So you've got an influencer marketing platform in place and you think your influencer marketing strategy is set to take your brand to the next level. Maybe it’s a campaign with a trending blogger with a very large following; maybe it’s a program with an industry expert going on a international speaking tour next quarter. But are they worth the fee? Will they help your brand speak to your audience in an impactful way? Will they care about your brand as much as you do?
Let's say you paid said influencer a flat fee to promote your product or service on their Instagram or LinkedIn. Great, now what?
Congratulations! You've just successfully purchased display advertising, the worst converting form of advertising. For that amount of money, you could have purchased more eyeballs from Google or targeted your influencer's specific audience on Facebook.
Or, here’s another scenario: You use that same budget to work with a few micro-influencers, customers, and brand ambassadors for sharing your brand to their networks and directly bringing in new revenue?
The choice is obvious, but many brands are missing out on the opportunity to engage and reward their most active and loyal fans in the race for virality and one-time traffic boosts.
Here’s the truth about influencer marketing: It’s usually a win/lose situation where the “win” is for the influencer.
While the reality that influencer marketing might not be the best way to spend your budget may be hard to face when this tactic is all the rage, here are 3 truths you need to know before investing your dollars:
Everyone with a blog thinks they are worth six figures.
Determining an influencer’s worth is way more involved than just seeing how many followers they have. Reach does not necessarily equate to conversions for your product or brand. Audience engagement is just as important.
It’s a saturated tactic, especially in industries like fitness and fashion.
Users are smarter than you think and they're becoming more and more sophisticated. If you're a fitness or fashion brand, influencer marketing runs the risk of not reaching your audience. Users are familiar with sponsored posts and are prone to tune them out.
Paying up front is a good way to lose.
Unfortunately, the majority of “influencers” are only concerned with their upfront payment, delivering your post and then moving on to the next brand willing to pay them. Paying them up front is a fool’s game.
Now that you’re armed with the harsh reality of influencer marketing, let’s go back and take a look at your strategy.
Influencer Marketing Strategy: The Rise of Micro-Influencers
Wait a minute, what exactly is a micro-influencer?
The exact definition of micro-influencer is still being decided as brands select personas with as little as 1,000 followers all the way up to 200,000 followers to champion their brand’s products or services. Through micro-influencer marketing, brands partner with online personas who have created an enviable reputation and an engaged, captive audience without the hassle of full-blown celebrity endorsements. In some cases, these micro-influencers might actually be your brand’s customers, followers, and fans.
In other words, micro-influencers have a genuine interest and affinity to your products/services. Nowadays, it’s too easy to fake a following. By partnering with micro-influencers, you can expect better results when it comes to reaching their followers and that their followers are actively engaged.
So, how do you incorporate micro-influencers into your existing strategy?
Well, the best influencers (micro or macro) should be found manually. Yes, manually, as in more work for you. But while it may be more effort up front, it is well worth it in the long term. By building an army of brand influencers that really click with your brand’s goals, you’re more likely to maintain a relationship that will last longer and produce better efforts over time.
If you’ve got a tool that helps you find influencers, great! Use it. Just make sure to vet them manually. Vetting influencers helps you find the right people with the right audience for your brand. This also helps you make sure that your outreach is going to make the impact it deserves.
Speaking of outreach, forget upfront payment unless the micro-influencer has serious influence over their audience. Ideally, this partnership becomes an ongoing relationship with multiple mentions, not just a single share. What you’re looking for are people who do more than just copy/paste your sponsored post. You want your brand to be represented by someone who fully engages with their audience.
Again, in most cases, one post isn’t going to cut it. Micro-influencers should go to bat for your brand, take ownership of their stake in it and want your brand to succeed. They shouldn’t behave as simple ad servers. They’re influencers.
When it comes to a successful influencer marketing strategy, engagement matters much more than reach.
Remember, influencer marketing can work, just not the way most people are doing it.
Your best bet for influencer marketing success is to find and vet micro-influencers manually before diving into any partnerships.
Then once you've got the best people onboard, you can take full advantage of your influencer marketing software to automate emails, create custom share links, and even manage payments.