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Marketing / Business marketing

Influencer marketing – 5 things you need to know

Instead of communicating your message to large, generic audiences – which is likely to be costly and ineffective – influencer marketing allows you to target a smaller, more relevant audience for more bang for your buck.

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Influencer marketing is one of the newer concepts within marketing. It’s the process of having influential bloggers, celebrities, or industry experts talk about your brand, mention your product, or share your content to their followers.

The rationale behind this strategy is simple: humans prefer word-of-mouth recommendations over any other and influencer marketing leverages this. Instead of communicating your message to large, generic audiences – which is likely to be costly and ineffective – with influencer marketing you can target a smaller, more relevant audience and get more bang for your buck.

Over the last three years we have worked with a host of influencers on Facebook and Instagram to raise awareness of our brand and drive mattress sales. It’s like celebrity endorsements or sponsorship in a way but it’s also about working with ‘real’ people, everyday people, people who appear to be similar to the types of people that buy from us.

It’s a cost-effective and strong link in our marketing chain. But, don’t get me wrong, it’s not without its downsides. It takes a lot of time to research each influencer (as there are thousands of so called ‘social media celebrities’ these days), review them, engage with them, approach them individually, develop a program, review their work and measure the results.

"Humans prefer word-of-mouth recommendations over any other and influencer marketing leverages this"

It’s also full of danger, unethical practices and sometimes disappointing outcomes. But done right it can drive sales and it’s certainly worth exploring.

Here are my five top tips for getting started:

1. Choose your influencers wisely

Don’t select an influencer just because they are popular and you’ve heard of them. Select an influencer your target audience already trusts – someone you know is similar to those that buy from you and that your potential customers might follow. It’s also important to speak to them personally and develop a relationship with them so you both get to know one another. Most of my influencers end up becoming so engaged with our brand, they become a customer themselves and freely recommend us to others.

2. Don’t be fooled by their follower numbers

There are some vastly inflated follower numbers out there that makes an influencer look more popular than they are. So much so, I no longer look at follower numbers. Instead, I look for engagement levels, (such as comments and shares) within their community. I also ensure their engagement comes from Australia. As I am targeting Australia I don’t want an influencer who receives all their engagement from overseas followers or spam accounts. Spend time reviewing their posts.

3. Don’t just settle for a one post wonder

Unless your product is an instant must-have there’s no point in negotiating a single post. Many followers of that influencer might miss that post for one reason or another or not pay any real attention. Influencer marketing is brand awareness so you need repetition. Ask the influencer for a number of posts over an agreed time period so that you appear in their feed several times, not just the once.

4. Let them be themselves

It’s risky, but it’s the best approach. Don’t stand over them and dictate what they must say about your brand or product. Give them space, time and freedom to write what they think. By all means give guidance and supporting notes about you and your product but let them be themselves. I’ve read too many obvious paid for posts that have come straight from the brand’s marketing manager’s mouth. If I tend to skip over these, then you can bet others will.

5. Be ethical

There are many influencers who, for a small fee, are more than willing to post a review of your product without actually trying it. It surprised me initially but now I just think it’s the sign of the times. Of course, it’s completely unethical and I advise you not to entertain this strategy – eventually you’ll be caught out.  Whenever I use an influencer who wishes to talk about my mattress or pillows I always make sure they are sent a sample to use not just for the night but for a reasonable period of time before commenting.

Final word

Influencer marketing can be effective in both the short and long term, but the very best results come from developing long-term, genuine relationships with the influencer. If you’re willing to take the time to do this, you’ll be able to reap the rewards both now, and also well into the future.

Have you tried influencer marketing? What lessons have you learned?

Matthew White

is director of Ergoflex Australia, an online retailer of premium quality memory foam mattresses. As well as helping Australians get a better night's sleep, Matthew is a marketer, sleep blogger, father of four and home renovator.

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