Alright, who’s tired of paid advertisement banners plaster all over webpages? ✋ ✋ ✋ Yeah, me too!
Any time I go see a movie where the main character is holding a Coke in a way that just perfectly displays the logo directly towards the camera, I immediately walk out of the theater and write a letter to the Director about how terrible their work is...
Alright, I don't actually leave the theater (or even write a letter), but I can definitely get annoyed by forced product placement and paid advertisements. So when I see a display of marketing in a forced manner, such as this...
I usually think it's either pretty lame or super cheesy marketing tactic... As cheesy as that Pizza Hut slice Mike Myers is holding in that picture on the right 😏
While both Elf and Wayne's World offered hilarious scenes involving product placement, this form of marketing and advertising, is not nearly as effective as it once was amongst consumers. Instead, consumers, especially Millennials, are responding to brands and businesses who communicated like real people, and who also promote content from real people. Consumers still recognize this new strategy known as Influencer Marketing, as an advertising and sales tactic for a product or service, but it feels genuine, winning their trust - and their business!
WHAT IS INFLUENCER MARKETING?
TapInfluence has a great article about Influencer Marketing, which describes the practice as, “a type of marketing that focuses on using key leaders to drive your brand’s message to the larger market.”
This means, instead of just marketing your product or service through the company’s channels, partner your company with specific people who have amassed a large following of people who fit your target market, and use their channels to get your brand in front of them.
For example… (Story Time)
Say you’re opening a small restaurant in your city or town, and you don’t have a large amount of followers yet because, well, your business hasn't even opened yet. One way to use Influencer Marketing strategies would be to reach out to local influencers throughout your area who are actively engaged in the food scene. These influencers typically have a large amount of followers across their digital platforms (e.g. Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, etc.). These highly interesting people may be local bloggers, event coordinators, or popular local musicians who just love to explore the city you live in - the point is that basically, influencers come in all shapes and sizes.
As you begin to launch this Influencer Marketing Campaign, the first step is to find these people and create a list of which influencers would be the right candidates to help get the word out about your business. The next step, contact those people and provide them with an opportunity to visit your new restaurant - say for instance, like the Soft Opening. This campaign should be mutually beneficial, so in exchange of offering the influencers a free meal, ask if they share their experience with their followers through photos and videos, or even by writing a Yelp review.
Fast forward to a few days after your Soft Opening - BAM! (in my Emeril Lagasse voice) - your barely-known restaurant all of a sudden has 100 new followers across your social media platforms, and a line out the door for the Grand Opening of your new location!
Now, these exact results are of course not guaranteed, but I hope this example shows you the power of Influencer Marketing. Rather than you spending much of your time and effort in promoting and generating awareness of your new restaurant, on top of getting your team and business ready to open it's doors, Influencer Marketing allows other reputable and respected voices in your own area promote your business for you.
If handled correctly, these influencers can boost your small business, whether brand new or decades old, to an entirely new level while providing you with more time to focus on what you do best - which is running the business!
Before you go and start coordinating your next influencer campaign, let's take a look at some other valuable information about this strategy...
5 IMPORTANT THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT INFLUENCER MARKETING
1. It’s Not Word-Of-Mouth Marketing
Although very similar, there is a difference between Influencer Marketing and Word-Of-Mouth Marketing.
Word-Of-Mouth Marketing is a channel for communication, while Influencer Marketing is a strategy that utilizes specific people’s influence through their personal channels (website, social media, etc.).
To reference back to TapInfluence’s article, “almost all influencer marketing includes word-of-mouth marketing activities by its nature, but not all word-of-mouth marketing is driven by influencer campaigns.”
So again, very similar, but I hope this clears up the common misunderstanding.
2. It’s Very Social
As mentioned just above, Influencer Marketing campaigns require communication - and hopefully a lot of it!
A favorite quote amongst the RedFork Team is, “Social media is just a slang term for the current state of the Internet.” Gary Vaynerchuk said that, and it’s 100% true. Everyone you know, whether it’s your 80-year old grandma or your 8-year old brother, has some form of a social media presence. It's a part of almost everyone's daily lives. Besides, we all know that if you don’t post it, then it didn’t happen - am I right?!
In one of my previous blog posts, The Best Way To Jumpstart Your Business Is Going Social, I spoke about the importance of establishing and utilizing social media services for your business. I've said it before, and I'll say it again - if you aren’t actively participating on social media channels, you need to start NOW.
Consumers today expect to be able to follow, comment, share, ask, and post about the businesses they interact with on a regular basis. This doesn’t just apply to mega-huge Fortune 500 companies either. Local businesses are achieving new levels of awareness all thanks to digital platforms like Instagram (check out Foxtail Coffee Co. - a small coffee shop in Winter Park, FL).
Why is social media presence important to a blog post about Influencer Marketing? Well, you best be sure that if you activate an Influencer Marketing campaign for your new business, that the people you partner with will utilize their social media channels in order to be effective.
More importantly, YOU should be researching the digital presence of these potential influencers you are looking to work with before you even think about making a decision!
3. It’s A Much Cheaper Strategy Than It Should Be
Have you ever heard of the term, arbitrage? Well, now you have!
There’s a long-winded definition to explain this concept in a dictionary somewhere, but to put it simply (and to cite Adweek), “An arbitrage exists when something is selling for cheaper than it is actually worth.” For a great example of this in relation to the launch of the Facebook Ads platform - click here.
Regardless of your knowledge about arbitrages, it is very important for you to know that Influencer Marketing is undervalued right now as businesses and marketers are not currently focusing on this strategy - and that is a mistake! There are so many influencers available right now, each with a wide variety of presence across each channel and varying demographics associated with your small business' target audience.
Influencers don’t have to be on a Kardashian level to be effective in assisting your small business campaign. In fact, data shows that the influencers with a smaller following (even less than 1,000, known as Micro-Influencers) have a greater engagement rate than that of influencers with millions of followers. Why? Because they are more closely associated and communicate more frequently with their followers than those with greater numbers.
So again, partnering with influencers is very cheap right now. Back to the example of providing a free meal to a local foodie with 1,000+ followers in exchange for a review and exposure… That deal is too good to pass up!
4. It’ll Boost Your SEO
Looking to improve your Search Engine Optimization (SEO)? Influencer Marketing can definitely help you with that!
When users share content related to your business across their social media channels, it can boost your search results significantly - up to 25% according to Erik Qualman.
The process of improving your SEO is simple - the more quality content and web pages you have on the Internet, the higher your ranking. The ranking will greatly increase, however, when outside sources - such as other blogs, websites, and social media channels - also share content and links related to your small business' website and other digital platforms.
So when partnering with an influencer, work towards having more content shared through their platforms for maximum results! Also, be sure to check out the SEO episode of our new YouTube series, Marketing Moment.
5. It's Not Actually A New Thing
While this strategy is hot right now, partnering with people who provide great influence is not a new concept for businesses looking to achieve greater awareness and sell more. Lizzie Davey of TINT wrote, “For a long time, businesses have used celebrities and iconic figures to promote their products, and there’s no sign of this stopping anytime soon.”
The reason why Influencer Marketing is catching fire right now is because social media and smartphones are making it unbelievably easy to execute the strategy now.
Businesses previously had to partner with celebrities for influencing campaigns, which was very expensive and difficult to coordinate. But today, all you have to do is open the Instagram app, go to the Search section, type in your desired hashtag and start scrolling until a post catches your eye.
From there, you check out the user’s profile, see how many followers they have, and determine if their style and personality matches your brand. After reviewing the average amount of likes and comments the user gets on each post - BAM! (again, in my Emeril Lagasse voice) - you’ve found yourself a potential influencer to use for your next marketing campaign.
The concept may not be new, but the ease at which to execute the strategy certainly is, so get on it!
Alright guys, that was a long one… But it’s only because I enjoy this topic so much!
Influencer Marketing is an exciting and effective strategy when done correctly, so take some time to look into developing your own strategy for your next marketing campaign.
Have you conducted a successful Influencer Marketing campaign for your small business before?
Share your experience of your influencer campaign in the comments section below!
- The History and Evolution of Marketing Influencers, by Lizzie Davey of TINT
- What is Influencer Marketing?, by TapInfluence
- Why Influencer Marketing Will Explode In 2017, by AJ Agrawal of Forbes
- 5 Influencer Marketing Trends That Will Dominate 2017, by Tom Ward of Forbes
- 10 Reasons Why Influencer Marketing is the Next Big Thing, by Adweek