Five Ways SMBs Can Successfully Work with Influencers
So, by now, if you haven't already been using influencers, you are probably seriously considering it. Brands really can't afford to ignore it anymore. According to an ANA study, 75 percent of marketers were already using influencers as a marketing tool as early as 2018, and 43 percent planned to increase spending. But if you are a small business and embarking on an influencer marketing campaign for the first time, how do you associate with the right social media influencer(s), and how do you ensure the best chance of success. Plenty of large brands have learned the hard way by being involved with the wrong influencer or misreading their audience. Remember the Kendal Jenner Pepsi campaign? And while there isn’t a 100% guarantee of success with any marketing, you’re more likely to accomplish your goals if you know the type of influencer that works best for your brand and keep these five tips in mind.
Types of influencers:
1. Mega influencers have at least a million followers and are usually top celebrities, models, and athletes, and they are only accessible to large brands with a significant budget. Working with mega influencers can also be challenging because they usually have multiple handlers, scheduling conflicts, and a distinct viewpoint that might not work for every brand.
2. Macro – they are not necessarily A-list celebrities, but they know social media inside and out and have organically built a large following of between 100,000 and 1 million. They usually focus on topics such as fashion, make-up, sports, video games, etc., that attract large audiences. It's generally easier to work with mega influencers as they often have their own creative ideas that will work for their audience, but they don’t necessarily come cheap either.
3. Micro – while they have a smaller following of between 1,000 and 100,000 people, they are still socially media savvy and have built their own brand from the ground up. They often specialize in more niche content categories such as gardening, film reviews, one sports team, etc. Their followers are equally as passionate but of smaller size, because the covered topics don’t appeal to as large of an audience.
4. Nano – these influencers usually have a following of below 1,000 and are not necessarily social media pros. They are often just starting, but they have hit a chord with an audience that will hopefully continue to grow. They are more willing to take feedback and are likely to be completely authentic. More often than not, their audience is small enough that they actually know most of their followers. A nano influencer could be a local business owner, an environmentalist that has gained recognition because of a particular high-profile cause, or a community leader.
Now that you've decided on the budget and type of influencer that best reflects your brand, what are the best practices?
1. Vet them thoroughly. Whether they are a celebrity or a smaller influencer, do your homework. Find out what they have personally posted on social media and make sure they have never made comments that would negatively impact your reputation or offend your target audience.
2. Don’t be too prescriptive. If you work with an influencer that knows what works for their audience, give them some room to use their creativity. That said, you still will want to make sure you know exactly what they are going to post before they do it but listen to them and their recommendation for the best way to position your product or service to their followers. If it's too staged, it won't come across as authentic, and then you've defeated the whole purpose of working with an influencer.
3. Work with multiple influencers at once. If you have a choice between one high-profile influencer versus several influencers with smaller audiences, go with the latter. You avoid putting all your eggs (and budget) in one basket, and you can show multiple dimensions of your product when you work with multiple influencers. You also can test to see if a particular message or a particular influencer is performing significantly better for your specific brand.
4. Find influencers who are experts on specific platforms. If you know your audience is more likely to frequent Instagram, find an influencer who has built their following through that platform. They are more likely to know what type of content works best with that social media channel. If you have a better chance of reaching your audience on Tik-Tok, find someone who knows how to create short, compelling videos.
5. Set goals up-front and measure results. Include the influencer(s) in this process. They need to understand in advance what will define success. If you are trying to change the perception of your product, this will require a certain kind of finesse. Ensure that the goals are clear so that the influencer can use creativity that is most likely to solve that problem. And then measure, measure, measure, and evolve as necessary. Using influencer marketing software can help make that process easier. Also, make sure to follow FTC guidelines about promotions with influencers.
The Upside of Using Influencers
ROI! Influencer marketing has grown from a $5 billion business to almost $14 billion in the past five years. And studies show an 11x ROI versus using banner ads. On average, companies and brands earn $5.20 for every dollar they spend on influencer marketing. Because of this, 66% of brands will be increasing their budget on influencer marketing this year. So, what are you waiting for?
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