What Is Influencer Marketing?

The rise of influencer marketing is owed to both consumer mistrust in brands and social media’s ever-changing algorithms.

Nielsen’s Global Trust in Advertising Report found that people are 92% more likely to trust recommendations from their peers than advertising when it comes to making purchasing decisions.

Algorithm updates by Facebook and other social platforms also mean that company and brand pages are no longer prioritized in users’ newsfeeds. And thus, the independent influence rose.

A 2018 study from OnBrand Magazine found that:

  • 79% of marketing decision-makers will invest in influencer marketing this year
  • 43% plan to invest even more than they did last year
  • 22% are venturing into the market for the first time
Influencer Marketing
Photographer: Marc Schäfer | Source: Unsplash

Any person with a following can be seen as an influencer - this doesn’t have to take form of 21k Instagram followers. In tech and telco, they’re likely to be high-level execs who have a vast network and in-depth expertise after many years in the industry.

Finding the right influencer can be tricky. They are in demand, after all.

Do your research and make sure you target the most appropriate person for your company. Their audience should marry up with your target audience. And before even thinking about reaching out, you need to engage and nurture those identified.

How exactly do you reach out? Getting through to influencers is difficult but establishing a strong relationship will be worth it for the amount of exposure you get in return.

First and foremost, stay up-to-date with what they’re doing and talking about. This not only helps your pitch through personalization, but you’re demonstrating authenticity. Your initial email will definitely stand out between those that were sent in bulk.

This social listening and increased knowledge will also help you decide if they’re the right fit for your brand.

Benefits of using influencer marketing:

  • Raises brand awareness through partnerships
  • Capitalizes on reputation and authority of the influencer
  • Chance to be seen be thousands (though this doesn’t guarantee engagement)
  • Maintaining relationships open doors to future opportunities

Depending on the type of influencer you’re targeting, your strategy will be different. This is consistent through all personas though: add value.

Influencers are powerful, and more often than not, will share details of a brand they really like simply because they like it. That’s because it adds value to their lives and believe it will do the same for their audience. When pitching, make sure your value proposition is clear.

There’s no shame in offering something to sweeten the deal. Many social media types accept monetary payments, but this isn’t essential. Micro-influencers and bloggers could be happy with freebies. When conducting research, you’ll easily get a sense of this.

Sizwe Simelane, Head of Digital Marketing at brand storytelling specialists Idea Hive, said: “It starts with their story matching our client’s brand story. Take care to ensure authenticity by placing influencers whose interests and preferences align with the specific brand’s objectives.”

Once you’ve found someone whose story and messaging aligns with yours, it’s time to get the ball rolling.

Managing Director of Biologi, Lucy Kuper, suggests sending a message introducing your brand and suggesting that you can send them some samples to try - of course depending on your industry.

She said: “It should always be a two-way street – don’t expect something if you’re not willing to offer something in return. Another great way is to hold an influencer event which gives you an opportunity to invite them along to get a better understanding of what your brand is about.”

Things to consider:

  • What is your budget?
  • What are your goals?
  • What kind of influencer do you need?
  • Is this particular person right for your brand?

Influencer marketing works for just about any vertical within any industry. Done right, it’s a very effective way to get your message in front of your target audience. Finding the right partner for your brand may not be easy, but social listening and engagement are key foundational elements to the strategy. And hard work pays off.

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