“He who asks a question is a fool for five minutes; he who does not ask a question remains a fool forever.” – Chinese proverb
You have likely come across some form of influencer marketing at some point, even if you haven’t realized it. While word of mouth is nothing knew to any of us, this form of social media marketing isn’t fully understood by many marketers. Fear not, we have the answers to all of your biggest questions. Grab a coffee and a spot on the couch and let’s de-mystify the mystery of influencer marketing.
Influencer Marketing 101
1. What is Influencer Marketing?
Influencer marketing is the practice of partnering with powerful social media users to shape their audience’s purchase decisions and behaviours. These social media users hold a level of influence over their audience due to their credibility, authenticity, and quality of their content. Still unclear? Check out this blog post, written by InNetwork (a gShift company): What is Influencer Marketing?
2. Is Influencer Marketing a form of content marketing?
Of course! Content marketing is an approach concentrated on creating and distributing valuable and relevant content targeted at a clearly defined audience in order to drive valuable action. Influencer marketing is a method of distributing content to a targeted group of consumers via social media influencers.
3. What is the difference between an influencer and a brand ambassador/brand advocate?
There has been a lot of discussion about the differences between an influencer and a brand ambassador as we see them popping up more and more on our news feed.
So, let’s settle this once and for all.
The difference between a brand ambassador and an influencer has to do with the type of work they do with brands, and how they are compensated. An influencer is someone who treats their blog and their social networks as a business, protect their personal brand and have a loyal, engaged following. Influencers typically work with brands they have an affinity for and run short-term campaigns. In return, influencers receive some form of compensation.
On the other hand, brand ambassadors may, or may not have a large, engaged following and work with brands on a more long-term basis. In return, ambassadors are typically paid on a retainer basis for being loud and proud to represent a brand. Ideally, an influencer turns into a brand ambassador as they represent higher authenticity and credibility.
4. How long has influencer marketing been around for?
Influence as an ability to have an affect on another person has been around since the beginning of time. We know this as word of mouth. Influence from a marketing perspective stretches back to the early 1900’s when Babe Ruth became one of the first celebrities to endorse various companies. Marketers used Babe Ruth to endorse their products because he had a strong influence over his audience – an idea that carries on today in influencer marketing.
However, influencer marketing as we know it today is fairly new. The beginnings of influencer marketing are in blogging. In January of 1994, Justin Hall created the first blog ever. Since then, growth has been tremendous. By June of 2003, Google launched AdSense, which matches ads to blog content. Just two years later, an estimated $100 million worth of blog ads were sold.
By 2009, Techorati reported that 28% of bloggers were being compensated for their blogging and by 2012 people were able to make a living off of it. 2012 is the same year that Facebook filed for an IPO, and Twitter, Instagram and YouTube were on the rise. Before long, bloggers were getting paid to promote products/services on social media as well. According to AdWeek, 75% of marketers are now using influencer marketing, and it continues to rapidly grow.
5. What are the most popular industries/categories for influencer marketing?
Burst Media’s study found that the highest earned media value for every dollar spent was in CPG (Consumer Packaged Goods) Food, Retail/Apparel and Tourism/Travel. CPG Foods earned $11.33 for every dollar spent on Burst influencer marketing campaigns in 2014, Fashion earned $10.48, and Tourism/Travel earned $7.04. These are not necessarily the most popular categories, but because they are the best performing, marketers in these industries are more likely to invest in influencer marketing campaigns.
6. Is influencer marketing appropriate for every brand?
If your audience is on social media, an influencer marketing can work for your brand. There are, of course, some cases that are more challenging than others but with the right tools and expertise, any influencer marketing campaign can be a success. If you want to do an influencer marketing campaign but don’t know if it suits your brand, sit down with an influencer marketing professional and they will help you put together the perfect strategy for you. The beauty of influencer marketing is that you can tailor your campaign to fit your company’s needs and objectives.
7. Is a large following the only thing you need to be considered an influencer?
Influencer marketing is all about quality, not quantity. Although a large audience is often a first-glance giveaway someone is not your average social media user, numbers are not the only important thing when identifying influencers. In order to find the best influencers, you need to dig a little deeper. This brings us to our next question that will help identify what is really important when finding influencers.
8. What should I look for in an influencer?
There are a few things that make a great influencer stand out like a fruit loop in a bowl of cheerios. At gShift, we have found the best influencers are called ‘micro-influencers’. These are influencers who are often overlooked because of their ‘smaller’ audience size. However, micro-influencers often have an extremely engaged audience and sometimes the ability to focus on very specific, local areas.
Look for influencers that are engaging with their audiences, are authentic and have a personal brand, have credibility in their category and a loyal following. These are the metrics that will set a good influencer apart from a great one. Learn more about what social media influencers look like by checking out InNetwork’s blog post: The Anatomy of a Social Media Influencer.
9. What are some ‘red flags’ when looking for influencers?
When looking for an influencer there are a few ‘red flags’ that should turn you away from working with an influencer. First, look for fake followers. gShift’s platform identifies fake followers to ensure the influencers you work with have a real and genuine audience. It is natural for a profile to gather spam followers, especially as they grow in size but make sure the ratio is low so your content is reaching a real audience.
Next, take a look at the last time the influencer posted and post frequency. They may have been the ‘bees knees’ back in the day, but if they haven’t posted since 2014, their followers have likely lost interest. A true influencer posts consistently to keep the interest of their audience.
Lastly, avoid working with influencers who haven’t established a personal brand. If there is no consistency in the type of content that they post, they lose credibility – no one can be influential in a wide variety of topics.
10. How often should an influencer post on social media?
The post frequency of an influencer depends on their category and primary platform. For example, the post frequency for Twitter is much higher when compared to YouTube. The average post frequency on Twitter is between 1 and 15 tweets a day. This is massive compared to the average 1 to 4 posts per month on YouTube. This is due to the time and effort that goes into a post on each given platform.
Categories also have an affect on post frequency because certain categories have an affinity to certain networks. For example, Business influencers have an affinity to Twitter, which would make their post frequency quite high. On the other hand, beauty influencers have more of an affinity to YouTube and Instagram, both of which require a lower post frequency in order to maintain an engaged audience.
11. How do I find influencers?
There are two ways to find influencers: by manually digging through the world wide web, often through social media, or by using a trustworthy influencer marketing platform. With gShift’s Influencer Marketing Module, you can search based on keywords and refine the search using target audience filters. When looking at the influencer profiles, analyze the audience and engagement metrics to help you pick an influencer that aligns with your company objectives.
12. How do I pick an Influencer that will resonate with my target market?
Making a clear outline of your objectives as a brand is always the best way to start a campaign. When you have clear objectives, the right influencer will jump out at you. For example, if your objective is to increase sales, look for an influencer with an engaged and loyal social following that responds well to previous branded content. Or, if you objective is to increase brand awareness, look for an influencer that has a large social following to increase your reach potential.
Above all, when identifying influencers, take an audience-centric approach. This goes beyond audience demographics. Influencer marketing makes it possible to target a more niche and specific market. Take advantage of this and define your target market based on their interests and lifestyles, then look for influencers that post content that would resonate those lifestyles, interests and demographics. For example, if your target market is interested in active living, an influencer that posts about hiking, nutrition or fitness may have a following of people interested in your product.
13. How can I reach out to Influencers to ensure I get a response?
The best way to reach out to influencers is to compose a pitch so intriguing they can’t help but say yes. Begin by searching for a contact page on their blog. Read what they have to say; influencers will appreciate you taking the time to reach out to them in the way they prefer. When you sit down to compose your pitch, remember that influencers are being flooded with emails everyday. Get your creative juices flowing to write them an offer that will stand out right from the start. In order to elicit a response, there are a few tips to help grab their attention. First, follow and engage with their content to show you are interested and to help nurture a relationship so that they know who you are when you reach out.
Now that you’re almost ready to hit the send button, ask yourself: is it personal? Is it brief? Do you explain what is in it for them and their audience? If all signs point to yes, it is now time for the easy part; click send and hope for the best. For more information on how to reach out to influencers, and next steps to follow up, check out our blog post How to Find the Right Influencers and Connect With Them and How to Increase Your Response Rate With Influencers.
14. How can I track the success of my campaign?
Historically, it has been very hard to measure the success of influencer marketing campaigns. A primary challenge for marketers is to understand what metrics they should be analyzing in the first place. gShift has changed the game with the world’s smartest URL, kontextURLs. kontextURLs are smart URLs that leverage content tags, taxonomy, and conversion paths. How is this going to help you track your success? kontextURLs give you insight as to which content, channels and influencers are performing the best. An analysis of the influencers that are driving the most conversation and engagement will help you effectively measure your ROI on each influencer.
15. What are the steps involved in running an influencer marketing campaign?
Step 1. Identify the right influencers: gShift’s large database of quality, hand-vetted influencers cuts through the noise to find you the influencers and audiences that matter.
Step 2. Reach out & Engage Influencers: This is where you reach out to influencers with a pitch they simply cannot refuse and negotiate a timeline, deliverables and compensation.
Step 3. Track & Monitor: Throughout the campaign, monitor your progress using kontextURLs to ensure you are meeting benchmarks and that influencers are performing well.
Step 4. Measure: Use gShift reporting tools to gain insight into your campaign and measure which channels, content and influencers had the greatest impact.
16. What are some characteristics of a successful influencer marketing campaign?
A successful influencer marketing campaign depends on what your objectives are as a company. The closer you are to meeting your objectives at the end of the campaign, the better. This is why it is important to set clear objectives before you start a campaign so that you can monitor your success throughout and stay on track. A successful influencer marketing campaign has the potential to create a positive image of your brand, generate brand awareness, influence consumer buying behaviours, increase traffic to your website, enhance SEO or generate sales. Every brand defines their own success but every successful campaign is built upon a strong relationship with influencers, and an influencer marketing platform and professionals that can help turn that relationship into reaching company objectives.
17. What guidelines/restrictions do influencers have when promoting a brand/product?
Like with any form of marketing, there are legal restrictions in place in order to eliminate deceptive practices. Any endorsement or promotion of a product done by an influencer that is paid for by a brand or agency, must be disclosed as a paid message. If you are working with an agency to run your influencer marketing campaign, ask for an outline of their policies surrounding disclosure agreements to ensure your influencers know they are responsible for stating that they are compensated in some form, and that disclosure is prominent. Influencers are also not allowed to make false claims about a brand. For more information on disclosures, check out another great InNetwork blog post: Why Influencers Should Use Disclaimers in Promoted Posts.
18. Can I tell the influencer what to say?
The quick answer is you really shouldn’t try to control an influencer’s message. However, no two influencers are alike. Some influencers are sharers and some are creators. Sharers predominantly share previously written or posted content from other content creators or brands. Creators, on the other hand, create all of their own content and hold all of their own opinions. In the end, the influencer has the right to determine what they will or will not post on their social accounts. As long as there is a mutual agreement between a brand and an influencer to say something specific and there is prominent disclosure, you are good to go. Keep in mind, influencers are experts at engaging with their audience in a way that resonates with them, so trust them.
Lastly, don’t be shy. It’s fair to ask your influencers for a draft of their content before posting it on the internet, to make sure there are no misinterpretations on the expectations of the campaign or any incorrect information regarding the brand. But keep edits minimal – it is more authentic when it is in the voice of the influencer.
19. Are there different types of influencer marketing campaigns?
Influencer marketing is like a Starbucks order. Your campaign (like your drink), can be as personalized as you want it to be. So, go ahead, order that Venti Iced Skinny Hazelnut Macchiato, Sugar-Free Syrup, Extra Shot, Light Ice, No Whip. Whatever your brand’s goals, there is an influencer marketing campaign that can be tailored to meet those goals. Create a campaign using sponsored blog posts, competitions, giveaways or discount codes. What about event activation? Product Reviews? Influencer takeovers? Or a combination of the above using a variety of different platforms. The possibilities are endless, which means your campaign will be unlike any other and it will be sure to stand out from the rest.
20. What are the most effective social channels for influencer marketing?
There is not one, almighty, social channel that trumps all others. The most effective channel is personal to the influencer and the category they are in. Influencers in visual categories like interior design or digital arts gravitate to more visual platforms like Pinterest and Instagram. In contrast, less visual categories like business or literature may rely more on Twitter, blogs or LinkedIn. The most effective platform is the one that best caters to your audience and best displays your content.
21. What is the minimum amount of followers you need to be considered an influencer?
There is no set minimum number of followers required in order to be considered an influencer. Audience size varies quite a bit depending on what category you are an influencer in. For example, an awesome video game influencer will likely have much less followers than the a well-known fashion influencer. However, if someone has less than 2000 followers on their primary platform, that is a pretty good sign that they are not an influencer. To put the size of influencers in perspective, some of the largest influencers have millions of followers.
22. How does Influencer Marketing affect your SEO?
Like a happy meal comes with the added bonus of a toy, influencer marketing comes with the added bonus of improving your SEO. How are these two things connected? According to ReadyPulse, as much as 25% of search results come from user generated content. This means that influencers mentioning your brand on social media can increase your visibility and discoverability in a huge way. Learn more about how influencer marketing can improve your SEO with our Audience Development Guidebook!
To take your influencer marketing campaign to the next level, include specific keywords and hashtags for influencers to include in their blog posts and social media content in order to optimize their content and be found online. It’s a win-win for both the brand and influencer.
Money, Money, Money
23. Are influencers paid?
Most influencers are paid. How much you ask? This all depends on the influencer. The industry, audience size, engagement levels, experience working with brands, and deliverables all come into play when determining the price of an influencer. We recommend treating your influencers like an online marketing consultant. Pay them for their time and influential voice and in return you will have more accountable and harder working influencers.
24. What are other forms of compensation for influencers?
Money is not the only form of compensation that influencers can receive for their work. Again, the type of compensation can depend on the influencer you are working with and your budget. Other types of compensation include discounts, commissions on sales or free products/services! Most influencers prefer to get compensated with money because they can’t all survive off of A&W gift cards or a lifetime supply of whitestrips, but again, all influencers are different.
25. Is an influencer Marketing campaign expensive?
Influencer marketing works because it is adaptable based on your budget. It is appealing to many marketers because of the cost efficiency compared to more traditional marketing campaigns and strategies. Your objectives, timeline, industry, the type of influencers you are looking to engage with, and the amount of time you are able to dedicate to your campaign are all factors that contribute to your overall cost. Budgeting for an influencer marketing campaign is a lot like ordering frozen yogurt, the more toppings you get, the more it will cost. Working with an influencer marketing professional can help create a campaign that will meet your objectives and still stay within your budget.
26. What is the ROI in which you can expect from an influencer marketing campaign?
A study done in 2014 by Burst Media showed that on average, marketers who ran an influencer marketing campaign in 2014 received $6.85 for every dollar spent. Now that’s a bang for your buck!
Still Not Convinced?
27. Why should I use influencer marketing over paid ads or other forms of marketing?
The real question is, why shouldn’t you? According to the 2015 Ad Blocking Report, there were 198 million active ad blockers around the world. This means that the advertisements you are spending big money on, are potentially not even being seen by your target market. To make the number of consumers you are reaching even smaller, according to a Simply Measured report, only 33% of consumers trust company advertisements, and that’s IF they aren’t already blocking them from their screens. On the other hand, 74% of consumers rely on social media to inform their purchase decisions and a massive 90% of consumers trust peer recommendation. Scott Cook answers this question perfectly in one sentence, “A brand is no longer what we tell the consumer it is – it is what consumers tell each other it is.”
28. What are the benefits of running an influencer marketing campaign?
There are countless benefits to running an influencer marketing campaign. First and foremost, influencer marketing campaigns are built around trust. According to a study done by Neilson, 92% of consumers say the most trusted source of information is from someone we know. Although we may not personally know the influencers we follow on social media, we watch their life unfold via social media and we are able to relate to them on a personal level.
The second benefit of Influencer Marketing campaigns is Reach. Influencers are getting bigger by the minute, which means the potential for your branded content to be seen by your target market is increasing dramatically. Third, the alternative marketing avenues are becoming less and less effective. 86% of people skip TV commercials, 44% of direct mail is never opened and 91% of people have unsubscribed from company emails they previously opted to. (Source: Business2Community).
Finally, and most important to many brands, money. As previously mentioned, the ROI for influencer marketing is on average $6.85 for every dollar spent on Influencer Marketing. (Source: eMarketer). To find out more benefits of running an Influencer Marketing campaign, you’ll just have to try it for yourself!
Congratulations, you are now on your way to becoming an influencer marketing expert! To learn more about influencer marketing, keep up with the latest trends, and see what’s cooking at gShift labs, subscribe to our RSS feed!