Influencer Marketing for Beginners: How Can I Use Influencers?

               

If you are currently working within the marketing industry, chances are that you’re constantly being told (by us as much as anyone) that influencers are the only way to go for 2017’s strategy. Even once you’ve factored their involvement into your budget however, it is often difficult to know how to move forward – where are influencers best placed? What kinds of campaigns are influencers best suited to? And how can they augment any existing strategies?

Today’s post focuses on answering these questions, by outlining the most commonly successful ways that brands are working with influencers, and why these methods work so well…

1. The Content Share

Simple, straightforward and surprisingly effective, this is the influencer marketer’s bread and butter. The concept here is a basic one – an influencer will share a brand’s existing content (this can take the form of blog posts, social assets, product showcases etc) via their own site and/or social channels.

Why use an influencer here?

The answer to this is fairly obvious, but worth stating anyway – the right influencer has access to an audience of super engaged and enthusiastic people, who align with your brand’s own target demographic. Putting your content in front of them, especially when it is endorsed by a personality that they trust and identify with, is the best chance you have to convert them to customers.

2. The Sponsored Post

An oldie but a goodie, the sponsored post is still going strong into 2017. In this iteration of influencer marketing, the influencer will create a post on their site that was ‘sponsored’ by a brand. Although it sounds very sales-y and corporate, ‘sponsored’ in this sense simply means commissioned, or inspired by. The brand will usually approach the chosen influencer(s) with a basic idea and subject matter, which the influencer(s) will then use it in the manner they feel best suits their readership, most often with a backlink to the brand.

Here is an example of a sponsored post that one of our users, travel comparison site dealchecker, have produced. They worked with travel blogger William Tang of Going Awesome Places to create a post about New York’s boroughs, which supports their recent campaign on the same topic:

Go_Off_The_Beaten_Path_in_New_York_City

Why use an influencer here?

Influencers with a readership that aligns with your brand’s target audience will know through endless experience how best to talk to that audience. And the audience will be fully receptive to what’s being said. This means that, if done in an authentic and uncontrived way, the influencer will be able to showcase your brand more believably and earnestly than you could yourself, to a focused collection of people likely to buy into it.

3. The Guest Blog

If a brand has an onsite blog (and if it doesn’t, it should consider starting one immediately), a common way to use blog-based influencers is to invite them to write a piece to be featured on it. The post’s subject can be chosen by the influencer, brand or both, but provided it is written in the influencer’s known TOV and comes across as genuine, it can do wonders for brand reputation, not to mention reach.

Why use an influencer here?

This is a simple game of ‘brand association’. If they know what they’re doing, your influencer will promote their guest post through their own channels to their established readership, thus associating themselves with your brand and putting it in front of a receptive audience. It was estimated last year that ‘74% of consumers identify word-of-mouth as a key influencer in their purchasing decision’, and influencer marketing is one of the most powerful forms of word-of-mouth there is. Especially when you consider the power and reach of the mouth in question.

4. The Joint Content Creation

Sneakily similar to sponsored posting, joint content creation involves both influencer and brand working closely together to produce content that both promotes the brand and furthers the influencer’s reach. The content can largely take any form – social, blog, video etc, but it must be designed solely with the target audience in mind. If you picked your influencer correctly, this audience should be exactly the same as the readership they want to create content for – convenient hey?

Why use an influencer here?

This method is a fine example of good, old fashioned teamwork, with both influencer and brand bringing their own expertise and assets to the party. As a brand, you’ll know the ins and outs of your product and identity, whilst the influencer will bring the right tone, angle and channels to reach the target audience. If done properly, this should result in a piece of content that is optimised in both ways.

5. The Product Review

A favoured method within the beauty and fashion influencer marketing spheres, this involves the influencer receiving and using a product from a brand, and subsequently talking about their experiences to their followers. This can take the form of vlogging, blogging, social media or, most commonly, a combination of all three. Here is an example of this in practice from another of CI’s users – online restaurant reservation platform, Bookatable. Bookatable often send respected food bloggers to top London restaurants that they feature as part of their ‘star deals’ programme, and the bloggers will share their fine dining experiences with their hordes of expectant followers:

Why use an influencer here?

Influencers are always glad to receive free products and experiences from brands (although it is worth noting that you will often need to pay additionally for a review). Working with an influencer to use and review your products is an ingenious way of getting them showcased to a focused, targeted audience, but does also run the risk of that review being negative – be as sure as you can than your chosen influencer will fall in love with your product before you embark on this option!

6. The Competition/Giveaway

Tried and tested to the Nth degree, competitions and giveaways are some of the most successful ways of working with an influencer. Whether it’s holding your own and getting an influencer to promote it, or sponsoring a competition that an influencer runs themself, campaigns that drive engagement with extra incentives are rarely set to fail.

Why use an influencer here?

Simply put, competitions work better the more people that are involved, and if influencers are good for anything, it’s garnering involvement and action.

7. The Event Promotion

If a brand holds an event, be that the traditional, IRL (in real life) gathering or online meet-ups like webinars and hangouts, inviting a suitable influencer along is a great way to increase the event exposure exponentially. As long as the event is relevant to the influencer and their audience, they will be more than happy to chat about and/or live-stream it via their social channels, and may even write about it post-event if they really enjoyed themselves.

Why use an influencer here?

Having an influencer at your event is a great way to make it seem extra impactful and important, as well as having it broadcast to your target audience by someone they trust and value. If your event is a face-to-face type affair, it is also an invaluable opportunity to meet your influencer in person and strengthen your bond with them. Sometimes (note: NOT ALWAYS), influencers will be willing to attend events that they deem to be worthwhile without payment, but free food, open-bars and goodie-bags are only ever going to sweeten the deal if you know what we’re sayin’.

8. The Takeover

As daunting as it may seem, handing over control of your social channels and/or blog to an influencer can do wonders for perception among your target audience. Takeovers involve the chosen influencer using the brand’s channel as if it were their own, and posting their own content that relates to the brand in question. Usually these can last a day or two, but some larger brands have worked with influencers on projects that have lasted longer. Here is a recent example of travel guide brand Lonely Planet, who invited blogger Oneika Raymond to takeover their Instagram channel recently:

Why use an influencer here?

This not only transforms the perception of your brand as one that a respected influencer is happy to put their name to in a very unique and personal way, it also strengthens your relationship with the chosen influencer. And, the process really shakes up your own breadth of content by giving your social voice a different flavour.

9. The Brand Ambassador

If the ‘content share’ is the shortest and simplest option, the ‘brand ambassador’ is the longest and most involved, but can also yield some of the best results. The process involves a brand working exclusively with just one influencer over a long time period, with said influencer establishing themselves as an ambassador of the brand and its product/service(s). This can take many forms – popular agreements involve regular product endorsements, curated content, social mentions and guest blogs, but all involve a long-term relationship between influencer and brand.

Why use an influencer here?

Establishing a special affiliation with an influencer who reflects your brand values and shares your target audience can be invaluable in terms of marketing to the right people. Influencers are trusted endorsers and are able to come across as authentic and genuine in a way that traditional marketing can’t. Working with the same influencer also makes measuring ROIs and assessing the success of particular campaigns much easier, as you are comparing like-for-like.

Final thoughts…

Part of what makes influencer marketing so popular and effective is its versatility. Whatever your aims, values and budget, there is a way of involving an influencer that will work for you – if you haven’t already, find it!