Grow your Instagram audience by working with influencers.
Want to gain visibility in front of millions of Instagram users? Consider influencer marketing in your integrated marketing communications strategy.
A social media influencer has the power to sway opinions and impact the purchasing behavior of others in a specific target area and demographic. The more specific and targeted the clout, the more influence they have through social media marketing. An influencer’s job is to try new experiences, activities, products and foods, etc., and let others know about them through their unique lens. Consumers trust the opinions of influencers and are more likely to try these experiences and activities that the influencer deems “cool” and worthy of checking out. Influencer marketing also relies heavily on visual content marketing to “show” an experience as a way to sell it. Influencers can “influence” through organic product placement, Instagram takeovers, Instagram Live video content, Instagram stories or static branded Instagram feed posts.
How We Evolved from Bloggers to Micro-influencers
Traditionally, we relied on journalists to review experiences, try new foods and products and let us know their opinions. With the rise of social media, consumers are becoming increasingly more dependent on influencers to decide where to go, what to buy and what to do.
The trend of influencer marketing originally started with bloggers and has now headed in the direction of “micro influencers.” Many influencers today don’t even have a blog. All of their content resides within their social media platforms. The evolution from long-form blogging to short-form influencer marketing has to do with shorter attention spans, the rise of visual marketing, and how people want to consume content. Today, influencers have to show what they are doing or selling instead of writing about it.
Influencers become popular because people began to trust third-party endorsements from Public Relations rather than traditional advertising. There is a difference between saying “Check me out, I am great,” vs. “Check her out, she is great.” Consumers want recommendations from people they know and trust and influencer marketing provides that. If they feel like they have a digital relationship with influencers, and the influencer puts their stamp of approval on something, consumers are often more likely to trust the endorsement.
The Difference Between a Blogger and an Influencer
Bloggers write on a website through traditional means, while influencers “influence” through social media channels such as Instagram feed posts or Instagram Stories. Bloggers typically spend more time on long-form content creation, whereas influencers devote more time to visual content creation and less time on the writing of the content around it.
How a Social Media Influencer Can Help Your Business
Influencers can help tap into new markets in your target audience that you otherwise may have had to spend more money to reach. While influencer marketing should not be your entire marketing campaign, it should be an important component in the PESO model of an integrated marketing communications plan. However, it is imperative to note that influencer marketing is only one component of your marketing campaign. It cannot replace an entire communications plan and should be complemented by other forms of traditional public relations, advertising, social media marketing, and content marketing.
What You Gain From Working With an Influencer
You may be wondering why you should have to pay a social media influencer to promote your business. After all, you are already providing them with complementary services or products to review, so why should you have to pay a fee beyond comped services? In addition to reviewing your product or service, social media influencers are providing you with content that you can reuse for other purposes to market your business. Additionally, an influencer’s job isn’t as simple as posting something on social media and is often more complex than you may realize. Here is a behind-the-scenes look at what social media influencers do to make sure your business gets the most out of a sponsored post or social media endorsement:
Social Media Influencers:
- Find and vet relevant social media-worthy opportunities
- Coordinate the actual photos of the experience either on their own or by hiring outside photographers
- Research new angles on the same topics to see how their post and images can gain more visibility and “likes.”
- Choose the right photo for the post
- Conduct Hashtag and tagging research to increase post visibility and proper sponsored post tagging
- Write an engaging caption to draw interest
- Make sure the photo looks aesthetically pleasing with the rest of their feed
- Execute sponsored posts complying with brand guidelines without appearing overly staged or promotional
- View social media post statistics and engagement metrics to see what content is performing better
How to Effectively Work with an Instagram Influencer
If you are thinking about working with a social media influencer to promote your brand or product, here are 5 things to keep in mind before engaging them:
- Vet the influencer. Many social media influencers tout their inflated follower counts to show that they have a higher following than they actually do. Check to see if their followers are real or just bots. One way to do this is to look at the ratio of followers to the number of likes and comments. Check to see if the comments are organic or spam that could have been bought through a third-party app or platform.
- Ask to see the influencer’s media kit. Vetting an influencer doesn’t just stop at how many followers they have. You also want to vet the previous work they have done with other brands. Ask for their current media kit as well as any success metrics for previous campaigns they have worked on with brands. Also, review the social media channels of companies they have done influencer marketing work with as possible referral sources and to look at the final branded posts.
- Do your research. Where do their primary followers reside? For example, if you are a hyper-local business, do you want to engage with an influencer who has a national or international platform? While the influencer can build great buzz about your product or company and get new followers for you, it will not be profitable if none of the followers are actually in your market. Sometimes, it is better to engage an influencer with a smaller following if those followers convert to profitable customers in your region than to work with a large influencer who has followers that will only lead to vanity metrics. “Likes” do not necessarily equal new customers and profitability. Understand the difference before engaging an influencer.
- Get it in writing. Make sure you are protected by having them sign an influencer marketing contract. Carefully outline what is expected of the influencer. For example, do they have final control over creative or do you? How long will the post stay up after it has gone live? Are you supplying copy for the post or will the influencer? Will the influencer allow your logo or text on their post or do they want visual marketing with no overlay? Are they okay with your branding or can the branding be used only if it is natively embedded in the image in an organic format? All details should be worked out before the project begins.
- Outline creative control. One of the scariest parts of working with an influencer is the lack of creative control. The influencer will be sharing their review of your product — what they like (and don’t like!) about the product to remain authentic. Additionally, the influencer will have their own branding aesthetic which may not match the branding aesthetic you envisioned in the final post. For example, if you are looking for the influencer to post product shots but they post photos of them with the product instead, you may be disappointed. It is important to understand the level of control you will have over the final post and its aesthetic. If you want to have final control, specify it in writing. Most influencers want to show their followers how the product fits in with their lifestyle, which may be different than how you or your CMO envisions the post. Have open lines of communication with the influencer before you agree to a deal.
Influencer Marketing Checklist
✓ Is their branding similar to yours?
✓ Does the influencer have devoted followers?
✓ Is their content high-quality?
✓ Are their captions well written?
✓ Are their followers engaged with their content?
✓ Are their followers aligned with your target audience?
✓ Just because an influencer has a small following does not mean they are not worth looking at.
✓ Likes do not equal engagement.
✓ Influencers typically want to control how your product is shared creatively.
✓ Influencers have their own branding aesthetic that may not match yours.
✓ Let the influencer see how the product fits into their lifestyle.
✓ Audiences will respond better to authentic and organic content creation.
✓ Make sure the influencer’s followers are in your target market.
✓ Consider an influencers engagement rate, quality of followers and other brands they have worked with.
✓ Appropiately tag branded content on Instagram as “paid sponsorship” posts.
✓ An influencer’s loyalty will always be to their audience first.
The Future of Influencer Marketing
In the future, every person with an Instagram or other popular social media account will see that they, too, can become influencers. So, if you can’t afford to hire an influencer, consider your sphere of influence. Anyone can be an influencer; you just have to be willing to put in the work. Once you realize that you can be an influencer, you will recognize the power of your brand on digital platforms. The key is to define your niche and target audience and stick to it.
For additional information on influencer marketing, check out the article “Becoming an Influencer: A Look at the Emergence of the Influencer”