Why your scaling business should be considering influencer marketing

For all it’s benefits, traditional above the line advertising can sometimes feel like shouting into a crowd in the hopes that someone will shout back. And when someone does there is the question of how you make the most of that.

For scaling businesses like yours with tight budgets, small teams and hard deadlines, booking your radio spots, finalising art for your digital display campaign or sending your artwork off to the magazine for your quarter page placements can bring fear and the prayer to the marketing gods; please, please, please - let this land. And that is of course before the 20th of the month, when the invoices roll in.

Meanwhile while you are obsessively checking your Facebook ad conversion, and watching your funnel on Google Analytics, as much as 85% of small business owners are still targeting the somewhat more time consuming, but albeit delightful world of word of mouth. Your billboard screams your tagline to whoever comes across it,  while word of mouth wraps your offer in a testimonial given by a trusted source, who likely shares interests or needs with their friend - your potential customer. As a business owner or marketer it's a dream situation, with 77% of consumers “more likely to buy a new product when learning about it from friends or family” so it's not surprising WOM is 10 times more effective than traditional advertising. It’s a total no brainer, apart from the fact that driving word of mouth is often a long-game and there is no clear cut formula to make it work.

Which is why, dear friend lean in and listen to me: In many ways influencer marketing takes the stuff you like from word of mouth and amplifies it.

Nordstrom get it, which is why this August 4 out of 5 of their mobile visits came from an influencer referral network - mobile that month making up 24% of their total traffic. Closer to home brands like Berocca and Kiwibank get it too - working with influencers like How To Dad and Jamie Curry. So why aren’t you - the startup owner or scaling business marketer doing this too?

Ignore 90% of the 24,800,000 jargon-laden, weirdly complex results/guides/blogs that come back when you Google “influencer marketing” - the basics are this:

“We all know how powerful a recommendation is a from someone we know. So how would you feel about someone who 'knows' thousands or even millions of people being able to share your story, product or idea with an audience that trusts their opinion and is interested in your category?

As social media grows, social influencers have become powerful marketing players, with the ability to connect brands in with engaged, and connected audiences.” - Influencing with Integrity

Along with the obvious, reaching people thing. Like tends to attract like online, and because of this - influencers tend to have an audience of like-minded, demographically similar people. This is of course great for not only great for targeting consumers and converting BUT also can mean creating relevant, high quality content driving back to your website.

Sound good? Need to know more? Well here are 5 Influencer marketing basics

1: Who is an influencer?
In short, an influencer is someone with a social audience.They might be an instagrammer with a penchant for sneakers and restaurant hopping, a Youtuber who teaches people how to dad, a twitter user who is owned by cats, a Facebook user with an odd sense of humour, a gamer who is killing it on twitch, a blogger profiling Wellington, or a beauty addict on snapchat. Whatever the platform, from Tumblr to Pinterest - there are people creating great content and engaged communities that get what they are doing.

They may have a smaller tailored audience (micro-influencer), or a bigger group of people following their adventures, listening to their advice and chiming in on their life. They may be topic specific, or simply a great match for your brand's demographic.

2: An influencers social audience is engaged
Social media is a mode of communication, so most influencers are not just building audiences they are building highly engaged audiences. They talk to their followers, let them into their lives and generally walk a line between entertainment and friendship.

The more engaged the audience, the more likely your campaign will fly. Using engagement as a metric for disseminating if an influencer is right for you also helps side-step any social media users who are buying likes to make themselves look more popular.  

3: Influencer marketing = paying for (via money or gifting) for messaging about your offer
Marketing activity could include everything from a mention on Twitter or in a Youtube video, through to a placement in an Instagram post, to a sponsored banner on a blogpost. Some brands have also co-produced products with influencers to appeal to their audience; a practice pretty common in the beauty industry.

Like any other channel, there are a number of ways you can work with an influencer to get the result you are after that can work in with your demographic and budget. Influencers each handle the way they work with brands in different ways, so if you are thinking that blogger is going to write a love letter for your product no questions asked think again. 

4: There are grey areas from a legal perspective
Influencers have to walk a fine-line; is this personal referral like word of mouth? Is this advertising, and therefore should probably be disclosed? Some social platforms require people who have been paid to endorse a product or service to indicate this, while some countries have established legal parameters for influencers.

At the same time, if you are an influencer you have to work with brands in a way that does not damage your own brand. Authenticity and integrity are important, especially if your fans and followers see themselves as your friends.

5: Things ch-ch-ch change sometimes
While influencer marketing may seem like a simple chain of events: marketer engages influencer - influencer creates content that drives back to marketers website - audience goes to marketers website and buys all the things - everyone wins, sort of arrangement. There is actually a third layer involved here - the platforms influencers are using.

It has to be said that social media platforms are pretty famous for rolling out changes with far reaching effects. Just in the last couple of weeks Youtube has rolled out a machine learning backed algorithm change that has changed the frequency at which some videos are being served, and stopped some users videos from having adverts placed on them; which has made some Youtube creators slow down on the release of videos. So if you are interested in influencer marketing it is a good idea to keep an eye on the latest Social Media platform news, and remember - what worked last time might not work again.

Think influencer marketing is something you want to embrace? Working with Lucy Revil from The Residents, we have co-designed a one-day workshop covering the ins and outs of Influencer marketing; perfect for brands looking to engage an influencer; and for influencers looking to work with businesses. This expert lead workshop will cover everything from creating concepts for your campaigns, engaging and managing relationships, distributing and maximising content, trends and measuring success. Hit the button below to get your ticket.

Penned by marketer, writer and content producer Anya - find more of her reckons here