Interested in how to work with social media influencers?
This is exactly what we will answer here.
What is an influencer and why do we trust them?
You may have recently heard in the news about a YouTube star by the name of Logan Paul. He made a video that featured a Japanese suicide victim. The video caused an international uproar and resulted in him being suspended from YouTube for some time.
However, business is business and even the likes of YouTube couldn‘t resist the financial rewards of allowing one of their biggest earners, or should I say stars, back on the influencer marketing platform. While Logan Paul is still on a 90-day probationary period, all seems to be forgiven, and he is back to making videos of himself driving motorbikes into swimming pools to humor his legion of teenage fans.
I only bring this example up because Logan Paul represents a perfect case study of the benefits and dangers of using social influencers. Before I get into that, I guess it is worth taking a moment to give an exact definition of what exactly a social influencer is.
A social influencer is an individual such as a celebrity that is able to use their social media reputation to influence others. The ways in which different celebrity influencers influence other people do vary quite a bit, however.
Perhaps the most traditional example of social influencing, and one that has been around for years, is celebrity endorsement. Celebrities such as George Forman, Tiger Woods, and Johnny Depp have all made tens of millions of dollars from brand endorsement.
The recent rise in the popularity of social media led to the creation of social media stars such as Logan Paul. To give you an idea of just how powerful these social media stars have become, a recent survey by Variety found that U.S teens ranked YouTube stars as 8 of the top 10 social influencers in a list that included A-list movie and music stars.
By getting one of these stars to endorse your product in some way, you can almost guarantee significant returns on your investment. It has recently been estimated that such endorsements, on average, yield a 6 to 1 ratio on every dollar spent, something which makes social influencers more bankable than A-list celebrities such as Johnny Depp and George Clooney.
Social Influencers: A great way to employ targeted advertising
So why are social influencers so good at advertising? When you look at the likes of Logan Paul, you wouldn‘t really think that he would be particularly great at selling a product. But the simple fact is that he is.
There is a whole slew of reasons why such social media stars are so good at selling products. Firstly, you only need to take a look at the age demographic watching their channel. The majority of Logan‘s viewers are teenagers and people in their early 20s. Not only are these people very impressionable but they are also less cautious with their money or their parent‘s money.
The most important point about social influencers is that they represent a brand in themselves. They have a distinct audience, based on what kind of videos they post, etc., who most importantly trust and often, want to emulate them too.
While their brand will inevitably limit the kinds of products that they are willing to promote, their audience will almost certainly rush out to buy whatever they see them wearing, eating, driving, using and promoting, etc. This is why they have such power.
Pros of Using a Social Media Influencer:
- Targeted Advertising (Word of mouth is still regarded as the best form of advertising).
- Benefit from the trust associated with the social influencer.
- Reach customers who are resistant to traditional forms of advertising.
- No ad blockers.
- A personal connection with the consumer.
- Benefit from copycat behavior where fans try to emulate the star.
Cons of working with a social media Influencer:
- Risk of brand damage if an influencer causes trouble. Read how brands reacted to the PewdiePie scandal.
- Risk of brand damage if the star becomes unpopular.
- High upfront costs of big-name social media influencers.
- Risk of government control/intervention/prosecution if they fail to portray your brand in a fair and accurate manner.
How to work with influencers?
Social influencer marketing is a huge business right now, and it looks like it will only get bigger in the future. This means that any company that wishes to work with a brand influencer must be able to develop a good overall influencer marketing strategy to ensure the best returns.
In order to do so, every company must understand the different ways to work with influencers and how their brand and product can best fit into this kind of social media marketing.
Decide on the right social influencers
It might seem that just paying whatever a top influencer asks to ensure you get the maximum possible coverage is the best way to ensure the best return on your investment. However, companies must put in a lot of marketing research and consideration before they choose and work with social media influencers.
So what are the main points to consider when making sure you choose the best social media influencer?
- What is their audience demographic? Is it relevant?
- Does their style/content suit your brand image?
- How big is their audience?
- What is their audience appeal? (If it’s anti-establishment, for example, then trying to promote Rolex watches might not be a suitable role for them).
- How are they going to promote your product?
- What is the risk vs. reward? (PewdiePie might give you access to new clients but turn away existing customers who are offended by his anti-Semitic or racist remarks).
The platform matters: Social media influencers and their influencer marketing platforms
Part of choosing the right social media influencer also involves making sure that they have the right type of audience and number of followers on the social media platforms that you wish to focus on.
When you understand who your target audience is, or to put it another way, who you are trying to influence, then you will know what form of social media you wish to target.
Since famous influencers working with brands charge top dollar, most companies have to target their social media influencer marketing campaigns in a more skilled way. Some engage the services of specialist PR companies who do the hard work for them, while others focus on other avenues such as bloggers, etc.
These days there are tens of thousands of brands that work with bloggers. Since bloggers have a similarly loyal audience as other social media influencers, one recommendation from them about a product can also dramatically boost sales, etc.
If you need an example of the power that bloggers have, just consider how the fake reports on the website 4Chan regarding Ethereum Co-Founder Vitalik Buterin‘s death managed to send Ethereum‘s price into free-fall back in 2017.
Most social media influencers will focus on just a few specific platforms. Understanding where your target audience likes to spend its time online is a big part of which social media influencer you choose.
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Keep in mind that older people tend to spend more time on dated platforms such as Facebook, while younger people are gravitating to newer social media platforms like TikTok, etc.
This also relates to topics of interest as well. So, gaming companies should target YouTube while those promoting cooking equipment, etc. should choose to work with Instagram influencers and bloggers, etc.
Engaging the services of an influencer
When selecting any influencers, be it top YouTube stars or lifestyle Instagram influencers, the single most important factor that you should focus on is whether they like your product.
Just think of it this way, there is absolutely no point in trying to get Bill Gates to promote your company’s latest range of Hip Hop merchandise now is there? He‘s not going to like wearing it and audiences are not going to like to see him wearing it either.
Remember who won the race between the tortoise and the hare?
Well, the key to understanding whether or not the influencer is really interested in your influencer marketing campaign is just to approach them in a relaxed and unpressured manner. When they return your call, schedule an interview and ask them exactly what they think of your brand and why they like it.
Also, stress that this is going to be a long-term relationship and you are not looking just looking for a one-time only chance to cash in on their success.
The great thing is that these people are social media figures who spend their time working in the medium. So in many cases, you can just send them a message on their Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, and Instagram accounts, and even to their blog.
A big part of successfully retaining their services is in establishing a trusting relationship where you both understand what the partnership is all about. This will include clearly letting them know what you expect from influencer campaigns, your sales targets, etc., what kind of exposure you are after, and how much you will pay them.
Many companies throw in perks such as offering to support the media influencer in some way or other, and not just through payment.
Remember to sell the influencer on all the benefits that they will receive from the partnership.
Increasing their audience size is the number 1 thing that all social media influencers crave. Can you help them do this?
Maintaining a successful long-term relationship
Working with a social media influencer can be anything from a pleasant experience to a real nightmare. The vast majority of influencers understand that advertisers reward them for all the hard work they have had to put in over the years and so are very receptive to them.
By establishing some basic ground rules before you get underway, companies can avoid any potential headaches that sometimes come with working with a ’star‘.
- Focus on nurturing a good working relationship.
- Set Guidelines.
- Establish clear goals/expectations.
- Always deliver on what you promise.
- Help them in any other way you can.
- Work harder than them to show your commitment.
- Be honest and transparent.
Our blog here discusses how to find the best social media influencers to work with.
My final thought on how to work with influencers
Social media influencers are arguably the best form of advertising today whether they are micro-influencers or mega influencers. While pop-up ads can be blocked, TV ads can be skipped by changing channels, banners, and posters missed or ignored, influencers have the full attention of their audiences.
What they say goes and advertisers know just how powerful a thing this is. However, companies should keep in mind the bottom line. Influencers must carry through on the promise to boost sales/brand image or whatever else they are being tasked to do.
Trying to gauge just how successful they are is actually quite tough. Fortunately, companies can use a variety of tools to track how much of an impact their influencer is having.
A report by Group High recently noted that “40% of organizations use three or more tools to track these different metrics (with 22% using four or more tools)”. – The Measuring Influencer Marketing Report
Tools such as Hootsuite and Followerwonk can be used to gain vital statistical data on your successful influencer marketing campaigns. These tools will help you decide whether or not things are going well.
They are also great in helping guide you on any adjustments that might help to maximize the results of your social media influencer.
If you want to invest in the growing influencer industry by developing a software solution for them, read our blog on building an influencer marketing solution.
Frequently Asked Questions on how to work with influencers
Social media influencers have proven to be an incredibly effective form of advertising. They operate within the ‘recommendation by a friend’ realm of advertising which is the most effective form of marketing yet discovered.
Businesses need to assess this on a person-by-person basis. Ensure you have a contract to protect yourself. For followers, influencers should always be regarded with suspicion as they are seldom just the person they appear in their videos.
They help to create trends that many of us find ourselves following. As such, they become powerful role models to many people, especially children.