If you’re a business, I’m sure that at some point, you have received a message from someone, reading something along the lines of “Hey! I love your page, would you be interested in collabing?”.
In other words, ‘Can I have your product or service for free, in exchange for me to post a few photos of me using it?’. A copied and pasted message like this can be annoying and sometimes may come across as a bit rude, meaning you probably glance over it without even bothering to reply.
A message like this could put you off ‘Influencer Marketing’, thinking it is just someone asking for free ‘stuff’ with no benefit to you. However, proper and genuine ‘Influencer Marketing’, if communicated well to both parties, is something that could really benefit almost all product businesses and most service businesses (especially those in the hospitality and travel sector).
Influencer Marketing is essentially when a person who has some form of social influence endorses (by posting about it on their social media) your product or service in exchange for receiving the product/service either free of charge or at a discounted rate. These ‘Influencers’ can be Celebrities, YouTubers, Instagrammers, TikTokers or even sports personalities (especially after events like the Olympics where athletes suddenly shoot to fame, e.g. the young gymnasts, the Gadirova Twins).
Building a good relationship with one or a few influencers may be the turning point for a business that perhaps isn’t getting the reach it needs to succeed. Before we get to “how you go about finding an influencer”, take a look at the summary below in order to understand the process of Influencer Marketing once you have found and approached an influencer.
1. You work with the influencer to decide what they are going to receive from you and a brief of what they are going to do to promote that product/service for you. This could range from one Instagram post, to a month-long campaign across all of their social media, including Instagram posts, Instagram Stories, Instagram Reels, YouTube videos, TikTok posts and even a giveaway! However, we recommend starting small e.g. with just one post and then building up to a bigger campaign from there.
2. The influencer then posts the agreed content to their followers, tagging you and talking about the product/service.
3. By the influencer doing this, your business has already benefited; you have reached more people and therefore more people are aware of you, increasing brand awareness.
4. If their followers have enjoyed the influencer’s post and are interested in your product/service, they may choose to follow you. Better still, like a few posts and perhaps even leave a comment.
5. EVEN better still, they may click through to your website, either directly from the influencer’s post or via your own social media page.
6. If you have everything lined up perfectly, then they may even decide to purchase immediately after seeing the influencer’s post (especially if your product is an impulsive buy – e.g. something that is cheap or doesn’t require any price comparison with other companies).
7. If the purchase doesn’t happen immediately, a longer campaign (e.g. a month-long) with an influencer where they post every week about your product, builds up a brand image of your business for their followers, and by the end of the campaign, a few more of their followers may decide to purchase from you.
8. Monitoring of the influencer marketing campaign is essential so that you know what to continue to do or do differently in future campaigns. If the campaign has gone successfully and you have gained sales (if that was the goal), then you could plan a bigger campaign and perhaps incorporate a giveaway or some kind of competition in order to further engage the influencer’s followers.
How to find an influencer to collaborate with
Before finding an influencer, it is usually best to decide which platform you would like the influencer to be on. The obvious, and most popular, choices are usually Instagram, YouTube or TikTok. (Note: An influencer will usually be on more than one of these platforms, but it is a good starting point to decide the main platform you would like your product to be promoted on – when deciding a brief, this is when other platforms can be discussed, in order to create a symbiotic campaign).
If you are in a really specific niche, there might be a platform that would work better for you, instead of the usual social media platforms – e.g. a travel company may benefit from someone who has a popular travel blog – but again, the blogger is likely to have a presence on other platforms too.
There are many ways to find an influencer that may be suitable for your business. We have listed a few methods below.
- If you think an Instagram influencer would be best for you, then have a scroll through the Instagram Reels page. Here, you may find people who have gone viral in your niche or influencers who receive lots of views, since the Reels that are shown to you are curated specifically to match your interests/niche.
- Another effective way to find an influencer in your niche is to search using a hashtag specific to your industry and see whose posts are on the ‘Top’ page for that hashtag. Have a good scroll through – which posts look professional? Do you prefer the bright/colourful photos or the more corporate ones? Which photos suit the branding of your business the most? All these are questions to consider when you are looking through. Click on to the profiles of the people who have caught your eye and delve deeper into their profile.
- If you would like to find a TikTok influencer, have a look on the TikTok ‘For You’ page, as like the Instagram Reels page, this is also curated to match your interests/the topics of the videos you already watch a lot of. You could also search TikTok to find the most popular videos related to the search term you type in.
- If you are having little luck with your searches on social media, just try a simple Google Search. Phrases like ‘Beauty Influencers’, ‘Best Food TikTokers’ or ‘Small Travel Bloggers’, will usually bring up helpful results with links to each of the influencer’s profiles. Another way to use Google to find an influencer is to type in a longer phrase like ‘Best Beauty Products of 2021’ or ‘Best Restaurants in London’, which may bring up blog posts written by popular bloggers/videos by popular YouTubers in your niche.
- If you’re looking for a YouTuber to promote your business, then use similar keyword phrases as you would in Google, and have a look at the most popular videos that come up. Take a look at these people’s channels and the other videos that they post and then search for them on the other social media platforms (most YouTubers will have their social links, and sometimes contact details, linked in the description box of their videos).
Basically, just have a good search (and nosy!) on all platforms and you will usually end up finding at least a handful of influencers who you can then narrow down to a shortlist!
How to ensure an influencer is right for your business – or at least how you can have some faith that they will be!
It is important to ensure an influencer is right for your business, especially as you will be providing them with your products/service for free or at a discounted rate. The points below are some of the ways in which you can help to ensure an influencer is right for your business:
- They have an amount of followers that you believe is right for your business – this is more of a ‘gut feeling’ – are you purely choosing an account because they have 1 million followers or do you genuinely believe they are someone you would like promoting your product to a relevant niche? An account with 1 million followers may bring less success to your business than an account with 10,000 followers. Ensure you take other factors, such as niche and engagement rate, into account when choosing an influencer to approach, rather than only looking at follower count (although this is sometimes easier said than done!).
- They have genuine followers. Some influencers, especially on Instagram, may have bought followers or may have a follower list full of spam and ‘bot’ accounts that offer no value to the influencer and therefore your business.
- They have active followers and a good engagement rate. Similar to the points above, there is no benefit in collaborating with an influencer who has 1 million followers, but only receives 100 likes per post or only receives comments from bots. You need an influencer who has an engaged community of followers who truly care about what the influencer is posting. It’s even better if the influencer engages back to their followers, by liking and replying to comments, and sharing their followers’ content on their stories.
- They have a niche relevant to your business. For example, a gymnastics equipment brand wouldn’t benefit from collaborating with a famous footballer; they would benefit from collaborating with a popular figure in the gymnastics community. Similarly, a school supplies brand would benefit less from collaborating with an older influencer (unless they were a parent blogger, for example); they would benefit from collaborating with a teenage or younger influencer.
- They have followers with purchasing power. Although a young child can see a toy on social media and ask their parents for it, sometimes an influencer marketing campaign will be more successful if the followers are the ones with the purchasing power themselves e.g. the child’s parents. This is why it is important to also take age into account when deciding on an influencer to approach.
- They have realistic expectations of payment or gifted goods/services. You certainly don’t want to be entering into a relationship with an influencer who expects a huge payment or endless free goods/services in exchange for very little content posted for your business. At least not at first anyway; it is better to start on a small scale and see how many sales/leads the influencer brings you and then build up from there – you could even take the influencer on as a permanent Brand Ambassador eventually. This way, you won’t lose huge amounts of money or give away ridiculous amounts of your products/service without getting to know the performance of your influencer first.
- They post high quality images/videos with effective and accurate captions: For an influencer’s posts to capture their followers’ attention, the posts need to be interesting, engaging, interactive and unique. Not only this, but they need to be of high quality (e.g. not blurred) and look professional. However, bear in mind that posts can still be high-quality and professional-looking even when filmed on a phone, so don’t be put off if an influencer doesn’t look as though their content is professionally captured and edited! Another important factor is the influencer’s captions. Are they eloquently written? Do they ask questions? Do they seem rushed or are they well thought out? And most importantly, are they accurate, in terms of both spelling and grammar and facts?
- They comply with Advertising Guidelines set out by the Advertising Standards Authority. These are also important points to consider when choosing an influencer to collaborate with so that both you and the influencer comply with Advertising Guidelines.
- Finally, although this may not always be the case; they have a management company and a portfolio of their previous projects. This is usually the case for influencers with larger followings, but just because an influencer is represented by an agency/management company and has a seemingly good portfolio, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they are right for your business and will bring you success. And vice versa, if an influencer doesn’t have a management company or portfolio of work, it doesn’t mean they are not excellent at what they do! However, seeing if an influencer is traceable to a management company can sometimes be a good way to check if an influencer is legitimate, especially if their account seems too good to be true!
How to approach an influencer
Once you have found an influencer who you think is the right person to effectively promote your business, it is time to get in touch with them! This can be done in different ways and depends on the influencer that you are approaching. Below are the main ways that a business would usually approach an influencer:
- Via DM (Direct Message) on the platform that they are active on: If there isn’t a visible email address or agency name in the influencer’s ‘bio’, then the best way to contact them is via a simple DM.
- Via Email: Most influencers (especially those with a large following) will have their email address at least somewhere in their bio. This could be in the text or it could be in an ‘Email’ or ‘Contact’ button underneath the text. Some influencers have a personal email address or it could be the email address of their manager/agent.
- Via their Management Company/Agency: Some influencers may have the @ name (or email address, as mentioned above) of their Management Company/Agency, indicating that enquiries need to go through them, rather than direct to the influencer. If an email address/phone number aren’t obvious when viewing the Management Company’s page, have a browse on their website and there will usually be an email address there – either for general enquiries or enquiries regarding each specific influencer.
For example, you can see below that fitness influencer, The Body Coach (Joe Wicks), has an email button in his bio, whereas famous gymnast, Claudia Fragapane, has her agent’s email address as text.
Now for the actual message content. Take a look at the steps below to compose a message to an influencer. This can be adapted accordingly if you are contacting the influencer’s manager/agent.
1. Begin by introducing yourself and your business.
2. Briefly explain your business, what you sell/service you provide and your brand’s values.
3. Explain your business’s goals and how the influencer could help you achieve these, as well as why you think the influencer would be suitable to promote your brand – how do they fit in with your brand’s values?
4. Describe what you are offering the influencer (be specific, include quantities and timescales if necessary).
5. Describe what you would require from the influencer in return (again, be specific to avoid any misunderstanding).
6. Finish by asking the influencer’s opinion of the proposal and leave your contact details (try and leave more than one way of contacting you, as then you may be more likely to hear back from then).
Always remember to keep the message positive, professional, friendly and most importantly, not too pushy or demanding that the influencer is completely overwhelmed and put off. Remember, you can always start ‘low-key’ and build up to bigger campaigns once you and the influencer have built up each other’s trust! If the influencer doesn’t reply, say, after a few weeks, move onto the next one on your shortlist.
Ways to measure the success of an influencer marketing campaign:
In order to measure the success of the campaign with the influencer, you need quantitative data. There are a few days in which you can gather quantitative data:
- Social media insights on the platform that the campaign is running on are useful to gain insight into how users have interacted with the post. Around a week after the content has been posted, you could ask the influencer to send the insights for the post(s). Also, if you have shared any of their content onto your own social media platforms, you could also look at your own insights in order to see how users have reacted to a post that is different from your regular posts and whether the post has performed better or worse than usual. Similarly, if the campaign goal was to increase followers, then you could also look at how your follower number has increased over the week in which the campaign was posted.
- If the influencer marketing campaign goal is to drive sales, then you could create an affiliate link/discount code, which the influencer includes in their posts. This would then allow you to see how many people have purchased from you after seeing the influencer’s post and then used their link/code. It could be that for each sale via the affiliate link/discount code, the influencer receives a percentage of sales or other amount agreed in your brief. This is called ‘Affiliate Marketing’.
- Similarly, instead of the usual url for your product, the influencer could include a tracked link in their post, such as a ‘Bitly’ link, which allows you to see how many sales have been via the link that the influencer included in their content. Unlike an affiliate link, this could just be for your monitoring purposes, rather than for the influencer to benefit from each sale.
- Finally, you could also combine the previous two points with monitoring on Google Analytics, for example, in the week after the influencer posted, you would hopefully see a higher number of website visitors than a normal week. You would also hopefully see that the highest referral link was the link used in the influencer’s post!
As well as this numerical data, it is also important to look at the campaign from a qualitative perspective. Did the influencer communicate efficiently to you and vice versa? Were their posts of high quality and followed the brief? Was the campaign a positive experience for both parties? If yes, then it might be time to start planning a bigger campaign with them!
Influencer Marketing Case Study – Gymshark
A company that has built up their business with influencer marketing is Gymshark. Gymshark, founded in 2012, was named the UK’s fastest growing company in The Sunday Times Fast Track 100 in 2016. Part of their success has to be attributed to Influencer Marketing and they were actually one of the first companies to use this marketing technique.
They began by sending free products to people they themselves were inspired by (e.g. Nikki Blackketter and Lex Griffin) – note, not the people with the highest follower counts. Now, despite not having any brick-and-mortar shops (although it did open its first pop-up shop in Covent Garden in February 2020), Gymshark has amassed 5.1 million Instagram followers and as of 2020, had 125 influencers promoting their products on social media.
In conclusion, as a Marketing Consultancy, we believe that Influencer Marketing on platforms like Instagram or TikTok could be really beneficial for almost all businesses, as long as you have researched your influencer thoroughly. And don’t forget, communication is key so that your first experience of influencer marketing is a positive one and so that both parties benefit!
Need help with your Digital Marketing?
Shelton Associates are a UK-Based Marketing Consultancy specialising in Marketing Training/Marketing Consultancy & helping Small to Medium-sized Businesses grow through digital platforms, such as Instagram. Get in touch here or give us a call on 0114 236 7727