Look… I don’t want to claim to traditional media is *completely* dead, but if we look at the amount of magazines and newspapers closing their doors in the past couple of years, it’s evident that people are looking elsewhere for inspiration and validation.
It used to be the curated pages of the fashion magazine we trusted, with items carefully selected by a fashion editor, but now more than ever we’re looking at the new celebrities, trend setters and curators of the 21st century – influencers! So, how did we make the switch from traditional media to online content creators – and how can we use influencer marketing to benefit our business or brand?
Influencer marketing has come a *long* way since it started. Let’s go back to the days where Instagram wasn’t even around [pre-October 2010], but influencer marketing had already begun to take root.
I remember sitting at my desk in my tiny room in Amsterdam back in 2008/2009 [where I was studying at the time] and discovering the world of blogs. I would browse for hours and hours online [mainly to avoid studying] and follow individuals who had started sharing parts of their lives [anything from purchases, where they were eating and what they were doing] on the world wide web. The internet made it easy and cheap for people to be their own broadcasters. They didn’t need a TV show or radio channel to be heard. They became their own broadcasters and I [with many others] started listening to what they had to say. As individuals, we’re curious, and some of these blogs [like The Blonde Salad, Style Scrapbook and our very own Aussie girl Gary Pepper] started gaining a lot of traction. People came back for more and started to become invested in these people’s lives. They started listening to their opinions and trusting these individuals as they would a good friend, and so began the evolution into influencer marketing as we know it today.
Fast forward to 2020, Influencer marketing has now become mainstream, and a vital marketing activity for brands and businesses. Collaborations are increasingly becoming the way to grow in a social media landscape where it’s sometimes hard to cut through the noise.
Not everyone loves influencer marketing or yields the immediate results they hope for, and often it’s because there are some steps in their influencer marketing strategy that aren’t quite right. I’ve listed some tips on things to keep in mind when you want to do influencer marketing for your brand and business.
Plan ahead of time + do your research
As with any social media strategy element, you need to make sure you have a long term plan. Plan your influencer strategy 3-12 months ahead and map out the influencers who you’d love to work with! Do your research [are their followers my target market, how is their engagement, are they a good fit for my values?] and jot down 1-2 influencers you’d like to work with each month. This way, you can start following your 12-24 potential influencers from month one and build relationships with them before you even reach out! The biggest mistake people make is starting to follow an influencer on day 1 and reach out on day 1 – #nothankshun, that ain’t gonna work.
Build long term relationships + set realistic expectations
Please don’t expect influencers and their communities to convert straight away to sales – it does happen occasionally, but as with any new audience we introduce our product or service to, we first need to build trust. Aim to build long term relationships with influencers and pick some other goals than sales [brand awareness measured by reach, community growth measured by new followers] and try to lock in multiple posts or activity over a couple of months. The influencer can test your products and services, determine if their community is interested and also they can decide if it’s a good fit for them, and you can decide whether your results over time are worth continuing to invest in the relationship.
Determine your budget, and make it a win-win situation for both parties
This is an important one. When you’re a start up business, it can be tricky to allocate budget to influencer outreach. This doesn’t mean you can’t participate in influencer marketing, but it does mean you’ll need to think about how you’re providing value on both sides of the equation. You’re investing by providing your product or a service [are you getting something at equal value in return] and the influencer is spending valuable time creating content for you [they’re investing their time, skills and years of building that community]. So be mindful, be understanding, but must of all be clever – if an influencer declines a contra proposition, think about ways other than money you can offer to the influencer and their community as well. Could you offer extra products for a giveaway so the influencer can give back to their community? Whatever it is you decide to do, just make sure it’s a win-win situation for both parties – that way, you’re keeping the door open for future collaborations.
With these few tips in your influencer marketing toolbox we hope it’s enough to propel you forward into the world of influencer marketing for your brand. As for questions of if the growth of influencer marketing will stick around, we think that while it will continue to evolve and develop it’s definitely here to stay! In fact, it’s probably time to start thinking about how you might be able to leverage influencer relationships on TikTok [we’ll save that for another blog though ?].
If you’ve had some great learnings or results from working with influencers we’d love to hear about them in the comments below.