They say that everything comes back in style, 80s leggings and 90s chokers are proof of this. So when people talk about influencer marketing like it’s a new thing, rest assured that it’s been around for ages.

Product reviews and endorsements from beloved celebrities have been around for decades, centuries even! Wedgewood used celebrity endorsements back in the 1760s to promote their chinaware and pottery.

It’s safe to say that influencer marketing is nothing new but in the age of social media, you don’t have to be a multimillion dollar company to use this powerful marketing tool. In the past, A-list celebs with household names were the only ones getting paid to promote but now anyone can build a loyal audience. And where there are eyeballs there are advertisers!

Why Influencer Marketing?

One of the top reasons people buy from certain brands or pick certain products is because of trust. As a brand, trust can be really difficult to gain. People don’t trust brands, they trust people. That’s why influencers are so…influential.

The main goal of any influencer is to build a loyal audience and they do this through their content. People get to know them and grow to trust them. So when an influencer recommends a product or a brand, their followers know they can trust the recommendation. That’s why many influencers (the good ones anyways) are very picky about the products they choose to promote.

Brands are biased and consumers know that. After all you’re not going to go around advertising the shortcomings of your products. Buffer put this nifty infographic together showing just how much consumers rely on the opinions of others (not the brand) when making a purchase.

consumer trust influencer marketing buffer infographic
Image via Buffer

Tapping Into Influencer Audiences

Influencers build trust with a loyal audience. This audience can be thousands of people or millions of people but the reason why influencer marketing is even a thing is because of all that attention. They’ve already gathered the audience so now is your chance to tap into that resource.

Tapping Into Influencer AudiencesWhile it might seem like the more attention the better it really depends on your product, budget and target audience. If you can’t afford to pay an influencer thousands of dollars to review your product and post about it on Instagram, that’s ok, that’s where micro-influencers come in.

A micro-influencer is a person who has built a following online of maybe a few thousand or more. While there are many accounts that fit this description, your goal is to find a micro-influencer that really engages with their followers.

There are plenty of accounts on Instagram, Twitter, etc. that have paid for thousands of fake follows. They might get hundreds of likes per post but zero comments. Interaction is a sign that people are actually paying attention to an influencer and that the influencer is building trust with them too. Even if the person only has a few thousand followers this is a clear sign that an influencer is actually influential.

Finding the Right Influencers for You

In order to find the right influencers to work with your brand you need to first understand who your customer is. You can spend thousands on influencer marketing and not have any of it make a lick of difference if you choose someone who doesn’t work with your target customer.

Finding the Right Influencers for YouThis includes knowing…

  • Who your customers follow on social media
  • Which social platforms they spend the most time on
  • What their research/buying process looks like
  • Which types of content they prefer (blog, image, video, etc.)
  • Why people buy your products

Knowing the answers to questions like these will help you avoid obvious and costly mistakes by…

  • Picking influencers that already reach your ideal customer
  • Helping you target your customers where they spend the most time
  • Giving them info that will help them in their buying process
  • Providing content your customer finds valuable
  • Speaking directly to their pain points/needs

Creating a customer avatar will help you figure out all of these things and more. It’s a great marketing tool in general and one that I highly recommend. This is just one example where it’s useful but trust me a good customer avatar will come in handy again and again. Digital Marketer has a free customer avatar worksheet that you can check out here.

Where to Find Influencers

Once you know your customer finding influencers becomes a lot easier! When your business is small, you probably won’t have a ton of cash to throw around at major influencers. It’s important to find someone that

  • You can afford
  • Matches your brand
  • Has a loyal following

Look for people that match your avatar and look at who they are following, then contact those people. If you decide they check all the above boxes, figure out a way to work together. Not everyone you contact will want to work with you, that’s ok just keep trying.

How to Work with Influencers

Image via Buffer

Small, up-and-coming influencers can oftentimes be much easier to work with. Instead of paying them to promote your products you can:

  • Sponsor a giveaway
  • Offer them free product in exchange for a review
  • Exchange blog posts (you write one for them, they write one for you)
  • Give them comision on any sales they bring in
  • Create a coupon/offer exclusive to them

Just make sure that all of your expectations are clear and that you understand their expectations as well. You don’t want any bad blood if there’s a miscommunication about compensation or you HATE their post. Over communicating is way better than under communicating!

The Takeaway

Influencer marketing has been around FOREVER! While the concept is nothing new, social media has created a huge opportunity for brands to connect with customers through people they know and trust. Influencers created loyal audiences and then brands are able to tap directly into those audiences.

While getting started with influencer marketing might seem intimidating at first, it doesn’t have to be. The best way to do it is start small when you’re small. You can grow with your influencers and people will be a lot more understanding if/when you make mistakes along the way.

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