What is Influencer Marketing? (Updated April 2018)

GRIN also recommends this free guide: How to Get ROI from Influencer Marketing.

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Influencer marketing is no longer merely a buzzword to be included in a PowerPoint slide. It is a marketing strategy that delivers results. In fact, the returns are impressive. Businesses make $6.50 on every $1 they spend on influencer marketing. The best thing since sliced bread? Quite possibly.

You will find most digital marketers vouching for it and trying out tricks and tactics to woo the right influencers. In fact, 67% of marketers believe in the power of influencer marketing to reach their target audience.

Traditional ways of marketing have reached a saturation point. Consumers don’t like to be advertised to. Brand messages conveyed through mainstream media and conventional ways doesn’t register with consumers anymore.

Consumers have developed brand blindness and deafness. They are only willing to see and hear the messages they opt to see or hear willingly. That’s why influencer marketing fits the bill neatly.

How Does Influencer Marketing Work?

It works through social media. People follow people and authentic conversations on social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, and Snapchat. Some online users are charming and charismatic and they slowly gather a following. They are called influencers, as people listen closely to what they have to say. These influencers influence behaviors.

Some of the conversations on social media initiated by influencers are about brands and different products and services. Influencers review a product. Their followers read the post with the review. They are curious about said product and many of them purchase it.

So a social media post from an influencer actually helps the sales of a product. Brands reach out to these influencers for visibility and awareness.

In 2011, a Swedish startup called “Daniel Wellington” started their journey with just $15,000 in capital. By 2015, they had earned revenue worth $220 million. Their secret? Influencer marketing.

How Does Influencer Marketing Work - What is Influencer Marketing

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The brand’s strategy was to work closely with different influencers and celebrities. They paid endorsement fees to some influencers, while to others they simply gifted a watch for an Instagram post with the hashtag #danielwellington.

The brand also provided promo codes to the influencers, who passed it on to their followers.The campaign picked up, and Instagram was flooded with posts of Daniel Wellington watches. There were around 1.2 million posts using this hashtag.

Who is an Influencer?

Influencers aren’t necessarily celebrities. They may or may not have a huge following. What influencers have is their own authentic voice and honest opinions.

Consumers are tired of listening to scripted ads from models and celebrities. They want to listen to someone they can relate to, someone they engage with, someone who understands them and who is approachable.

Influencers help frame the brand and product perceptions for others. They generally have the reach, credibility, and flair required for good salesmanship. They are trusted by their followers. Marketers leverage the relationships influencers have with their followers to push their brand’s messages.

Influencers provide their honest opinions and their followers respect them for that. They create content in different forms like photos, text posts, blog posts, videos, gifs, etc., which they post or share on social media platforms. This content is then shared, liked, and commented on by their followers.

How to Plan an Effective Influencer Marketing Strategy

An effective influencer marketing strategy starts with definite objectives. As a marketer, you must clearly define the goals you want to achieve. Is your goal to create brand awareness through conversations? Are you aiming for sales? Is your agenda to create buzz around some specific event or do you want to educate your customers? Different social media platforms serve different purposes.

Once your goals are defined, the next most important thing is to find the right influencers who can help you achieve those goals.You need to find the right fit. They must believe in the values your brand believes in. Their style of creating posts should align with the creative style of your brand. Do you see their followers as potential customers for your brand? If so, you have found the right set of influencers.

Approach the influencers and develop a genuine relationship with them. This not only adds to the authenticity of your campaign, but also gives you long-term leverage for future campaigns. Make sure you clearly convey your expectations to avoid any miscommunication.

Additionally, give your influencers the power to use their own creativity when creating posts. Give them guidelines for what you want, but don’t try to control everything. As you execute the campaign, you should monitor the performance of each influencer. Tweak the messages and campaign as needed based on this analysis.

How Do You Find the Right Influencers?

There’s a lot of work that goes into finding the right influencers for your brand. How do you decide who is really influential?

Are the posts of the influencer relevant to the niche your brand operates in? Look for an influencer whose personality emanates the same values as your brand. If your brand is known for being bold and innovative, for instance, the right influencer too will possess these traits.

Does the influencer effectively engage with their audience? It’s not enough that they have plenty of followers. Their posts should also get significant likes and comments. Better yet, see if the influencer has a habit of responding to these comments.

Grin for Influencer Marketing

There are several influencer marketing tools and platforms that can help you plan and execute your influencer marketing strategy, Selecting the best tool for your campaign can be a hectic task. Grin provides you the best and authentic data that many other tools couldn’t.

Grin is one of the most popular and comprehensive platforms available in the influencer marketing industry. It can help you find the right influencers from its robust database of influencers. You can search for the influencers based on their interests, location, engagement rate, and more. 

The platform helps you with campaign management, and provides details on the content the influencer posts, audience demographic, and analytics. It simplifies the process of contacting the influencers, creating content, shipping products if needed, negotiating with them, and reporting results.

Grin - What is Influencer Marketing

How is Influencer Marketing Better than Traditional Marketing?

Influencers connect more effectively with their target audience. Compared to traditional marketing, influencer marketing is more focussed in its approach. Influencers build up their following organically over a period of time.

Their followers love the content they post which relates to a specific niche. Traditional marketing lacks this edge. It broadcasts your brand message to a much wider, less relevant audience – most of whom aren’t really listening.

People don’t trust advertisements. They trust the influencers who post their honest opinions in their authentic voices. Trustworthy voices from your own social network are more believable than some celebrity you’ve never interacted with.

On top of this, traditional marketing is more expensive. Strategies of influencer marketing can be adopted by everyone – be it a pastry shop being operated from your own kitchen or a giant corporation that sells hundreds of different products. Influencer marketing can generally benefit all kinds of businesses.

It has great ROI too, delivering 11 times higher ROI than other traditional marketing methods.

Wrapping Up

Influencer marketing has changed the rules of the game. It has virtually endless possibilities. Consumers are now more influenced by the members of their own social networks when making their purchase decisions.

Influencer marketing has opened up new ways for brands to connect with consumers. The world has shifted to social media and brands are following suit. Consumers today expect brands to talk to them not at them. Organic conversations win the day, while scripted voices are being ignored.

The best part of influencer marketing is that there are tools that can help you do it better. You can track the results and tweak the strategies in real time. Brands have realized the potential of influencer marketing and are constantly looking for ways to do it better. Got any questions about the points we discussed? Let us know in the comments below.

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Additional Resources

What the best brands are doing to drive revenue from influencer marketing

Whether you are just getting started with influencer marketing or already have your program in place, this guide gives you the tools to get the return on investment your C-level will love. 

How to get ROI from influencer marketing

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