The Growth of Influencer Marketing
Back in 2011, the term “influencer” was nowhere near as widely used in the marketing industry as it is today. Fast forward to the present day and influencer marketing has exploded.
The Daily Mail are now discussing who Joe Wicks is dating, what Tanya Burr wore to the Brits, and even how Zoe Sugg (aka Zoella) has helped a struggling WH Smith to their best sales figures in 14 years.
Bloggers have been part of most brands’ and agencies’ strategies for a few years now, but 2016 has seen the unprecedented rise of the social media influencer.
They might have a blog, a YouTube channel, and a healthy following on Instagram and Twitter, or they might solely focus on one channel. Either way, they have a great amount of influence, particularly with a younger demographic.
Influencers have gained mainstream interest and a select few are commanding more money than some well-known celebrities.
The girl with two million subscribers on YouTube might be unrecognisable to the average person, but she’s all they’re talking about in schools across the world and can make a product sell out in a matter of hours.
Improving your influencer marketing strategy
Where influencer marketing perhaps used to consist of sending a few products to a blogger, it can now involve huge multi-channel campaigns, with the influencers potentially being paid six-figure sums for their involvement.
It’s big business right now, but it can be a little confusing knowing where to start or how to streamline your current influencer marketing strategy so that you’re seeing the most value from collaborations.
Here are my top tips to get the most out of your influencer collaborations and campaigns:
- Be prepared for top-tier influencers to have top-tier fees
Whilst gifting still has its place and should remain part of your always-on influencer marketing strategy, times are changing. Due to their popularity, top-tier influencers are now able to command fees previously reserved for in-demand celebrities.
Interestingly enough, earlier this year supermarket brand Iceland announced that they had ditched their celebrity partnerships in favour of ‘real-life mum vloggers’ who they feel are more interesting to consumers. Of course ‘real-life mums’ are always going to be more relatable to consumers, but now those mums have highly-engaged audiences to match the celebs and the power to really influence buying decisions.
Recently, there’s been a lot of talk around how much influencers are earning and whether agencies and brands are losing sight of what is and isn’t acceptable to pay them. In such a new industry, it’s hard to define exactly what you should be paying and what the return on investment equates to.
Remember that the influencers are trying to navigate the same new territory as brands and agencies, so it’s important to have constructive discussions and negotiations around payment. Before you begin the campaign, it can be good to speculatively pitch the idea to influencers and/or their agents to get an idea of the costs associated with a collaboration.
- Working with a limited budget
Is your budget limited? Think about how you can potentially work with a smaller, more select number of influencers who still have an engaged audience, but perhaps with lower metrics than their top-tier counterparts.
If monetary payment really isn’t an option, try to ensure that the incentive you're offering is something your influencer wouldn’t normally buy or experience themselves. Even then, be fully prepared for them to still decline the collaboration without monetary incentive.
For some influencers, this is their full-time job and the number of pitches they receive each day is getting higher and higher. In such a competitive industry, it’s important to show the influencers you wish to work with that their time is valuable to you.
- Define your campaign’s objective before securing influencers
If you’re picking the influencer first and figuring out the campaign afterwards, you’re doing it wrong. As with any marketing campaign, you need to begin by establishing your objective(s). Once this has been established, the right influencers for the campaign will become much easier to find and identify.
Don’t be tempted to pick an influencer based on vanity metrics such as the number of followers they have. If your objective is to improve domain strength by obtaining a number of high-authority links, it wouldn’t make sense to allocate all of your campaign budget to a YouTube influencer.
- Follower numbers are empty; measure in more detail
While it can be tempting to measure an influencer campaign via follower numbers and a few nice photos they produced of the product, that doesn’t often tell a full story about the campaign.
Think carefully about how the influencer has presented your brand or product and how their audience might behave once they’ve been exposed to it. Looking at referral traffic is an obvious start, but consumers won’t always click through the links provided. In some instances, there might not even be a link there for them to click!
Check for spikes in traffic on the date of their post going live. For instance, if you're a baby brand, you may have asked an influencer to promote your range of moses baskets. If they referred to the product as a ‘white moses basket’ in their post or video, can you see any spikes on the relevant category or product pages?
Now that Google Search Console has been integrated into Google Analytics, you can easily see any spikes in impressions and clicks for the brand name or product - this is something that is particularly useful when reporting the positive impact of your campaign.
Once the campaign has finished, don’t be afraid to reach out to the influencer to ask for some stats from their side. You could ask how many views their post achieved, or even whether they thought it resonated with their audience. This kind of honest feedback can be invaluable to measuring the success - or even the shortcomings - of a campaign.
- Start each influencer campaign with a clear idea of your campaign objective(s)
- Pitch your campaign idea to your target influencer before diving straight into the campaign to get an idea of their fees
- Don’t focus on followers; look beyond those numbers for spikes in traffic or increased Search Console clicks & impressions
- Looking for more guidance with your influencer marketing strategy? We have an experienced PR & Outreach team that work with influencers every day. Get in touch and see how we can help!