Influencers are an important aspect of not only marketing strategies, but the business image as a whole when it comes to interacting with customers. The type of influencer you choose can give a lot away: whether you are creative, innovative, boring, professional or amateur. A lot depends on the public’s perception of the influencer when determining the customer’s impression of a brand or company. A powerful way of changing the associations with a brand is to use an influencer – but it can be detrimental if not done the right way.
What is an influencer?
An influencer is a figure that carries with them authority, engagement and power through various means whether they are a public figure, known on specific social media platforms, or otherwise in the limelight for expressing their thoughts and opinions. If used correctly, influencers can be a PR dream and do wonders for brand awareness and market reach; if you engage the wrong one however, often plenty of time, money and potential goes down the drain.
Influencers are not only a marketing tool, but social relationship assets, too. They may be the person responsible for affecting key contracts, supporting new product releases, or part of a resource pool that increases market awareness and industry shifts before they happen.
What they can do for your business?
Influencers, if chosen right, can kick start your business and drive sales as an incredibly effective marketing tactic. For example, consider Terry Crews for Old Spice – a character known for his figure who has huge value on the big screen. He brought Old Spice into the modern market, helping them reimagine themselves as a real competitor in men’s health products. He was exactly what the target market was looking for and engaged a new generation, thus his influence has had a great impact on the business, their demographic and the public’s perception of the brand. This is precisely the power of an influencer: they project a brand’s vision and values to the public in a creative and visual way, often tapping into new markets and demographics to boot.
Finding and choosing the right influencer
You can look for an influencer through social media, blogger outreach or by using the public’s familiarity of public figures and influential characters. These are the traditional means businesses use to find the right influencer for the brand, but it takes time to deep dive into individuals’ reach, engagement and relevance. Do your research before choosing and make sure they are relevant and will help carry your brand to the consumer.
When choosing the right influencer, it is important you consider a certain criteria:
- Do they have the desired audience you want to target?
This is really important in getting the desired effect you want from your influencer. If you are running a health and wellness business, then it’s probably best to avoid using someone reknown for being a party animal or ‘socialite’ as an influencer. Such a person is likely not going to be a good fit with your target market, and can have potentially damaging effects for a company that espouses very different values.
- Do they have the influence?
Do they have reach and are their followers engaged with what they post, or are they someone with a big following but don’t boast much interaction with the public? If you want your chosen representative to actually have any influence, it is important that you pick someone that engages with the audience, has substantial reach, and demonstrates this through their existing posts.
- Is the person reputable?
Make sure that their ‘back story’ checks out. Dodgy affiliations can sometimes get a business into trouble, as can previous public relations issues. Such unintentional situations can sometimes affect the company – and just like how big brands drop sponsorships of sports stars if they get into legal or PR trouble, you should be aware of what your influencer does – it could inadvertently look like it’s being endorsed by you.
Now you’ve chosen your influencer/s, what’s next?
Here’s the fun bit. Get creative and make your strategy interesting. Read through case studies and look at brands that have used celebrities to leverage their reach or image into different markets, or successfully expanded on what they already had. Many influencers simply post photographs with endorsements of the brand or products, however there are many more ways you can get your influencer working for you.
- Film the influencer using the product or service
- Put the product or service to the test with the influencer
- Use their input to have them effectively ‘co-brand’ a product as their own
- Give them a discount code to promote to their following – also a great way to track sales associated with the influencer’s direct impact
- Use them as brand ambassadors at events and promotions
These all appear to very simple concepts, however, the more creative you are, the more likely you are to access to new and more engaged audiences. This over anything else will encourage people to interact with your brand, and see it in a positive light. Again, referring to Old Spice, the way they used Terry Crews to creatively compliment their brand meant new demographic engagement – and through humour, those people loved interacting with the brand, exponentially improving their brand’s image and placement in the overall market.
How much does it cost?
Of course it depends on the level of ‘celebrity’, but influencers could cost much less than you think. For bloggers with a relatively extensive reach you may be looking at about $10k per post, but this varies according to when and where (on which platform) they post. Smaller, more transient endorsements such as brief mentions on social media newsfeeds don’t cost as much, but have proportionally less impact than something on Instagram, for example.
At the other end of the scale, you can easily find highly engaged ‘micro’ influencers with great sway in a specific niche market. Not only are these types of profiles proportionally cheaper than engaging a big celebrity, but often they are happy to promote your brand in exchange for ‘contra’ (free products or services), sometimes along with a smaller fee.
Whoever you decide to engage, remember that things might seem like a good deal but if your chosen individual doesn’t boast the reach or influence, then it’s still money poorly invested.
Need an influencer?
If you are wanting to scale your influencer strategy to more well-known bloggers and social media figures, you may need extra working capital to fund it. Spotcap offer unsecured and flexible business loans. This enables businesses to reach their full potential by investing in things such as influencer marketing to help reach, awareness, and ultimately – boosting your bottom line.
Until next time,
The Spotcap team.
Originally published May 26 2017 , updated May 26 2017