Word of mouth has always been one of the best ways to get people to buy or at least consider buying from a particular business. While it is hard to get everyday people to talk about a particular product, getting a group of say 100 people to mention a product to the 500 or so combined people they interact with frequently is rather easy — it's traditional word of mouth. One great way to avoid the roundabout ways to get hundreds of people talking about a business or sharing a product, it is possible to get one or two influential people that have large followings that respect them to talk about a product with their following. This is influencer marketing.
The most common examples of influencer marketing come in the form of celebrity endorsements. Large companies pay actors, musicians, athletes, and other well-known people and pay them to be in advertisements or be spokespeople for their product/brand.
While traditional influencer marketing manifests itself in TV, magazine, and some online content, ecommerce companies often focus primarily on that third option. And said content can take many forms. It could be an online video, a blog, or social media posts.
One online company, SeatGeek, has spent a fair amount of money marketing to at least one community: YouTube. SeatGeek is a company that helps fans buy tickets to sporting events, concerts, and other events. They have sponsored numerous YouTubers who post videos about sports.
BBall Breakdown is one channel that consistently has plugs for SeatGeek, and it has nearly 450,000 subscribers with videos consistently getting more than 100,000 views.
It isn’t the most subtle way to do influencer marketing, but these videos are made for people who buy tickets to sporting events on a regular basis so SeatGeek putting their name at the front of these soon-to-be-buyers goes a long way.
1. Find your niche influencer
This is the easiest step. Business owners are usually intimately familiar with the environment of their product, which will include at least a short list of famous people associated it. If not, browsing the internet for an hour or so will give you plenty of ideas to work with. Here are a few ideas of places to look.
This idea was already addressed above, but there is so much more potential for content beyond just plugs in videos. Plenty of creators on the site have the perfect type of content that can blend with sponsored content.
The low-hanging fruit in terms of types to go for would be product reviewers as well as “unboxers.” The driving force of these channels is having more products to review or unboxing. Giving them free products to review/unbox helps them create more and better content while giving your company exposure and likely a positive review.
While there is plenty of exposure in the world of YouTube, there are 152 million blogs on the internet as of 2013 — mind you that was five years ago and the number has only grown. Millions upon millions read blogs on a daily basis.
There is a lot of overlap between YouTube, but one thing bloggers tend to have an advantage in is storytelling. Writers have the ability to tell stories much better than video-makers. There are also news bloggers and list creators.
These kinds of lists and news pieces can be crafted into native advertising. Plenty of e-commerce companies have paid content creators on major blog sites to build a consumer base.
Here is an example of native advertising from an actual news site, but the effect can be the same with everyday blogs.
- Social media stars
Blogs and YouTube channels offer a lot of crossover in terms of sponsored content, but the broad spectrum of social media outlets offer simple, but very effective content.
Influencer marketing on social media will usually consist of one post that the influencer will post, exposing your content/product to all of that person’s followers.
In a twist of roles, Katie Morton owns a YouTube channel and received some help promoting it from Lindsey Stirling, who was a guest on one of the videos.
Morton has a decent following of her own (287,000 subscribers), but she had her channel (which can be considered a business) exposed to Stirling’s 1.3 million followers on Instagram with this post.
2. Negotiate rates
Obviously, spending too much money on getting content sponsored will effectively negate its positive impact, so nailing the right rate is key.
This process ultimately is like hiring an employee and negotiating salary. You want the number as low as possible while they want it as high as possible.
One thing you need to keep in mind is how big the potential influencer’s readership/viewership is. While the rate will likely be the same, say $5 per so many page hits or followers, there is a risk in creators that don’t have as many followers.
Content creators with a smaller viewership base might take a hit in said viewership if the advertising in the content is a little blatant. Not only would that ruin the ad campaign, your relationship with the creator will tank.
Along with the considering the viewership of influencers, there are a lot of little things to consider when discussing rates.
There are some topics that are going to be worth more (or less) depending on how likely it is to draw in page views. If the topic is much more of a niche subject then rates ought to be lower. But they can also be higher for topics that will get a higher amount of page views by default.
This can end up being a mistake if you don’t consider it. Assuming you plan on making a lot of income long term from these marketing campaigns, some of that will inevitably end up in the hands of the government. Take that into account with the rate.
This can be especially relevant if the sponsored content is some kind of product review and you’re providing the product for free as is typical. There’s also the possibility of being charged extra if the creators use special equipment when writing the blogs or making the videos.
3. Tracking conversion rates and driving traffic
Once you’ve managed to get the actual sponsored content agreed upon and start getting it out there, it’s important to make sure it’s actually working. And there are a handful of ways to do so.
The wrong way to go about tracking these are just looking at how many pages hits the blog post or video got. Sure, more than 150,000 people viewed that video by BBall Breakdown, but that does not mean that 150k people decided to buy tickets from SeatGeek.
This is an obvious idea, but it can be easy to get caught up in the simple exposure and not look further into whether or not your campaign is actually working and drawing in customers.
The proper way to go about it is to track how many people interacted with the ad. How many people that saw the social media post actually clicked on the links provided in said post and how many of those people ended up buying a product.
It seems like a hard thing to track, but there are a fair number of services out there that will help you track how much an ad campaign (or influencer marketing campaign in this case) is actually working by tracking how often the advertisement draws clicks.
LinkedIn is one example of a company that offers services specifically for tracking sponsored content, showing how many people simply see the ad and how many people act on it.
There are other services like this one from LinkedIn, so it’s up to you to choose whatever service fits into your business model and marketing strategy best.
4. Driving traffic
The results you get from the tracking services aren’t meant to just be a report on how well your marketing campaign did. It needs to be a lesson on what you can do to get better and better conversion rates. It’s important to get creative with the content and figure out what works best.
Going back to SeatGeek, they went from having content makers insert plugs at the start of videos then started having them put them more in the middle of videos when viewers are in the mindset of absorbing the content in front of them.
If your influencers are product reviewers, you can go from simply having them review a product to giving them the actual product to demonstrate on camera or make their job easier in writing a post about that product (giving people free stuff also strengthens the business relationship).
Staying ahead of the game is key to driving more and more traffic. On influencer might be bringing in consistent flow to your business, but eventually, that will level out as people in their viewership either gravitate toward or away from your website.
This is just one example of the need to stay on your toes. In that case, you would consider adding another influencer to your marketing plan to bring in a fresh wave of customers.
5. Developing relationships
It is important to not just do business and be done with influencers. Once you’ve made contact and even gone through a marketing campaign or two, maintaining contact and the relationship is an important thing.
Having that relationship can lead to better marketing for both you and the content creators you work with growing. It’s worth noting both sides are working together to grow.
While you have a product you sell that brings in income, oftentimes, especially with bloggers, you ARE the income source. That makes them as dependent on you as you can be on them and it gives you a chance to work closely with them for a long time.
However, getting attached is not something you want to happen. Don’t make unnecessary sacrifices to appease one influencer if that person isn’t someone bringing in lots of revenue. The relationship needs to be close but still professional and realistic
6. Earned influencer marketing
Most of this article has been on paid influencer marketing, and it’s a popular and reliable form of marketing. The “earned” influencer marketing is when influential figures or media outlets talk about or report on your company in a positive way without you paying them money.
Earned influencer marketing is essentially free marketing, so take advantage of it as much as you can. If you see someone posted something about your company on social media, promote that post in any way you can (you could also consider getting that person to do future paid content).
All in all, getting people in the public eye to talk about your product is one of the best ways to get that product in front of the eyes of the public.
Hope this article on how to make more outreach with influencers gave you an idea of influencer marketing strategy.
Featured image by Beto Garza “Helbetico”