Influencer marketing: How to attract bloggers, vloggers and celebs

Getting your product endorsed or reviewed by a social influencer can do wonders for your start-up, and at a fraction of the cost of traditional marketing

In a world of banner blindness and ad blockers, influencer marketing is a way to engage your target audience by offering content that they are actively seeking, created by people they trust.

Thanks to social media, an increasing number of regular people are carving out their own little slice of fame on the web. Armed with a passion for their chosen niche interest, a flair for creativity, a mobile device and time on their hands, these individuals are amassing small armies of followers.

Previously the bastion of the media and celebrities, influence has fragmented from macro to micro level. In short, these individuals are fast-becoming the new guardians of influence.

What are the benefits of influencer marketing?

Micro-influencers are dictating trends, telling (or showing) their followers everything from what to wear to where to eat, and those followers are paying attention. According to BlogHer, 81% of online users trust what bloggers say, and Research Now reported that 84% of consumers have bought something because a blogger recommended it. It’s hard to argue with evidence like that; influencer marketing, when it’s done well, works.

When fashion brand Lord & Taylor sent the same dress to 50 Instagrammers for example, it sold out within a couple of days, and that’s just the short-term ROI. Unlike an ad, the impressions don’t stop once your budget runs out.

A YouTube video, a blog post or an image pinned to Pinterest can continue to show up in search years later, meaning your business could potentially reap the rewards of a small initial investment indefinitely. When you’re a small business or start-up on a tight budget every penny counts, and what other marketing method offers you that?

Influencer marketing is simply the process of making your brand something influencers want to talk about. This is achieved by finding the right influencers and working with them collaboratively to offer something relevant and valuable to their highly-engaged audience.

A shout-out from an influencer can get you in front of the right audience, build trust in your brand, impact on where you appear in search results and even drive direct sales. A fashion-themed campaign we ran at CollectivEdge for example led to a 47% increase in organic search traffic, on top of the referral visits from the influencers’ posts.

How much does influencer marketing cost compared to traditional marketing?

So, what of the costs? Due to the independent nature of influencers and their varying reach, they will each have their own fees – one may charge £50 to feature your product, another may want £500, and another may be happy to do it for nothing more than the product itself.

To compare this to the price of ‘traditional’ channels of influence, an advertorial in a national newspaper or major magazine runs into the tens of thousands of pounds (the Daily Mail’s rate card right now is quoting upwards of £65,000 for a full-page, colour advertorial). A micro-influencer’s audience size may be smaller, but find 20 with 50,000 followers each and that’s a reach of 1 million right there.

According to The Real Time Report, ‘power middle’ influencers (those with 2,500 to 25,000 monthly visitors) can drive sixteen times more engagement than your own organic content or other paid media. And a US study found that $1 invested in influencer marketing drives $23 ROI annually, more than ten times that of an average banner advert.

This doesn’t mean you can just throw some product at a few bloggers and expect to see a flood of sales though. Influencer marketing falls flat when you’re not working with the right influencers. So, how do you choose?

What influencers should you choose?

Firstly, remember that ‘influencer’ includes more than just bloggers. From YouTube to Snapchat to podcasts to chat forums, there are so many places people can turn to for inspiration – where would your target audience hang out online?

You should always be asking yourself “would this influencer’s followers buy my product?”. If you own a restaurant in Swindon, inviting a popular food influencer from London along could work, but so too could inviting a local Swindon parenting blogger. If you’re offering luxury resort breaks, collaborating with a travel influencer who mostly posts about backpacking and adventure holidays is probably not going to reach many people with the budget or desire for what you’re offering.

Remember too that it’s not all about numbers – 1000 followers with a 30% engagement rate is better than 10,000 followers with a 2% engagement rate!

To keep your costs down, search for up-and-coming influencers who’ve built a decent following, but haven’t quite ‘made it’ yet. Look for ones who aren’t working with major brands and don’t post collaborative content often – this indicates they’re not flooded with offers, so they may be more willing to work with a lower budget or for a free product.

As micro-influencers continue to grow in number and become more attuned to commercial practices, this new form of marketing is proving exceptionally beneficial to businesses of all sizes. According to an eMarketer study, 84% of marketers are planning to run influencer marketing campaigns in 2017 – will you be one of them?

Alexei Lee is a digital strategist with over 15 years of experience in delivering content-led digital marketing campaigns. Alexei oversees the team at CollectivEdge, the essential matchmaking service for influencers and brands.

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