How to Work With Social Media Influencers: Guide for Brands

Ok, so I have a question for you. How much do you think social media really influences the choices you make and the things you buy?

You’d be surprised just how little most people have even thought about that question, let alone have an honest answer ready.

While most of us would like to think that we are media savvy enough that we are not influenced by the kind of insidious profiling that British firm Cambridge Analytica was recently discovered to be doing, the simple fact is we are.

According to an article in the Guardian newspaper, whistleblower Christopher Wylie, who worked at Cambridge Analytica during the campaign, revealed that the firm “used personal information harvested from more than 50 million Facebook profiles without permission to build a system that could target US voters with personalized political advertisements based on their psychological profile”.

For anyone following the details of this case, it is clear just how important targeting social media has become for brands and advertisers everywhere. Big data analytic tools now allow companies to trawl massive amounts of data and filter it for nearly any specific search criteria in only a matter of minutes.

I have already reported in a past article about how big data analytics used by Facebook and Google can actually detect an impending relationship breakup, as well as accurately predicting such things as where the next flu outbreak will happen. All this is made possible by our mass addiction to social media.

According to research published by the Statista website, the global average for the amount of time we spend on social media stood at 135 minutes per day in 2017. That figure is up from just 90 minutes in 2012, and is still rising rapidly. Estimates for 2018, range anywhere from 145 minutes to a staggering 160 minutes per day.

In this article, I want to take a look at the role played by social influencers and how they represent excellent marketing tools for brands of all kinds. I intend to go on to outline how to work with social media influencers to ensure that you maximize the benefits to your company, should you decide to work with one.

Contents

What is an influencer and why do we trust them?
Social Influencers: A great way to employ targeted advertising
How to work with influencers?
Maintaining a successful long-term relationship
My Final Thought

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 which featured a Japanese suicide victim. The video caused 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 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.

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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 social influencers influence other people does vary quite a bit, however.

Perhaps the most traditional example of social influencing, and one that has been around for years, is the celebrity endorsement. Celebrities such as George Forman, Tiger Woods, and Johnny Depp have all made 10’s 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 which 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

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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 are a whole slew of reasons behind 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 20’s. 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:

  1. Targeted Advertising (Word of mouth is still regarded as the best form of advertising).
  2. Benefit from the trust associated with the social influencer.
  3. Reach customers who are resistant to traditional forms of advertising.
  4. No ad blockers.
  5. A personal connection with the consumer.
  6. Benefit from copycat behavior where fans try to emulate the star.

Cons of working with a social media Influencer:

  1. Risk of brand damage if an influencer causes trouble. Read how brands reacted to the PewdiePie scandal.
  2. Risk of brand damage if the star becomes unpopular.
  3. High upfront costs of big-name social media influencers.
  4. 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 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 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 a social media influencer.

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 its 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 platforms

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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 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.

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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 Bulkerin’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.

Keep in mind that tlder people tend to spend more time on dated platforms such as Facebook, while younger people are gravitating to newer social media platforms like SnapChat 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 choosing 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 companies 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 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, Instagram account, 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 the campaign, 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 other, and not just though 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

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Working with a social media influencer can 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’.

  1. Focus on nurturing a good working relationship.
  2. Set Guidelines.
  3. Establish clear goals/expectations.
  4. Always deliver on what you promise.
  5. Help them in any other way you can.
  6. Work harder than them to show your commitment.
  7. Be honest and transparent.

My Final Thought

Social media influencers are arguably the best form of advertising around today. 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 campaign. 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.

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Aran Davies

Aran Davies

Blockchain Expert | Developer | Writer | Photographer
Aran Davies