Updated: Aug 7, 2019

Even if you’re new to marketing and PR, you’d have to be living on a different planet to avoid the term ‘influencer marketing’.

But what is it, asks Iain McFarnon—and does it work?

Influencer marketing gets mixed reviews. Some dub it as the most cost-effective form of digital marketing you can do, while others struggle to maximise its potential and see ‘influencers’ as nothing more than a nuisance.

So what is influencer marketing? It might be easier to explain what it’s not. Influencer marketing is not using Love Island contestants to promote your brand. These people, together with other high-profile Instagrammers, fall under the category of celebrities. And we all know that, in 2019, you can be classified as a celebrity just for having lots of social media followers.

But you don’t need a celebrity to make influencer marketing work for your brand.

Real influencer marketing is understanding that, through the power of social media, you can use normal people to raise awareness of your brand. They don’t even have to have a huge following: powerful influencers can have anything from 1,000 to a few hundred thousand followers.

The thing that makes these influencers different from celebrities is that they are powerful content creators who have a particular interest in a subject or lifestyle that others relate to. This is what makes them a powerful marketing tool. They’re relatable—something that celebrities often aren’t.

So, what should you consider when working with influencers for the first time? Well, here are some of the things they often don’t tell you:

Followers mean nothing

It’s easy to become attracted to an influencer because of the size of their following. We naturally assume that the bigger the number, the bigger the reach, therefore the bigger the ROI. This isn’t the case. Social media users are beginning to value the authenticity of an influencer’s voice above their celebrity, and that authenticity is often found with those who have considerably smaller followings.

Sales isn’t everything

What?! Business is all about sales. SHOW ME THE MONEY!

Wrong. Influencers are marketing and branding tools. They increase awareness and educate like-minded people about your brand. Consumers are progressively switching off when they see self-promotional adverts, so when they see a recommendation from someone they know, the message value is considerably higher. When you work with an influencer, consider how you can provide them with tools and information to help them educate their followers, not sell to them. You’ll get a more valuable collaboration and a better long-term ROI.

Their content is invaluable

You’ll know you’re working with a great influencer when they're ‘content proud’. This means they won’t undermine the quality of their content just to promote your product. This is a good thing. It means that you’ll have the opportunity to not only benefit from their promotion of your brand, but from the high-quality imagery they create. This can be of the same quality as a professional photographer.

Pay attention to the nature of their content and weigh up what’s more important; their direct promotion of your brand or the content they can generate for you.

The world of influencer marketing is much bigger than these three points, but if you’re just starting out they’ll help you to put together a successful campaign. By remembering the importance of authenticity, you’ll see the value influencers provide.

Iain McFarnon is the creator of Socialight app, the number one influencer marketing platform for businesses in the hospitality & leisure sector.



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