VLOG: What is Influencer Marketing?: A One-on-One with Maria Harrison
What Is Influencer Marketing?
Influencer marketing is when social media celebrities or personalities use their clouts with their audiences to talk about a product or a service that they’re passionate about that they’ve used. Typically social media personalities who have significant influence over their communities can help you, as a brand, get the word out about your brand, sell your product or service to their audience. Because it’s being endorsed to a certain degree by that social media personality, it gives it a little more credibility than, say, just an ad might.
What’s the Benefit of Influencer Campaigns?
The value of an influencer campaign is that it leads to word-of-mouth promotion of your product or service on social media. It can be oftentimes perceived as a little more believable or a little more reliable than just an ad. The social media personality who’s talking about your product has the opportunity to really personalize the message to their audience, really speak directly to them about the product or service. Social media personalities have developed strong relationships, bonds, and trust with their audience. Because the audience trusts that person, they may be more likely to purchase a product or service than if they just saw an ad for it. The other benefit of influencer marketing is that, although it may not lead to direct purchases, we might consider this a little more middle-of-the-funnel type activity. It can lead to great user-generated content, a lot of authentic pictures and videos that you can then reuse in your paid media. When you’re evaluating the cost of a potential influencer campaign, don’t underestimate the value of the assets you’ll procure as part of your influencer campaigns.
Where Do Influencers Fit Into a Marketing Plan?
It is like word-of-mouth marketing. It’s an opportunity again for these influencers to talk about your product or service to maybe highlight certain features of the product or service that they particularly like and, importantly, that they think their audiences will enjoy. It’s more that the top-to-middle funnel activity that we’re looking for. Of course, we see purchases from it, but it’s really about getting the word out, creating awareness about your product or service. You should be able to garner some sales from potentially but certainly followers and awareness about the product.
How Much Do Influencer Campaigns Cost?
I think that’s all relative to what your budgets are, and what your average order value is, and your return on ad spend typically looks like. It’s kind of difficult to answer that question in a vacuum. I can tell you that there’s varying types of influencer campaigns that you can run. You can run micro-campaigns, macro-campaigns, celebrity campaigns, and they all come in at different price points. When you work with a micro-influencer, they’re typically going to have just a few thousand followers. But what we generally look for is a few thousand followers but a highly engaged audience, an audience invested in that particular influencer. We evaluate that we look at their profiles, and we look to see how many comments and likes, but specifically comments that seem genuine. It’s not just the number of comments but do these influencers have an authentic audience that’s genuinely engaging with them. Micro-influencers will be a little less expensive than a macro or a celebrity, which I’ll talk about in a minute. These micro-influencers might work in barter for a product, although as they grow their audiences just a little bigger and a little bigger, they are looking for monetary compensation. For many of these people, this is a job. For some, it’s a second job; for some, it’s a full-time job, and they’re working hard to create great content and build their communities, so they want to be compensated fairly for that. Often you can pay them a small amount as well as give them some product to work with to create the content for the influencer campaign.
Next, you have macro-influencers. They’re going to have potentially north of 50 or 60,000 followers, so they have a bigger sphere of influence. Again we’re still looking for significant engagement with those influencers, but because they have a more extensive reach and talk to more people, they’re going to be a little bit more expensive to work with, and they can be they can start to range into the thousands. You could be getting into, let’s say, the ten thousand dollar north range to work with each of those macro-influencers. We’ve worked with some that are fifteen thousand, some thirty thousand dollars but again, that only makes sense for specific brands and depends on what your budget is and what you’re looking to get out of the influencer campaign.
And last but not least, our celebrity influencer deal. When we think of celebrities, we think about the Kim Kardashians of the world, the Khloe Kardashians of the world, the Kevin Harts of the world, who are you know have millions and millions of followers, have a vast sphere of influence, and they can be quite pricey. In some cases, the Kardashians can get a million dollars for a one-time spot of a product. Other celebrities can command similar price points like The Rock receives quite a bit of money for a one-time placement. Those are for more prominent brands with bigger budgets, but if you’re looking for an influencer campaign that you can have in a steady state at smaller budget levels, they’re there. It’s just a matter of picking the right micro-influencers to work with to ensure that you get great reach, great engagement, and ultimately great word of mouth about your product.
What Are Some Influencer Marketing Misconceptions?
Influencer marketing started to get a horrible rap; I want to say, in 2019. Influencers started to receive a lousy rap where it seemed like influencers were divas; they just wanted free product and didn’t work, or were their followings engaged enough for it to make a difference in the bottom line of your company.
There is fraud in influencer marketing, just like there is in paid digital marketing, so it comes down to picking the right influencers. They’re not divas; they want to be able to make a great connection with their audience and with you and talk about the product or service that you’ve asked them to represent. You have to be careful to look for fake influencers and fake followers and make sure that you’re engaging with the influencers who are trusted, who’ve worked with other brands (you certainly can ask for references), and put together a professional plan to work with them. While there are obvious pitfalls that you need to watch out for, there’s a lot of excellent return on investment that could come from influencer marketing. And it can work across a wide array of products and services, so I would say don’t be afraid of it but go into it with a plan and knowing what some of those pitfalls are.
Are Influencer Campaigns a Lot of Work?
It is labor-intensive because you have to go out, you have to find the influencers, you have to contact them, you have to make sure that you can fit into their schedules. They may already have other commitments and not have availability even to represent your product at a particular time. For example, in Q4, it can get hectic as you get into the holidays, and a lot of the influencers will book up by August. If you’re thinking of running a Q4 campaign for the holiday shopping season, you really can’t be waiting until September, October, to plan that and reach out to influencers. You need to plan it in June or July and contact the influencers in August and try to get them to commit at that point in time. Influencers running this as their business will take it seriously and have their calendars done that far in advance. You certainly want to be planning ahead to work with influencers. You’re going to have the best success when you give influencers strong direction while you don’t want to control their creativity or their narrative, you do want to explain to them precisely what you need to get out of the campaign. What are the kinds of assets you are hoping to get videos from the campaign? Are you hoping to get still shots? Do you want unboxing videos? You want, if it’s a gifting campaign, you want a photo of the influencer giving the gift to the person and their reaction, which can often be an authentic reaction, but all of that needs to be documented in a brief for the influencers in advance. And then on the backside, it’s assimilating all those assets making sure that the influencers execute the contracts that you have them agree to in full and then can use those assets. You know we try to repurpose them whenever possible for blogs or paid media because it’s an authentic content.
OK. I’m Sold. What’s My First Step?
If you’re looking to do an influencer campaign for the first time, you need to start with the end goal in mind. What is it that you want to get out of the campaign? How many people do you want to reach? How many engagements do you expect to get? And how many pieces of content do you want these influencers to generate for you that you can then repurpose and reuse in future campaigns?
What’s Most Impressive About Influencer Campaigns?
One of the things I’ve been most impressed with, with our influencer campaigns is the content we can get. It’s completely authentic; it includes product shots; it doesn’t look posed; it looks genuine; it is authentic, and that seems to resonate well with audiences.