What is it?
Influencer marketing is any endorsement of a product or service made by individuals with a significant amount of niche social clout. Niche being the key word here. An influencers social numbers don't have to be massive for them to qualify as an influencer if they have extremely high engagement in their particular niche.
For example, Justin Bieber would be THE top music influencer for females in their teens and early twenties in the United States. He is the epitome of an influencer with massive social numbers, which he has racked up as a celebrity. However, raw numbers aren’t everything. If our goal is location or industry specific, we may have to look beyond the numbers and find influencers with smaller, but more highly engaged, followings in that location or industry. Being a celebrity isn’t a must, but being considered a thought-leader is.
Why is it such a big deal?
Word. Of. Mouth. Consumers are tired of paid advertisements interrupting their day. Influencer marketing is native to whatever platform we’re on at the moment. It feels more organic and real to see another person talking about a product or service than it does to see an ad in your sidebar. Therefore, it becomes more influential than more traditional marketing. Because we know we’re in control of our own social media channels, we assume influencers are, which makes it feel like we’re getting an honest recommendation.
Who is doing it?
Brands both large and small are investing in influencer marketing. To see for yourself, type #sponsored into Instagram. You’ll find hundreds of thousands of posts where everything from bathing suits and energy drinks to watches and shaving cream are being highlighted. I guarantee you’ll see some examples that feel natural and spark your interest as well as posts that feel a bit forced and out of place. Obviously, the more authentic the connection between the influencer and the brand appears, the better.
Where and when does it happen?
Influencer marketing is happening where influencers have a following – their social media profiles. And it’s happening 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Everything from a single post across a few social platforms highlighting a product or service to a full takeover of a brands social media channels is fair game. Hosting contests and giveaways falls into the bucket here as well. Virtually anything goes as long as your brand gets in front of their audience.
How can I get involved?
Seeking out influencers isn’t difficult. Searching for individuals with large followings in your industry on Twitter and Instagram is pretty quick if you utilize the appropriate hashtags. Generally, it starts with a direct message and gets taken to email once the conversation gets serious. However, if you’re active enough on your own social channels, there’s a good chance that up-and-coming influencers may actually reach out to you. Expect their pricing to vary according to their following, the amount of posts you’re interested in and the amount of content you ask them to create vs. what you provide them to utilize.
Numbers aren’t everything! If the influencer isn’t influential with individuals that might be interested in your product or service, they provide no value to you, regardless of the size of their audience. A fit between who you’re looking to target, and who they’re influential with is hands down, bar none, the most important thing to ensure. A superstar 22-year-old male influencer in the extreme sports arena would be perfect for Red Bull but incredibly inappropriate and unsuccessful working with L'Oréal, for example.
So that’s it…
Influencer marketing isn’t new; it’s simply experiencing a meteoric rise as social media superstars turn their clout into cash. You’ll have to decide for yourself whether or not it’s a fit for your brand. In the meantime, we’ll be tweeting at Gary Vee to see how much it’s going to cost us for a shout out.