Influencer marketing is a booming marketing channel. In 2016, 86% of marketers were already using influencer marketing, according to Pardot. Many brands are also switching from celebrity endorsements to influencers.
But with growth comes change. And like any other method of marketing, influencer marketing is constantly evolving. In this post, you’ll find out more about how this marketing channel is changing. You’ll also learn how to get the most out of your influencer marketing campaigns this year.
1. Work With Micro-Influencers For Authenticity
Micro-influencers are influential people who don’t have as many followers as mid-level and top influencers. But what’s unique about them is that they are often more authentic and engaging than “bigger” influencers.
Their followers trust them to provide their genuine and honest opinions about brands and products because micro-influencers are themselves everyday consumers. So their recommendations seem like recommendations from a friend, colleague, or family member.
Having a micro-influencer vouch for your brand can be an excellent way to win the trust of an audience. And because of their trustworthiness and authenticity, micro-influencers are often able to generate higher engagement rates than other influencers.
We are Social Media reported that Instagram influencers who have less than 1,000 followers have an average engagement rate of about 15.1%. But those who have 100,000 followers or more have an average engagement rate of only 2.4%. In other words, the average engagement rate rises as the number of followers decreases.
Grubhub worked with micro-influencers, such as Kim Watson, to promote its service. Watson has just over 20,000 followers on Instagram. For the campaign, she posted a photo of her kids enjoying brunch from Grubhub. The photo was accompanied by a funny caption in which Watson mentioned that she’s enjoying the service because she doesn’t have to do the dishes. The post resonated with her followers, many of whom are also moms.
To work with micro-influencers, try sending them some free samples of your products, and ask them for their honest opinions. If they really love your products, many micro-influencers will be more than happy to promote them to their followers. You may not even have to pay them.
2. Switch To Stories For Higher Engagement
Snapchat has long been one of the most popular platforms for influencer marketing. And with the introduction of Stories by Instagram, this type of limited-time content is only becoming more popular with influencers.
But among the two, Instagram Stories seem to be a better fit for promoting products and brands for a few reasons.
First of all, Instagram Stories show up in the Explore page of users. So even if people aren’t already following the influencer, they could still see their Stories. This can help get more views for your branded story and help the influencer grow his or her reach. Which means that Instagram Stories can help you reach an audience beyond the existing followers of an influencer.
The ability to add username mentions in Instagram Stories is another big plus. When an influencer helps promote your brand through Instagram Stories, the person can mention you and refer followers to your account. When a user is interested in learning more about the product an influencer promotes, the person can easily click on the username mentioned and access the brand’s account.
Besides having an influencer create a story about your product, you could also launch an influencer takeover campaign using Instagram Stories. Invite a relevant influencer to take over your Instagram account for a day, and have the person post Stories to engage your audience. Make sure the influencer invites his or her own followers to your account so they can watch the Stories as well.
Buffer, for example, invited iSocialFanz CEO Brian Fanzo to take over its Instagram Stories for a day. Fanzo posted a photo to announce the takeover to his followers and to invite them to ask him questions for the event.
You can also have an influencer promote your brand through a live feed. This option is great for when you invite influencers to an event or anything that involves an experience. By going live, influencers can engage their followers in real time, allowing them to be a part of the experience.
3. Work With Niche Experts For Effectiveness
If you wanted to buy a new phone, whom would you trust more—a celebrity endorsing the phone or a tech expert reviewing the features of the phone? Naturally, you’d trust the opinions of the expert more.
To get the most out of your influencer marketing campaigns, try working with influential experts in a relevant niche. These types of influencers are subject matter experts, so they have knowledge and expertise about the subjects they specialize in.
Their followers look to them for advice and recommendations regarding products and services in their niche. And consumers make purchase decisions based on that advice.
Working with niche experts is particularly important if you’re introducing a new product to the market. Most new products haven’t yet won the trust of consumers when they are first launched. But when a niche expert reviews a new product and vouches for it, it can help convince consumers to try the product.
Lewis Hilsenteger is an influential YouTuber who runs the Unbox Therapy channel. He has more than 7.5 million subscribers and regularly unboxes tech products on camera. During these videos, Lewis unboxes the products for the first time, tries them out, and gives viewers his feedback.
Recently, he unboxed the new Nintendo Switch and showcased the product’s features to his viewers. In just two weeks, the video has already gotten nearly 2.5 million views.
Many influencers are also great at explaining things to their followers in easy-to-understand ways. A study funded by Experticity found that consumers consider influencers to be better than ordinary people at explaining how a product works.
So if you want to create a better understanding of how your product or service works, a niche expert could be your best bet. This is especially important for tech products, which often need some sort of guidance or explanation.
In many of his videos, Hilsenteger demonstrates how the product works and explains the various features to viewers. In his unboxing video of the Olixar Executive Emergency Pen, he demonstrated how the pen can be used to break glass in case of emergencies. In just two months, the video has received more than 3.7 million views.
These two options mainly focus on consumer goods. But working with influential experts is also ideal if you wish to promote your services.
For example, the Fairmont Grand Del Mar worked with luxury travel adviser and travel influencer Chelsea Martin to promote its resort. The influencer talked about how the resort was just rated the number one luxury hotel in the U.S. on TripAdvisor. She provided her followers with a deal in which they could get a third night free, upgrades, and several other deals at no extra cost.
Working with influential experts is especially helpful if you run a B2B enterprise. It’s much more difficult to win over working professionals as opposed to everyday consumers. Having an expert in the field vouch for your product or service can help.
GetResponse uses this tactic well by showcasing some of the influencers who have used its service. Experts including Neil Patel of Quick Sprout and Marcus Taylor of Venture Harbour are among the influencers who vouch for it. To further strengthen this tactic, GetResponse created video testimonials from these influencers. When you click on the image of an influencer, you get a video in which the influencer talks about how GetResponse has worked for the person. It is much more powerful and authentic when potential users can see influential experts talk about how the service has helped them.
4. Hand The Reins Of Content Creation Over To Influencers
Influencers have achieved their influential status for a reason. They regularly create unique and engaging content in their own voices. And their audiences love them because of this. One of the main benefits of working with influencers is the opportunity to use their unique voices to promote your product.
But many brands make the mistake of trying to control what an influencer says in their sponsored posts. In fact, a TapInfluence and Altimeter study found that influencers consider restrictive content guidelines to be the second-biggest mistake brands make when working with them.
Overly restrictive content guidelines can negatively impact your influencer marketing campaigns in a few ways.
First of all, the influencer will no longer be able to deliver your message in the person’s own voice. This can cause the message to seem unauthentic and forced. And their audience may find it untrustworthy. It likely won’t engage the influencer’s followers as well as the usual content does. Which means your influencer marketing efforts will go to waste.
Additionally, controlling the influencer’s voice can also harm your relationship with the person. The influencer may lose interest in working with you and not want to do so a second time.
Providing influencers with creative freedom is one of the most important tips you should follow for influencer marketing in 2017.
What you need to do is provide the influencer with as much creative freedom as you possibly can. This doesn’t mean you should just let the influencer create whatever the person wants without any involvement from your end.
Of course you’ll have some expectations and requirements, and you should inform the influencer of them. Provide basic guidelines and what you expect out of the campaign. And then give influencers the freedom to create what they want based on those guidelines.
An excellent example is how DIY blogger Ashley Thurman of Cherished Bliss helped promote Paper Mart. Instead of simply promoting the products from Paper Mart, she used some of its products in one of her DIY projects. She then provided her readers with tips on how to create the floral candles she used metal tins from Paper Mart to make.
Thurman took care to mention that although the post was sponsored by Paper Mart, all opinions are her own. In this example, the influencer created sponsored content that blended in well with her usual content. Instead of being overly promotional, she merely used the products in the content. The influencer maintained her unique voice and provided her readers with useful DIY tips.
Another example of this technique is how food blogger Pamela of Brooklyn Farm Girl helped promote products from Idaho Spuds. Pamela created a unique recipe using one of Idaho Spuds’ mashed potato flavors. She took her readers through the process of creating a delicious bread stuffing that used the product and other ingredients.
Both of these examples show the importance of trusting influencers to create unique content using your products. At the same time, your choice of influencers will have a huge impact on the quality of content they produce. Carefully research influencers to see how creative they are with their content creation before you decide to partner with them.
Engage Your Audience
You now have a better understanding of how to get the most out of your influencer marketing campaigns in 2017. Based on the examples above, you’ve seen how micro-influencers can help you engage your audience and win their trust. And you know how switching to limited-time content, like Instagram Stories, can be highly effective for engaging an audience.
You’ve also seen how niche experts or influential experts can boost the effectiveness of your campaign by vouching for you. And you understand the importance of trusting influencers to create original content in their own unique voices.
Which of these tips will you try first?