A sizzling-hot trend in 2022 involves obtaining endorsements and product mentions from social media influencers. According to Business Insider, influencer marketing was worth $13.8 billion in 2021 and is projected to be a $15 billion industry by the end of 2022. John Horn, who has been involved with digital marketing with StubGroup for nearly a decade, says the emerging trend is well worth investigating.
“Influencer marketing works, but do your research before jumping on the bandwagon,” he warns. “The influencer you choose can either make or break your campaign.”
Do your research before choosing a social media influencer
Influencers create content on social media platforms such as Instagram, YouTube, and TikTok. They have built loyal followings and are viewed as experts in their niche. A brand’s research begins by choosing the social media platform where it will focus its campaign. A campaign will be most effective on a platform where that brand already has a presence.
Once a brand settles on a platform, it’s time to look for the influencers in that space who will best market its products or services. Research centers on three critical factors:
Research the relevance of the influencer who will market your brand
Influencers can market a brand most effectively if they are relevant to its target audience. Brands should seek out influencers who already share content related to their products and have audiences closely aligned with their own.
“A marketing campaign through a social media influencer is a partnership,” Horn says. “For the best relationship and results, find an influencer who is producing content that complements your own. The influencer’s tone, sense of humor, and social media posts should already align with the vision you have for presenting your brand to potential customers.
Research the reach of the influencer who will market your brand
Reach amounts to the number of people in an influencer’s audience. Brands will want influencers who are able to reach enough followers to meet marketing goals, but bigger isn’t always better.
“Reaching millions of followers is meaningless unless those followers are intrigued by your product or service,” Horn remarks. “You can’t research an influencer’s reach without taking relevance and resonance into account.”
Research the resonance of the influencer who will market your brand
Resonance is the level of engagement influencers have with their followers, and trusted influencers should have highly engaged followers. This engagement is evident in the number of views, likes, comments, and shares related to each of their posts.
“Research an influencer’s resonance thoroughly,” Horn warns. “High numbers of views, likes, and comments can come from a loyal audience, but they can also be obtained through growth hacks such as bots or fraud accounts. In addition, make sure the most engaged followers in an influencer’s audience are the ones who are relevant to your brand.”
Another consideration related to an influencer’s resonance is how long their high-engagement levels will last. A brand’s best bet for a successful marketing campaign is an influencer posting organic content. Original, creative, and non-sponsored content is what keeps followers coming back for more. When influencers start posting too many paid ads, their popularity takes a nosedive.
Influencer marketing platforms are invaluable tools in a brand’s research. These searchable databases pre-vet influencers and compile stats on relevance, reach, and resonance based on each influencer’s social media activity and fan base.
Target influencers with niche audiences
Believe it or not, celebrities may not be the best choices for influencers when it comes to marketing ROI. Many brands receive better marketing from influencers with smaller niche audiences. According to a 2021 Benchmark Report, influencers with less than 15,000 followers have the highest engagement across all social media platforms. In addition, the cost of marketing with these influencers is much lower.
A high number of followers is only valuable if those followers are engaged with the influencer and interested in the product being promoted. “Just think about the numbers,” says Horn. “An influencer with 20,000 followers who receives 500 likes per post will be more effective than one with 60,000 followers who only receives 100 likes. The second influencer would help your brand reach more people, but those people aren’t engaged enough to care or take action. Your marketing budget is best served by focusing on micro-influencers who reach up to 100,000 followers in your specific niche.”
Design your marketing campaign for the influencer’s audience, not yours
When marketing through an influencer, a brand has the opportunity to make products available to a new and broader audience. While a brand’s research should confirm that its product is relevant to the influencer’s followers, connecting is best left to the influencer.
“Since influencers know the demographics they’re reaching, you’ll benefit from giving them creative freedom,” Horn comments. “The right influencers have already built trust with an audience in your niche, but these followers are loyal to the influencer, not to you. They’ll respond best to marketing that is in the tone they expect. Choosing the right influencers and allowing them to communicate your brand in the way they do best is key.”
Planning a successful influencer campaign takes time. Brands won’t stumble across just the right niche influencer with a highly engaged audience overnight. Impressive results are attainable, but those results hinge on each brand’s ability to choose an influencer situated on the right platform with the right followers to meet their brands’ goals.