What is influencer marketing and how it works
Every day a modern person sees about 10 thousand messages from brands – on the street, in his own smartphone, on TV or in magazines. To get through the barrage of “buy and sell” companies, it is not enough to be just original. They need to interest potential customers and find effective leverage.
This is where influencer marketing comes to the rescue – the hottest trend of the last two years, whose effectiveness cannot be overestimated. What is influencer marketing and why is it so important for businesses? Let’s figure it out in today’s article.
What is influencer marketing
Influencer marketing is the promotion of products or services through influencers. And now we are talking not only about bloggers. Forbes magazine identifies six types of influencers:
- experts in a specific field;
- personal brands;
But the thematic resource Influencermarketinghub slightly modified the Forbes classification, including stars, industry experts, bloggers, opinion leaders, content creators and micro-influencers as real trendsetters.
The classification of influencers by the number of subscribers is more established:
- nanoinfluencers – 1000-5000 followers;
- microinfluencers – from 5 thousand to 50 thousand;
- macro – from 50,000 subscribers;
- millionaires – 1,000,000 and to infinity.
How influencer marketing works
According to AdWeek, 65% of brands use influencer marketing in one way or another to promote their products and services, and 52% of companies even have a separate budget for referral marketing.
The goals that brands set themselves when starting cooperation with influencers are as follows:
- increase sales;
- strengthening the reputation;
- increasing audience trust and awareness;
- reduction of negativity (in this case, bloggers help to debunk the myth about the dangers of the product);
- attracting new subscribers;
- a visual demonstration of how to use the product.
Influencer marketing is effective only if a particular audience considers a particular person to be an authority and trusts their opinion.
For influencer marketing to work, the rule of three Rs must be followed:
- reach (reach) – the ability to convey an advertising message to the target audience;
- resonance (resonance) – the ability to influence subscribers;
- relevance – the strength of the relationship between the influencer and the audience.
Why it became popular
The concept of influencer marketing is based on the hypothesis that consumers are more likely to trust the advice of public authorities. According to a HubSpot study, 71% of users make a purchase decision based on a recommendation on social media.
Therefore, the main reason of the growing popularity of this form of marketing lies in the increasing influence of social networks. The modern generation is more likely to sit on Instagram and perceive information coming from the lips of bloggers, rather than watch advertisements on TV. Thus, the change of priorities significantly influenced the transformation of opinion leaders.
What works in influencer marketing and what doesn’t
Influencer marketing is a relatively new tool for influencing the minds of users, which has not yet been fully understood, so in some cases companies have to act on a whim.
What really works in influencer marketing? Here are some tips to avoid strategic mistakes .
- Bet on micro-influencers. Modern realities are such that overpaying for advertising from top bloggers is at least stupid and, of course, ineffective. If you’re on a tight budget, go for micro and nanoinfluencers. Yes, you will spend a lot of time choosing influencers, but in return you will get more audience engagement.
- Track your ad post performance . For these purposes, UTM tags are suitable, allowing you to track transitions to a landing page or website. You can also create unique promotional codes.
- Look for customer influencers . Track active users who have already told their audience about you for free. Such clients are loyal to the company, so it is easier to establish contact with them + most likely, they will agree to cooperate on barter.
- Analyze Successful Cases . There is still little information about systematic promotion through influencer marketing, but well-described examples can be found on the platforms of agencies that specialize in brand promotion and are actively introducing new tools.
Many companies, discovering the delights of influencer marketing, expect lightning fast results, but end up wasting their advertising budget. Why does this happen? Here are some reasons :
- Overly intrusive and explicit advertising . Direct advertising no longer works, causing chronic dislike among users. This approach to promotion can have a detrimental effect on the reputation of not only the blogger, but also the company.
- Irrelevant content . You need to interact only with those bloggers who have access to your target audience. What’s the use of a million subscribers if most of them are girls from Moscow, and you are looking for buyers from Saratov?
- Image mismatch. The influencer must fully support the philosophy of the company, or you risk causing cognitive dissonance in people. Well, advertising of a vegan restaurant will not look organic among photos of juicy steaks.
Why brands should use influencer marketing
Influencer marketing is equally effective for businesses of any format – from large corporations with a myriad of trade categories to mobile. The choice of the correct placement concept depends only on the specifics of the offer and the objectives of the advertising campaign.
Influencers should be used when:
- you want to tell about the product in a language that the audience understands;
- the flow of organic traffic has slowed down and it is necessary to “swing” the followers;
- the usual traffic sources have become obsolete.
An influencer’s performance is not measured by instant revenue. According to some estimates, for every dollar invested in a blogger campaign, the brand receives $ 7.65 , but these figures are very arbitrary.
Without going into details, working closely with the influencer will bring you the following benefits:
- will increase sales;
- will increase audience loyalty and brand awareness;
- will strengthen the reputation;
- will increase website traffic and engagement.
Influencer marketing will help you attract new followers, double your reach and solve image problems.
Formats and tools
According to a survey of influencers, the most popular platforms are Instagram , which was chosen by 87.1% of respondents, and Youtube – 8.5%.
Certain promotion formats have already been established on these platforms. Below are the main :
- Product Overview. Very popular with cosmetic brands. The blogger is given a product, the delights of which he must describe in all colors. The format can be absolutely any: story, post in the feed, live broadcast, and so on.
- Product placement. Have you noticed how in the film the main character smokes the same cigarettes, mysteriously looking at the pack, or drinks only Cola, deliberately ignoring other drinks? Yes, yes, this is the same product placement that gradually moved from TV to social networks. The format differs in that the influencer advertises the product as if by chance demonstrating it.
- Unpacking . A great option for stories, and some YouTubers made a fortune on this in their time. Unpacks are used as a news feed to tell in detail about the product.
- Branding a profile or category . This is a format that assumes long-term cooperation and works for brand awareness among the audience of the influencer.
- Tips . Bloggers often use the advice format, and the posts are sponsored directly by brands. For example, pediatrician Anna Levadnaya, in collaboration with Pampers, tells mothers how to potty train a child.
- Gibeah . Recently, a flurry of criticism has hit the givas, but companies are still actively building followers using this option. Typically, a brand offers users a prize for fulfilling simple conditions: likes, subscribing to accounts, comments, and so on.
- Special Projects . They can be both long-term and short-term. Usually projects are tied to some kind of news feed and imply branding of the influencer’s content.
- Ambassador. This is the case when a blogger becomes the face of a brand and is inextricably associated with your company in the audience, so it is important not to make a mistake with the choice.
Each of the presented formats has a number of functions. For example, testimonials and reviews drive sales significantly, while special projects and ambassadors help build trust with customers.
How to organize an advertising campaign
The work of promoting through influencers consists of basic steps. Here are the main ones.
Be clear about the goal of the advertising campaign
What is your goal: to increase brand awareness, attract new customers, increase sales? The answer to this question will determine the choice of the influencer, the type of content and the content of the post.
Describe your audience
It is important to consider everything here: gender, age, geographic location, income level, interests, and so on. Based on the data obtained, it will be easier to choose an opinion leader.
Any method is good for finding the right influencers. For example, experts should be caught on specialized sites, and also look through the lists of speakers who speak at conferences.
You can go more complex ways – find an expert within the company, work on his image, promote, and then start promoting. Yes, it is difficult, but the growth of its popularity will have a beneficial effect on your success.
Periodically review your audience profiles and monitor who they follow.
Analyze their profiles
Now select only those bloggers from the list that match your business needs. Analyze the content (note if there are any posts on its page that could damage the brand’s reputation), communication style with followers, post format, and do not forget to study audience engagement.
For these purposes, we recommend using the trendHERO service, where an extensive database of influencers is collected, and detailed statistics on accounts are provided, including metrics that allow you to detect cheats.
Important : do not overpay for celebrity names on all Instagram, because millions of coverage does not guarantee hitting the target audience. It should also be borne in mind that the conversion rate in response at the first contact with the influencer is close to zero.
The next step is to establish contact. To negotiate with an influencer about cooperation, you need to write a letter with a specific proposal. Try to do this without unnecessary “water” and lyrical digressions.
Collect materials that will help the blogger learn more about your product: description, brand book, video reviews and customer reviews.
Enter all actions in the table: to whom the commercial proposal was sent, what conditions the blogger sets, his price list, content format, publication terms and results.
Draw up terms of reference
Don’t put the blogger too tightly. He knows his subscribers better, therefore, he will be able to adjust the content to their preferences. Also indicate the direct motivation for the audience – for example, a discount for those who order for the first time or name a promotional code.
Be prepared for technical difficulties, carefully check the correctness of tracking links and quickly respond to changes. Also consider the difference in time zones if you collaborate with bloggers from different regions.
How to determine the effectiveness of an advertising campaign
No ad campaign is complete without KPI tracking and influencer marketing is no exception. There are many metrics to measure ad performance.
To avoid confusion, we have prepared a short guide to basic metrics:
- Reach . This is the actual number of people who have seen certain information in your account (it only takes into account unique visitors). But it should be borne in mind that blogger audiences can overlap. Simply put, if you ordered ads from 5 influencers, each of which has about 5,000 subscribers, this does not mean that the total reach will be equal to 25,000, since the audiences are more likely to be not unique.
- CPM . Price per 1,000 impressions. Measured by dividing the spent budget by the coverage metric. Here you will find a curious fact: the more followers an influencer has, the lower the cost per impressions. But after such a discovery, you should not specifically look for millionaire influencers. It is likely that a blogger with a small audience and a large CPM will bring great results.
- Engagement . Engagement Rate (ER) – the percentage of the number of followers to the number of manifestations of activity. To measure engagement, you need to summarize the number of comments, likes and reposts, and then divide the result by the number of views and multiply by 100%.
- Sales . To track the number and amount of sales in an advertising campaign with an influencer, you can use promotional codes and UTM tags.
- Return of attachments . ROI provides an answer to the question of whether you have achieved a positive ROI during your ad campaign. If the costs paid off and you came out on top, then it makes sense.
- Conversion rate. The easiest way to track the conversions generated by working with an influencer is to monitor sales before, during, and after an ad campaign, and then compare any changes that occurred during the promotion period. But conversions aren’t just about sales. Every time a client performs the desired action (downloads a guide, subscribes to a newsletter, etc.), this is also considered a conversion.
Advantages and Disadvantages
What makes influencer marketing so popular, and why have brands started to work so closely with influencers lately? The answer lies in the advantages of the new promotion philosophy:
- Communication with a loyal audience . Bloggers have their own audience. These are loyal subscribers who trust the idol’s advice and probably know that he will not advise badly. Another plus is that it is easy to build communication with such followers, because they almost always give feedback on recommendations.
- Influencers help not only in content creation , but also in promotion. Influencers interact with their target audience every day. Therefore, they know exactly which posts will enter and which ones will fly by. Therefore, bloggers will be able to successfully tailor their advertising message to the needs of their followers.
- Advertising as a recommendation. Users are so fed up with direct advertising that some have developed “banner blindness.” Users simply ignore intrusive messages. And here influencers rush to the rescue, from whose lips the information about the brand sounds like a recommendation, and not just another aggressive advertisement.
- Ability to work with a narrow audience . Everything is simple here: a youth line of cosmetics is easy to promote through audience owners 16+, and protein bars can be advertised with the help of fitness bloggers.
- Increase in sales. Collaboration with bloggers with millions of people will promote the company, and advertising through small influencers will significantly increase sales and bring real leads.
- Great viral potential . Content posted by a popular influencer is additionally distributed by its followers, which in some cases can make the post go viral.
Well, where can you go without a fly in the ointment? Here are a few cons of influencer marketing:
- The agony of choice . The sheer number of influencers on Instagram makes it much more difficult to choose the “right” blogger who would ideally match not only the concept, but also his brand’s advertising goals.
- Difficult to predict the outcome . In this case, it is almost impossible to predict the outcome, because the result is influenced by a lot of factors – from the way information is presented to the reputation of an opinion leader.
- High cost of advertising (if we are talking about large bloggers). Bloggers-millionaires and celebrities can demand several thousand dollars for one publication, which significantly hits the pocket of small and medium-sized businesses.
Examples of Instagram ad campaigns
In order not to be unfounded, here are a couple of great examples of influencer marketing.
Native is not always effective, so some bloggers prefer to make recommendations without unnecessary preambles and ornate phrases. Fashion influencer @elizavetaminina and her sale post on blackfridaysale.ru are a great example.
What if you need to advertise a product you’ve never tried? That’s right, “unpack” it. In this case, you can limit yourself to the phrase “I will test” and not give a specific assessment to the product. This is what @m_gladkikh did, for example, when advertising the BRONZEGLOW beauty studio in stories.
And the young mother @galichida has raised the awareness of Nestle quite well.
If a product or service fits perfectly into the realities of everyday life, then instead of praises and long posts, you can simply mark the brand in the photo.
Advertising from bloggers is not always a post or story. Sometimes integration with an influencer can also involve live streaming, joint pranks and other activities.
How to get followers to read an ad post with interest? Of course, pass it off as a personal story in which the brand acts as a savior. Some bloggers talk about how they struggle with problems for half their lives, while others come up with plot twists specifically for advertising.
“Onion of the Day” or “My Cosmetic Bag” is an eternal theme among bloggers in the fashion and beauty segment. For example, @thecablook in Stories often makes a selection of branded items and makes ads in the form of recommendations.
Now let’s summarize the steps you need to take to launch an ad campaign through influencers.
- formulate promotion goals;
- describe the audience in detail;
- compile a list of suitable influencers yourself or use the trendHERO service;
- study blogger accounts and finally decide on the choice;
- draw up a commercial offer and agree on cooperation.
Next, select the format of cooperation:
- special project;
- product placement;
- branded content;
What you need to do to improve influencer marketing:
- ensure sufficient coverage of the target audience;
- bet on macroinfluencers;
- track performance using promo codes or UTM tags;
- look for influencers among loyal customers.
We hope our guide will help you to correctly plan an advertising campaign and not be mistaken with the choice of influencers.