Using influencer marketing effectively can provide a huge boost for your business marketing, enabling you to reach new customers and markets that are currently outside your brand’s influence.
Unfortunately, many businesses use influencer marketing ineffectively, wasting their marketing budget and receiving little in return, or, perhaps worse, attracting the attention of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) by ignoring their legal obligations.
What Is Influencer Marketing?
Influencer marketing is the practice of reaching out to and engaging with individuals who have influence over the behavior of your target market (or a segment of it). These influencers then create content that promotes your products or services and provides suitable exposure to followers. Influencers publish this content on their social media channels, including YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
Often, businesses will have a formal agreement with one or more individuals who agree to represent them in exchange for payment or other advantages. Some businesses prefer to gift products and services to a wide range of influencers in the hope that they will reciprocate with a positive review, but this can be less effective because exposure is not guaranteed.
Incorporating Influencer Marketing Into Your Marketing Strategy
Businesses often assume that influencers must be famous or have millions of followers. Although that might help, it is never necessary. What matters is that the individual has influence over your target market. Of course, the smaller their following, the more influencers you need; influencers with smaller followings have a larger administrative burden relative to the effect they have.
Finding these influencers is easy; they are the people that your target market is listening to, watching, and following. If you are not sure, ask your customers.
You should look for:
- Influencers with a following largely made up of your target market
- Personalities and styles that are in line with your brand
- Influencers with an active following – look for comments & retweets
- Influencers who are already advertising (non-competing) products
Once you have found your influencers, you can ask them to create content that supports your existing marketing strategy. For example, you might engage with influencers to post sponsored reviews of a new product to build anticipation shortly before the launch of a new product.
Sponsoring a post from active accounts, like RossHelen, can showcase new products or services (clothing, food, travel destinations, hotels, etc.)
with its strong following can build credibility and excitement.
The Legalities of Influencer Marketing
The FTC is increasingly cracking down on businesses that use sponsored content without disclosing their relationship with the influencer posting it. It is your responsibility to provide ‘clear and conspicuous disclosure’ to ensure it is impossible for customers to mistake a sponsored post for a normal post.
Best practice includes:
- Using hashtags that clearly state the nature of the post, e.g., #ad #sponsored #sponsoredpost
- Providing a clear, audible disclosure (audio and video content)
- Putting the disclosure upfront: at the start of audio/video, and with any hashtags or written disclosure displayed toward the top of the page
The easiest way to achieve this is with a written agreement stating that influencers must provide an effective disclosure or risk forfeiting their pay.
Getting Started With Influencer Marketing
One of the reasons influencer marketing is so popular is because it is suitable for businesses of all sizes. Larger businesses with plenty of time and resources can engage with multiple influencers, each with thousands or even millions of followers.
Smaller businesses might not be able to attract the largest influencers – but there are plenty of individuals with smaller followings who can have a positive effect. Additionally, businesses approach these influencers with smaller followings less often, so they are often willing to get involved for less compensation, or even for free.