Influencer marketing has emerged as an effective way to generate leads, build a brand and gain customers. Influencers can act as figureheads for your brand, but influencer marketing is still in its infancy and is fraught with peril, not the least of which is wasting money on a campaign that fails to generate ROI.
To learn more, listen in on the webinar by Matt Bailey, best-selling author, and digital marketing expert, as he explains how influencer marketing works, dangerous pitfalls to avoid, and the steps you must take to build influencer marketing campaigns that are targeted and measurable. Or you can read a wrap up of the webinar below.
In the not so distant past of Internet marketing, marketers were striving for viral content. If we could only create a podcast or blog or infographic or video that people went crazy over, we could trust our followers to share that content with their friends, thereby growing our brand awareness, social media influence, and eventually sales. But that era is dead, says digital marketing influencer Matt Bailey in his new webinar. Viral content is now just a pipedream and we’ve transitioned into the age of influencer marketing as a way to expand our social reach with lightning speed.
Influencer marketing involves hiring celebrities to use their authority to endorse your brand, product or service with their audience and it’s a hot topic in the industry. Although influencer marketing is getting a lot of hype right now, it’s not really a new idea. Celebrities have long been used to promote brands because our brains are wired to prefer celebrity endorsements, says Bailey. What has changed is the sheer volume of celebrities. We have countless celebrities being created by reality shows, contest shows, and YouTube, and the media has a vested interest in creating even more celebrities for us because celebrities sell. In the age of overnight sensations and the plethora of Internet-launched celebrities, over half of us now consider a social media personality to be more believable than an ad, and one in four ads features a celebrity.
The problem is, even with all of the hype, the kinds of influencers who are making the biggest waves tend to be young people who are raking in millions of dollars simply because they are popular, with enough followers to justify their paychecks. And it’s not necessarily the right choice for you, as Matt Bailey points out.
Why You Should Leave the Big Names to the Big Brands
In this webinar, Bailey makes a critical distinction between two types of influencers-macro influencers and micro influencers. Most of the news stories making headlines are about macro influencers-big-name YouTube celebrities with millions of followers. They can be paid to endorse products or brands via Facebook, a tweet, Instagram, Snapchat, a blog or a vlog. Brands flock to these extremely popular celebrities with millions of followers because an affiliation with them can increase their own base of followers.
However, because of their fame and therefore prices, these macro-influencers are beyond the financial reach of all but the biggest brands—and that’s okay because they don’t offer the kind of relevant, targeted marketing that a micro-influencer does, as Bailey explains.
At the other end of the scale, a micro-influencer lacks the global name recognition of a macro-influencer, and so costs less money while giving brands access to a much more targeted audience. A micro-influencer has developed a following based on a specific hobby or interest such as make-up or travel, giving the right brand access to those “affinity followers,” as Bailey refers to them. Micro-influencers also offer more credibility because they tend to be much more authentic and they can have an actual interest in your product or brand.
Is Your Influencer Worth the Price?
As tempting as a macro-influencer might be for giving a brand a boost, a micro-influencer will be a better choice for most brands because the cost will be lower and the audience targeted. Regardless of which type of influencer you choose, Bailey stresses the importance of verifying the credibility and actual reach of that influencer. If they can claim a certain number of followers, that doesn’t necessarily mean anything to you because followers are easily bought and paid for, he warns. You want to know if those followers are real and engaged. When choosing your influencer, ask about past campaigns and the results generated, not just numbers of followers.
Design Measurable Campaigns
Once you’ve vetted your influencer and you’re sure of his or her integrity and value, focus your attention on your ROI. Make sure you’re thinking beyond simply increasing your numbers of followers, and don’t assume ROI will be easy to measure. Although one study says businesses are claiming $6.50 in revenue for every $1.00 spent on influencer marketing, another report says ROI on influencer marketing is the biggest challenge for 65 percent of marketers.
Bailey recommends you start with the end in mind: What is it you want to accomplish with this campaign? Possible goals include increasing followers, engagement, mentions, relationships, sales, and visits. Determine what you want to achieve, then design your campaign around those goals. Bailey recommends using the tried-and-true method of SMART goals to design your campaign: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-based.
To measure the effectiveness of your campaign, you can use traditional methods such as tracking pixels, URLs, and coupon codes, but also look into new ways to track engagement. As influencer marketing has developed, social media channels have enabled better ways to measure results, including in-content links in YouTube and a comment-to-buy feature in Instagram.
Manage the Relationship and Protect Your Brand
Once you have decided on the type of influencer you’re going to use, your goals and your campaign, you must manage that relationship. Be very careful if you’re using one of the young, hip and immature macro-influencers who are unlikely to adhere to your agenda. As Bailey describes it, brands are throwing money at this category of influencers to simply do their own thing which is completely unrelated to the brand they are endorsing, leading to fiascos like Logan Paul’s disgusting lack of judgment that led YouTube to sever ties with the vlogger. If you’re aligning your brand with an influencer like that, know that their behavior can backfire to negatively impact your brand as well.
No matter how much power your chosen influencer might wield in the marketplace, you must have creative control, and all such issues related to your brand must be set out ahead of time. Also keep in mind that your influencer might inadvertently associate your brand with something negative, such as racist views. Agree ahead of time who will have the final say on messaging, and agree to full disclosure about your sponsorship of the content. Bailey says all you need is the hashtag #Ad and you’ll cover your bases regarding disclosure.
Three Key Points for Choosing the Best Influencer for Your Brand
Bailey wraps up the webinar with three key points for success with influencer marketing:
- Build a relationship with the right influencer. Ideally, you’ll find someone who already likes your brand. Their enthusiasm will be natural, not forced, and consumers can tell when someone is being disingenuous with their endorsements.
- Choose a micro-influencer with the best audience by starting with the audience. Who is your target market? What do they care about? Who are they already listening to? Once you know who is already influencing them, hire that person to speak for your brand.
- Make sure your influencer is going to stay in line with your brand and your creative voice by establishing controls and protocols. Again, this will be easier if it’s an influencer who already likes your product or brand and isn’t just in it for the money.
Finally, to make sure your influencer marketing starts and stays legal, Bailey closes with a link to FTC guidelines on endorsements. Because the link is long, he created a bitly: http://bit.ly/FTCdisc.
Influencer marketing is definitely making waves and headlines, for reasons good and bad, but before you decide this latest shiny thing is right for your brand, do some homework. Start by watching this webinar which is packed with useful advice and examples. Then consider the ROI you’re likely to achieve and the kind of influencer you’re likely to have access to. Above all, keep your focus where it should be as a marketer-on the actual sales generated by the campaigns you do. Because without that, there isn’t any amount of influence that’s going to make a bit of difference.