Influencer marketing on social media: How to find the right influencer & measure your ROI
Influencer Marketing is not new. What is new is the sophistication of influencers and their fans, as well as the willingness of brands to use these efforts to reach consumers with news on products and campaigns.
What is Social Media Influencer Marketing?
Using social media influencers in your marketing is the practice of building relationships with the people who can build relationships for you. Whether an influencer’s audience is small or large, an influencer can reach consumers via their blogs and social networks that your brand may not be able to.
Who is a social media influencer?
An influencer is quite simply someone who carries influence over others. A social media influencer is someone who wields that influence through social media. The form of influence can vary and no two influencers are the same. Celebrity endorsements were the original form of influencer marketing, but in this digital age of online connection, regular people have become online “celebrities” with powerfully engaged social media followings, especially in certain market segments.
Infact, Instagram comic hits and YouTube currently outranks traditional celebrities like musicians and movie stars.
Why Social Media Influencers?
Action and social mentions are driven more effectively by the “power middle.” Mid-level influencers like bloggers have a smaller but more loyal audience and drive 16 times more engagement than paid media and “mega influencers.”
Having influencers to discuss their brand experience is crucial. 88% of buyers consider online reviews “very influential” when making a purchase decision.
Millennials represent an enormous segment of the purchasing population yet are drastically different from other verticals when it comes to how to market to them. They vet purchases and a brand’s story more than other buyers.
90% of consumers trust peer recommendations. Only 33% trust ads
Thinking a step beyond buyer personas and developing influencer personas is a valuable way for marketers to be sure they are reaching the right influencers.
The most effective influencer marketing strategies build and foster strong relationships with current network, happy consumers and new influencers who are active in relevant verticals.
Since influencer marketing is about building strong relationships, a strategy that values a mutually beneficial relationship is key.
Consumers want authenticity from the brands they interact with. When marketers equip influencers with an entire experience to share about a brand or product the posts are more engaging.
Develop relationships with influencers before you need them. Relationship building takes time and once the connection is there, activating influencers becomes a lot more seamless and effective.
Components of an influencer marketing strategy
Identify the topics of influence that speak to your brand’s target buyers.
Vet the influencers who are a good contextual fit with your brand. Look for content quality, reach, engagement and an alignment of values with your brand.
Relate and engage with to your target influencers via email and other social channels. Ask them to partner with your brand and offer them compensation to create mutually beneficial relationships.
Measure all earned media and identify which influencers and which topics lift your brand the most.
Repeat. Once you’ve identified who and what works best for your brand you can build a stronger influencer marketing strategy each time around.
How to incorporate influencer marketing in your social media strategy
Think of influencer marketing as simply another arrow in your marketing quiver. While it’s a different approach to brand messaging, your influencer campaigns should still align with your larger content strategy and brand image so that they enhance your overall brand reputation.
Extend your reach (or laser-target your message) through influencer channels
In many cases, you will use influencer marketing to extend the reach of your brand messaging by working with social media influencers to create or support content they post on their own social media channels. This allows you to piggyback on someone else’s follower base, either to reach a broader audience or to segment your efforts in ways that would never be possible through your own branded social media accounts.
Boost credibility with influencer messaging on your own channels
You can also recruit influencers to participate in content that you share or cross-post on your own channels.
How to find the right social media influencer for your campaign
Before reaching out to a potential social media influencer, you’ll need to consider the Rs of influence:
Relevance: The influencer is sharing content and developing a following relevant to your business and the particular market segment you want to target.
Reach: The number of people you could potentially reach through the influencer’s follower base that would bring value to your business.
Resonance: The potential level of engagement the influencer can create with an audience that’s valuable and relevant to your brand.
When determining whether an influencer is a good match for your three Rs, you’ll need to ask yourself a couple of important questions.
Who are you trying to influence?
Most marketers have no trouble coming up with a high-level answer to this question: you’re trying to influence your customers, prospects, and the broader industry community. But your influencer campaign can’t be all things to all people: as in all types of marketing strategy, a meaningful answer requires greater focus and a clear understanding of your goals and your audience.
Perhaps you’re trying to influence people who work in a specific job function—social media professionals or community managers who tend to spend significant amounts of time on social media every day, for example. Or maybe your goal is to influence decision-makers in a particular vertical—maybe government or finance leaders who tend to place deep trust in recommendations from their peer network. Or, you could be trying to target a specific consumer segment, like millennials looking to buy their first home.
These are three very different groups, and an effective influencer marketing strategy requires you to speak to the right people using the rizzght tools (and, in this case, the right influencers), just like you do in all of your other marketing work.
Looking at a very specific marketing niche, for example, influencer marketing is the most effective way of marketing spirits to millennials, along with earned media. 54 percent of Millennials share branded content from spirits companies when a social influencer posts it, and 93 percent usually try a new liquor after someone recommends it to them. For any liquor brand looking to expand into the millennial market, those numbers should be hard to ignore.
Who do your customers, prospects, and community trust?
For marketers, the key requirement for true influence is trust. Your audience must trust and respect the opinion of the influencers you partner with. Without the trust component, any lift in results will be superficial and you’ll struggle to see a tangible business impact from your efforts.
Working from a clear idea of exactly who you’re trying to influence, take the extra step to find key opinion and thought leaders whom your audience already looks to as sources of meaningful information. These people are already influencers—and partnerships with them can drive real impact.
Keep in mind that your audience demographics play a major role in determining which influencers will be the most trusted in your marketplace. Data from Twitter shows that people aged 45 and up view more traditional household name celebrities as preferred influencers, while millennials prefer digital content creators.
There are plenty of tools to help you identify people with large and engaged networks talking about topics that matter to your audience, including followerwonk, Traackr, Klout, and Hootsuite. But remember that reach alone does not indicate a powerful influencer—you also need the other two Rs: relevance and resonance. Watch for engaged followers—that means plenty of views, likes, comments, and shares, all from the precise follower segments you’re trying to reach.
A huge follower count is meaningless without evidence that those followers are paying attention, and a smaller follower count can be very powerful if it’s a niche area and the potential influencer is a recognized leader.
We recently found out that partnering with “micro-influencers” can provide much better ROI than trying to snag a big celebrity. Our analysis of 800,000 Instagram users found that the influencers with 10,000 to 100,000 followers offer the best combination of resonance and reach.
Influencer marketing best practices
Influencers are becoming increasingly important in the social media world, and they expect to be recognized for the value they bring to your brand. Here are some key ways to ensure you build influencer relationships that are beneficial over the long term.
Reach out slowly
Once you identify a social media influencer you want to engage with, start the connection process by reaching out through content they are already sharing, and conversations they are already starting or leading. Twitter chats are a great way to do this. If you know your potential social media influencer is hosting a Twitter chat, be sure to mark the date and participate. If they have a blog, comment on their blog posts to show that you are actually reading their content.
Once you’ve begun to build rapport, the relationship can bloom into a mutually beneficial one. On that note;
Create mutual value
As a marketer, you’re probably focused on the value that influencers can provide to your brand, not the other way around. But to create a meaningful and lasting relationship, influencers must also derive value from partnering with your brand—and not just in the form of cold, hard cash (although that always helps).
“Value” doesn’t only mean financial compensation; it simply means that the perceived benefit of the partnership is equally important to both you and the influencer. It could involve a content swap, an introduction to a unique community, or some kind of swag or product placement, but always keep in mind that mutual value will be the key driver of long-term influencer relationships.
Go for a consistent look, feel, and tone
When choosing an influencer, in addition to finding a fit for your niche market, you need to find someone who’s producing content with a similar look and feel to your own, and whose tone is appropriate for the way you want to present your brand to potential customers. This will make it much easier for the brand and the influencer to share, swap, and collaborate without creating a disjointed feel in either party’s social media posts.
A social media influencer who has worked hard to build a following will not accept a deal that makes their own personal brand seem inconsistent. And allowing the influencer creative freedom is much easier when you know that their content will gel with your own. Combining your efforts creates the best results—data from Twitter shows that exposure to a brand Tweet creates a 2.7 times lift in purchase intent, but exposure to both a brand Tweet and an influencer Tweet more than doubles that lift to 5.2 times.
Measure the results
Social media influencers should be able to provide analytics and detailed reports on the reach of their posts, but remember that you’re also looking to track engagement. This can be tricky, with 47 percent of respondents to a recent survey saying that proving the value of their influencer marketing campaigns is their biggest measurement challenge. Hootsuite allows you to measure campaign success by tracking mentions of the brand or campaign hashtags with social listening streams.
Remember that influencer marketing is one of the hottest online marketing trends right now, but you still need to do your research, ensure your efforts align with your overall marketing strategy, and test and track your results to improve performance, just as you would with any other marketing tool.
Madumere is MD/CEO of Black Purist Media.