Whilst working with influencers is not a new concept in marketing, working with digital influencers on platforms such as Instagram is still very much unchartered territory for a lot of small businesses.
And although it’s easy to get it wrong and waste a lot of time and money on “fake” accounts or the wrong type of influencers – getting it right could be the secret to success for your company.
Leanne Gannon, the Founder of She & Co Digital, is a specialist in social media and influencer marketing. If you have spent any time on social media, it is likely that you will have been exposed to influencer marketing, but what is it, how does it work, and what are the regulations surrounding it that you need to be aware of?
What is influencer marketing?
Leanne explained: “Influencer marketing is using someone else’s influence or relationship with an audience to promote your product or service. It can be tricky to do well, but if done well it can be very effective.”
Influencers can be found on almost all social media platforms, including Instagram, YouTube, through their own personal blogs, and even on Snapchat. While they are most commonly associated with the beauty and fashion industries, almost all sectors will have influencers out there – from hobbyists to those who do it professionally.
During her session Leanne advised that the key to a great influencer is authenticity: “Most of the successful influencer marketing campaigns encourage the creation of content that is original and/or adds value for the audience. Today, more than ever, consumers look to fellow consumers to inform their purchase decisions. Influencer marketing, when it is authentic and trustworthy, increases a brand’s credibility.”
While influencer marketing is certainly not new, it is something we are likely to see increasing going forward. The industry is set to reach a whopping $10 billion by 2020, with more and more brands increasing their influencer marketing spend.
What does an influencer marketing strategy look like?
Research thoroughly – investigate the influencers that are popular for your industry, as well as the smaller ‘micro’ influencers – make a list of who you would like to approach that have authentic content and engage regularly with their audiences.
Set your campaign goals – do you want to increase brand awareness or increase conversions? This will impact the type of advertising you do and likely your budget.
Set a budget – consider the return on investment that you would like from your campaign, as well as the lifetime value of a potential customer.
Target the right influencers for your brand – do you want one bigger influencer, or multiple smaller influencers? Do you want to exchange (‘gift’) free product to micro influencers in exchange for an honest review?
Use tools to your advantage – ask influencers to provide evidence of their engagement levels and the impressions, clicks and uptake numbers from their previous collaborations. Heepsy is a useful online tool you can use to check out their stats.
Review and analyse the results – see what worked well and what didn’t work so well, and use the information to inform future campaigns.
Beware of Regulations
“As influencer marketing has grown in popularity, the UK Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) – and in the Republic of Ireland the Advertising Standards Authority for Ireland (ASAI) – have released guidelines on how these adverts should be disclosed” said Leanne, adding: “There are rules regarding how these adverts are tagged, such as using #advert, #gifted, or #sponsored. Free downloads are available from their respective websites, so make sure you are aware of how to disclose properly and that any influencers you work with follow the rules.”
The final takeaway message is to be clear in your expectations when working with influencers, especially smaller influencers who may not have undertaken much advertising work before.
Clearly state how many posts you will get, check that captions are spelt correctly, and that any necessary hashtags are used and spelt correctly. If undertaking paid-for advertising, pay a percentage up-front and the balance upon completion of the work. Your aim should be to create a mutually beneficial relationship so you can continue to work with those who produce positive outcomes for your company.
Want to hear even more top tips about working with influencers to market your business? Check out the full recording of his workshop on the Cathedral Quarter website – https://www.cathedralquarterbelfast.com/whats-on/lunchtime–learning–working-with-influencers
To see more Lunchtime Learning sessions go to https://www.cathedralquarterbelfast.com/lunchtime-learning