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Influencer Marketing and You: How To Profit From This Trend

September 21, 2018

Influencer marketing has become a buzzword lately, but it is actually a useful tactic to increase brand recognition. Put simply, influencer marketing is using a popular and likeable figure to promote your brand. The celebrity or ‘influencer’ is paid by the firm to promote the brand in their social media outlets.
Social media influencer marketing has experienced a recent surge in popularity, with huge companies ranging from Coca-Cola to PayPal including this tactic in their marketing strategy. In fact, the two companies mentioned both have dedicated marketing teams just to influencers.
Social media has allowed for the near-instant communication with millions of users, giving influencers the potential to influence vast numbers of people. Despite the potential benefits, marketing with influencers includes its own unique challenges, which I will outline here. But If done well, social media influencer marketing can be an incredibly effective marketing strategy for connecting with consumers.

A post that Lady Gaga made on Instagram as an influencer promoting Airbnb.

Build It Right

By far the largest challenge is making sure that you pick the right influencers – they should be people that have a similar vision and passion as your company. As a basic first step, you need to ensure you are protecting the reputation of your brand. If you choose the wrong person and they make a very public mistake, that could easily tarnish your company’s reputation. Beyond that, working with social media influencers is more than just contracting people to promote your brand. You are building a long-term relationship with them, and they can bring additional benefits to your brand other than just promotion. Influencers can bring an additional outside perspective, and give ideas and feedback on your products. These are valuable things that can make it even more worth your while.
Large companies have realized this, and are investing in social media influencers more than ever before. One trend coming in 2018, according to a survey Forbes conducted of influencers, will be companies picking a few people and investing heavily in them. This is different than the strategy used in the past few years, where brands would “test the waters” with many one-off campaigns with many different people. This shows that social media influencers aren’t just a temporary fad, large brands are making big investments and placing a lot of confidence in this method of marketing.
There have been recent successes by new startups like beach towel e-tailer Sand Cloud to recruit “ambassadors” to market for them. What is different about these ambassador schemes vs. normal influencer marketing is the scale. Sand Cloud has over 10,000 ambassadors promoting their brand. Additionally, many companies don’t pay their ambassadors in true money, but in gift cards or credit, further reducing the cost. This approach has gotten tens of thousands of people advertising their products almost for free on social media. This is amazing for their brand, however in the future it is possible that users just won’t participate if the market is saturated or the rewards aren’t good enough. Also note that this approach using “Ambassadors” is highly specific to this brand, but it is a great example of how it is possible to build a whole company on a unique influencer marketing strategy.

Be Precise In Your Messaging

When collaborating with influencers, it is important to make sure that you are clear in your messaging. According to the Federal Trade Commission, the influencer must disclose if they are given compensation in exchange for promoting your product. Compensation can either be monetary, or a free product or service, so your partnership will likely need to be disclosed. This disclosure can be subtle, as in the case of Lady Gaga’s post referring to “A wonderful gift.” As long as you are transparent and honest in how you go about marketing you will be fine here.  Or, the influencer has to add #Ad to their post to indicate that this is a paid influencer post.
Influencer marketing is a relatively new concept to use in building your brand. It will help get your brand in front of lots of people, especially young consumers, relatively quickly. On top of that, most people just respond better when someone they know, like or admire is the one showing off the product instead of a faceless actor or model.
These social media influencers aren’t limited to social media either, as starting to build these relationships offers opportunities for larger collaboration later. Many large companies shower their popular influencers with lots of compensation or free products, but you don’t need to spend tons of money to be successful. A successful influencer campaign can be as simple as finding a local figure that has a large social media following, and giving them a relatively small amount of compensation to make one post. Almost all of the big companies that are now hugely invested in this type of marketing all started with one small project. While social media influencer marketing definitely isn’t for all companies, many could benefit from adopting even a little bit of it, especially if they are targeting younger consumers.