Take a moment to think about the last couple of items you purchased.
Could be your morning avocado toast, monthly spin class membership, or even your shaving cream. How’d you learn about these things? Were you perusing a newspaper ad? Watching a commercial on TV? What about scrolling through your social media feed?
As consumers (millennials especially) become increasingly connected to the uniquely dynamic world of social media, the more these platforms become landing pages that boast the hottest products and trends.
Authenticity and reach
“84% of millennials don’t trust traditional advertising.”* So, how can you leverage this information to capture the attention of those already skeptical of heavily branded messaging and traditional advertising approaches? By appealing to consumers through the people whose opinions matter to them: influencers!
You may be wondering, what’s an influencer? An influencer is someone who has the power to affect the purchasing decisions of others with their knowledge and established credibility in the social media world. They can be a reality TV star, a YouTube sensation, an Instagram guru, a niche blogger, and pretty much anyone else who has a large and loyal fan base.
What can influencers actually do for a brand like yours?
Educate audiences about a brand, product, or service
Reach new audiences as you will be tapping into the influencer’s network
Generate sales yes, $$$$
Benefit social media channels of the brand
Increase brand trust
Now, let’s jump into how you can select influencers. First and foremost, you need to define what your overall goals are. Are you looking to increase brand awareness in a particular location? Are you trying to sell a hat from your latest product line? Or do you simply want to gain more social followers? You need to define all of this in order to find the right influencer for your brand.
Factors to consider when selecting influencers:
- Age (what’s the age group of your target market?)
- Fandom on a particular network
- Keeping brand values and aesthetic aligned
How do you go about finding the perfect influencer?
- Search engines (Google, anyone?)
- Social media networks (tagged locations and hashtags are there for a reason)
- Influencer search engine tools, such as tapinfluence and GroupHigh (these cost money, but can be highly effective)
- Influencer agencies like DBA, Next Management, and Gleam Futures (that’s right, influencers have their own management companies now)
Once you’ve found your influencer, you need to figure out how you’re going to compensate them for their work. Money? Products and services? Some combo thereof? You decide. And remember, payments are negotiable.
Factors to consider when discussing payment:
- Number of posts and to what channels
- Exclusivity rights
- Rights to utilize and/or share content
- Flexibility in approvals of posts, videos, and/or images
- Rights to seeding key messaging points
- Comped travel and accommodations (this can alleviate some costs)
- Timeframe for usage of the content
- Reshare of content on brand’s social pages (win-win for influencer and brand)
When creating your marketing budget, earmark these general amounts. Count on them fluctuating based on relationships and negotiation tactics, but they’ll at least get you started. If this is your first time working with influencers, don’t be scammed. Below is the typical breakdown of the range of costs based on an influencer’s reach:
- Influencers with millions of followers → $30–50K range
- Influencers with 500K+ followers → $15–30K range
- Influencers with less than 500K followers → $1–15K range
Influencers can easily buy followers. To check if an influencer has paid for followers, check their engagement rate and views (e.g., blogs, videos, etc). Digiday can break this algorithm down to a tee. If Instagram users have fewer than 1,000 followers, they should have an engagement rate of at least 8 percent. Accounts with 1,000 to 10,000 followers should have an engagement rate of 4 percent. Influencers with 10,000 to 100,000 followers should have a 2.4 percent engagement rate. And those with millions of followers should have a 1.7 percent engagement rate. Also, don’t forget to do a manual scan of an influencer’s followers. If an influencer has a lot of followers with no photos or posts, you can easily spot that they used a “follower-buying” service of some sort.2
Relationship building can go a long way. Let’s face it, who doesn’t like to be wooed? Who doesn’t like to receive an unexpected gift or recognition on their birthday? Sure it might hurt your wallet at the time, but it’s a smart investment in the long run. Think of the lower or fixed rates (yes, influencers’ rates increase as their number of followers increases) and added value posts (additional coverage with no extra charge).
What’s next? Time to get your legal team involved. Contracts are a must. Not only do your brand and the influencer need to protect one another, but you need to protect the rights of consumers as well. Heard of the Federal Trade Commission? The FTC frequently cracks down on influencers for not disclosing that their posts are sponsored by a brand and brands for not enforcing that their influencers disclose that they were paid or compensated for their posts.
FTC musts for influencers:
- Utilize hashtags #ad and/or #sponsored on any social posts if they are gifted a product/service and/or are receiving payment.
- Disclose that blog posts, YouTube videos, etc are sponsored by the brand.
Once you have the contract, the ball is in your court.
Items you MUST give your influencer to do their job:
- Key messaging points
- Creative direction (e.g., look and feel of a certain campaign/brand, prop/lifestyle shot ideas, focal points)
- Brand’s social handles and hashtags
- Dates (e.g., date of review of post/video, date of launch of blog post/video/social post(s), etc)
- Trackable links (i.e., anything you want them to embed to track results)
How to measure the success of influencer campaigns:
Increase in sales
- Use of influencer’s unique promo code
- Correlation between time and date of an influencer’s post and sales
- Sales based on embedded trackable link and/or pixel
- Sales through Instagram’s comment-to-buy feature
- Increase in follows, mentions, tags, comments, likes, favorites, shares on influencer and brand’s social networks
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