Guide to Working With Influencers

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Influencer posing - Guide to Working With Influencers
Christine Lee
Christine Lee
April 25, 2020
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UPDATED:
April 25, 2020

Have you ever purchased a product because a famous Instagrammer tagged a product? This is the ideal model of how influencer marketing works to bring in new traffic and sales for online businesses. With the perfect visuals, thousands of followers, and influencer-endorsed trust, many products have blossomed over social media interest. If you think your business is ready for influencer marketing, then this guide will help you understand more about this marketing strategy and how you can implement one to sell more in 2020.

Our guide to working with influencers shows you how to find the best people to work with, and an example pitch that will guarantee you land the influencers you want.

What is Influencer Marketing

Influencer sharing some reviews

When people talk about marketing with influencers, it refers to a strategy that combines the social power of content creators and your brand’s message. Basically, by working with highly-followed social media influencers, you can increase traffic, create brand awareness, launch a new product, and reach more people online.

Influencer marketing typically refers to social media accounts with a high number of followers on Instagram or Twitter. Still, this strategy also works when brands partner up with influencers on Facebook or even popular bloggers who receive thousands of visits per day.

As traditional advertising has become more expensive and less effective, businesses are partnering up with influencers to access their followers and show products to their target audience directly. This technique also harnesses the power of social proof, customer trust, and word-of-mouth advertising online.

Brand Influencers vs. Brand Ambassadors

One facet of this marketing strategy is understanding how to pitch to influencers or how to build brand ambassadors. There is a vast difference in social media.

An influencer refers to a person who has 1,000 or more followers and publishes content within a niche. Their taste and expertise influence their followers to share, like, or make a purchase. There are celebrity influencers, bloggers, social media influencers, and micro-influencers.

However, the main difference is that influencers may work with you under a contract and include your products as part of their Instagram story or latest post. Still, they are already famous in their own right and may not necessarily work with you long-term. Instead, their brand influence may be just for one post.

Man holding a camera while filming himself

Brand ambassadors do not necessarily have to have a large following, but you need to have a contract and pay them to promote your products on a daily or weekly basis. Since they are brand ambassadors, they live, eat, and breathe your products on social media. Many brands have a standard brand ambassador program that allows social media users to sign up and create social media posts specifically to promote their products.

The main difference is in follower count and influencer branding vs. no followers and brand lifestyle marketing. Anyone can be a brand ambassador, but you have to be influential and somewhat popular on social media to be considered an “influencer” that brands want to work with. The influencer still has a unique brand to push, but a brand ambassador will focus solely on your brand.

Brands should focus on working with popular influencers on social media because they have a better chance of converting.

Does Influencer Marketing Work in 2020?

With our guide to working with influencers, your influencer marketing strategy should be rock solid. Still, since this is a significant investment of time and budget for some businesses, you need to know that this is going to work.

So is it even worth it? All the statistics point to YES!

Here is a look at the benefits of influencer marketing for businesses in 2020:

  1. 49% of customers say that their purchases came from influencer recommendations
  2. Google searches for influencer marketing has grown by 1500% in the past three years
  3. The majority of marketers (80%) say that influencer marketing works
  4. Marketers say that the audience relationship is the most determining factor in whether they work with an influencer or not

Also, marketers mainly work with influencers to access their audience base and gain brand awareness while also generating new sales or leads.

Fitness Influencer checking her social media

The key to a successful partnership with an influencer is creating a marketing strategy that coincides with their branding. It has to be similar to how they speak to their audience. Also, brands should only work with influencers who match their style and guidelines. Still, businesses also need to choose influencers based on the number of followers and the influencer’s unique ability to market products.

How to Find the Best Influencers for Your Brand

When it comes to working with the right influencers, brands need to be selective. While an influencer may promote your competitor’s products, you should also look at how the audience responded to the influencer’s post and whether it would help your company generate more brand awareness and sales.

Know the Different Influencer Types

There are also different types of influencers, including:

  1. Micro-Influencers: Typically, these influencers have 10,000 or fewer followers and style their Instagram around niche content. They may just be starting, but they have high engagement within their audience. This makes them more appealing for small businesses and brands just starting.
  2. Celebrity Influencer: These are typically more famous accounts on Instagram with hundreds of thousands, and more likely millions, of followers. They have a very high potential for influencing your target audience to buy your products. The best asset for celebrity influencers is social proof. They’re so widely known that if they use your products, it must be because they work.
  3. Blog Influencers: While some bloggers also have Instagram and Pinterest accounts, their main asset is their website and online traffic. You should work with bloggers who will let you publish guest posts or review your products.
  4. Forums: Hidden opportunities can be found in forums, so you should consider these as well. Sometimes the best chances are the easiest to find. You just have to know where to look.
  5. Social Media Influencer: This term refers to any influencer who has a high following on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter. They may have thousands or millions of followers, and their content relates to a variety of topics, including fashion, beauty, design, music, travel, dieting, or other popular subjects.
  6. Industry Experts: These are known leaders who specialize in a specific industry or topic. For example, you may have a Paleo nutritionist who is a leading doctor and already recognized for her success in helping patients lose weight. Their opinion of your products may provide more trust if they can give a positive post or review.

There are all types of influencers, and you can even break these down by industry. Knowing who to work with also depends on their popularity and audience type.

The Formula for the Perfect Influencer

When it comes to finding the right influencer, you also want to consider these three factors:

  1. Relevance to your brand, products, and audience
  2. Reach and number of followers
  3. High engagement with followers

Relevance

To know if you have found the right influencer, you should check the influencer’s posts and look for content that is relevant to your brand. What kind of content are they posting? Do they post content that is risky for your brand? What posts do you like best, and does your audience respond well to that content?

The best influencers post content every day to their feeds and live stories. They also vary up content types, including images, carousel posts, and videos.

Also, if you are looking for a product demonstration or full video review, you should check that they are familiar with this content. Otherwise, they may not have the right channel to post a video review or other unique content that you want.

Instagram profile with a lot of followers

Reach

How many followers does your potential influencer have? Even smaller accounts with just 1,000 followers can be considered crucial to your brand’s success. Micro-influencers have some of the best audiences because they are engaged and very familiar with the account owner.

However, if you are looking to make a big splash, you may want to start with a more popular influencer with a niche audience.

One thing is sure for businesses:

  1. Only share content with influencers that you know your audience will love, otherwise it could spell disaster for you and the influencer if something goes wrong

If a product hasn’t been tested or if you have a substantial number of negative reviews, you should remedy these hits on your reputation before broadcasting your products to a broader audience. You may want to look at your business listing sites and clean up any profiles with inaccurate information. Many online shoppers look at influencers for social proof and trust on what to purchase, but they still research Google and comments on the post to see whether a product or brand is legitimate.

Engagement

One of the most important factors when picking an influencer is their rate of participation for each post, particularly content that pertains to your industry and products. Does the influencer post every day? How many likes, shares, and comments are on each post? What about posts related to your industry? What do people say in the comments that suggest they’ll enjoy your products?

Micro-influencers tend to have more engagement because they have a smaller niche following. People trust their recommendations more and often comment more to express their intent to purchase or how much they like a product. These are key indicators as to whether your content will mesh well with the influencer’s audience.

Look at Your Follower List

You may already have attracted several possible influencers. If you look through your influencer list, you may be able to find accounts with 1,000 or more followers who have high engagement rates. This is a great place to start because these influencers already know you and like your products.

Find Followers Through a Hashtag Search

Black board with the word #hashtag written in yellow chalk

What are the most relevant hashtags for your products? Perhaps you are looking for makeup artists to showcase your beauty products. Hashtags like #mua, #makeup, #makeuptutorial, #makeupaddict, and #makeupoftheday are perfect to search for and find influencers within your niche.

  1. Secret Tip: Use a free site like best-hashtags.com to find the most popular and relevant hashtags to search in your industry.

You can also search for your brand on social media to see if influencers are already trying to work with you. Third-party tools like Social Mention and SocialReport.com also allow you to track mentions across all social media channels.

Use an Influencer Search Tool

There are a few websites out there who market influencers, allowing brands to search for the right influencer in a variety of niches. For example, you can use SocialBakers’ free influencers tool to find influencers based on your region and interest.

Be Selective in Who You Pick

Finally, businesses also have to be careful about the chosen influencer. You should see a consistent tone, look, and values between your brand and the influencer before hitting the start button on your campaign. For example, if the mood is off for specific posts, you may not want to work with an influencer who won’t change their style to match your brand.

You also want to look out for influencers who are always sharing sponsored content. If an influencer already has a ton of paid posts and even works with your competitor, it’s probably not a good idea to work with this individual unless they have a significant engagement rate and millions of followers.

Top Tips for Your Influencer Marketing Strategy

Different campaigns work best with influencer marketing. However, you should first think about your audience and goals, then define your strategy and how you’ll pitch it to influencers.

Know Your Audience

When building your strategy, the first thing you want to do is define your audience. Who will this campaign be for, and how will you reach them? For example, you may want to reach a younger demographic on Instagram, who frequently purchases products like your own. Your audience may follow specific hashtags and like particular pages, which you should include in your audience profile.

What Campaign Goals Work Best with Influencer Marketing?

After defining your audience, you should think about your goals. While sales may be the first thing that comes to mind, you should also think about brand awareness, gaining more shares, and customer acquisition.

Here are some campaign goals that work well with influencer marketing:

  1. Raise brand awareness
  2. Generate sales and revenue
  3. Increase foot traffic to your store or event
  4. Boost engagement and follower rate

Choose the Best Platform

Different social media platforms on the phone

Where does your audience hang out? Who are they most likely to follow and recognize across social media channels?

There are pros and cons to each social platform, as follows:

  1. Facebook: Over 3 billion users, a massive potential for targeting audiences through Facebook advertising, and access to Facebook groups
  2. Twitter: Great for B2B marketing, lead generation, and other inbound marketing campaigns with lots of potential for highly followed influencers
  3. Instagram: Probably the largest platform for influencers with a significant focus on visual storytelling, follower reach, likes, and engagement
  4. LinkedIn: Still the best platform for B2B clients, recruitment, and lead generation

Combine Influencers with Instagram Advertising

One of the best places to find influencers is on Instagram. You can undoubtedly use organic posts that do not require any advertising budget when working with influencers. Still, you unlock a wider audience by using an influencer’s image with your product through Instagram advertising. You can display your ad to their audience as well as to those who match your demographic. You may likely recognize an influencer in your ad.

While Facebook and Twitter offer potential reach, Instagram has a platform that is designed for visual storytelling and online shopping. With one click, an Instagram user can see your product on an influencer’s Instagram and click to purchase through an Instagram shop.

Tips for Pitching to Popular Social Influencers

Before you launch an influencer campaign, you need to pitch and partner up with an influencer successfully. This can be tricky as not all influencers want to work with any brand. Also, some influencers already have contracts with competitors or simply don’t accept pitches unless they are worded a specific way.

To successfully pitch an influencer, you need to do the following:

Get to Know the Influencer First

Woman checking her DMs (Direct Messages) on the phone

Once you have found an influencer who you know you want to work with, you shouldn’t just message them on Instagram and start the pitch. Instead, take a moment to research what they like and what they post about. How does the influencer write their captions? Do they have contact information in their profile? Do they seem welcome to brands and sponsored posts?

Now you can write a DM or email that matches their tone and style. Some influencers get hundreds of messages per week, so by pointing out a post that the influencer made in your pitch, you draw attention to what you’re looking for, too. It’s also important to compliment an influencer on their work, so having an example is a great start.

Make a Connection Before the Pitch

Perhaps you retweet something you liked that they wrote, or maybe you #regram a post with a credit to show your interest. If that’s too bold, you can keep it in the DM by sending a message that asks a simple question related to their interests, such as “Hey there, gal! What’s the #1 problem you have with your makeup routine?” This works perfectly for a beauty brand that wants to connect with an influencer and start a conversation. They can do this without coming across as too formal or salesy.

Include Benefits of Working with You

Influencers want to know that they will be compensated when partnering up with you, but it’s also about how you can help them. It’s also vital not to talk about what the influencer can do for your brand. It’s already apparent that you want to work with them. Instead, your pitch should make them feel special.

Here are some lines you may want to work into your pitch:
  1. I saw your work with [brand name] and loved what you did. Are you looking for more [XYZ] content? We’d like to send you [X product] to try if so!

This statement shows that you follow them and know what they like. It also offers them something free in return.

  1. We recently hit [# followers] and want to do a giveaway containing products your followers like. Would you want to partner up on this project?

Influencers love giveaways because it attracts a ton of likes and shares. This is the perfect way to get influencers to work with you, mainly if they already know of your brand.

  1. Our followers love your content, and we are launching a new product. Would you want to partner up on a video?

Video reveals, live streams, and stories are beloved by influencers. It brings more attention to them at the moment. The opportunity to do a video shoot with a brand is a dream come true for most social media influencers.

Create Urgency with Deadlines to Reply By

If you want an answer quickly, then it’s best to include a line like “We’re looking to launch by Friday, April 21st, so we’d need to know by April 10th if you’re interested.” This gives them a timeframe to work with, as well as an idea of how long the engagement would last.

What Do You Want Them to Do?

Influencer recording herself reviewing a shirt

Well, you want them to work with you, but how do you get them to say that without seeming like a telemarketer or stranger? It’s simple. If you are planning to send products for them to review, you can simply ask, “Can we send some merchandise for you to try? Let us know what you like best and where to send it to! We’ll make it happen ASAP.”

Example Pitch to an Influencer That Works

Hey [Influencer Name]!

We have been following your content and love what you did with your _________ post.

I have a similar opportunity for social media influencers that I think your followers would like based on its current success on Instagram/Twitter/Facebook. Some of your followers have already asked us about partnering up with you.

I’m Cecilia, and I’m the Instagram/Facebook/Twitter manager for XYZ Brand. We have a social media following of 200,000 and also have an email list with 30,000 customers.

[Optional line: We’ve worked with influencers like @___________ and @__________, which resulted in 100,000 likes and reached over 1 million views worldwide.]

Our team recently picked their dream social media influencers to work with, and of course, you were one of the top choices. We want to send you our latest line/product to try, and if you’re into it, we’d also love to do a video interview and share it with our 200,000 followers.

I think this would be an excellent way to introduce our followers to [insert influencer’s brand name or @username].

Would it be possible to connect with you this week to discuss this? We’re looking to launch in the next month. Also, please let me know if you are not interested in working on a project like this.

We’d love to collaborate and think it would be fantastic content to share with all of our followers.

Thank you,

Cecilia

Is Influencer Marketing Hard to Do?

It’s easy to meet influencers and set up beneficial collaborations. However, with so many new influencers and types of content out there, businesses can now be selective about who they work with. Once you pick the right influencer and set up your partnership, you should do everything you can to make the relationship ongoing and beneficial for both parties. This ensures that you will both continue to prosper and grow your following even more.

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