Understanding Influencer Marketing and How to Make it Work

Influencer marketing is not really a modern concept, but recently it has gained a lot of popularity. In fact, over the past few years, it has become very common and popular. The reason for that is the technological advancement of the world that has caused influencer marketing to make its way to the front of different types of marketing. Companies these days devote more effort and resources to influencer campaigns than ever before.

Digital agencies implement influencer marketing strategies as part of a cohesive marketing plan in order to help get the brands of their clients on the map. Many companies from different industries are also shifting their focus towards influential marketing for enhancing their brand image via social media.

What is Influencer Marketing?

In simple terms, influencer marketing is the relationship between a brand and its influencer. The ‘influencer’ is the one who promotes the products or services under the brand through different media outlets such as Facebook, Instagram, and Youtube.

It is slightly different from celebrity endorsement where a celebrity is merely attached to a brand. In influential marketing, the influencer is a trusted figure in a niche community that the business is targeting, and has a loyal following among the people in the community. The influencers typically also have good knowledge and understanding of the products that they promote.

For example, a business that sells sportswear might hire a popular fitness vlogger from Youtube, who has extensive knowledge in muscle building, weight training, and nutritious diets, for taking part in their sportswear advertisements. This vlogger may or may not be an actual user of the product, but would surely be familiar with similar products and thus able to talk about it convincingly in the ads. He will be able to influence his followers in the community to buy the product through the trust and loyalty that they have towards him.

Common industries or product categories for which influencers are commonly used include photographers, beauticians, comedians, models, musicians, artists, food and nutrition enthusiasts, and how-to experts.

How Does Influencer Marketing Work?

Influencers normally operate independently, which means they create their own content that is rooted in the advertisement specifications given by the company that hires them. The brand message and how it is portrayed to the community are decided by the influencer. This makes influencer campaigns very authentic and effective within the specified target audience.

An influencer is typically paid based on the size of their social media following and the social media platform that they are famous on. For example, for Instagram, industry experts generally suggest a rate of $1,000 for every 100,000 followers. This price is further adjusted based on the relevance and reach of the influencer. For Youtube, the standard price is $100 for every 1,000 views.

The beauty of influential marketing is that anyone can be hired as an influencer. Due to the presence and popularity of various social media platforms these days, it is easy for businesses to face a plethora of social figures to choose from for using them as their brand influencers.

Before social media gained popularity, scheduled television programs were seen as the only mass media accessible to consumers. It was therefore one of the main media used by marketers to advertise products and services. Today, with the presence of the internet and social media in almost every consumer’s smartphone, consumers have unlimited choice and freedom regarding the content that they watch. This actually makes it hard for brands to get to the consumers because they are scattered across too many different forms of media. In this case, influencer marketing is a solution to this problem. If they can find an influencer with a following that's very similar to a brand’s target audience or customer segment, the business can easily reach many of its targeted customers through an influencer campaign.

Influencer marketing is also a shortcut to building trust among its consumers. Consumers these days are very skeptical about new brands and their marketing efforts. Influencer marketing strategy is based on the belief that consumers would trust that if their admired personality loves a particular product, then they would love it too. This is how the concept works.

How to be an Effective Product Influencer?

As mentioned above, anyone can become an influencer these days. If there is a brand that you deeply admire and want to become its influencer, you can take the following steps to effectively influence the product’s targeted consumers.

1. Begin with Influencing a Niche Market First

All influencers start off as micro-influencer within a very specific niche. Micro-influencers have a strong convincing power for small groups. They can reach enough people to build a brand’s initial customer base. Anyone who’s regular on social media can build a followership of 300,000 too. But to begin with, you can even start with just a single follower whom you convert into a customer. The path to successful influencer marketing is to start promoting to your friends and peers, and slowly work your way towards becoming the expert within your city. When you grow from your locality outwards, you will be able to grow in your following exponentially.

2. Build a Content Strategy

Once you know what niche to target, you can work on building your content. Your content will form a major part of your influencer marketing strategy. This step mainly includes the following.

  • Tone of the advertisements
  • Voice of the author
  • Publishing cadence
  • Preparing the writeups
  • Making the graphics

There is no particular or fixed template for building the content. It depends on the influencer’s style and the company that owns the brand. Since every influencer has a different personality and every company has different goals, it is difficult to explain the content building phase in a specific format.

3. Select the Marketing Channels

There is no right or wrong answer as to which marketing channel is used to promote a particular brand through influencer marketing. The only thing is, the channel or platform used needs to be in line with the marketing objectives and product type. For instance, if a company runs a community-based web platform to sell properties and real estate, it wouldn’t suit the influencer or marketer to use Instagram or Snapchat in their influencer campaign. Platforms like LinkedIn and Youtube would be more suitable for advertising such a brand.

On the other hand, if a company is running a boutique, and selling evening gowns and other fancy fashion wear, it can appropriately use Facebook and Instagram to promote its products. Facebook has, in fact, become the most popular platform for advertising such end-consumer products. As of January 2020, about 94% of marketers worldwide were using Facebook to promote products and brands. LinkedIn was being used by 76% of marketers.

Screenshot of a Strikingly user's website selling fashion wear

Image taken from Strikingly user’s website

4. Build Your Network

For successful influencer marketing, you need to build real connections as well along with social media following. It is one thing to sit on the couch at home and use digital marketing tactics to build a social media following, and another thing to actually go out in the world and make connections with real people. A person could have more than a million Twitter followers, but not even engage with only 10 of them on a personal level or in a meaningful way.

5. Participate in Forums

Some people go for gaining popularity at one particular social media platform and become very successful at it. For example, the most famous YouTubers in 2020 were earning over a billion dollars in a year from sponsorships and advertisements. But everybody doesn’t always get that lucky.

You would typically have to explore more than one social media platform and even the world outside social media. Consider participating in the following to build an overall following and networking.

  • Forums
  • Blogs
  • News portals
  • Comment wells
  • Other online discussions

Every medium that you participate in can cause a rise in your popularity, enhance your reputation, and build more connections.

6. Develop a Website or Blog

For running complete influencer campaigns, do not limit your conversations with your audience to just social media. You need to have a platform to direct your followers to - a one-stop platform where your audience can specifically find information about you and the products or services that you promote. This can be either a website that showcases all this information in direct words or a blog where you write articles and publish to establish yourself as an expert in the field. You cannot fit in all this information in social media posts or videos. There is always more to say, which is why Youtube videos and Facebook posts all have a comments section. Viewers typically ask questions in the comments, and as answers, you can give them links to your website or blog, where they can get all the added information that they need. You don’t want your followers to back out from buying the products you’re promoting, simply because they couldn’t get their queries answered.

A good and simple tool to use for building a website is Strikingly, where you can create and launch a full-fledged website in just a few hours.

Image taken from Strikingly landing page

Image taken from Strikingly

How to Promote a Product Through a Website?

Once you have a website, there are several ways you can promote a product through it.

1. Upload Good Product Photos

The quality of your product photography plays a major role in building its perceived value in the minds of your audience. Fill up your website with appealing pictures of your product, and write a clear and precise description for each. Whether you have an online store connected to your site or not, customers should be able to see what the product you’re promoting looks like.

Screenshot of Strikingly user's website showing good quality product photos

Image taken from Strikingly user’s website

2. Write Articles About the Benefits of Your Product

The more you talk about the benefits your product provides, the more convincing your influencer marketing would sound. For instance, in the Strikingly blog, we often talk about our users and how they are growing their businesses through the websites that they build in Strikingly. This strategy is called content marketing and is more cost-effective than paid advertisements in building a community that believes in your brand. It is a form of influencer marketing strategy.

3. Keep in Touch With Your Site Visitors

Your website must have clearly stated means for getting in touch with you. Many websites have a contact form that anyone with an inquiry can fill up and submit. Others have a live chat feature, where a visitor can simply initiate a chat with the website’s customer support, and get their queries answered instantly. At Strikingly, we offer all kinds of customer support to make it easy for our users to use our website building tool.

Screenshot of Strikingly live chat feature

Image taken from Strikingly

Now that you know what is influencer marketing, you can become an influencer yourself if you want, especially if you are a social media geek and like to grow a following in your areas of interest. Try out Strikingly for building a website if you need it. You will be surprised by how simple the process is. Once you sign up for your free Strikingly account, you can select a template for your web design, and start adding in content using our drag-and-drop feature. You will not need to write even a single line of code for creating a full-fledged website in Strikingly!