Getting impressive results through digital marketing is not as easy as it once was. The ever-changing dynamics of the digital landscape makes it difficult for marketers to have the desired impact out of their digital marketing campaigns.
Marketers face many challenges, such as:
- Decline in organic reach on popular social media channels like Facebook and Instagram.
- Difficulty making a mark with content when there’s an abundance of equally good content from competitors.
- Decline in the reach of display ads due to increasing use of ad blockers.
A Statista study revealed that more than 25.8% of internet users are using ad blockers as of 2019. This is a pressing concern for marketers who spend a huge amount of money creating ads only to realize that they are not reaching their target audiences.
The image below shows that the percentage of internet users using ad blockers increased from 15.7% in 2014 to 25.8% in 2019. The number is further expected to increase to 27% by 2021, which is huge.
Image source – Statistica
Today, when consumers are repelled by over-exposure from digital ads, creative campaigns with social media influencers can create better connections.
While they may consider ads to be disruptive, people voluntary view the content from social media influencers. A study by 383 (a design agency) showed that a large majority of social media users trust recommendations from influencers over those from friends or family members while making a purchase.
Influencers can add an authentic and human touch to their recommendations. This gives them a much better chance of convincing people about a product’s value without being overly promotional.
Who are Influencers?
Social media influencers are people who have huge fan followings on their social media accounts. They aren’t always celebrities in a traditional way but are more like everyday people with highly engaged and loyal social media followers.
These influencers often leverage their large audience bases to promote products/services. They collaborate with brands for effective and far-reaching endorsements and are highly valued by marketers today.
Linqia’s influencer marketing report found that as many as 86% of digital marketers used influencer marketing in 2017 and a staggering 94% of them found it effective.
Long-Term Partnerships Are the Way Forward
Contrary to popular belief, influencer marketing is not only about random product promotions from social media influencers. It works best when you take the time to build strong, long-term, and transparent relationships with influencers whose audiences include your target audience.
According to Mobile Marketer, 86% of marketers have given up on using one-off influencer campaigns on platforms like Snapchat and are moving toward long-term associations. In fact, 51% of marketers are working with influencers for a minimum duration of six months or more.
If you want to establish strong, long-term, and mutually beneficial relationship with the social media influencers, follow these tips:
1. Find Influencers Who Resonate with Your Products/Services
Many marketers are guilty of selecting influencers entirely on the basis of their follower counts. When that happens, the role of influencers is limited to creating visibility. While such partnerships can get more views, they won’t do anything to build long-term relationships with the influencer or their followers.
Influencers have worked hard to build loyal followings in their chosen niches. They have authority and knowledge related to their fields and prefer working with brands that resonate with their audiences.
Working with an influencer who organically used your product will look more natural and authentic. This increases their chances of championing it. It also ensures that the marketing effort reaches the right audience and not just random viewers.
A brilliant example of it is Adidas teaming up with micro-influencers in the field of fitness and sports to promote their sports line. In 2017, Adidas started a micro-influencer sports marketing strategy that involved a total of 260 influencers.
With a fraction of what it costs to hire a celebrity, Adidas was able to increase their shoe sales and start trending on Twitter.
Image source – Post Planner
If you are wondering how can you find the best influencers in your niche, you can check out influencer communities like Influence.co. The community has more than 100,000 influencers and 25,000 businesses. You can filter the influencers according to your budget and influencer niche and even view the brands they have worked with.
Another good influencer discovery tool you can use is BuzzSumo. In addition to helping you find key influencers in a niche, BuzzSumo also helps you identify key terms/phrases that are performing well in a niche.
2. Give Them Room for Creativity
Influencer marketing isn’t like typical advertising in which you can blatantly brag about your product or even ask the influencer to do so for you. In fact, the benefits of using social media influencers are nullified if you interfere too much in the creative process.
Not only can this irritate the influencers but the resulting language may feel forced or “too corporate.” So it might not be as effective as you would like it to be.
People follow influencers because they like what they have been doing and the content they are creating. Therefore, you have to trust their creativity and allow them to incorporate product promotion naturally into their social media or blog content.
That way, the influencers will feel at ease and their content will be more authentic when they know that you respect their expertise. Your only job is to provide them with a clear brief and to approve the final content before they publish it.
For example, Sony wanted to promote the new Xperia Z5s smartphone with a focus on its camera. So they partnered with influencers, specifically food bloggers, to post highly-zoomed-in photos of their recipes to highlight the zoom feature of the smartphone.
The influencers decided which photos and recipes to post and aligned their content with their usual styles. The campaign was an overnight success and ended up reaching 17 million users.
Image source – NinjaOutreach
3. Be Genuine and Straightforward
Being a social media influencer is a real job. Some influencers even do it full-time and have a full-fledged team to help them. Just like companies expect professionalism from influencers, they too expect professionalism in their communication with the companies.
Right from the way you approach them to the way the contract is designed, everything should be transparent and professional. Prominent influencers receive many proposals for partnerships. And for your offer to stand out, you should write a personalized message.
The brand’s goal should be clear from the beginning and they should clearly establish their expectations from the influencer.
With influencer marketing, there are no set rules to track ROI. So, having quantifiable expectations makes things easier.
4. Offer Them Fair Compensation
There is no set pay rate for influencers. While some influencers are happy to accept free products as compensation, many prefer monetary compensation for the work they do.
When determining payments, the number of followers can be a good starting point. Add to it the expected engagement rate and requested deliverables and you should come to a realistic number.
However, if an influencer is particularly busy or represents a premium domain, you might need to up your offer.
Remember, when you offer the right pay from the beginning, the influencer is going to give more to your campaign.
Alternately, you can also look at various influencer platforms to get an idea of typical influencer rates so you can pitch them correctly
In addition to working toward creating a successful influencer marketing strategy, investing in successful relationships with influencers is equally important.
Unlike many other digital marketing mediums, influencer marketing involves working with real people. And building strong, long-term relationships with influencers takes time and effort.
Use the tips given above and keep an open mind to ensure the success of both your campaign and influencer relations.
Got any other more tips about how to build successful influencer relationships? Let us know in the comments section.
|Gaurav Sharma is the Founder of Attrock, a digital marketing company. He works closely with top marketing influencers and has helped numerous brands, e-commerce firms, and SaaS companies grow.|
He is also a certified Google Analytics and Google Adwords specialist and regularly contributes to reputable publications like HuffPost, TechCrunch, and many more.