The Beginner’s Guide to Influencer Marketing

To say influencer marketing is in vogue is an understatement. From the fashion industry, to travel, tourism, hospitality and beyond, the most successful brands all use influencers – bloggers, vloggers, Instagrammers etc… – to reach their target audiences.

But why? Our guide to influencer marketing aims to answer such a fundamental question, offering insights into the whys and wherefores of influencers, what objectives they can deliver and best practice for extracting the most out of your relationship with them.

Influencer market can vary a lot, and can include more diverse subjects such as using online reputation software to control how you portray your brand to an audience (hence, influencing their buying decisions).

And be sure to keep this in mind throughout the guide below:

“Influencers are able to engage your target market in a deeper, more immersive and trustworthy way…”

What Is Influencer Marketing?

Put simply, influencer marketing is an activity on behalf of a brand to build relationships with and leverage the influence of popular individuals to amplify its message and/or products to its target audience.

Though a cost is and should be involved when interacting with influencers, influencer marketing should not be seen as traditional paid advertising. Instead, the interaction between bloggers, vloggers and other influencers is more akin to that between friends and family. It is an interaction based on trust just like in the real world. People need to be able to trust the marketing they are seeing. One reliable form of traditional marketing, for example, is teardrop banners. These have worked successfully through the years as a form of offline marketing. Click here to learn more about teardrop banners.

Who Are Influencers?

Technically, an influencer is anyone with a following over which they exert influence. But for the sake of simplicity and practicality, this guide is going to consider the 3 most prolific types of influencer; bloggers, vloggers and Instagrammers (Igers).

What sets these 3 distinct influencer types apart from their competition is their professionalism, the tangibility of their content and the work they undertake to continually widen their sphere of influence. For many, it’s a full-time job.

Why Influencer Marketing?

Influencer marketing is seriously popular right now. It is the marketing approach du jour. According to a study by The Shelf, 65% of brands participate in some form of influencer marketing. But just because two-thirds of brands are doing it, doesn’t mean that you should.

Except, you genuinely should.

Nielsen’s 2015 ‘Global Trust in Advertising’ study found that ‘recommendations from people I know’ (78%) and ‘consumer opinions posted online’ (63%) were the top two ad formats acted upon by European consumers. It’s no coincidence that both of these choices fit perfectly with influencer marketing.

“…the interaction between bloggers, vloggers and other influencers is more akin to that between friends and family. It is an interaction based on trust.”

But what does this trust mean for you? Well, it means a lot more than you think. Building a relationship with an influencer not only connects your brand with their audience, but also with their audience’s audience. This is known as the ripple effect.

Such a wide sphere of influence means that working with influencers can help you achieve almost any of your defined commercial objectives; out-and-out sales, website traffic, social engagement, brand awareness.

And with the decline of traditional paid advertising, due in part to consumer weariness, influencer marketing is becoming one of the most cost effective ways to engage your audience. Not only have consumers become blind to the many forms of paid advertising, they are actively taking steps to block it out.

Influencer Marketing Best Practice

The main issue businesses run into when working with influencers is the strategy involved. It isn’t a simple case of find a blogger, offer them something and await the returns. If that’s your attitude, they won’t come.

Set Clear Objectives

Working with influencer can deliver a range of results. You should focus any and all activity on specific KPIs; engagement, data, attendees, bookings. Don’t chase vanity metrics over true engagement.

Spend Time Researching

The beauty of influencer marketing is in its ability to generate targeted interest and awareness. Spend time researching the influencers you want to work with and who can deliver your objectives. Remember, engagement is far more important than reach. Meaningless numbers, even if they’re big, don’t mean anything without engagement.

Invest in Influencers

For many influencers, their blog, vlog and/or Instagram account is part of their livelihood. This is a job for them. Think about how you would react if a business asked you to help it achieve financial gain, for no gain of your own. Sometimes, the product or service you offer is payment enough, but most of the time money should exchange hands.

Build Relationships

Remember the ripple effect we mentioned? It’s one clear example of why you should treat your influencers well and with respect. If they like you, they’ll continue to spread your brand message long after your professional contract with them has expired. It makes sense that you’d develop positive relationships with those who influence your target audience.

Influence Continuously

It’s platitudinous, I know, but Rome wasn’t built in a day. And the fortunes of your business won’t be turned around in the excitement of a flurry of blogger activity. You need to be in this for the long run, continuously getting your brand in front of consumers and building a feeling of trust and awareness around your products. This is where true influencer success lies.

Build Relationships

Yes, we mentioned this above, but it’s so important I thought I’d reiterate.

As much as influencers have built trust with their audience, you need to build trust with your influencers. Make them feel valued and unique, and don’t scare them away with bureaucracy and business-speak, which likely won’t resonate well with them.

“If they like you, they’ll continue to spread your brand message long after your professional contract with them has expired.”

Create a personal relationship with your influencers, it’ll make them more receptive to your ideas and far more likely to interact with your business and products further down the line.

Final Comments

Trust is the biggest consideration in marketing right now. Consumers are becoming increasingly savvy and less receptive to paid commercial messages like traditional advertising. Added to this commercial blindness is one of the biggest threats to the advertising industry as we know it; adblockers.

It’s little wonder that there’s been such a shift towards digital marketing in the form of influencer marketing in the past few years, and this trend is likely to continue as paid advertising becomes less effective. Invest in influencer marketing now as a way of future-proofing business growth.

Specialists in influencer marketing, Digital Visitor has delivered outreach campaigns for brands including IHG, and Destination Bristol.

For more information, or to discuss the possibility of an influencer marketing campaign for your brand, please get in touch with us here…