Whether we love them or hate them, there’s no denying the power that social media influencers have over their followers. Their endorsement or denouncement of a product or service can literally make or break a brand’s credibility. If you would like to get ahead in your digital marketing endeavours it could be very worth your while partnering with an influencer who fits with your brand’s purpose and audience to increase your ecommerce store’s visibility and following online.
What is a social media influencer?
The advent of social media in the early 2000s paved the way for literally anyone with a decent internet connection, computer camera and charisma to become a star almost overnight. This personality-driven social media phenomenon has led to millions of influencers making a name and livelihood for themselves across popular platforms like YouTube, Instagram and TikTok.
Social media influencers grow their personal brand by creating fun and engaging content based on their interests, such as fashion, beauty, health and wellness or even entrepreneurship, to entertain, motivate and inspire their online following. In many instances, influencers can make a living by partnering with the right brands and corporations to share content designed to advertise certain products or services to their followers, which can be in the millions, in the form of static social media posts, photos, stories and video content. In return for doing this, depending on the agreement, influencers are reimbursed with products or cold hard cash.
How can you partner with a social media influencer that fits your brand’s purpose?
Influencers are paid brand advocates and, if used correctly, can greatly impact your word of mouth marketing strategy by creating brand awareness and building trust among their followers, as well as helping you create a dedicated fanbase.
To get an influencer on board as part of your marketing strategy, you first need to identify the right type of person that you want to associate your brand with, followed by reaching out to them to form a relationship. Below are four tips on how to do just that.
1. Make a list of relevant influencers
It’s important to do your research to make sure you have a clear idea of what kind of influencer you would like to partner with, specifically how they fit with your brand and vision to help with your marketing efforts. If you choose an influencer that doesn’t align with your brand or audience it could backfire and result in alienating your customers (the exact opposite of what you want to happen!). On the flip side, it’s also worth considering how collaborating with you can help the influencer’s brand, for example, association with your brand could make them look good and help them attract new followers.
Search the different social media platforms using relevant hashtags or keywords to see which influencers already have a presence in your industry. You can also check out the followers of other big businesses in your industry to see what prominent influencer profiles pop up.
A Google search can also turn up some relevant influencers who are openly looking to partner with brands. There are websites like Trendtribe that list local influencers who are actively looking to collaborate on marketing campaigns, as well as international and local agencies that specialise in influencer marketing that can help you find the ideal candidate, for example, 6Degrees and the SALT.
Throughout your research, make sure to find reviews about them and read comments on their posts to gauge their popularity amongst their following. Also keep an up-to-date list of your findings of each of the influencers, including:
- Full names and social handles
- Platforms they’re active on
- Number of followers
- Trends or topics they engage with
- Brand values
- Target audience
Also add anything else that you can find, including their contact details and rate card, which could include how much they charge for a shoutout, Instagram story or TikTok video, etc.
2. Build a relationship with them
Once you’ve done your research it’s time to engage with the influencers to form a relationship with them. To do this organically, check their social feeds once a week or so and see if there is anything that you can engage with. Instead of commenting on or sharing any old post, make sure to focus on ones that are relevant to your industry or ecommerce, for example. Read or view such content and add valuable comments to engage with them and their followers.
The more useful your contribution is the more the influencer and/or their PR team will see your brand as a good fit with theirs, opening up the possibility for meaningful collaboration. Ideally, your partnership should be a win-win experience where you both get something out of it. This means it’s important for the influencer to believe in what you are doing so that their endorsement will be as authentic as possible and speak to followers who are your ideal customers.
3. Create a strategy
Once you’ve formed a relationship with the influencer and have agreed on collaborating, it’s time to come up with a strategy on how to do so successfully, within a realistic budget. Here are some questions to ask yourself:
- Why do you want to use them and how do they fit with your brand?
- Knowing the answer to the above, how best can you use them?
- What will your joint messaging be?
- How often will you require their services for, once off or for numerous marketing campaigns?
The answers to the above can help you draft the skeleton of your strategy. It’s also vital that you have a clear understanding of your goals and how you can measure return on investment (ROI). For example, your goals could be to:
- Increase brand awareness
- Promote a new product, service or promotion
- Attract X amount of new followers on your social media pages
- Sign up X amount of people onto your newsletter
- Generate sales
The best way to measure the success of the influencer marketing campaign is to agree on a hashtag for them to use. Then during the campaign, you can search for the hashtag manually or use a tool like Sprout Social to see where and how often it’s being used.
Onboarding an influencer
When an influencer comes on board you need to assist them in becoming a virtual brand expert so that they know your brand inside out. To form a proper agreement, each of you should sign a collaboration contract outlining what is expected from each party to ensure you both get the most out of the partnership. This should include what and how many pieces of content the influencer is expected to create and share, whether it be a guest blog post, a virtual shoutout or an Instagram post, and the quality of each post. It’s also worth agreeing on content usage rights so that you can repurpose the content they create/share about your brand in the future.
4. Collaborate with them
Now comes the fun part of collaborating with the influencer and seeing your plan come to life. After all of your research, planning and relationship building, the influencer should be well-equipped to be an effective brand ambassador to help you increase your brand awareness and attract new loyal customers.
Throughout the process you should in turn promote their content, thereby developing a mutually beneficial relationship that introduces both of your audiences to each other. Depending on the final results, you can choose to partner with a specific influencer again or experiment with other big virtual personalities. What’s important is that you remain loyal to your values and avoid exploiting consumers through this fashionable digital marketing avenue.
For other tips on how to use social media in your digital marketing strategy, read this blog on how to effectively engage with and grow your social media community, and this one on how to use social media to drive traffic to your online store. For tips on how to start or grow your online business, download the PayFast Guide to Going Online.