Influencer marketing might sound like a new concept to some but it’s had a much longer history than one might think. In 1905, Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle, a well-known celebrity of his time, endorsed the cigarette brand, Murad. In 1934, Lou Gehrig was the first athlete to be depicted on a Wheaties box. This is just scratching the surface of some of the first examples of how brands have used influential people to impact consumers buying habits.
In this day in age, marketing has evolved so much more than celebrity endorsements. While this tactic is still widely used, especially for brands with large budgets, there are plenty of ways to incorporate influencer marketing into your campaign without needing a million dollar marketing budget. With the growth of social media channels like Instagram, social media influencers have become marketers’ go-to vehicle for reaching their targeted audiences.
While buying an ad or getting a celebrity to promote or endorse your product might sound fine, marketers are now looking to non-celebrity influencers with a large and engaging social media following to promote their brand.
What is influencer marketing?
Getting back to the basics, influencer marketing is a form of marketing in which focus is placed on influential people disseminating a brand’s message to their network, normally via social media. In other words, instead of buying a traditional advertisement in a specific market, you would hire a relevant influencer to get your brand’s message out.
Why is influencer marketing so effective?
Traditional advertising can be very expensive, inefficient and holds less credibility. Anyone who spends any time on Instagram understands the power of when someone you follow wears or uses a certain item or product. You are immediately confronted by this product authentically being used by someone trustworthy in your feed. Marketers understand that you are not following this person because of their celebrity, but because their lifestyle resonates with you.
While it sounds appealing for someone with a lot of followers, such as a well-known celebrity, to promote your brand, it’s not always the most effective way to engage in influencer marketing. People with millions of followers will not only require to be heavily compensated for any partnership you engage in, but their followers are most likely world-wide, making it hard for a brand to target specific markets and demographics. This is why marketers should be incorporating micro-influencer marketing into their campaigns.
What is a micro-influencer?
Although the range of followers an influencer has to qualify as a micro-influencer is subjective, we tend to see this number falling between 10,000 and 500,000 followers. With a micro-influencer you typically receive stronger engagement, which is the most important factor when your brand chooses to work with this group. Micro-influencers have specific niche audiences and are deeply connected to them. Micro-influencers’ followers normally have a great deal of trust in them, so when they see their favorite micro-influencer authentically using a product, they are more inclined to want to authentically use that product as well.
The rise of the nano-influencer!
For small markets, businesses are also seeing great results when working with another sub group of influencers called nano-influencers. Nano-influencers are everyday consumers who have between 1,000 and 5,000 followers. With this group, they are engaging with a smaller community on their social media channels which means they are an even more trusted group. This is a more amplified version of word-of-mouth marketing which has always been on marketers’ radar. Now with technology like social media, brands can activate strategic campaigns engaging with nano-influencers.
Initiating an influencer marketing strategy
Once you’re connected with your influencer either through email or through an influencer agency, you’ll want to pitch the influencer on your marketing strategy idea. Make sure your pitch is clear as to what you want them to promote, what your timeframe is and which social media platforms you want to work with them on. Disclose upfront if this is for paid or trade and be sure to share your goals and expectations upfront.
How to run a successful influencer marketing strategy
We recently met with travel influencer @sarahfunky who laid out her steps for how brands can engage in an influencer marketing strategy:
- Identify key brand or product influencers, either manually or through an influencer platform.
- Create a marketing campaign concept using those influencers.
- Create a secondary marketing campaign for the influencers to drive greater awareness to a larger set of target consumers.
- Approach influencers about the campaign clearly.
- Communicate with the influencer as a partner and be open to compromise.
- Launch campaign.
- Track key metrics relating to reach, sales and brand awareness.
As newsrooms continue to shrink and the more savvy audiences are to advertisements, public relations professionals and marketers will be turning to influencers to tell their story and to promote the brands they work with. The current influencer marketing landscape highlights clearly that consumers like interacting with brands in this manner, and this trend doesn’t show any signs of slowing down any time soon.