The power of influencer marketing

By Charlotte McClure, Content Marketing Editor

Influencer marketing has transformed social media and become a marketing strategy essential for many companies. Even if you don’t follow influencers, you’re bound to see them on Instagram’s Explore page, in YouTube ads, or out in the real world on billboards and in magazines. And according to the Influencer Marketing Hub, influencer marketing is now worth around £13.4bn.

From targeting new audiences to upping brand awareness, and lead generation, there are lots of reasons why brands collaborate with influencers. To understand more, let’s analyse some successful influencer marketing campaigns.

Spotted on ‘the gram’

Instagram was the first social media platform to enable brands and influencers collaborations. With over 2 billion monthly active users, it’s unsurprisingly the most important platform for almost 80% of brands.

Instagram sensation Mrs Hinch, who currently has 4.4 million followers, is a prime example of the power of influencer marketing. When the ‘cleanfluencer’ used the £2.49 MCloth antibacterial cleaning pad, its manufacturers Minky completely sold out in just under six weeks. Ditto when she posted about scented disinfectant Zoflora, Savers stores reportedly sold out of the product within 15 minutes of opening the following day.

Influencer marketing was also a game-changer for gym and fitness clothing brand Gymshark – founder Ben Francis used it to build his small start-up into a £1bn+ company. He turned fitness influencers into brand ambassadors by sending them free Gymshark clothing they could promote on their channels, and the company saw an immediate sales boost.

The TikTok effect

In 2018, TikTok stepped onto the social media scene. What started as a dance app has quickly evolved into another powerful platform for influencers to grow a following and work with brands. With over 60% of users aged between 10 and 25, it’s also the Gen-Z’s favourite.

It’s known for being addictively scrollable, but could it also be a contender for the best influencer marketing platform?

Dunkin’ (previously Dunkin’ Donuts) saw success when it teamed up with Charlie D’Amelio, social media star and dancer, and the first person to hit 100 million TikTok followers. When Dunkin’ added her go-to coffee order to its menu – a cold brew with whole milk and three pumps of caramel swirl called ‘The Charli’ – it reportedly sold over 100,000 in five days, saw a 57% increase in app downloads and a 20% increase in cold brew sales on launch day. Impressive! But, even better, it gained a huge Gen-Z customer base and revolutionised its brand image.

But it’s not only influencers with millions of followers who can spur a surge in sales and only sponsored posts that go viral. When Amelia Olivia, who has just over 660,000 followers, posted a unsponsored video about Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting Liquid Exfoliant and it went viral, she racked up over 3 million views and 400,000 likes. Soon after, the product reportedly sold out on both Amazon and the brand’s website.

It looks like influencer marketing is here to stay, thanks to its ability to increase brand awareness, reach new audiences and bring in a big ROI. In fact, around nine in ten marketers believe that influencer marketing is crucial to a brand’s success. If you’re considering working with influencers for the first time, here are our six steps to creating an influencer marketing strategy.

Set a goal

Decide what you want to achieve from working with influencers. Do you want to increase brand awareness or sales? Do you want to increase your social following or hit a new target for app downloads? Your goal will determine what KPIs you’ll need to measure to ensure your campaign was a success.

Allocate a budget

How much are you willing to spend? Bear in mind that a ‘power influencer’ (an influencer with 300,000 to over 1 million followers), is likely to charge much more than a ‘micro-influencer’ (an influencer with 2,000 to 50,000 followers). It might feel like a safe bet to go for the influencers with the largest following, but micro-influencers boast up to a 60% increased engagement rate compared to power-influencers.

Connect with the right influencers

Look for influencers who align with your brand. While not all collaborations are successful, the ones that are, usually feel authentic. If the influencer believes in your product or services, they’ll seamlessly weave brand messaging into their tone and language. If they are half-hearted, it will sound like they’re reading from a script, and that’s something users pick up on.

An example of an influencer collaboration that feels authentic is Chlöe Swift (@chloeswiftstylist) and GHD. Chlöe is (according to her bio) a GHD hair educator and regularly posts videos as she uses GHD products. This implies there’s a genuine connection between the influencer and the brand, something a one-off collaboration can’t convey. Although she’s considered a micro to a mid-tier influencer, her content has great engagement levels – some of her Instagram reels have over 1,000 views.

Figure out your terms

Some micro-influencers might be willing to promote your product for free because they’re growing their following and need content, while power influencers are more likely to want payment. If you pay, you will likely have more say in what you want them to create. It’s a good idea to send over a brief so the influencer knows exactly what you expect from them.

Review and approve content

Ask to see the content before it goes live on their platform. This way, you can check for errors, request changes and ensure everything is aligned with your brand. When it comes to changes, bear in mind that a successful collaboration needs to feel genuine. Too many changes could take away some of the authenticity and turn people off.

Track results

Did the partnership help you achieve your goal? If it was to build brand awareness, you should look at how many new followers or subscribers you gained after the campaign went live. If your goal was to generate sales, see if there are any spikes in your figures. You could give the influencer a unique discount code or use UTM tracking to see their direct impact.

Charlotte is Content Marketing Editor at Thrive and is passionate about the increasingly vital role social media plays in marketing strategies.

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