Genuine and authentic influencers are becoming the future of social media strategy for many top brands. After all, creating quality content is a vital piece of marketing and branding, and who better to help promote your brand than an influencer who has the pulse on your target audience?
Influencers come in many shapes and sizes. A brand influencer is someone who discovers, understands, innovates, and implements a brand. Influencers know how to effectively engage with a brand’s key audience, which is what makes them so invaluable.
If you’re on the fence about hiring influencers for your brand, just take a look at the statistics. Over the last five years, brands have collaborated with social media influencers to generate awareness, and influencer marketing has already grown to become a $5-$10 billion dollar industry. With such rapid growth, studies show there’s a broad range of somewhere between 3 and 40 million. Whatever the exact number, there are a lot, and worthy of your attention.
But does influencer marketing really work?
In today’s digital world, influencer marketing is actually more accessible and measurable than ever before, making it extremely appealing to marketers who are finding it effective in achieving their goals.
In fact, a whopping 84% of marketers believe that influencer partnerships are effective and that the success of a campaign relies heavily on the quality of the influencer. That’s why doing your research to find the right influencers to elevate your brand is key.
“There are exceptional people out there who are capable of starting epidemics. All you have to do is find them.” - Malcolm Goldwell, Canadian journalist
In this blog, we’ll discuss the key reasons that brands should hire influencers and how to become an influencer that brands want to hire.
Who are influencers?
First, let’s begin by discussing who an influencer is. Unlike a celebrity, an influencer can be anywhere and can be anyone. What gives them an “influential” status is typically their large followings on social media. An influencer could be a fashion photographer on Instagram, a food blogger, or even a well-respected marketer on LinkedIn.
There are influential people everywhere and in every industry, and some have anywhere from thousands up to millions of followers. They could just be everyday, regular people, who have developed a reputation for being am SME (subject matter expert) in their field. Influencers are known for creating engaging posts, answering questions, and communicating regularly with their followers. They may also share visually stimulating images, create entertaining and viral videos, and facilitate online forums.
Why you should hire influencers
You may already know or have been told that you should be working with influencers to help grow your brand, but you may or may not know why influencers can be an integral part of a successful marketing campaign.
While there are a plethora of reasons why you should hire influencers for your brand, I’m going to focus on what I consider to be among some of the top reasons and why:
Imagine if you had an expert in your field with a large social media or online following who could create content for you--you’d probably jump at the opportunity. All marketers know the value that sharing strong, influential content has. And when you have social media influencers and bloggers creating content and sharing that content about your brand, you can also drive to and share that content with your existing audience.
Some of the most popular types of influencer-generated content include:
- “How to” tutorials
- Product reviews
- Guest blogs
Influencers are known for being masters at creating content, and engaging content at that. This is the perfect recipe for brands since influencers can create top-notch, user-generated content about your product or service that you can then turn around (with permission) and share on your own platforms. Win-win!
Build brand awareness and trust
Influencers are great at generating brand awareness and providing exposure to your target market, especially in today’s ever-growing and competitive eCommerce space. And by using genuine and authentic influencers to promote your product or service, you can piggyback on the trust that they have already built with their own fan base. The greater trust they’ve earned, the more impactful their positive comments about your brand will be.
Some of the key reasons why this works so well include:
Influencers come across as authentic and “real” people. Even though they may be paid, most influencers won’t represent a product or service they don’t believe in or trust themselves—and their followers know that. Honesty is key when it comes to authenticity, and a brand wants its influencer's honest opinions to reflect positively on their products.
“In order to build a community, you need endorsements from experts that people trust.” -- Lauren Sherman, chief correspondent with Business of Fashion
Influencers are generally passionate about the products they promote, which means they will support your brand’s vision and help build meaningful relationships. Successful influencer marketing programs require strong relationships between the brand and the personality because meaningful connections equal a good ROI.
Influencers tend to be considered genuine and transparent with their audience and collaborators. They will typically let their followers know if they have received a gift or compensation from a company, and transparency goes a long way when building trust with your audience.
In fact, in a survey by Influencer.co, 82% of followers agreed that it is important for an influencer to disclose their personal use history with the product they are promoting.
Trust is huge for brands, and influencers build relationships with their audience based on just that. Consumers often look to influencers for advice and suggestions in many aspects of their life and businesses can capitalize on this.
At the end of the day, it’s all about ROI, right? You want to see a return on your investment. The good news is if the influencer likes and willingly endorses your brand, and their audience fits with your target market, there will be sales. It’s that simple. In fact, the majority of studies show that the ROI of influencer marketing lies somewhere around $7 for every $1 spent.
You may even want to consider using more than one influencer for your campaigns, because there is power in numbers, and that will improve your odds. The further you can spread your influence, the better.
We all know that referrals are key to any successful business, and you can think of influencers very similarly. Referrals come from trusted sources--that could be friends and family, but often, people trust people they are in touch with online regularly, just because they agree with their viewpoint.
This is precisely why you should use an influencer whose followers are a close fit to those who will be likely to purchase from your brand. By being specific in your brand targeting, you’ll reach the people who are the most likely to become your customers.
How to become an influencer
Almost every major industry has seen a rise in influencers, and brands are leveraging them now more than ever. In fact, influencer marketing has quickly become a “mainstream marketing tactic.” And suddenly, everyone wants to be an influencer within their niche or domain.
So, how does one become an influencer?
The following steps can help you get started:
Find your niche
First determine what your niche or area of expertise is. Think about what your interests are and what you feel confident you can create consistent content about. What are your passions and hobbies? For example, are you interested in beauty, sports, or DIY? Find your calling, and be sure to not make it too broad.
Optimize your social media profiles
Initially you’ll want to decide which social media platform(s) you want to focus on. Typically it’s best to stick to 1-2 channels, and you can create new ones, or beef up your current ones. Here’s how:
- Switch to a business account. Most social media platforms have business accounts such as these for Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
- Create an engaging bio. Your bio is the first thing people see when they come to your page. This is your first impression and your chance to tell your story.
- Add a strong profile and cover photos. If you want to be taken seriously as an influencer, you need to have quality images. This is also important for your brand identity.
Know your audience
Before you begin posting, you’ll want to make sure that you know who your target audience is. This is important when it comes to building a loyal following. Most social media platforms have built-in analytics tools that can help provide insights into the demographics and interests of your audience.
Pro tip: The new UNUM Insights feature will be able to give statistical data across all the social platforms you manage.
Post relevant content
In order to keep your audience engaged, you have to create and post content that is relevant to your followers—the key is to get them to listen to you. Start with a content strategy and mix up the type of content you post. Rotate between images, videos, and quotes, for example, or the type of content that you think your audience will engage with the most.
It’s important to plan a posting frequency and schedule, and stick with it. Reason being, most social media platform algorithms prioritize or give preference to accounts that post regularly. Many studies actually show when are certain days and times of the week when you can get the most engagement on your posts. You may decide that you want to post daily or weekly at a certain time for example, but whenever you do, be consistent.
Engage with your audience
This is probably one of the most important things you can do if you want to become a successful influencer. It’s crucial that you connect with your followers and always respond to their comments. This is what will make you “real” and humanize you to your audience.
Pro Tip: Ask your audience an open-ended question or start a poll. This is a great way to get a conversation started!
How to get hired by a brand
So now that you’ve created and optimized your social media profiles, are posting consistent content, and engaging with your target audience, it’s time to start collaborating with a brand.
Be sure that you have established yourself first and gained a strong social following and then reach out to brands to let them know that you are open to collaborations.
But how do you do that? And what do you say?
Start by following these tips:
- Research the brands you want to partner with and reach out to them via email (if applicable) or through a private or direct message (depending on the social profile.)
- Join influencer platforms such as Octoly, that help connect influencers and brands.
- Tag and mention brands you want to collaborate with when you talk about their products in your posts.
Can I actually make money as an influencer?
The answer is yes! For some it’s a side hustle, but many people actually work as an influencer full time. There are a number of influencer marketing platforms available that are designed to help you get started. One example is TRIBE, and according to them, you just need a minimum of 3K followers on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook, in order to turn this into an income.
You can even sign up to be a Creator for TRIBE and make money promoting products that you already use and love. Here’s how you get started:
- Choose a budget that works for your lifestyle (based on whether you want to be an influencer part time or full time.)
- Define the value of your sponsored posts (the TRIBE app provides ballpark rates.)
- Determine how many posts you need to make ends meet.
- Download the TRIBE app in the Google Play Store or in the Apple App Store.
- Begin to create and submit original content!
A trend in influencer marketing
If you’ve learned anything from this post, you’ve probably discovered that influencer marketing is the next big thing. As we move into the latter part of 2021 and beyond, you can most certainly expect to see more and more sponsored posts flooding your social feeds. So, whether you’re a brand seeking an influencer or an influencer seeking a brand, opportunities abound.
In fact, Influencer marketing is on track to become a $15 billion dollar industry by 2022, and 63% of marketers intend to increase their influencer marketing budget in the next year.
Some of the key trends we’ve seen in influencer marketing this year include video content, a focus on diversity and inclusion, value-driven content, and new social platforms.
Additionally, creators have really started impacting businesses in 2021. Nearly 68% of US marketers from companies with 100 or more employees will use influencer marketing this year.
Influencer marketing has quickly become a mainstream form of online marketing. And at the end of the day, the power of influencer collaborations lies within brand recognition. If you are genuinely “influential,” you can influence the type of people with whom a brand wants to reach. Unlike traditional advertising, the goal shouldn’t be placed directly on product sales, but rather on building an engaging audience, that will in turn, become loyal customers.
“People do not buy goods and services. They buy relations, stories, and magic.” -- Seth Godin
[Header image by George Milton from Pexels]