10 top tips for using influencers to promote your business
Getting the word out about your business can be tough when you're starting up. Social media can be a great way to promote your products or services, but building a following takes time and effort. With an influencer behind you, you can give your brand a boost and bring in new customers.
We chatted to fashion and lifestyle blogger Catherine Summers, creator of Not Dressed As Lamb, to put together these ten top tips.
1. Is influencer marketing right for your business?
Influencers are people with a big online following who usually have credibility in a particular industry, such as fashion or gaming. Because they actively engage with their followers on platforms like Instagram and YouTube, and through their blogs, those followers are likely to trust their opinions - so if an influencer says good things about your brand, it can make a real impact.
"Brands are using influencers more and more in their marketing campaigns because it's a great way for them to reach their target audiences really easily," says Catherine. "Magazine and TV advertising is not necessarily within the reach of many small businesses."
But you have to make sure it makes sense for your business. For example, does your target audience look for inspiration online? If you're catering to an audience that doesn't follow bloggers or social media personalities, using influencers may not be the way to reach them.
What are your goals for your marketing campaign? You might want to introduce your service to a new audience, or maybe you've got a new product launch that you want to shout about.
Whatever your aim, make sure you consider all your options. If it fits your budget and reaches the right audience, it's probably the way to go.
2. Find the right influencer
Now that you know you want to use an influencer, the next thing to do is work out who you should speak to. Think carefully about how you want to present your brand, and consider different influencers' audiences.
For example, if you've got a new designer fitness clothing line, is a fitness blogger the right person for you? A fashion influencer could help you show off your goods to a wider audience. Or if you're selling high-end fashion, you'll want to approach an influencer who regularly promotes higher-priced items. That way, you'll reach an audience that's willing to spend a little more money.
When you've decided on a direction, check out some influencers in that area and make a shortlist of those you'd like to work with. When you're choosing, don't just look at their follower count. It's just as important to analyse the engagement on each of their posts, too. You're looking for posts with plenty of likes and comments - it means the audience are active, engaged, and more likely to respond when the influencer starts talking about your stuff.
"If you're working with influencers, check the legitimacy of their following," says Catherine. "Ask the influencer if they have a media kit, which will give you stats, page views, and all the details you need to check whether they're the right influencer for you."
"Make sure that you do your research," she says. "If you've got the right people working for you, you're going to get some really great content."
3. Build a relationship
Before you reach out to an influencer, follow them, check out their profile, and Like some of their posts. If you already follow them, it's a great start to building the relationship. You'll be able to talk about the content they have created, what you like about it and why you think they are suited to your brand.
When you feel like you know their personality, drop them a message, but remember to keep it personal. "I don't think blanket emails are a good idea," says Catherine. "What I really like are personalised messages that prove that the brand has taken the time to look at my blog and decided that I'm the right fit for them."
4. Discuss what's expected
Catherine says that the key to a successful partnership is keeping everyone on the same page. "Make sure that you and the influencer know exactly what's expected of them. Put all of the deliverables into a brief," she suggests.
Before you start your campaign, clarify exactly how you'd like the influencer to support your brand. Do you want them to share pictures of themselves using one of your products, or write a blog or review? Should they create a video, or tag your business in posts?
Once you've got a plan, you should then confirm:
- Number of posts
- Campaign hashtags
- Messages you want to get across
- Points the influencer should avoid
- Tracking campaign statistics and results
5. Decide on payment terms
"You don't have to be a big brand to work with influencers," says Catherine. If an influencer is really passionate about your product, they might even work with you for a reduced fee or on a gifting only basis.If your brand already has a big following, you can even use cross-promotion as a bargaining chip.
It's important to remember that this is a two-way deal. Everyone needs to be benefitting from the transaction, so keep negotiating until you're both happy with the terms. Whatever you decide, agree it before you start the campaign, and make it official in a contract.
6. Write up a contract
"Always agree up front what you expect of the influencer," says Catherine. "It's a good idea to have a contract in place, even if it's really simple. Budget, payment terms, all those sorts of things." Discussing a project over private message is one thing, but make sure you both agree to the terms in an official document. It'll help if the campaign doesn't go to plan further down the line.
7. Understand your goals
Before you start your campaign, make sure you understand your goals. What are you trying to achieve? Do you want more traffic, increased sales, or just a boost to your follower count? Work this out before you start, and make sure your chosen influencer knows it, too.
Then think about how you can track the results. You might consider using affiliate links or promo codes, so you can see how many people engaged with each post. Maybe you just keep an eye on your follower count when the post goes live. Whatever it is, understand how you can measure the success of your campaign before you kick things off.
8. Give them some freedom
It's your campaign, and you can be involved in every decision if you want. But influencers are popular because of their unique voice. Checking posts before they go live is a good idea, but you don't need to write every post for them. Influencers know the type of content their followers react positively to. Give them the freedom to speak authentically and you'll probably get a better response from their followers.
Remember, this is a partnership. Influencers know their audience better than anyone. Take their advice and work as a team.
9. Follow your campaign
If you set up affiliate links or promo codes, this step is as simple as checking your website's analytics page. If you don't get as much interaction as you were hoping for, you can go back to the influencer and discuss how to improve things next time.
Make sure to specify, in the contract, what information you will need from the influencer post-campaign to measure success. E.g. views, likes and clicks for all of the content they have posted on their channels.
10. Keep it personal
It's important to remember that even if you're paying influencers, they're not employees. Keep things friendly and personal, and take their ideas on board - after all, they know their platform and audience better than you.
The more an influencer likes you, the happier they'll be to work with you in future. If you maintain the partnership as their follower count increases, that's great for your business.
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