Celebrity endorsements are an age-old advertising tactic. It’s been around since the 1700s. For example, in the 1760s, Josiah Wedgwood used his royal connections and endorsements to sell his Wedgwood brand plates.
In the late 1800s and early 1900s, trade cards were used with athletes, movie stars, and musicians to help promote products. Fast forward to the age of radio and black-and-white TV, celebrity endorsements continued to be a common marketing strategy as brands and products sponsor certain radio and TV segments, productions, and shows.
While brands continue to work with celebrities, today’s digital world has companies partnering with social media and blogging influencers to promote their products and services.
From the busy dad who documented his experiences with his first child to the rising athlete who gives fans an inside look into her life and progress, the average person is skyrocketing their way to stardom through social media, blogging, and other online platforms.
Through their content creation and community-building efforts, they become influencers trusted by thousands of online fans.
Brands are hopping on the influencer marketing trend like their success depends on it. But influencer marketing isn’t the right path for every business. In fact, for some, it can be a bad investment.
What is Influencer Marketing?
Like a celebrity endorsement or sponsorship, influencer marketing is when brands ask specific influencers to create valuable and relevant content around a particular campaign, product, or service. TapInfluence, an influencer marketing program and marketplace, defines this strategy as “a type of marketing that focuses on using key leaders to drive your brand’s message to the larger market.”
Likewise, Traackr says influencer marketing is “the process of identifying, researching, engaging and supporting the people who create high-impact conversations with customers about your brand, products or services.”
Check out these entertainment examples from Hubspot to see influencer marketing in action.
Thanks to the shift away from traditional advertising methods, brands are turning to influencer marketing to help sell their products and services.
It was found that 61% of people rely on influencer recommendations as part of their purchase decision. And 40% of people say they’ve purchased an item online after seeing it used by an influencer on social media sites such as Instagram, Twitter, Vine, or YouTube.
Why do brands use Influencer Marketing?
In an age where anyone can become an advertiser, we are more skeptical than ever about our online activity and purchases. It has been reported that 96% of people believe the advertising industry does not act with integrity, with 69% attributing their mistrust to the advertisers’ desire to sell more effectively.
With this in mind, we look to our friends and trusted sources for recommendations, advice, and guidance on purchases. In fact, 71% of consumers are more likely to make a purchase based on a social media reference.
When brands partner with online influencers, they want to prove to customers why they are a trusted company, product, or service. With 49% of people saying they rely on recommendations from influencers when making purchase decisions, it’s easy to see why companies hop on the influencer marketing bandwagon.
On top of online sales, brands use influencer marketing to:
- Drive social media engagement on their brand channels
- Gain quality backlinks for their online content
- Generate consistent website traffic
- Foster a connection with targeted audiences
- Improve awareness of a brand or specific campaign
While influencer marketing can benefit both parties involved, you need to determine if it is the right course of action for you and your blog before jumping in head first.
When to use Influencer Marketing
Although influencer marketing may not be the right track for every brand, there are cases where the tactic can be quite beneficial. If your brand is experiencing any of these situations, you may consider investing in influencer marketing.
You have a disconnect with customers
Is your customer service center riddled with disgruntled phone calls from consumers? Do customers need help understanding what your product or service is all about? When there’s a disconnect between your company and your customers, perhaps you need an influencer to bridge the gap.
Influencers have a loyal audience that turns to them for direction and advice. After all, 74% of people turn to social networks for guidance on purchase decisions. Leverage the power of influencers to educate your audience about your brand, what you stand for, and what they can do to learn more.
You need to generate brand awareness
If you’ve just launched a business or need help getting your brand off the ground, partnering with an influencer is a great way to reach your target audience. Be sure to research and find an influencer with a following that matches the demographic and behavioral characteristics you’re looking to target.
You’re trying to reach a new market
When trying to reach an untapped or new market, you need to find a way “in.” One excellent path is through an established influencer in that audience. First, reach out to an influencer who thoroughly understands your desired market and find out how you can best partner to reach this audience.
How to determine if Influencer Marketing is the right route for your company
Although influencer marketing is a popular and often successful tactic, there may be better marketing choices for your business. Use these tips to discover if influencer marketing is in the cards for your company.
Layout your campaign goals
Before scouring the Internet in search of the perfect influencer, you must organize and document your goals for the campaign. Common marketing campaign goals can include:
- Increasing sales of a certain product over a specific period.
- Generating a greater amount of website traffic.
- Improving overall social media engagement for a certain network.
- Adding more users to an email subscriber list.
- Increasing the number of mentions or brand conversations online.
Remember to ensure your marketing goals are SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely). Once you’ve defined your goals, ask yourself if influencer marketing is the ideal way to accomplish these objectives.
Analyze your industry
Several influencers also work to align themselves with a specific industry, from the food and beverage sector to the travel industry. However, some industries aren’t suited for influencer marketing and therefore attract few influencers, if any.
To determine if your industry is right for influencer marketing, begin with a search on Google or social media. Then, analyze how your competitors or similar brands are marketing themselves online. Are they using influencers to promote their products and services?
If so, is that working for them? Is the influencer delivering top-quality content and engaging with the community?
On the other hand, you can also look at the top profiles or influencers for each industry. Are these individuals partnering with brands? Does it make sense for them to do so?
For instance, a construction company may not have the same success with influencer marketing that a beauty or health company may have. Consider your industry’s nature before investing in an influencer marketing campaign.
Will Influencer Marketing work with your current plan?
Ideally, you’ve already got a marketing plan in place. Before jumping into influencer marketing, ensure it works seamlessly with your current marketing strategy. If adding an influencer to the mix will halt other plans or sidetrack important projects, it may not be your best marketing choice.
Influencer marketing pairs well with social media marketing, search engine optimization, and content marketing plans. Brands work with influencers to generate extra engagement on social platforms, exceptional articles, and strong backlinks for their website.
Do you have the budget for an Influencer campaign?
Just as freelancers aren’t free, neither are influencers. Influencers can charge upwards of thousands of dollars for a single social media post depending on the quality of their work and accumulated following.
Although there are micro-influencers you can leverage for a potentially lower cost, your resources may be better spent elsewhere if you’re struggling to find the marketing budget for influencer marketing.
Tools to help you win at Influencer Marketing
Should you decide that influencer marketing is the way to go, use these tools as part of your strategy:
- Followerwonk by Moz – Followerwonk is a free tool from Moz that allows users to search for Twitter influencers based on several filters, including topics, followers, and social authority.
- UTM parameters – UTM Parameters are tiny bits of code added to the end of a website URL to help marketers track results. For example, use these parameters when working with influencers to identify how much traffic their content drives to your website or blog content.
- BuzzSumo – BuzzSumo is an in-depth content marketing tool that allows you to research topics, influencers, and so much more. This robust tool helps marketers find ideal influencers based on keywords, hashtags, and social media metrics.
- SEOquake – If using influencer marketing for SEO and link-building purposes, you’ll want to know more about the influencer’s website. SEOquake is a browser add-on that delivers robust information about websites with a few simple clicks.
- CrowdFire – CrowdFire enables users to identify people to follow based on interests, industries, and more. In addition, this tool is great for influencers who need to manage their personal social media following and unfollow irrelevant or dormant accounts.
- BuzzStream – As one of the leading blogger outreach tools, BuzzStream is an essential asset for influencer marketing strategies. With BuzzStream, brands can analyze influencers, reach out for opportunities, and manage relationships in one place.
Is Influencer Marketing Right for Your Company?
Although influencer marketing can deliver an 11x higher ROI than traditional marketing tactics, it doesn’t fit well with every brand. So while there’s no definitive yes or no answer to the question, following these steps and answering our questions will guide you to an answer.
Have you invested in influencer marketing and seen great results? Share your experiences with the community!
Influencer marketing is a form of marketing that involves collaborating with individuals (influencers) who have a dedicated and engaged following on social media platforms or other online channels. Brands partner with influencers to promote their products or services to the influencer’s audience.
Influencers promote products or services through various content formats, including sponsored posts, videos, stories, reviews, giveaways, and affiliate links. They create authentic and engaging content that resonates with their followers, showcasing the brand or product in a relatable manner.
Finding the right influencers involves researching individuals whose niche, values, and audience align with your brand. Use influencer marketing platforms, social media search, or work with influencer marketing agencies to identify potential influencers.
The cost of influencer marketing varies based on factors like the influencer’s reach, engagement, and the scope of the collaboration. Influencers may charge a fee per post, a flat rate for a campaign, or request free products/services in exchange for promotion.
Yes, influencer marketing can be effective for small businesses. Micro-influencers (influencers with smaller but highly engaged followings) can provide affordable and impactful collaborations for smaller brands.