Influencers seem to have become the holy grail for fixing a business’s marketing problems. Most of the time when I advise about digital marketing, I hear things like: “We will just send out free products to influencers and then we will be set.”, or “We just need one really big influencer to recommend our brand.” Most of the time, I need to disappoint my conversation partners and bring them back to reality. Influencer marketing is not as simple as it used to be.
You probably remember when we all had Daniel Wellington watches in our Instagram feeds. This company has become a popular business case for building success via influencer marketing. Free watches were sent out to basically anyone who considered themselves an “influencer”. The receivers staged beautiful pictures which not only built brand awareness but also offered people discount codes. Furthermore, the company could re-share all the great pictures without having to worry too much about staging their products. Later on, the company got mega-influencers such as Kylie Jenner to promote their watches. It sounds easy and straightforward. But bear in mind that they started when influencer marketing was just in its early stages.
Now it has become really challenging, especially for small business, to gain visibility. Our feeds are flooded with product recommendations – by big influencers and those who aspire to become one. Users have become more sceptical about product recommendations because they know that most of those posts are of a sponsored nature.
The key is to choose the right influencer for your business needs. Therefore, ask yourself about your marketing goals? Do you want to increase brand awareness and spread the word? Do you need engagement? Probably, and most importantly, you will want to convert social media visibility and engagement into sales. But an influencer with millions of followers will not necessarily immediately translate into a big bump in your sales. Let me get into more detail about influencer types and their purpose for your business.
I recently saw an infographic by The Business of Fashion about influencers and found it very useful. I based my own graphic above on their infographic. Let’s move top down:
These are the influencers with over 500,000 followers and will be the ones with probably five-figure fees (or maybe even more). In most start-up cases, they will probably not be an option. Most of the times, these big influencers are used by big brands to create brand awareness. If you are in the lucky financial position to afford that type of influencer, they can be a good way of drawing attention to a young brand, spread the word and build up your following on your social channels.
This type of influencer has a following of 100,000 to 500,000. They take brand awareness raising a step further. As their following is smaller and mega-influencers are slowly losing clout, the midrange influencers may seem a bit more accessible to your target your. Therefore, there is more room to communicate about your brand. These influencers can be helpful in offering more information about your brand, especially in terms of storytelling. I am planning a separate article about brand storytelling at the moment.
Micro-Influencers have 10,000 to 100,000 followers. A collaboration with them may be useful if you aim to increase the engagement on your social channels.
The influencers with a following of 1,000 to 10,000 are very often overlooked. However, they have proven to be a significant driver for conversion. While users have become sceptical of recommendations by influencers with a significant following, they are more likely to trust the advice of smaller influencers. Furthermore, their engagement rate and further indicators tend to be better than the ones of bigger influencers. (You can read more about why following is not the only indicator you should consider when choosing influencers here.)
A lot of businesses underestimate the reach of Nano-Influencers – their own reach might be smaller but with the same amount of money, you can reach a broader audience by collaborating with a higher number of influencers. And, as mentioned above, they probably come with better engagement and conversion rates for your business.
Of course, the decision about which influencers to employ for your brand will need to be made based on a case-by-case analysis and your brand’s specific needs. Furthermore, I would like to point out that this article mainly focused on the follower base. However, many more factors such as the engagement rate, user trust, story engagement and the actual conversion rate need to be taken into account. (More information in my linked articles below.)
What is your experience with influencer marketing? Any advice you would like to share here? Please let us know!