The growth of influencer marketing means many companies are wondering if it’s a viable marketing strategy. The truth is not every company is ready, or well suited, for influencer marketing. Keep these questions in mind when determining if working with influencers is the right marketing strategy to implement,
1. Are you looking for a Brand influencer or a Brand ambassador
Brand influencers are content creators who talk about products and services within a certain niche, such as travel, health or fashion. Brand ambassadors, or spokespeople, on the other hand, are typically hired to talk about a brand. The relationship may not always align with their values or product preferences (are top celebrities really using $7 drugstore shampoo?).
Let’s put it another way: you’re looking to buy a new pair of Nike sneakers. What will impact your purchasing decision: a Nike commercial, or your best friend who bought them and raves about them? The commercial might entice you, but it’s your friend who will ultimately push you to buy.
That’s what influencer marketing is all about, and for this reason, influencers can be tremendous assets to a brand. Rather than talking about the product, you’re letting other people do it for you, organically.
2. Do you host a lot of events?
For many businesses, event marketing is key. A brand influencer can attend events and network on your behalf. If they love your brand, why not create an event for them to bring in their audience?
Many fashion brands do this with bloggers. A blogger will promote the event on their blog and social channels, encouraging local readers to come to the store event. These events are often an extension of a partnership between a blogger and the brand. A blogger hosts a store event, inviting people to try on looks (see an example of an influencer promoting a store event with a post from Julia of Lemon Stripes promoting an event with Madewell). If your store wants to bring in foot traffic, influencer marketing can be a great tactic.
3. Do you want to inspire action?
If you’re simply looking for brand awareness, traditional marketing might be a better fit, as a brand influencer does much more than promotion. While influencers certainly raise awareness, their primary role from a brand perspective is to inspire engagement and action.
Influencers are very intentional with what they choose to talk about, and therefore have a specific niche and an earned audience. When they share reviews and experiences, they impact the audience’s purchasing behavior.
If we look back at the Nike example, an influencer might share an Instagram or write a blog post featuring a new look with her favorite Nike sneakers. Their audience, in turn, is more likely to buy the shoes because they trust the influencer.
If you’re simply looking for brand awareness, traditional marketing might be a better fit, as a brand influencer does much more than promotion.
4. Are you willing to give up control of your message?
With a brand ambassador, you have the ability to control your message. What do you want them to say? What key points do they need to mention? Influencer marketing is different. It’s about finding an individual who is compatible with your brand, while still allowing the influencer to infuse their own voice and style.
You can certainly ask an influencer to address specific points; however, those points should seamlessly flow with the rest of their story, not just yours. The key is to allow them to be creative with their content, otherwise the message won’t feel authentic. If you aren’t willing to let influencers share their own message regarding your brand, then influencer marketing isn’t an ideal strategy.
5. How much do you want to spend?
As with any marketing plan, budget is important. How you choose to spend your money can greatly impact your strategy. With influencer marketing, there are many important cost considerations that can affect your decision to work with influencers.
In most instances, you will have to offer some form of payment for an influencer’s services, whether it’s product or monetary compensation. Asking an influencer to take the time to put together content around your product for free won’t work. Depending on your campaign, your budget can start low and increase over time, rather than spending a lot upfront like you might with a brand ambassador.
Of course, depending on your notability as well as the influencer’s following, you might have to pay more upfront to work with them. Keep in mind that larger, well-known influencers can charge thousands of dollars for their work. If you’re not prepared to spend that kind of money, consider searching for influencers who have a smaller reach.
In addition, you can always ask for a media kit during initial discussions. Those numbers can give you a better sense of the ask before you dive too deep into discussions, and determine whether they’re willing to negotiate. If you’re unsure about how much to spend, start small and then track results.
If you’re unsure about how much to spend, start small and then track results.
6. Are you looking for a partnership?
One-time collaborations are great for sending out messages about your brand in the short term. If you have a new product launch in the works, working with a few people to craft and share your message prior to or on the day-of launch is probably enough. While you certaintly can work with influencers in the short term, it’s much more benefial to think about long-term opportunities.
One of the best parts about working with influencers is the potential for lasting relationships. You get to work with people who genuinely love talking about your brand with their audience. Think about the big picture. Is there a potential for a one-off project to turn into something more?
A partnership ensures that you are consistently putting out a message about your company to attract new and loyal customers. And you’ll feel comfortable knowing that you are working with someone who truly enjoys collaborating with your brand.
If you’ve determined that influencer marketing is suitable for your business goals, the next step is to start looking for the right influencers. Don’t let numbers be your sole focus. Look for influencers who have engaging readers and followers.
Relevance is just as important, as you want to attract the right customers. Build and nuture relationships with influencers who are eager to help promote your brand, and sales and new business opportunities will come.
Ellen Borza is an Online PR Specialist at Web Talent Marketing, a full-service digital marketing agency located in Lancaster, PA. Ellen earned a B.A. in communications and a B.S. in psychology from the University of Pittsburgh. When Ellen isn’t conducting outreach for her clients, she loves reading and writing about the latest digital marketing trends, especially as they relate to fashion. In her free time, she authors her own fashion and lifestyle blog.