Influencer marketing is a hot topic, especially when considering strategies for increased awareness and interest in your brand.
From newly formed startups to major corporations like Coca-Cola and Maybelline, companies everywhere are harnessing the popularity of vloggers, bloggers and other internet celebrities to promote their products.
The question for everyday entrepreneurs and small businesses is how can they benefit from the trend towards influencer marketing? With the cost of social views soaring and YouTube stars commanding six-figure fees, can normal businesses really exploit the power of influencers?
How to Sell Products and Influence People – The Rise of Influencer Marketing
It’s easy to see why influencer marketing is taking off. In a world where 6 percent of social media users contribute 80 percent of the content, that small but influential segment is an invaluable source of exposure. That, and an ROI that delivers $6.85 for every $1 spent on ordinary paid advertising is why marketers are flocking to influencer marketing.
Targeting the right influencers has many other advantages too. For example, it can make an end-run around ad blocking services, reach out to younger consumers and tell your brand story via an authentic intermediary.
Recently, influencers have become even more important due to changes in Facebook’s news feed algorithm, making word of mouth content more visible than pure branded content. Finding the right influencers could be the key to reaching the 1.65 billion Facebook market.
At the same time, Facebook itself has been integrating influencers into its business model. The social media giant is paying an expert on cupcakes $196,000 to make short videos, as well as 23 other vloggers, a total of $2.2 million to present Facebook Live shows.
Clearly, online businesses are starting to take influencers seriously.
How to Create an Affordable Influencer Marketing Strategy
If you want to join the craze for influencer marketing, there’s no need to pay millions of dollars. Finding key influencers in your niche is relatively simple, and it’s a great way to boost your brand recognition.
To start with, research the social scores of influencers in your market niche. You can use tools like Klout (which can analyze individuals in detail) or FollowerWonk (which can find influencers in your market). Pay attention to their number of followers, how many unique visitors they receive, the number of retweets and how many times their work is shared.
Find a set of bloggers who are syndicated across high profile media outlets, whether that’s Huffington Post, Inc. or Tech Crunch. Also check that their content on these sites is actually shared by people on forums and bookmarking sites. Many “experts” post on major sites but don’t actually gain much traction. Carrying out a Reddit search is a good idea, while there are new search tools like Nasdaq Influencers that can zero in on bloggers in different sectors.
You should be able to come up with a pool of contacts. Now you need to set your parameters. What constitutes success in your influencer marketing campaign? Do you want to focus on achieving a set number of shares or followers added to your own accounts? Will influencers be driving traffic to your own landing pages? You need a tight definition of what you are looking to achieve before you begin.
After that, start reaching out to your team of influencers. Invite them to sample your products, write guest blogs for them, comment on their postings, follow them, like them, retweet them and mention them in your blogs and videos.
Do anything you can to make them feel that you value their help, and always give them something in return. Often, this means paying influencers for promotional content, which is where costs can start to spiral. Try to stay within your definitions of success, and limit your costs accordingly.
Become an Influencer to Dominate Your Market Niche
There are other ways to cut the cost of influencer marketing. To really exploit the potential of influencers, you also need to become an influencer yourself.
More and more companies are coming to the conclusion that influencer marketing needs to be supplemented by a more energetic content creation strategy. There is no reason for vloggers and expert guest bloggers to hoard the attention. Instead, in-house influencing teams can do just as well.
Allocate a staff member or small team to create influential content across all of your social media platforms. This team can then start to create a stream of blogs and vlogs that are published under your company’s name, but are otherwise generally unbranded. Their aims should be similar to ordinary influencers: gain access to popular media outlets, write guest blogs, build their YouTube viewing figures and engage their followers as much as possible.
The advantage of being in-house means that they can have access to your products before they are announced as well as your marketing databases. With that information, they can create unique content in your market niche, which is then taken up by other blogs and enters the social media ecosystem.
You can even use low cost video production apps like DubDub to create 90 second videos with high quality production values, allowing even the smallest companies to become YouTube influencers.
This kind of content creation strategy shouldn’t aim to replace influencer marketing. Instead, it should supplement it, by making expert bloggers and vloggers more eager to engage and attracting followers to your social media channels. By keeping the bulk of your influencer marketing in-house, you can put those marketing dollars to use elsewhere in your overall digital strategy.
Influencer Marketing is Here to Stay
Influencers are a crucial part of the online marketing world, and they aren’t going anywhere. If you want to promote your brand successfully, you will almost certainly have to work via intermediaries, resulting in rising costs in the process. Facebook might be able to absorb those costs, but that’s not necessarily the case for small businesses.
Instead, try to blend in-house content creation with efficient, targeted influencer marketing. Only use relevant key influencers and tightly control your budget for external content. By working in-house, you can build an expert reputation and a legion of your own followers, while harnessing the power of key influencers at the same time.