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Marketing has become more complicated over the years. While an actor in a white coat telling you “Camel cigarettes are the healthy choice” might’ve got the job done a few decades ago, the consumer has become more and more savvy about how a brand’s message is delivered. Subsequently, marketers have had to develop strategies that resonate better with this ever more skeptical and suspicious audience.
A marketing commandment – written into stone since time immemorial – is that there’s no more effective piece of advertising than word of mouth. People trust people, and it often doesn’t matter whether they know them or not. Just look at websites like Yelp or Rotten Tomatoes, built off of strangers giving other strangers their opinions.
But the problem with word of mouth is that there was no way for a marketer to control it. It was out of their hands by its very definition. Until now.
Social media has changed the marketing landscape in a spectacular way over the last decade, and one of the biggest revolutions has been the use of influencers to advertise your brand. You would’ve seen them in action; an Instagram star taking a shot of their favorite new bikini, a Tweeter telling their audience that this smoothie is the best way to start the day, or a Facebook post from an athlete who is a little too excited about the new shoes that just arrived.
However fabricated these posts can often seem, the fact is that they work. The followers of the social star trust that he or she will deliver quality and relevant recommendations. And for a price, that recommendation could be your brand.
So what do you need to consider when hiring an influencer on social media? Here are a few things to think about.
When you partner with an influencer, you obviously want to ensure that you get a good amount of eyes looking at you. But be aware that for every extra follower that your preferred influencer has, an extra amount of money is added onto the bill (the most popular Instagrammers, for example, can charge hundreds of thousands of dollars for a single influencer post).
It’s also important to make the distinction between total followership and relevant followership. As an example, if you’re a hotel, a travel blogger with a small but engaged audience may be a better choice than a mummy blogger with a large but less relevant reach. You’ll also find it far cheaper to use the smaller social media fish.
As mentioned above, how engaged an influencer is with their audience is vital to the success of your campaign. So do your due diligence, and look up their engagement numbers. What percentage of their followership are liking, commenting and sharing? Is their followership growing, or staying steady?
Frequency of posting is a large part of this, as an influencer that consistently posts quality content will likely have a great connection with their audience. High engagement numbers reflect a meaningful relationship between the influencer and their followers, which is great news for your brand.
How well do you and your preferred influencer line up? Do you talk to the same audiences? Do you use the same voice? Can you envisage them using your product or service if they weren’t getting paid as an influencer?
The more the likes, dislikes and personality of your influencer align with your brand, the higher the chance of influencer marketing success. If your brand is provocative, choose a provocative influencer. If your brand is warm and homely, choose an influencer who is the same.
This is a tricky piece of the puzzle, because essentially the less sponsored content that your influencer posts, the more authentic your sponsored message will be. If your preferred influencer posts sponsored content for anyone, their audience will quickly smell a rat and disengage.
Ideally, you want to find an influencer who hasn’t posted sponsored content at all, and will be able to produce a post that comes across personal and authentic.
Engaging the services of an influencer is a tricky marketing tightrope to walk. You’re looking to have them post something that comes across entirely natural and spontaneous, but that in reality has been painstakingly moulded and sculpted to maximize impact.
We know that it works. So if you do it right, you’ll be in marketing heaven.