What Is Influencer Marketing?

In a world where consumers are increasingly wary of traditional advertising, marketers are searching for alternatives to expensive and ineffective traditional marketing campaigns. Even if you are having success with more traditional marketing, sometimes you need an extra tool in your kit to push your marketing to the next level.

We’re talking about influencer marketing.

Chances are you may have heard of influencer marketing, but unless you’re an industry expert, you may not know much about it. Let’s break it down with a short example.

Think about how effective word-of-mouth recommendations are to you in your purchasing decisions. If your friend tells you their personal experience at an awesome restaurant, you’re much more likely to visit the restaurant than if you’d just heard an ad on the radio or scrolled through sponsored content on social media.

Influencer marketing harnesses the power of word-of-mouth marketing by placing a focus on influential people. These people are connected trendsetters who have engaged social media followings and credibility. By recruiting them to represent your brand, you can get your message out to their entire following.

Influencer marketing enables you to amplify your brand’s voice. More people will see and respond to your marketing, because the message is going through an influencer your prospective customers already like and trust.

Here’s the best part of influencer marketing: it works. Here’s the proof.

Earned media values have significantly increased with the use of influencer marketing, as shown in this study from 2013-2014. Earned media values reflect influencer sales, as opposed to paid media (traditional advertising) sales. The highest earner was consumer packaged goods in the food industry, with $14.29 earned for every $1 spent on influencer marketing. Other high earners were travel and beauty products.

And marketers understand this changing tide. 60% of marketers, according to one article, said that they planned on increasing their influencer marketing budgets for the next year.

How Can Influencer Marketing Help You?

There are several areas in which influencer marketing excels.

  1. Public affairs

If you’re in public affairs, you’re trying to get your message out to the political movers and shakers in the community. If you don’t want to spend all your time attempting to contact individual lawmakers yourself, look no further than influencer marketing. A good public affairs influencer will already be connected with the politicians in your area. You can harness their network and focus more of your attention on your message.

  1. Political campaigns

For political campaigns, it’s imperative to find an influencers that are followed by your target voters. If they already trust the influencer, then it’s a much easier lift to gain win votes through this connected individual, especially if your target voters are active on social media. The influencer can rally voters through preexisting social networks.

  1. Brands

As we discussed earlier, influencer marketing can help your brand to bypass the white noise generated by traditional advertising. From the right trusted influencer’s mouth, your brand will stand out. You can harness their networks to grow your brand’s reputation.

How do I get started?

First, you’ll need to correctly identify influencers that serve your target market. This can be done using market research to find activists, trendsetters, or authorities in your demographic target.

Once you identify the influencers, you’ll want to connect with them on a personal level. They need to buy into your brand. If you have a product or service, let them try it for free. If you have a cause, get the story in front of them and let them know why it’s important and why they should care. You can connect over social media, blogging, or best yet, face to face.

Once you have influencers on board, you’ll need to create content or promotions that your influencers can easily share. This could be articles, product giveaways, limited time offer coupons, or just give the influencer a sample so they can publicly review it.

If all this seems a bit daunting, try hiring a public relations or marketing firm (cough, cough).