For the last few weeks we have been delving into the wonderful world of Instagram, sharing our top tips and helpful guidance on how to get the most out of this ever-growing channel. From tutorials on how to beautifully curate your feed and growth hacking guides, to tips on how to get the most out of your advertising; you should now be well on your way to Insta-Heaven!
Now you’ve done the groundwork and your Insta is looking on point, we’re going to help you take your brand profile on this channel up to the next level – through Influencer Marketing! This week’s edition is going to take you through the wonderful world of Insta celebs, how to identify the right influencers for your business and any handy tools you can use along the way.
First up, the nitty gritty data (which we all know is the holy grail of social media marketing!).
Did you know that almost £1billion was spent on Influencer Marketing on Instagram last year? With 60% of users of the channel saying they have learned about a product or service via the ‘gram, the rise of influencer marketing and the increasing budget being allocated to this type of activity is no surprise.
Research has found that more than 70% of posts are being missed in feeds due to the high competition between brands, publishers and even users. On top of this, businesses are also experiencing a hit in channel performance due to the Insta algorithm continuing to limit their reach; I fully expect this tactic to further grow in popularity in 2018. Influencer Marketing is increasingly becoming an important growth and awareness tactic, with almost 80% of businesses now using this as part of their marketing mix.
So, what makes this strategy so effective? It’s all about trust. It’s not a brand talking about how amazing their product is, which many consumers see through and get turned off by. At the end of the day, people buy from people! “Well, I mean, you wouldn’t buy a skirt without asking your friends if it looks good on you?” (I’m not even ashamed of that Mean Girl plug). Word of mouth has been one of the most successful forms of marketing for years and influencer marketing taps into this tactic and amplifies this. When an influencer recommends a product/service via their own channels (this is key!), it can hold the same trust as if it had been a recommendation from a mate.
Can it really help me to grow my business? In short, YES! We’ve seen it drive some serious ROI for our clients, helping not only to build brand credibility and awareness, but also to drive sales – and this has grown even further as Instagram has developed its platform and improved the channel’s creative capabilities enhancing users’ experiences.
But how do you know which influencers are right for your business? Now, finding the right people to partner with can be a huge challenge; it’s not as simple as choosing the influencers with the largest followings. In fact, this can actually have an adverse effect – not only do they tend to cost a bomb just for a single post, their fans can sometimes be less engaged as they know they’ve been paid to promote your brand and may be fatigued by sponsored posts if the influencer has been posting them frequently already.
Identify your goals and find the right people to help you reach it
You must consider what the goals are for your campaign and choose influencers that can help you achieve those goals. For example, if your goal is to gain as much engagement as possible, you might want to consider partnering with a pool of micro-influencers with smaller audiences, and, thus, higher engagement rates. However, if you’re trying to increase brand awareness, you may want to focus more on reach and traffic, and how you can amplify this.
I always use this analogy when talking to brands or clients - if you throw one big stone into a pond, you’ll create a single ripple. If you throw a handful of smaller stones, you create multiple ripples. This is exactly how influencer-marketing campaigns work.
Check their engagement
The most important thing when considering who you should outreach to ahead of your brand campaign is engagement. If an influencer has a high number of followers, you would expect to see a decent engagement rate.
This is often calculated by the average engagements/followers x 100 (some brands that we work with calculate this by dividing by reach rather than followers, so make sure you establish this with the brand before you start using this formula). This will give you a percentage engagement rate. The average engagement rate you should be looking for varies depending on the number of followers the influencer has. Influencermarketinghub.com analysed more than 1million influencer profiles across some of the leading marketing platforms and has offered the below handy guide:
Generally, a minimum of 2-3% is what you should really expect from your chosen influencers, so if they are delivering below this, there is a good chance that they have either purchased some of their followers or they have a lot of bot followers that have mounted up due to hosting competitions or other ‘spammy’ activities. However, it’s important to note that as the follower count grows, engagement rates tend to dwindle as a result, so influencers with fewer followers often gain higher engagement rates – this is because they are able to have more direct communication with their fans.
Run the numbers
Checking the quality of the influencers’ followers is also very important. Are they engaging regularly? Do they just like their content, or are they having conversations with the influencer? These are all indicators of whether the influencer is actually as influential as they come across through the numbers! You should be aligning your business with influencers who have a pull with their audience, share a similar ethos and regularly hold positive conversations. If they don’t then they won’t be good fit for your brand.
Look for quality
Another element to explore during your influencer research is the influencer’s ability to communicate effectively with their audience. Brands tend to look for those who have a similar or complimentary tone of voice to their own, as this will ensure that the campaign and messaging will resonate with their audience. If you have an edgy brand, you wouldn’t want to work with someone who is super formal.
Consider the demographic of the influencer and if this is right for your campaign or brand too. For example, if your brand is a clothing line for teens, you wouldn’t choose an influencer just because their niche is fashion, you’d look at the age demographic of their followers – in this instance, they may still be a consideration if their audience is 35-55 as they’re likely the mothers/fathers of the target audience (who often purchase their clothes anyway).
Creativity and passion
Another great reason to work with influencers is down to their creative capabilities. Influencers are able to explore the nuances of your brand and align your messaging in a way that will help you engage their audience. It’s no good giving blanket content and copy to a range of influencers as consumers will see through this and it may impact the performance of your campaign.
Giving creative control to influencers is really important – they know what resonates with their fans and can help you promote or sell your product in a more conversational, less salesy manner. Offering them a short brief and asking them for their opinions on how this could translate on their channel not only helps you plan your campaign, but also enables you to build a solid, meaningful relationship with the influencer – and they are more likely to work with you again!
Consider your budget
Something else you should keep in mind when putting together your influencer campaign is how much they charge. While there are influencers out there that charge the world for a single post, there’s a whole plethora of people who will happily work with you for free in return for gifting. A recent survey found that 77% of businesses report gifting free products/services in exchange for sponsored content.
When we form influencer marketing campaigns, depending on the client brief, we look to involve a variety of influencers based on a tier system. It’s important to include influencers with both large and small followings, as this will help you engage fans and build brand credibility. But you don’t always need to work with those large influencers to gain the reach you’re looking for. For example, for the same cost you could work with one big celebrity or 20 micro-influencers (1k-10k followers). They could have the same reach as the pool of micro-influencers combined, however you’re likely to see greater engagement from a pool of micro-influencers as their content is likely to be seen by a larger percentage of their following.
How to outreach
Now you’ve done your research and have formed your list of perfect partners, it’s time to outreach. The best way to do this as a brand is through the their channels. Enter their radar by following them initially; liking and commenting on their posts. Be positive and complimentary, and engage with them in a meaningful manner.
If you’re an agency handling this on behalf of a client, you can normally go direct to them through a DM or most will have a contact email. It’s still good practice to follow and engage with them so you get a feel for their channels and start to build a relationship – plus if you do this, they may even recognise you when you outreach to them! You can even say that you saw their post on X and thought they’d be interested to hear more about your campaign – make sure the post you’re referencing is relevant to their brand, otherwise you’ll lose them before you’ve even got a response!
Engage with each influencer in a bespoke manner – blanket emails or messages don’t work well at all and the influencer will recognise this mass outreach approach and may be turned off. Tailor each message to the individual, their channel and their ethos – you’ll get a lot further and may be able to negotiate more from them!