Influencers are freeloaders with no actual influence. Influencer marketing doesn’t work. Right?! WRONG. Especially now that our social lives as well as businesses had to move online, influencer marketing is one of the best, cheapest ways to reach your target audience, increase traffic to your site and boost sales.
In 2020 almost 90% of businesses found return on investment from influencer marketing comparable (or even better) to other marketing activities, and made on average $5.20 for every $1 spent. If you’re just starting out, there’s no better way to get your word out there! And with Instagram’s new e-commerce features and creator tools rolling out, influencer marketing is only getting bigger and better.
If your past influencer marketing campaigns didn’t bring desirable results, don’t call it a day just yet or simply blame it on the influencers. There’s just a few things you need to change moving forward!
1. Don’t Only Look at the Number of Followers
When you’re picking influencers to work with, don’t just go for those with a high number of followers – this is one of the biggest influencer marketing mistakes businesses make! Instead, research your niche and choose those whose interests and audiences align with yours.
Let’s say you’re trying to spread awareness about a new car on the market. In this case, collaborating with an influencer whose core audience is 13 year-old girls will be a flop, despite them having hundreds of thousands of followers. Even if their Instagram post gets an insane number of likes, this is just a vanity metric. None of those 13 year-old girls will be buying a car anytime soon. However, working with an automotive enthusiast with only a couple of thousand followers could be a great success! Remember: relevance over popularity.
If you’re a new brand with a small marketing budget, working with micro-influencers (10,000-50,000 followers) and nano-influencers (1,000-10,000 followers) in your niche is what you should definitely look into. Their audiences may not be massive, but they come with a lower price tag and have a stronger, more engaged relationship with their followers.
Another thing to keep in mind is an influencer being a good fit for your brand beyond the niche and the audience. Partnering with a wrong influencer can not only waste your marketing budget, but also harm your brand’s reputation. Make sure their content and their tone align with what you’re looking for. Are there any controversies they’re involved with? What brands are they normally working with? If they hype up a different skincare product every other day or partner up with every random brand that comes their way, avoid! They’re most likely in it just for the money and are already losing their audience’s trust.
Honesty is what consumers still respond to best, so search for the kind of influencers who could incorporate your product into their content seamlessly, without having to fake sell. The partnership and the content have to be authentic.
Also, beware of the fishy influencers with fake followers. There’s more than you think, even amongst the most popular ones. If you don’t know how to spot fake followers and inauthentic engagement on Instagram, sign up to my newsletter for a free guide below!
2. Don’t Put All Your Eggs in One Basket
To increase your campaign’s reach, working with several influencers is better than working with only one. Influencers have unique personalities and ways of creating content. They often don’t share a fan base despite operating in the same niche. If you’re launching an amazing new sunscreen, 40 year-old as well as 20 year-old skincare enthusiasts are your potential buyers, but the two groups of people are most likely following different beauty bloggers – those who they can relate to more.
Long story short: be experimental.Tap into multiple audiences and collaborate with a number of different influencers to identify those who are driving the most traffic and sales. There’s no magic formula. You just have to give several a try, analyse and decide who’s worth keeping around.
3. Avoid One-off Collaborations
To allow an influencer and their audience to truly develop a relationship with your product, one feature won’t be enough. Campaigns that stretch through several months and involve regular (but not overbearing) mentions of the product are far more successful than a single ad.
It’s basic psychology. The more you see something, the more likely you are to develop a preference for it, simply because you’re familiar with it. If you keep seeing a certain camera brand being used by your favorite photographer, you’ll naturally gravitate towards that particular brand when choosing to buy your own camera.
On-going collaborations are also great for giving an influencer a chance to show different uses of the product and get more followers on board. Maybe someone who follows a food blogger will like the fact that a certain strawberry syrup can add flavour to a drink, and someone else that they can use it to bake delicious muffins.
4. Don’t Tell Influencers How to Do Their Job
Influencers know what works for their personal brand and their audience. Don’t micromanage them, don’t send them scripts. Give them rough guidelines on what you want to communicate with your campaign, or even better, send them a short pitch and let them come back to you with their own idea. The whole point of influencer marketing is to give influencers creative control and let them promote your product in a their own unique way. Different voices and fresh outlooks will only elevate your campaign.
The most successful influencer marketing campaigns come across as organic and don’t sound like blatant ads, which is exactly what happens when you tell an influencer what to do or how to say something. Copy-paste press release type of captions can be spotted from a mile away and clearly staged photos are not great either. If a piece of content looks staged, it automatically loses credibility.
5. Don’t Forget to Set Campaign Goals
Before you even start contacting influencers, you have to have your campaign goals clearly defined. Are you looking for exposure, a specific number of sales or maybe want to increase the number of followers on your brand’s socials? When you’re all set, look for influencers who can help you achieve your goal and let them know about it.
If you want a high volume of clicks to your site, having an influencer promote your product on their Instagram feed might not be the best option. You’ll need a way for their audience to access a clickable link without having to take additional steps. A feature on the influencer’s Instagram Story with a swipe-up link or an article on their blog will be a better bet.
One more thing: don’t forget to set up tracking links and keep an eye on the analytics to measure results.
6. Don’t Expect Free Exposure
Contacting influencers assuming they’ll promote your product for free can be seen as a bit of an insult. It can take hours or even days to produce a piece of content, and on top of that, years of work to build a community you’re trying to leverage. You wouldn’t say you’re not going to pay for an ad to Facebook, would you? Treat an influencer as one of your colleagues. Everyone contributing to the functioning and the growth of your business deserves to get paid.
Having said that, it’s not always about the money. Some (smaller) influencers will happily accept a gifted product and promote it as they see fit, if they end up liking it. Especially when the product’s coming from a local small business perfectly aligning with their interests or upcoming content. Are you selling handmade baby clothes? Find new mothers and ask them if you can send them a cute personalised gift – I’m sure it would go down a treat! Just don’t get your expectations too high and don’t require a certain type or volume of content from them.
Another way to work with influencers without paying them up-front, but not expecting them to work completely for free, is through referrals/affiliate programs – by giving them an opportunity to earn a commission on every product they sell through their trackable link or an individualised promo code. They’re especially handy when working with smaller influencers whose reach or the quality of posts can’t justify a proper payment just yet.
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