Courtney Eckerle

Social Media Marketing: Should I include paid influencers in my marketing spend?

July 6th, 2017

It’s almost unusual these days to make a purchase before quickly checking online to look at stars, comments and blogger reviews.

A whole industry has sprung up out of our consumer need for secondary validation before each swipe of our credit card or “Confirm Purchase” click.

The people behind it are called, generally, paid influencers. They make capital for their blogs and vlogs from companies by reviewing, vouching for, or generally promoting products to their audience.

While traditional celebrities of various degrees of fame participate in this, microinfluencers, as they’re also known as, are general defined as untraditional celebrities. They’re individuals who work in their category, or are truly knowledgeable, passionate and authentic within it, to be seen as a trusted source of buying recommendations.

A MarketingSherpa chart article that covers this topic, featuring a 2016 study by Experticity, an influencer marketing company, in collaboration with Keller Fay Group and Dr. Jonah Berger, The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, discovered that 82% of people are willing to follow an influencer’s recommendation, over the 73% who would follow the average customer’s.

If you’re on the edge of deciding whether or not to incorporate this tactic into your marketing spend, answering the following three questions will help you know if it’s right for you and your customers.

What social media platforms should I focus on?

Obviously, there’s no point to using paid influencers on a platform that your customers aren’t active on. Most influencers are either bloggers (who then promote their content on other sites, like Pinterest), Instagrammers or vloggers on YouTube.

Make sure those are spaces where your customers would naturally be interacting, and then find the most active voices that also reflect your brand.

As detailed in our case study, David Lefkovits, Founder and CEO of My Pooch Face, a pet portrait service, began sourcing potential influencers at BarkWorld, a digital conference for pet social media creators (influencers) and pet-related businesses.

Obviously, not everyone will have a conference with the specific purpose of uniting brands and influencers, but it’s never a bad idea to check for either a conference, or some sort of online group and forum.

The most important thing, David said, is to focus on quality, not quantity. Don’t make the mistake of making small media spends across every influencer you find, but rather build a relationship with a few that are going to become real partners with your marketing team.

That, he explained, is the only way to turn their followers into your own loyal, active followers.

As part of quality versus quantity, for each potential paid influencer My Pooch Face partners with, the team examines geographic location of followers. For example, the company doesn’t serve Asia currently, so a high amount of followers in that region wouldn’t be useful.

They also look into “the amount of likes, the amount of comments, the amount of interactions that these folks have,” David said.

How can I make these interactions meaningful?

There is also always a way to make your product, no matter how seemingly ‘boring,’ interesting to the right audience.

For example, in this case study with beauty brand Swisspers, the team created a campaign that was heavily reliant on influencer marketing. The “Sleep Naked” campaign focused on using nine influencers, alongside some additional digital marketing, to drive women to post ‘naked’ selfies.

Before getting scandalized, understand that Swisspers, produces makeup remover pads, and decided to vamp the product up by capitalizing on a trend where celebrities were posting selfies on social media wearing no makeup.

The Swisspers marketing team built up buzz using notable beauty bloggers, and while they set up a framework for what the influencer’s content had to include, transparency and a genuine passion for the project was vital.

“Obviously I feel like consumers know when someone’s a fake, when someone is just phoning it in,” said Andrew York, Product Manager, Swisspers.

The team made sure the bloggers could honestly endorse the product, and send samples for them to try and post with.

“We really wanted it to feel natural and just have that natural conversation with their followers,” Andrew said.

For example, the paid influencer and product blogger industry christened a new term in the marketing world – an “unboxing video.”

What are the logistics of working with an influencer?

Certainly, this is something I’ve seen differ with marketer’s I have interviewed. While there seems to be an obvious stigma, or at least uncomfortable aspect to paying for reviews, most say their consumer’s don’t seem to have an issue with it.

Many companies are quick to point out that they do not tell influencers what to say at all, and simply rely on their fantastic product to guide the influencer’s posts. Although others take a safer route, and say they give influencers a loose structure on what to say.

So certainly, if you’re not 100% confident in your product, using paid influencers may not be for you. However, when utilized correctly, it can be an incredibly effective tactic for getting your product in front of customers and nudging them towards conversion.

“Use correctly” is the operative term there. Like any other new marketing outlet, this is a zig-zagged and weaving path. You’ll learn what’s best for your customers, and react from there to evolve your strategy.

When reaching out to an influencer, use either contact information they have listed on their blog, or simply DM (direct message) them on their platform of choice to get the ball rolling.

Just know that they will most likely request to sample your product before promoting it to their customers, and this is a good thing. You want to work with influencers who have a real, credible voice in the industry that consumers trust.

Transparency is a good thing. If they’re upfront about what their relationship is with your company, consumers will still trust their endorsement – so don’t balk if they want to put #paid alongside your official company hashtag.

The best thing marketers can do is to make this experience as authentic and fun as possible. With a little bit of creativity to make the interaction as meaningful as possible, your customers won’t notice or care that it was driven by the brand.

You might also like…

Inbound Marketing: How influencer marketing attracted 100,000 website clicks to luxury mattress site

Inbound Marketing 2016: How marketers connected with millennials and built trust in the marketplace

Marketing Research Chart: How likely are consumers to follow influencers’ recommendations?

The power of influencers. Quantified [Experticity research report]



Courtney Eckerle

About Courtney Eckerle

With a focus on aspirational, customer-first marketing, Courtney’s goal has been to produce clear, interesting and actionable external content for MarketingSherpa readers. This has included writing over 300 case studies, moderating live event interviews, and producing video content. She earned her Bachelor of Arts in English Literature, Mass Communications and Film Studies from Saint Mary’s College in Notre Dame, Ind., and was a correspondent for USA Today College prior to joining MECLABS Institute.

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