Joel Goldstein is the President of Mr. Checkout Distributors
We’ve all heard stories about how much internet celebrities, or influencers, make from posting about a company’s product or service on Instagram or Twitter. You can imagine how many businesses are paying for sponsored posts from influencers with millions of followers. With so much money flying around for influencer marketing, you may be asking yourself: is it really worth it? While the hit-or-miss can be challenging with social media, I’ve used several different marketing tools and see influencer marketing campaigns as a better return on investment.
The Basics Of Social Media Influencer Marketing
Influencers have actually existed in the marketing space for decades — long before social media companies began to dominate the conversation surrounding them. They range from popular actors in commercials to athletes promoting apparel companies. Influencers serve an important role. People like to buy products from people who they like and trust. According to 2016 Think with Google research, 70% of teenagers on YouTube relate to YouTube creators over traditional celebrities, so it’s clear to me that social media influencer marketing is here to stay.
Given the rise of this marketing trend, your retail business may be interested in getting involved. To do so, you can begin by creating a list of influencers your targeted demographic likes and trusts. This will vary based on the product you sell, so be sure to do your research before proceeding.
Once you’ve narrowed your options down, you can begin reaching out to the influencers you’re considering and asking for their rates. Charges can vary drastically, depending on factors like:
• The number of followers an influencer has
• The type of post you want (text, photo, video, audio, etc.)
• The number of posts you want
• The influencer’s average rate of engagement
Identifying The Right Influencer To Partner With
There are hundreds and hundreds of Instagram, Facebook and Twitter accounts with enough users to attract significant interest in your retail company. Narrowing your list down to just one can be challenging. However, the widespread availability of influencers also gives your business the right to be picky about who it partners with.
Think about influencer marketing in a similar way to how you would think about a traditional ad placement. Ask yourself questions like:
• What’s our ROI potential?
• How many users can we reach?
• How valuable is the influencer’s audience?
• How do the benefits of partnering with this influencer compare to our other paid marketing opportunities?
Your company should also make it a point to ask the influencers you’re considering for more detailed information about their metrics. You may even want to ask which brands the influencer has partnered with in the past and what they did for those companies.
The Challenges Of Influencer Marketing
Retail companies need to be careful about how they spend their precious ad dollars. Part of that caution is understanding the challenges you will encounter while you’re pursuing social media marketing campaigns.
One of the most interesting challenges of social media marketing is that brands may have real difficulty with accurately measuring the ROI they receive from influencer partnerships. Many reasons have been suggested for why this is the case. The most likely seems to be that companies don’t quite understand how to tie their influencer marketing campaigns to hard sales data. Because of this, many brands are still focusing on things like “reach” and follower count, which don’t mean much in and of themselves.
Another challenge your company should be aware of is the danger of partnering with influencers who have inflated follower counts. It’s incredibly easy to purchase followers online now. It’s also easy enough to buy accounts that have follower counts built around niches the purchasing influencer no longer targets. This can drive down total engagement and spell disaster for your company’s ad efforts.
This information underscores why you need to carefully conduct research before partnering with any social media influencers. You don’t want to pay an inflated rate for a partnership that offers little real ROI. Your company should also be measuring its results in a consistent way so it can quickly identify which influencer partnerships are worth maintaining.
The Real Value In Influencer Marketing
Your company may not be thinking about reviews when it decides to partner with social media influencers. However, studies have shown their importance in customers’ decision-making processes. According to 2016 Pew research, “fully 82% of U.S. adults say they at least sometimes read online customer ratings or reviews before purchasing items for the first time.”
Your retail company should think about its influencer partnerships as high-profile reviews of the products you offer. There are dozens of reviews available online through platforms like Yelp, Amazon and Google. However, none of these are as valuable as a review that comes from an influencer your targeted audience likes and trusts.
This is where influencer relationships really stand apart from other methods of advertising. It’s difficult to name another kind of marketing that offers a similar opportunity for your brand to earn a high-profile, highly-valuable positive review. When combined with the reach and engagement many influencers have, seeing the ROI on your influencer relationships becomes an easier thing to do.
Finding Influencers Who Can Drive Sales
When you’re making important decisions about how to spend your marketing dollars, it’s best to listen to the data. The simple truth is that I’ve found many people trust other people more than they trust brands or marketers. They can talk about your retail company’s products in exciting, engaging ways that drive customers to your website or storefront.
However, it’s incredibly important to do your research before starting a partnership with an influencer. Make sure your company has considered an influencer’s niche, audience and engagement before creating a contract with them.
If you’ve done this and the influencer passes all of your tests, then you’ve found a highly valuable way to engage with a large pool of customers. Your business can earn positive reviews that mean more than the random reviews they read elsewhere. All of this is to say that the right social media influencers really can drive sales.
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