Influencer Marketing: Effective, but not easy
Who do you trust more? The flashy commercials on TV? Or the local bloggers you follow on Instagram?
Welcome to the world of influencer marketing. A world where bloggers and social media personalities have a powerful impact on where we shop and what we buy.
All you have to do is scroll through Instagram to see influencer marketing at work. The product placement might be subtle – a strategically-placed logo, a beautifully-curated flat lay – but it’s there. And most of the time, it’s working.
A new approach to selling
The rise of influencer marketing makes sense. Most people don’t enjoy being on the receiving end of a sales pitch. They love to shop – but only on their terms. Following influencers offers a far more palatable sales experience than watching television commercials.
Influencer marketing also tends to be more authentic than traditional paid advertising. While there are always exceptions, most bloggers and social media personalities will only promote products they believe in or would use themselves. This is because they care about their audience and have built their brand based on authenticity. They don’t want to lose their readers’ respect with one paid campaign.
As a result, influencer marketing – when done well – offers excellent engagement rates and good ROI. It speaks straight to the heart of your customers and frames your products as part of a lifestyle, not just a sales pitch.
Okay, where do I sign?
With all of this in mind, you could be forgiven for thinking that influencer marketing will be the easiest marketing you do all year. Not quite. Influencer marketing is effective, but it’s not easy.
In many ways, traditional advertising is easier because you know the rules. Influencer marketing, on the other hand, is new territory and requires a highly strategic approach.
While we are by no means influencer marketing experts (we’re still learning, too!), below are some useful tips we’ve picked up along the way.
Authenticity is everything
Today, people are intelligent and time-poor – a lethal combination if your marketing is inauthentic. They are quick to sniff out sales pitches and won’t hesitate to ‘change the channel’ if your product doesn’t appeal. You have a very limited window to capture their attention, and they have no time for fakers.
The good news is if you’re passionate about your product or service, and you genuinely want the best results for your customers, then influencer marketing provides you with an ideal opportunity to speak to them on their terms. Competitors who are just in the game to make a quick dollar will not survive.
To communicate authentically with your customers, you need to know your customers extremely well. You need to understand what makes them tick (and what doesn’t), what they are looking for in a product or service, and why they follow the influencers they do.
Cultivate real relationships
Influencer marketing is about real people having real conversations about the products or services that add real value to their life. It’s based on real relationships, not imagined ones.
Spend some time really getting to know the influencers you wish to work with, and their audiences (which should be your audience, too). Focus on building trust and cultivating real relationships to see results. This should be an enjoyable process, as – if you have selected the right influencers – your values will naturally align.
Set clear goals and expectations
Although influencer marketing is a new way of engaging with your customers, some of the old rules still apply. It’s important to set some clear goals from the beginning so your influencer knows exactly what’s expected of them throughout the campaign. Agree on how you will measure return on investment and make sure they understand the terms and conditions of the project.
Taking a structured approach to strategy and goal-setting will make sure both parties are on the same page, avoiding potentially awkward conversations in the future. Your influencers will thank you for it!
Use an influencer marketing agency/marketplace app
You may be wondering things like: How do I get in touch with bloggers? What’s the average market rate? Is it worth the investment?
Some businesses establish direct relationships with influencers, but most go through an agency of some kind. Agencies have access to a large network and can match you to the right influencer for your brand.
Here are three of our top marketplace recommendations:
- Tribe – An Australian-based agency built on the guiding principle of ‘Authentic Advocacy.’
- Nichify – “The world’s first network for social networkers.”
- Shopping Links – “An online marketplace designed to make it easier for Bloggers and Brands to connect and collaborate.”
Be an influencer
One of the best ways to harness influencer marketing is to be an influencer yourself. Before you hire a blogger or Instagram personality to promote your products, reflect on your own blogging and social media habits. What could you be doing to engage with your customers on a more personal level? Is there an opportunity for you to embrace the ‘influencer’ mindset?
Being an influencer is marketing best-practice, but it’s often forgotten in the rush to update all your social media channels, write a blog post every week, and stay on top of all the other admin that comes with running an ecommerce business. But if you take steps to be an influencer in your own marketing, then not only will you engage with more customers, you will also be in the best position to hire external influencers when the time comes.