Think influencer marketing is too pricey for your brand? Think again. Contributor Megan Krause explains how to go about finding partners that fit well with your business.
Selena Gomez makes about $550,000 for one sponsored Instagram post, according to proprietary and public data analyzed by HopperHQ.
Cristiano Ronaldo earns about $400,000 a post. And, depending on the pecking order of the Kardashian in question, they pull in anywhere from $250K to $500K per post.
For one Instagram post.
(My mom tried to warn me about being an English major, but did I listen? No.)
If you don’t have that kind of money to shell out for an influencer marketing campaign, then this post is for you.
Influencer marketing works
You probably already know that. Promoting your product or service through a blogger, social media user or otherwise influential person who has significant engagement with their following is a good way to get meaningful exposure. Some stats to prove its worth:
- Influencer marketing content provides a return on investment that is 11 times higher than traditional digital marketing forms, according to a study conducted by Nielsen Catalina Solutions for influencer marketing software TapInfluence.
- Non-celebrity bloggers are more likely than celebrities to inspire purchases, with 30 percent of consumers more likely to buy from them, a Collective Bias survey finds.
- That preference is even more pronounced with millennials, 70 percent of whom use peer recommendations when purchasing, the same study reports.
- A whopping 95 percent of consumers trust recommendations from others over content that comes from a brand, a 2011 Nielsen survey found.
You don’t need to pay a celebrity thousands of dollars for promotion, however. You can form valuable relationships with people whose passion lines up with your industry and whose content resonates with the (micro)masses, and those relationships can be turned into sales.
Here’s how to find influencers, how to approach them, and how to get them to work with your brand.
How to find the right influencers
The expanse of the internet can make narrowing down an influencer search intimidating. By using existing networks first, an influencer search becomes more focused and relevant.
Start with what you know
First, ask coworkers at your business which influencers they follow in your industry. Look for content creators who don’t just have large followings, but whose followings are engaged. That means you seek out influencers with lots of comments on their stories and social media posts, as well as social shares of their content.
A celebrity influencer whose posts may reach thousands of followers is less effective than one whose post gets more comments and shares, and thus more organic reach.
Browse your own followings
Within the social network followings for your brand, identify your most fervent followers. Since they’re already passionate about your business, these people may also be willing to act as brand advocates for you.
Use tools and search engines
Don’t discount the power of Google when you’re looking for influencers. Search for “influencer” and the topic related to your business. While the top results may command too high a paycheck for your brand, you can still get an idea of those in their communities who might be able to help.
Also, influencer marketing tools like BuzzSumo or Klout can clue you into top influencers. You may also get great influencer ideas by actively participating in online communities such as Reddit or forums, where you can connect with users and ask them who they follow in your industry.
Look to journalists
Journalists are still considered worthy influencers, especially within local communities. For businesses with a local-first, conquer-the-world-next mentality, subscribing to journalist Twitter feeds and commenting on their web articles is a good way to get their attention.
As you compile a list of potential influencers to approach, optimize your efforts by focusing on engagement and relevance. If an influencer creates content that doesn’t align with your brand values, they could do more harm than good.
How to approach influencers
Once you’ve narrowed down your search, it’s time to approach influencers about potential partnerships. Keep in mind that many of these people get approached often. Your brand must stand out and provide value to the influencer to motivate them to participate in a campaign or support your brand.
Use these techniques when approaching influencers.
Establish a connection
You know how many people find cold calling annoying? They often feel the same way about a cold email where you dive into what you want from someone without giving them context. The influencer might be a stranger who lives thousands of miles away, but think about commonalities you have and why you approached them.
Have you been an avid fan of their blog for years? Have they recently written a review that you enjoyed reading? Is their video channel one of the most-watched ones among your coworkers? Let them know immediately why you’re a fan of their content to keep their attention. Give a clear and concrete example of how their work relates to your brand’s goals.
State what’s in it for them
Influencers want to provide valuable content to their followers. If your brand is off-message for their own brand, or if there’s no motivation in sharing, they won’t put forth the effort.
Also, given how precious the influencer’s time is, they won’t want to waste it if your offer isn’t great. Even if you’re doing influencer marketing on a budget, you should still provide them with something of worth in return for their work with your brand. This can include:
- Social shares from your own channels.
- A link to their content in your next email newsletter.
- The ability to get a free product and test it out before anyone else.
- The opportunity to provide an interview or testimonial which links back to their website.
- A link to their content on your website.
Ultimately, influencers want their own reach and engagement to increase so they can keep working with brands like yours. If you can share their content and help to build their followings, that’s valuable to them.
Thank them for their time
As with any potential business partnership, genuinely thank them for the time they took to consider your proposal. Provide an easy way to contact you with questions, and show enthusiasm for the potential opportunity of working with them.
Even if an influencer doesn’t respond right away or turns you down, don’t write them off. Continue to interact with them by engaging with them on social media and commenting on their content.
If they seem open to it, follow up with them again in six months with a new opportunity. They may appreciate that you’ve continued to be a fan and may have more time or desire to work with your brand in the future.
Set influencers up for success during a campaign
Once influencers have agreed to learn more about your brand and share their thoughts with their followers, you need to increase the likelihood that the campaign is successful.
Provide them with resources
Send influencers brand guidelines, photography, videos and anything else you think may help them get to know your brand. These types of materials are especially vital for journalists.
If an influencer has a question about the way a product works or about a certain feature, provide them with the information they need quickly. This not only provides a better view of your product or service, it also alleviates any frustration that might taint their coverage of your brand.
An influencer marketing campaign doesn’t have to be limited to a single post. By following up and showing gratitude after a campaign, you may inspire the influencer to post about you again in the future or link to you in a relevant post. Continue to check in with influencers you’ve formed relationships with. As their followings grow, so can coverage for your brand through new influencer marketing campaigns.
Influencers can be a strong source of public relations for businesses. When you treat how you find, approach and work with influencers the same way you would any business partnership, influencer marketing campaigns become more effective.