This guide on Influencer Marketing was created by Emmanuela Mitzalis, a student at the University of Montana who gets flights delayed on the regular.
What is Influencer Marketing?
Everyone who owns a device that connects to the internet has heard of, or has experienced influencers (if you haven’t that’s probably because you aren’t the right target market), but, what is an Influencer and what exactly is Influencer Marketing?
An Influencer is someone who has built a loyal following through their online content creation. Influencer Marketing is when companies partner with influencers to increase brand awareness or conversions among a specific target audience.
This guide is meant to give you a full view of Influencer Marketing. Once you are done with reading, you should know the types of influencers available, the history of influencers, the popular marketing channels and content types which generate the best results, the stats, and benefits of influencer marketing, the challenges, and lastly, if it is right for your business.
To begin, it’s important to understand that Influencers can come in three forms. These three forms of influencers are determined based on the size of their follower count, the budget of companies who would like to use influencers, as well as the range of audience that both the influencer can reach and the company wants to reach. These three forms include Macro, Micro and Nano Influencers.
Macro-Influencers are well-known content creators or celebrities with an online presence between 100,000-1 million followers. These influencers are quite expensive meaning that likely only companies with larger budgets can use them to share a message. Macro-influencers can reach a broad audience because of their high follower count, as well as their likeability. One example of a well-known Macro-Influencer is Kendall Jenner. Kendall Jenner has 119 Million Instagram followers and is known for her family’s reality show called Keeping Up With The Kardashians. Jenner receives up to $250,000 for a single Instagram post endorsing a product, showing the strength of her influence and reach of her audience. Jenner likely only takes on influencer roles for companies with credible brands and big budgets and that she trusts. By having such a broad reach, Macro-Influencers like Jenner have to choose the brands they endorse based on companies’ budgets or the influencers’ connection to the brand, as many companies try to implement Macro-Influencers into their efforts and the competition is intense.
Next, we have Micro-Influencers. Micro-Influencers tend to have anywhere between 1,000-100,000 followers and have a more defined and specific audience. These criteria are perfect for companies that know their target market well and choose who they wish to hire as an influencer with a great strategy. Micro-Influencers are less expensive than Macro-Influencers and have great engagement rates because of the high accuracy of their target market. Examples of Micro-Influencers are bloggers, content creators, models and more, who have a decent following of consumers that are highly interested and invested in their brand and lifestyles.
Nano-Influencers have the least amount of followers out of the three with around only 1,000 followers. However, such as micro-influencers, the target audience is niche and tend to have the best engagement. Nano-Influencers tend to be local and popular in their small community and are very selective of the products or brands they endorse. Consumers are drawn to these nano-influencers because they either know them, aspire to be like them or are interested in their story.
Learn more on hubspot.com
How did Influencer Marketing begin?
If you’re like me, influencers are a normal part of your life and you may not remember when you first started noticing influencers on your feeds. For this guide, however, we are going to go quite far back in time to understand the history of Influencer Marketing to see how it has evolved throughout the years.
The 1890s: Aunt Jemima
Surprisingly, Influencer Marketing dates back to the 1890s with The Davis Milling Company. This company was one of the first companies to introduce an influencer into their marketing efforts, but back then the company didn’t see using a person as an “influencing” strategy, it was just simply an idea they brought to life, which produced what we know today as Influencer Marketing. If you didn’t already guess it, this first influencer was Aunt Jemima, a fictional character on maple syrup packaging and advertisements. Aunt Jemima brought great success to the company in a fictional form that the company decided to transform Aunt Jemima into a real-life person, by hiring actresses to personify the brand.
The 1920s: Coca Cola & Santa Claus
In the 1920s, Santa Claus was introduced in the Coca Colas marketing campaigns. Although Santa Claus had been around for quite sometime before Coca Cola, his presence grew when he started being associated with the well-known brand. Even to this day, Coca Cola wins Christmas with Santa Claus and sees staggering sales of soft drinks during the holidays due to this influencer.
The 1950s: Marlboro Man
The Marlboro Man, which was one of the biggest figures of the decade, was first introduced on billboards and in newspapers to make smoking more “macho”. The inclusion of Malboro Man was introduced to show customers that if they smoke a Marlboro cigarette, they could be cool and manly like him. At this point in history, advertisers started leaning toward a lifestyle angle in their efforts and a form or celebrity endorsements aka influencers began.
The 2000s: The Old Spice Man
This leads us to Old Spice. Old Spice was once a brand that consumers saw as their grandpa’s cologne, but the Old Spice Man completely altered the company’s brand image. This marketing effort turned the brand around by creating personalized videos from the influencer and sending them out on social media to both celebrities and consumers. This campaign was so successful that it “paved the way for the world of influencer marketing to what it is today.
The 2000s: Bloggers & Brands
Influencer Marketing started to take its current shape through “Mommy Blogs”. Mommy blogs are online platforms where Moms around the world can come together and figure out life as a new parent through a group of individuals who are going through the same experiences that they are. Being a first-time parent is tough, so having a group of people who you can trust is essential to a large community of mothers around the world. This large trusting community is where influencer marketing found its place in the digital space. Influencer Marketing is supposed to have an authentic, trusting feeling to it so what better place to endorse products people trust than mommy blogs?
Today: Celebrities, Content Creators & Social Media
Influencer Marketing today involves both celebrities and content creators.
Content creators are “real” people who became popular because of the content they posted on their social networks. This content can range from creating videos, blogs, photos and even simple snapshots of their regular lifestyles. Consumers are drawn to these content creators because of the aspirational value they associate with the content or the people themselves. They didn’t get famous with the help of an industry, they simply got famous because consumers enjoyed their content. As an article from theshelf.com says “These influencers are more approachable, and more relatable than your average celebrity, as people have seen them grow their accounts from nothing, to where they are today.”
Celebrities are seen as Macro-Influencers as mentioned earlier in the guide. Although Content Creators are a large part of the influencer industry, celebrities still dominate the market because of their large audience and reach. Celebrities have and will continue to endorse products online and they are a fantastic way to share your message.
Learn more about the history of Influencer Marketing on theshelf.com
Marketing Channels & Content-Types for Influencer Marketing
Now that you know more about influencer marketing and the history behind its creation, it’s time to help you understand how to truly implement influencer marketing into your business strategies. To do this, its important to dive deep into the various marketing channels and content types available in the digital sphere to understand the strategy and science behind each platform. Depending on your product/service, target audience and message you want to share with your potential consumers, there are routes that you can take to begin your influencer marketing journey. Below, is a framework to get you started.
Marketing Channels are all the media channels/platforms that businesses can use to begin their marketing efforts. Each channel has different audiences, purposes, messages and key stats that can help you determine your best strategy.
Instagram: Instagram’s audience ranges from Millennials, Gen Z and Gen X. One content offering that Instagram has are photos and videos which appear on consumers’ news feeds where they can interact with the content by commenting, liking or sharing. The next offering is Instagram Stories, where influencers can post short photos or videos to the platform in real-time that only lasts a few seconds and consumers can swipe up on the spot to purchase the product they are selling.
Youtube: YouTube’s demographics are between 18-34 and influencers of this media channel can post long-form videos of sponsored content. This channel is perfect for showing the features of a product, demonstrating how it works, and raising awareness on a broad scale.
Blogs: Blogs reach an audience of 25-49-year-olds and are one of the only digital media channels where businesses can reach audiences of an older demographic. As mentioned earlier, blogs are built around trust, and they are great for promoting products that require an in-depth explanation.
Facebook: Facebook has over 2.2 billion users and has the widest reach of any media channel. It reaches all demographics and can be highly targeted through a variety of options it provides. From Facebook pages to groups, companies can use influencers to either reach a broad audience or a niche one.
Twitch: Twitch reaches Millennial gamers but is expanding to other audiences as well. It has over 15 million viewers who spend 95 minutes per day on the channel. It is a perfect platform to capture the attention of your audience.
Although the marketing channels mentioned above are the most popular and successful, other Marketing Channels with a high degree of effectiveness include Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Snapchat and more.
To understand the right marketing channel for your business, spend time analyzing your audience and choose strategically.
With a variety of marketing channels for influencers to be present on, also comes a variety of content types for them to choose from. Below is an outline of the content types available per popular marketing channel.
Instagram: Instagram Post, Instagram Story, Instagram Video, IGTV
Youtube: YouTube Video, YouTube Live
Facebook: Facebook Post, Facebook Video, Facebook Live
Twitter: Twitter Post, Twitter Video
Blogs: Blog Post
LinkedIn: LinkedIn Post, LinkedIn Video, LinkedIn Pulse
Twitch: Twitch Livestream
Out of all these content types, the 5 most effective ones for influencer marketing are:
1) Instagram Post: Users can comment, like, and share a post. The post is also available to view on an influencer’s profile at any time.
2) Instagram Story: Stories are short videos (about 15 seconds long) that last 24 hours. They are great for bringing your brand to life in an authentic way, and it’s ideal for “in the moment” posts that give audiences a view into an influencer’s personality & lifestyle. One great feature of Instagram Stories is that consumers can swipe up to purchase a product/service that an influencer is promoting, generating instant conversions.
3) YouTube Video: YouTube videos are great for long-form videos and give consumers great insight into the product, and also provides the influencer with more time to bring the product to life.
4) Instagram Video: Similar to Instagram Posts, users can comment, like, and share a short-form video. The video is also available to view on an influencer’s profile at any time.
5) Blog Post: As mentioned earlier, blog posts are built around trust, and they are great for promoting products that require an in-depth explanation.
Benefits of Influencer Marketing
We’ve talked about the history, we’ve talked about the marketing and content channels so now it’s time to talk about the incredible stats influencer marketing has achieved, and how businesses can benefit from implementing it into their practices.
To begin with, Influencer Marketing has seen a fascinating growth throughout the years. Specifically, the industry has grown to be worth $6.5 billion in 2019. A mere 282% increase since its previous worth of $1.7 billion in 2016. Over 3 years, influencer marketing has taken the industry by storm and has seen amazing conversion rates across the various marketing efforts of businesses. Check out the graph below to see a visual representation of this growth:
Next, Google searches for the term “Influencer Marketing” has seen a 1,500% increase since 2016. In 2015 there were only 3,900 searches for the term, today there are 61,000. This data highlights how consumers are interested and aware of influencer marketing and indicates that they have positive views of the industry. Check out the graph below:
Lastly, firms who use influencer marketing earn, on average, $5.20 per $1 spent on marketing efforts, with some businesses who understand the industry well earning up to an incredible $18 per $1 spent. Based on these numbers, the ROI for influencer marketing is significant, especially for businesses that understand the industry and know how to select the right influencers for the right product and have them endorse that product on the right marketing channel. Check out the graph below:
If you’d like to dive deeper into these statistics, check out influencermarketinghub.com to learn more.
Influencer Marketing can:
- Build Trust. Influencers have built a relationship with their fans and that trust will transfer over to your brand.
- Increase Brand Awareness: Influencers provide great reach for businesses and share your message with a broad audience.
- Enrich Content Strategy: Businesses can use influencer content on their profiles.
- Effectively Reach Your Target Audience: As mentioned throughout this guide, influencers have a very specific following that aligns with businesses’ target audiences.
- Provide Value to Your Audience: Influencers educate and inspire your audience
- Build Winning Partnerships: Partnerships help businesses thrive, and influencers are a great first partnership to have.
Learn more on socialmediatoday.com
Challenges of Influencer Marketing
Every business strategy comes with some risk, and Influencer Marketing is no different. Even though there are more advantages than disadvantages associated with including influencers into your business, it’s important to know the challenges that arise.
- Saturated Market & Disengaged Audiences: Promotional Content is cluttering up feeds and consumers are beginning to see past influencer marketing.
- Finding Sincerity and Relationship-building strategies: Know your positioning and align your morals with the message an influencer is sharing and lifestyle they possess. Be honest, trustworthy and in line with your brand’s values.
- Getting influencer marketing wrong: A brand needs to be embedded in culture and possess credibility, rigor, and empathy in their word of mouth practices
- Trustworthy Collaborations: Choosing the right person to work with by looking at more than just their follower count.
- Follow Fraud: Be careful in choosing your influencers. Many influencers buy their followers which in turn hurts your business’s objectives and budget. Companies also tend to only look at follower count and not the engagement influencers posts have. Sometimes it might be best to choose an influencer with fewer followers but higher engagement.
- Tracking ROI: Knowing what to look for to understand your ROI makes or breaks the effectiveness of influencer marketing. Key KPI’s to consider views, engagement rate, swipe rate, and watch time.
Learn more on influencermarketinghub.com
Is Influencer Marketing right for your business?
My hope for this guide is that you can look at your business and determine whether or not influencer marketing is feasible or right for your business and your objectives. To leave you thinking critically about your next move, I will leave you with questions to think about to make an informed and educated decision.
- Are elements like status and lifestyle aspects of your brand?
- Can consumers trust your brand and your product?
- Are you confident that you know your target audience?
- Do you know the platforms & content types that your target audiences engage with most?
- Do you have enough of a marketing budget to afford influencers?
- Can you determine an accurate objective and KPI for your influencer marketing efforts before implementing the idea?
The world of marketing is ever-changing. Once you get a handle of the next best tactic, a new one will likely appear. There’s truly no way to stay ahead of the trends but it doesn’t hurt to try and stay on top of them. Influencer Marketing has been around for a while but it is still growing at a rapid rate and there are definitely new markets to explore, so consider the information provided in this guide and come up with a game plan to get your business booming.
Thanks for reading! I hope you learned something new and can spread your wisdom to help other businesses.