If you have a business and you pay attention to marketing trends at all you have probably heard about sponsored influencer marketing.
With social media having become such an integral part of our lives it’s small wonder that the people we follow have become a point of interest for marketers. They are exactly what the name says - influencers.
These people have created niche audiences for themselves - no easy feat- and they have the ear of their public. They’re trusted and respected by their followers. So needless to say, if they are saying good things about your product or your brand that is probably going to be good for you.
Which is exactly why companies are spending millions on influencer marketing.
The question is not “is it worth it”. The question is “how do you make sure you are doing it right and not wasting your money”?
First of all, let’s take a look at what can go wrong with influencer marketing and what kind of pitfalls could befall you should you charge blindly ahead into the influencer marketing game.
Choosing the wrong influencer
One of the most common mistakes brands make when paying for the services of an influencer is to choose the wrong influencer to back their product. At best, choosing the wrong influencer will put you in front of the wrong audience. Which means that although your brand is getting exposure, your money is being wasted because the people seeing your product are never going to buy.
Or, you could find yourself paying a supposed influencer who is using fake followers in the form of paid for bots to lead you to believe that they have a bigger following than they do - just so that they can get you to pay them for a post.
At worst you could choose an influencer who actually damages your brand because they not only have the wrong audience, but are also not credible in the eyes of your real target market. If you are being promoted by a figure who is not trusted or well-received by your target market you will be associated with them and your brand will ultimately suffer.
Choosing a big influencer over a quality influencer
Just because someone has a lot of followers on Instagram does not necessarily mean that they are better than a smaller, more niche influencer. The important thing is to look at which audience is actually going to buy your product. Often very niche influencers have more sway with their audience and a more profound effect on their buying habits, than those who simply have a greater number of less-invested followers.
Choosing an influencer who doesn’t resonate with your brand
Even if you find a genuine, well-respected influencer who has the ear of their market, that still doesn’t make them automatically the right person for you.
Look at what happened with Pepsi and Kendall Jenner, for example. Even though both are iconic brands in their own right, Jenner’s audience immediately smelled a rat when the post went out because it was not “her”. It didn’t match her normal tone, and the results were disastrous for both brands.
Being too prescriptive
Your chosen influencer is in the position of being an influencer because they have their own voice and people want to hear it. Hence their fans and followers. Often when a brand pays an influencer to post on their behalf they make the mistake of trying to tell them exactly what to say and how to say it. The result is a clearly forced post which leaves the audience cold.
Once you have chosen an influencer and committed to paying them for exposure you have to trust them to do what it is they do and communicate your product to their audience in their own special way. After all, that’s why they are the influencer!
The Good: How to get the best out of your influencer marketing
Make sure that Instagram is the right platform for your product
There is not much point investing in an Instagram campaign if your product or brand are not suited to the platform. Instagram uses visual communication to reach its audience.
A quick way to tell if your brand is cut out for Instagram is by asking yourself this question:
“Can my product be photographed as part of a lifestyle”?
Industries such as food, fashion, and travel are naturally well suited to Instagram. Why? Because they are easy to photograph as part of a lifestyle.
If you’re selling something like mobile data you are going to have a much harder time communicating your product on Instagram - not impossible - but certainly much harder!
Choose the right influencer
You may have guessed it from the list above, but your choice of influencer is paramount to your success in sponsored post marketing.
You need to choose an influencer who:
✓ Resonates with your brand - it should be believable that your influencer would use your products, or better yet, find someone who already does use your products!
✓ Is a genuine influencer - do your homework, spend some time online, and make sure that your influencer is authentic and has real followers.
✓ Has a decent follower base. The more people follow them, the more people will see your sponsored posts.
Has high quality followers. You want to make sure this person’s followers are you correct target market and are positioned to buy your products.
✓ Is geographically suitable - while digital nomads can make a living anywhere, it’s pointless marketing with an influencer whose follower base is outside of your shipping reach.
✓ Is open to establishing a long term relationship with your brand. While a quick celebrity endorsement may help to spike your sales for a short time, it won't help to build brand loyalty the same way that a longer term endorsement with a trusted and well-loved influencer will. Think in terms of at least six months.
Set SMART goals for your influencer campaigns
✓ Clearly communicate your goals and agree to what constitutes your successful Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for the campaign.
✓ Make sure the goals you’re setting are realistic. These can include metrics such as the engagement rate, reach and number of interactions on the specific posts.
✓ Set a realistic time frame for achieving these goals. Social Media may move quickly but achieving the results you want can take time, and multiple posts, to gain momentum.
✓ Communicate your brand values and your objectives with the influencer before you start.
✓ Make sure that your influencer understands who you are as a brand and what you are trying to communicate.
✓ Make sure you include all of the key players from your marketing team.
Invest in your content
✓ Be willing to get behind your influencer and make sure they have what they need to make their images epic. From lighting to products that work.
✓ Be willing to boost a post and pay for more people to see the content.
The Good, the Bad, and the Highly Successful
If you’ve decided that Instagram marketing is for you - congratulations. You’re about to embark on a journey that will bring you closer than ever to your audience and customer base. Make sure that you listen to what they have to say and take their feedback into consideration.
If this is your first time paying an influencer for a sponsored post then we recommend you take the time to become properly acquainted with the platform. Start your own Instagram account and start following people who are not only going to be useful to your business, but also whom you find interesting.
Do your homework - before you spend the money - spend the time. Make sure you are fully aware of who you are going into business with before you get started. You want to make sure that you share values with your influencer, that they have quality followers who are positioned to buy from you, and that you actually want to be associated with them.