lead to false expectations.

Not Doing Enough Research

First and foremost, before partnering with influencers, it’s important to determine whether or not an influencer can actually help boost the brand in question. Not every brand is a good fit for an influencer campaign.

And not every influencer is a good fit for every brand. This is very important to remember, as most products can be creatively promoted through an influencer program. Many brand managers fixate too much on the number of followers an influencer has, rather than whether or not that influencer is a good representative of the brand.

Do some more intensive research. Don’t hire a beauty influencer to promote a new parenting guide. Don’t use an athlete for a new type of home safety service. The follower count may be tempting but go with the influencers who reach the target demographic — and who fit it themselves. Also be wary of accounts with fake followers.

Forming Relationships with Influencers

Once you’ve outlined the parameters of your campaign and in what ways you’ll measure the return on investment, it’s now time to select the right influencer or influencers for your needs. 

It’s important to remember here that influencers should be treated like customers, not commodities. In an environment where fake often comes first, you want to find influencers who can share authentic viewpoints and perspectives. This approach builds loyalty. After all, it’s likely one reason why the strongest influencers have gained such a strong following — through quality engagement with their audience. 

And you don’t necessarily need to go after the Lebron James of influencers, the biggest name with millions of followers. There are other influencers who maintain smaller audiences, but often this can signal quality over quantity. 

Once you have outlined the goals of your campaign, do some poking around on your target social media platform and start a list of influencers you’d like to form a relationship with. These could be a mix of larger market influencers as well as “micro” influencers within your niche. Be careful not to just go for the shiny influencer who has nothing to do with your niche — your dollars and/or product will be much more well spent with an appropriate influencer! 

When you begin reaching out to prospective influencers, be polite and show that you’ve been following their content authentically. There’s nothing quite so ingenuine as a generic comment left on an influencer’s post. Take your time, establish rapport, and show them why your product would be best marketed in their hands. 

And it’s ok if the influencer you have chosen isn’t interested! Only they know what types of brands will mesh well with their audiences, so don’t be discouraged if you get a rejection. But chances are, if you’ve done your homework, the influencer will be happy to have the opportunity to promote your brand. 

Influencer Marketing Pros

Influencer campaigns need to be carefully planned, executed, and managed. If you plan your year ahead of time (by quarter, for example), you can align your influencer marketing campaign plans with your overall strategy for your brand for the year. 

Over time, you’ll find that you can build strong and lasting relationships both with influencers and with your customers through this avenue. Remember, word of mouth marketing is perhaps the most trusted form of “advertising,” and you want to do everything you can to ensure that conversation remains positive. 

You can also utilize influencer marketing to make a “splash” when you need to. This could be something in anticipation of the launch of your product or a “boost” when you feel you’re on a bit of a plateau. 

Let’s say you have a brand that’s focused on a new software as a service (SAAS) product. This product is meant to streamline event planning for weddings, banquets, corporate retreats, etc. You’re wanting to launch this product with a big splash so that you can gain as much buzz and momentum as you can right out of the gate. How can influencers help with this? 

It all starts by seeking out influencers in the right niche. Wedding planners, vendors, or hotels that frequently host events or retreats would be examples of where you might find some influencers suitable for your needs. 

Perhaps you can plan an event to roll out the software. Select the highest performing influencers you can afford, as well as a few niche or micro influencers who may have smaller audiences but a strong engagement rate. 

Treat the influencers like valuable partners, and really roll out the red carpet to welcome them to your brand. You want them to use your product, to enjoy it, and to recommend it to their followers. 

Another benefit of using influencers? They can make just about any topic fun. Some consumers may hear “software” and tune out due to boredom. Influencers using your software and enjoying it can have a massive, far reaching effect on the public perception of your brand — no matter what it involves. 

With the meteoric rise of social media — and the staying power it clearly has — influencer marketing has become a leading choice of marketers and public relations professionals alike. No matter how big or small your brand is, chances are it could benefit from an influencer campaign. Don’t be afraid to get creative, plan ahead, and watch your reach and influence grow just by utilizing an already-engaged audience to announce your brand’s arrival. 

Influencer Marketing Cons

Influencer marketing is a key part of many business’ marketing strategies, and for good reason. Influencers are highly valuable and play a large role in many users’ everyday interactions online. It’s beneficial for a brand to capitalize on this concept, but there are still some common mistakes to avoid when enlisting the services of an influencer.

Failing to Set Expectations

Expectations are everything when it comes to partner promotion. It’s important to communicate what is expected from the influencer (making sure the expectations are within reason) so as to prevent crossed wires and disappointment down the road.

When signing a contract with an influencer, take the time to lay out what type of content they are to produce, how often they are expected to post, and what sort of talking points, copy or hashtags should be used. This is easy information to communicate in advance before a post goes out with the wrong elements.

Too often, the brand ends up sending free products and waiting for results. Without proper expectations, the influencer is left to his or her own devices to promote, and this may not be in line with what the brand wants.

Avoid Micromanaging

There is a flip side to this, too. The brand should also veer away from micromanaging a campaign. After all, the name of the influencer game is authenticity. Don’t take away an influencer’s natural voice by imposing requirements on them. Let them use creative license, trust them. As long as expectations are set on both sides, the partnership can be much more productive.

Don’t Just Pay Attention to Follower Numbers

A social media influencer with a million followers may appear to be more valuable than one with 10,000 followers. But an even more important metric to look at is engagement and quality of content. Take a quick scroll through the influencer’s page. Are their comment sections full of spam comments and little authentic engagement? This is a red flag.

An effective influencer will actually influence their followers to follow their lead. One indicator of this is not follower numbers, but rather quality of content and engagement. A smaller influencer may actually have a more influential opinion than one with millions of followers who do not actually take the time to read captions or click on embedded links. Don’t be seduced by that high number — do your due diligence before hiring an influencer.

Make Sure the Influencer Matches Your Demographic

Another common pitfall is to enlist an influencer who is not aligned with the target demographic or the tone of the brand hiring them. In addition to scoping out the engagement on an influencer’s posts, take the time to look into who they are followed by.

If the influencer is followed mostly by young females, but the business is selling product to young males, then this is likely not a good fit, even if the influencer is solid. Likewise, an influencer who primarily promotes beauty products may not be the best fit for a brand looking to promote its sporting goods. The relationship must be a good fit or the brand risks losing trust and authenticity by using the wrong influencer or though leader.

Invest in Good Quality Content

Yes, producing content costs money. Yes, it’s difficult to part with that budget when someone else could create something for less cost. However, quality is imperative when it comes to posting online.

A poor quality image or a hastily cobbled together video will not give off the right message for the brand. While content creators may charge for their skills, this is a worthwhile investment that aligns itself with good branding and brand identity.

Of course, it’s still beneficial to vet the influencers and/or content creators before hiring. Not every content creator is worth their salt. Be sure to take a look at past projects to ensure that their work is in line with your branding.

Investing time and resources into an influencer campaign can be stressful, and there is no worse feeling that losing money on a campaign that yields little result. However, by paying attention to the right areas and ensuring top quality content, brands can get the most bang for their buck out of using influencers to promote their products.

When to Work with an Influencer Marketing Agency

In some situations, a business does not have the manpower, resources, or connections needed to cast a wide enough net. While this is often considered to be a good problem to have, it nonetheless presents a challenge. When it comes to companies seeking out influencers to bolster a marketing campaign, employing the help of an influencer marketing agency can help amplify the voice of the brand and extend its reach.

An influencer marketing agency is dedicated to the connecting of businesses and brands with influencers or viral platforms. Often, this arm is a part of a larger marketing agency, or in other cases the agency may focus solely on influencer marketing. Whatever the agency’s setup, working with one can help with the challenges presented by starting an influencer marketing campaign from the ground up.

Think of an influencer agency as a commercial fishing boat. When contrasted with the efforts of a sole proprietor or an otherwise small business, often the cost of using the services of an agency can be worthwhile to obtain that wider net. With the effectiveness shown by successful influencer campaigns, many brands are jumping at the chance to work with an agency that can help spread the message to a larger group of potential customers.

Working with an agency can also benefit a business because it eliminates the legwork that comes with starting an influencer campaign from the ground up. Think of all of the research, vetting of influencer candidates, and coordinating of content that must be done. This is a lot of work to put on a small marketing team or a single person running an entire marketing initiative for a brand.

While influencer agency services can be expensive, it’s important to do a cost-benefit analysis of using these services and the potential performance of the resulting campaign or campaigns. After all of the pros and cons are weighed, sometimes the resulting answer may be surprising for even a smaller business.

Agencies are also staffed with experts in the field, which can be useful for brands that are unfamiliar with the ins and outs of influencer marketing. For smaller businesses, spending money to work with an agency can be intimidating. But that investment is often worthwhile in order to avoid pitfalls or rookie errors that are common among marketers or companies with little experience with influencer marketing.

Another way an influencer marketing agency can be useful for a business of any size is reporting. Agencies are often equipped with robust analytics tools, or at least a strong knowledge of how to use these tools, which can make the results of an influencer campaign easier to take a closer look at. With influencer marketing, it can be difficult to track metrics or KPIs, so setting out with a clear objective in mind and an idea of what will be measured to determine success or failure of the campaign. With the power of analysis, agencies can provide a more comprehensive picture of campaign performance, which can be useful for businesses looking for results and data to back up those results.

Influencers Marketing ROI

While big names appear to be the obvious option for brands to increase awareness of what they offer, the cost might be out of their budget. Even then, celebrities might not offer as much bang for the buck as up-and-coming influencers who’s following is largely built up of highly engaged followers. Age-wise, these influencers can be in their mid-teens.

As opposed to obsessing over follower counts, brands should be considering the influencers whose followers fit their target market. It also helps greatly if the influencer has a solid reputation, as well as posts that mostly consist of content and not promotions.

Another thing for brands to seriously consider is if the influencers they are looking at have a large and engaged follower base on social media networks that are best for selling their products or services. In any case, the number of followers matters less than the engagement between the influencer and their followers.

Influencer Marketing Examples

There was an article in PR Week that talked about how the head of content at Coca-Cola, Philipp Hartmann, was considering shifting their use of an influencer to start hosting their YouTube channel (Coke TV). He added that they stimulated more interaction between their audience and the brand because they focused more on engagement than advertising.

As part of our larger campaign for T-Fal, we contacted several influencers who have highly engaged social media followings with young families. The social media activation was based on #TFalxPancakeDay in celebration of National Pancake Day towards the end of the month.

The holiday coincided with a store retailer promotion for a Non-Stick Frying pan in the T-fal line. The pan was sent to the influencers to be reviewed and through all nine of them and the Pancake Day Campaign, 344K followers were reached.

At the time of the campaign, Breakfastcriminals had a following of over 70K and their post, which was about gluten-free pancakes, garnered over 1,300 likes and was just shy of 50 comments. Part of that engagement was a result of the influencer offering the content her followers subscribe to her for, such as remarking that she liked the non-stick pan because she didn’t have to use lard the way her grandmother did in the past.

Harleysfood_art received over 500 likes and almost 60 comments from a 37.5K-strong following. He did this by also offering the content his engaged followers like to see from him, through combining regular and chocolate pancake batter to make a Lion Pancake. He added that was only achievable because he used the “beautiful titanium non-stick pan.”

Influencer Marketing Myths

By the next year, influencer marketing is set to turn into a $15 billion dollar industry, yet there’s plenty of myths about influencer marketing campaigns. Between campaigns costing businesses too much and not getting enough results, there are many influencer marketing misconceptions.

The key ingredient to a successful influencer marketing campaign is choosing the right strategy. With the help of the right strategy, companies can work with influencers to drive sales, increase brand awareness, and even create a loyal community of brand advocates. The entire power of influencers comes from their authenticity. These are people who can create authentic relationships with their target audience and can become a go-to source of inspiration or product and service recommendations.

Expensive Campaigns

One of the most common myths of influencer marketing campaigns is that they’re too expensive. That’s one of the main reasons why many companies avoid working with influencers. While there are plenty of influencers that have hundreds of thousands or even millions of followers, and who charge big sums for working with companies, that price largely depends on the business and its campaign. There are hundreds, if not thousands of micro-influencers who typically charge less for working on marketing campaigns yet have strong relationships with their audiences.

Delivering Results

Another misconception when it comes to influencer marketing is the fact that many businesses believe micro-influencers don’t tend to deliver the desired campaign results. However, according to research, micro and nano influencers have higher engagement rates on average compared to the top influencers. If a company’s goal is to reach a particular niche of a market, which is filled with highly engaged communities of people, the best option is to work with nano and micro-influencers. Although these people don’t have the same reach as big influencers, they’re a cost-effective choice and a perfect one for businesses looking to target very specific audiences.

Setting Up Partnerships

The next common influencer marketing myth is that the branded content tools on Instagram aren’t available for everyone, which makes setting up those influencer partnerships difficult. However, the only thing that businesses need to set up for a partnership is a business profile on the platform. Once that’s set up, the company can approve all the accounts that are creating sponsored content for the business.

Fake Followers

While there’s no point to deny the fact that fake followers exist, and some influencers do end up buying their followers to increase their numbers, that’s not the reality for every influencer. In fact, there’s a big emphasis these days on the quality of the followers that influencers have, and many of them find that having a smaller yet more engaged following is a better option than a disengaged larger following. Fortunately, companies can ensure that an influencer has a real following simply by taking note of the number of likes and comments that each post receives. If the accounts that engage with the posts are genuine, then the influencer has real followers and not fake ones.

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