Millennials (16-36 years old) and Generation Z (0-16 years old) are your new consumers. These two generations spend a significant amount of time across mainstream social video platforms such as, YouTube, Instagram and Snapchat and prefer to hear recommendations from influencers over traditional advertisements. A survey from Refuel Agency reveal that Millennials spend around 46% of their time on YouTube, Instagram and Snapchat while Generation Z spend around 73% of their time on these social media platforms. The typical purchase cycle for these two audiences includes visual reinforcement of products and services via reviews, unboxings, tutorials and demos before committing to the purchase step. The caveat in this purchase cycle is that these audiences trust someone they can relate to and represents the brand, rather than the brand itself, ideally, a trusted influencer with an honest opinion. According to an article by Media Kix “Marketers are discovering that one of the best ways to target audience groups, drive awareness, and elicit engagement across social channels is by creating innovative advertising partnerships with select social media influencers. You’re probably wondering, “How do you do Influencer Marketing?” Here are some expert tips on optimizing your social media marketing via influencers for high-value consumer engagement, brand trust, and brand loyalty.
Budget: How much should I spend on an Influencer Marketing campaign?
Influencer marketing platform Tomoson polled 125 marketers and the results revealed that “59 percent of those marketers believe in influencer marketing so firmly that they plan to increase their ad budgets for it within the next 12 months.” Over the past 6 years, influencer marketing has become more powerful and effective compared to paid marketing, email marketing and banner advertisements. Tomoson indicates that businesses are earning $6.50 for each $1 spent on influencer marketing, with the top 13% earning $20 or more per $1 spent. This is an extremely attractive and achievable ROI. If you don’t have an influencer program at the moment, you’re behind. So, how much should you invest in an Influencer Marketing Campaign and for how long? There is no easy formula that allows you to see how much you should spend on Influencer Marketing; it is ultimately up to you. Be aware that a few dollars here and there will lead to no results. Avoid putting money into quick campaigns and expecting outcomes overnight. Single campaigns such as a product launch, giveaway or an event promotion are the only types of “quick” campaigns that could yield results and the maximum duration of these campaigns should be 2 weeks. Ongoing partnerships might be costly, however, the ROI is profitable the longer you partner with the influencer for future campaigns. Followers sense authenticity when influencers are sharing continuous appreciation for a specific brand.
Another point to consider when it comes to increasing influencer budget is the fact that well-known influencers expect compensation. If you are serious about Influencer Marketing, it should be a large portion of your ad budget.
The Influencer: There are so Many Influencers Out There- Who do I pick?
Target Audience and Campaign Goals: Before you begin your search for influencers, you must know the audience that you are targeting. It is vital to choose an influencer that aligns with your brand and the right audience. You probably already have a solid idea of the audience that you should be targeting for your brand. Take it one step further and identify the type of YouTube personas, vlogs, blogs, Snapchatters and Instagrammers that your audience would find interesting, engaging, and trustworthy. Determine the campaign goals that you are trying to achieve. An increase in YouTube followers? A higher percentage of Click-Through-Rates for a specific product? Within these objectives, specify a list of tactics that focus on the influencer strengths –i.e. engagement with the right audience, and content creation.
Research: The Foundation of Achieving that Attractive ROI from Your Influencer Marketing Campaign.
This is going to be the most time consuming task when it comes to picking the ideal influencer from a sea of many. When looking for your perfect influencer, focus on these four elements: context, reach, audience responsiveness and past partnerships.
Context: Your influencer should have the right contextual fit with your brand. This is the most critical characteristic when selecting the right influencers for your brand. There is nothing worse than sending your message to 1 million followers that don’t care about your brand. For ex: A young beauty and fashion YouTuber trying to promote your video game sends a mismatched message to their followers. While the video might be visually appealing, this mismatched influencer-brand pairing will not contribute to sales or leads.
Reach: An influencer’s reach is not the sole indicator of a successful partnership. While doing research, you might encounter some influencers that have thousands of followers, but very little engagement via likes and comments, whereas other influencers might have around 500 followers but receive high engagement metrics on their posts. The key is to find someone who has a decent reach and has devoted followers, which adds to the next point.
Audience Responsiveness: When the influencer posts a new piece of content, do his/her followers perform an action and/or respond to the content via, likes or shares? If the answer is yes, then you are looking at an effective influencer with a loyal audience. These are the type of influencers you want because their audience soaks up his/her recommendations, much like a dry sponge. Consider this, influencers that frequently post high quality content on a regular basis have developed an audience that engages in via likes, comments and shares. Sounds similar to an addictive show on Netflix, right?
Past Partnerships: Investigate the brands that your influencers have collaborated with before. Do these brands align with your brand’s industry or product? For example: If you were Nike and you wanted to engage in a brand collaboration with an influencer, you would not want to choose an influencer who has had a previous collaboration with Adidas. Invest your time wisely by looking at an influencer’s past collaborations to help you determine if they are the right fit for your brand.
Tactic: As you begin planning for the campaign choose an influencer marketing tactic:
- Honest Review
- Try-on Clothing
- How to / Tutorial
- First Impression
- Giveaway / Contest
Remember it is not all about an influencer showing your product and reciting a sales pitch word by word. In his article Influencer Marketing in 2016: Go Big or Go Home, Dan Ripoll, the founder of Content BLVD, points out that younger consumers can sense the hard sell a mile away, and they value authenticity above all else. Leave some room for creativity for your influencer to generate an inspiring and trustworthy branded story. After creating the story, it is important to arrange timelines and deliverables in order to set up clear expectations for the influencer.
Relationship Goals: Investing in long-Term Relationships with Influencers that Work Well with Your Brand.
Now that you have chosen your ideal influencer/influencers, always take the time to nurture long-term relationships for future campaigns. Ed Schauweker, Principal of Agile Public Relations affirms: “The foundation to building an effective influencer relations program is fostering relationships. Communication has to be personal, authentic and two-way. You can’t do that through automated distribution. Automated distribution is vapid at best and another form of spamming at worst. Think of it as dating. Because the best company-influencer relationships are just that, dating.” Right when you start emailing your influencers on your list for the first time, it’s best to refrain from automated email-responses. Instead, send a genuine personalized message in response. When working with influencers in general, it is important to thank them for their content creation. Different ways to express appreciation include: giving them free products and discounted products, or giving them a shout out in one of your social media outlets to increase traffic on their site.
Influencers are proficient at appealing to a younger audience since they are considered trustworthy and they don’t create advertising noise like banners and pop-up ads do. As pricey as it may be, influencer marketing is capable of bringing large ROIs and generating customer acquisition by its nature of targeting a specific audience and conveying trust. Choosing the right influencer involves identifying your target audience and campaign goals, doing extensive research in regards of context, reach, audience responsiveness and past collaborations. Then determine the promotional tactic that is best to sell your product or service. When it is time to contact the influencers, do not rely on automated distribution but instead, write a personalized message that is honest. Finally, develop rapport with the influencers whom you work with, considering that they have created visibility for your brand. Who knows? They could be part of future campaigns if they truly enjoy working with you.