Why should companies have Influencer Marketing as a growth strategy?

Influencer Marketing - marketing in collaboration with people that are creative in terms of content, has become a buzzword and a subject mentioned more and more during the last couple of years. And when it comes to new channels, ways of doing marketing and power shifts, there are often a lot of new challenges, uncertainty and unanswered questions. This post will describe and sort out some of these questions by going deeper into Influencer Marketing and discuss some concrete tips on to avoid likely mistakes while trying out this new way of marketing.

According to a study from Collective Bias, consumers are 10 times more likely to buy a product from an influencer that is not a celebrity, but someone that has built her following organically over time. Having analysed over 1000 posts going live through Beatly, we can vouch for this study validity.

1. Engagement before followers

A lot of consumer businesses seem to have a preconception of the power of reach and that reach would be the key to success. This might be true for traditional media like TV, Radio or banners - but in terms of collaborating with influencers reach is anything but an evident success factor. Factors such as matching with the right influencers and the ability associate a brand are a bigger contributor to high ROI. Prioritise influencers with high engagement in order to increase the probability of a successful campaign with good click and engagement metrics. A big reach does not guarantee the same effect, but is, of course, a factor worth keeping in mind as well.

Depending on your target audience, market and brand there are influencers with a high proven engagement. They are usually not that many, but they do exist. The main concern for you, in that case, is that there is likely a high demand for those influencers which will, in turn, affect prices. Learn how to research and identify influencers with a high engagement. Comments are a great way to also keep track of what the engagement actually looks like. Having a lot of international comments will indicate a scattered or bought following, which in turn means throwing away money.

Engagement is calculated by combining the number of likes together with comments and divide that result by the number of followers. I'll repeat (likes + comments) / followers * 100.

Looking at fixed numbers when analyzing the distribution of followers versus following can indicate bought followers as well. Take for example Influencers tends to follow around 1-5% of their total following. Someone following significantly more will lead us to suspect that growth manipulation tricks or "growth hacks" with bots have been used to add followers without increasing the influencers loyalty or engagement.

2. Influencer Marketing as a part of the marketing mix

Influencer Marketing takes time and persistence and will likely involve multiple people from the business. There are always partners that can help spread your message and help you increase awareness and sales, but it is always up to you to determine the return on investment in any campaign.

Influencers are good at creating engaging and consumable, good-looking content so make sure to reuse that content in your own channels. A common mistake is to not include this in the ROI of the campaign which might lead you to invest in other more expensive channels.

Combining retargeting or IRL events together with influencers is a great way to make sure that the engagement and attention the influencers bring will be fully utilized by your brand in more than one channel.

3. Let go of your control

I understand if this feels hard or even scary... however, Influencer Marketing is all about credibility. One thing we have realized after thousands of collaborations is that the end result will always be better if you let the creator take control of the content creation.

Be less specific about the actual copy and more specific around guidelines about what to say. The influencer will apply her own voice and as long as you supply her with the toolset to succeed in terms of the right information about the products and your brand, you will reach the best results.

This channel can be considered as something more similar to a review than a bought native format you can place wherever you want. You invest in the influencer´s competency and should, therefore, trust that she knows how to best approach her followers.

Having a vendor vouching for the general quality of the influencers you choose to collaborate with puts the pressure on them to really make sure that the quality actually meets your standards.

Person wearing Nike Sneakers and jumping from a puddle

4. Think long term

If you expect to see a big increase in sales already after one month, you should think twice and lower your expectations. Like with anything in life nothing comes for free and things become better over time. Not after your first campaign.

Provided you already have a strong brand recognition and an established brand in the market you might get a quicker result than being unrecognized and newly established. To succeed long term and gain ROI with each campaign you should be open to collaborating with new kinds of influencers within new niches, while actively measuring what they give in return. Just like engagement, customer loyalty should be considered as a more important factor than anything in this channel. Segmenting customer loyalty by channel will make you realize the difference between these channels.

Brands that collaborate with influencers will realize that it takes time to broaden the brand reach, but when accomplished, this comes with an increase in awareness. Looking from the competitive aspect, this is a golden moment to gain loyal followers who in turn learn and teach your product to their friends.

5. Consider micro influencers before premium "macro" influencers

Are you prepared to pay $5-10K for a post on Instagram with a semi-known creator and put a large proportion on this post alone? Sure, go ahead! Bet everything on red!

If you are not, then listen up. Go for the micro influencers. Micro influencers are usually defined as being the smallest influencers in terms of reach. Depending on country/platform and supply, they generally have between 10-80k followers. The great thing about these less known creators is that they have a stronger more personal relationship with their followers. Their levels of engagement are on average about 3x higher than bigger more well-known influencers. Another argument for micro influencers is the ability to target a more local audience while spreading the risk.

6. Set clear goals and follow up on the results

Whether your campaign is about increasing brand awareness, engagement, new followers, content towards own channels or even sales - always make sure to set a clear goal in order to be able to know what the ROI actually becomes. Of course, you will always be able to combine multiple KPI's, but this puts more pressure on constantly following up while keeping a more complex calculation.

If increasing sales is your goal, make sure to use UTM-links that segments each influencer in order to follow up in Google Analytics. Another way is to use a URL shortener (eg bit.ly) in order to shorten the links to apply coupon codes and track conversions directly in the checkout.

Maximize the effect from influencer marketing

  • All posts or content pieces produced within a collaboration should end up containing the same #hashtag in order to create hype and making it more likely for new customers to end up in your "world of content" and get inspired from people using your products.
  • Reuse images that influencers have produced in your own channels and on your website. Consumers find inspiration from both organic current customers as well as from influencers. Check out services such as Olapic, where you can pick which products should be fetched within a hashtag and on what product page. This has been proven to increase conversion rates for a lot of businesses.

Finally - don't hesitate to reach out if you need help scaling up your influencer marketing or just find yourself curious learning about more ways of using this way of marketing to its full potential.

Viktor Strömberg

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