‘Influencers’ have been a social media mainstay for a few years now, but despite their namesake, their genuine influence is coming under question. Their informal definition reads something like: A business or individual who has built a unique loyal following on their own social media platform, leveraging this influence to promote products, causes or services to sell to their following. Particularly in the retail space, products capitalise on these influencer audiences to, yes, increase sales, but to also expand their own social following and brand awareness. While the former two are more easily tracked with data, brand awareness is a little trickier to track. So, for businesses seeking influencer marketing as part of their digital strategy, there are some key questions to ask to best understand the genuine pull power of influencers, and the specific goals hoped to be achieved by utilising them.  

Are influencers worth it? 

The jury is still out, but it really comes down to what you want to get out of it, what you want to invest, and what ‘tier’ of influencer you are after. That being, micro (2,000-25,000 followers), mid-level (50,000-500,000 followers), macro (500,000 plus). Of course, there are the big-time celebrities like the Gwenyth Paltrows of the world, but for the purposes of influencer marketing in a localised context, we’ll assume the micro to macro range is the most realistic. 

While their follow numbers can indicate rate (mid-level to macro are most likely to require payment) or if receiving product/services free of charge would be adequate, it’s not necessarily an indication of outcome for your investment, whatever that may be. While a macro influencer might have an enormous following, their engagement rate percentage might reveal a lot of follow-and-forgets. Or, they do have high engagement, but followers are simply enamoured with their aesthetic or personal brand, rather than being swayed away from their money on the influencer’s suggestion. 

Whereas, a micro or mid-level influencer might have more of a connection with their following, with trust levels that make product and service suggestions a reason to purchase or, at least, become engaged with the promoted business. In these instances, it could be worth investing a little to receive a little in terms of sales, a little more in terms of brand awareness, and an injection of genuine prospects in your buying funnel.   

How does influencer marketing work? 

As an example; your business sells, say, organic charcoal toothpaste. For a fee, or product free of charge, an influencer can have the organic charcoal toothpaste sent to them. They then post at an agreed upon frequency and platform (or platform within a platform - such as agreeing to post a stagnant Instagram image as well as two temporary stories etc.). Depending on the agreement and the goals you hope for, there are a few ways to track the success of influencer marketing. If you have an e-commerce site, you can ask them to promote a specialised discount code to be placed at purchase. Or, you simply rely on Instagram analytics for the engagement it got through them, and if that transferred onto your account. Or, track your Google analytics to see if it made a difference to your traffic and onsite conversions. 

How to know if influencers are good for your social media strategy… 

Here are a few things to ask and consider before you make an influencer investment:

Do they fit within your brand?

If you are a organic and gluten free grocer online store you might think about the following questions:

– Are their followers health conscious, allergy or intolerance focused or the household grocery buyers?

– Are they likely to be an online shopper? Do they like convenience? I there trust

– Is their audience in your delivery area? 

How real are their followers?

There are plenty of platforms that allow you to buy followers. These followers are not likely to convert. Comparing engagement rates against the total number of followers is a good way to tell if an influencer has fake followers. Additionally, never be afraid to ask for their data. 

Implement something trackable

Set a unique discount code specific to the Influencer. For example: CHON20 = 20% off for all Chontell’s followers. Measure the return on Investment (ROI) against what CHON charges you.

What you don’t want

Give the influencer enough product information and guidelines for their post to ensure their experience is amazing! Ensure you have a clear mutual understanding of expectations on both ends to avoid confusion, before beginning the process or sending products or offering services. Above all, approach them as you would any professional, and be equally mindful and respectful to both their business as a personal brand and your product or service.

How do I compile a list of influencers in my area and contact them?

You can contact them direct via their chosen social media platform's or, if indicated, you can contact the agency or agent who represent them. However, they will usually have an influx of requests in their inbox, so it's important to make a positive impact and present your idea to them in the most professional manner possible. Getting an agency to source the right Influencers for your product or service is also a great, responsible way of ensuring you're barking up the right tree. You can contact us today to discuss how we can assist you in finding the right people for your specific goals, or you can start your own research, but the most important thing is that the research is done! 

Written By

Rikki Hodge-Smith

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