How Influencers Can Help Grow Your Brand

Maddi O’Niell divulges how engaging with digital influencers can help drive sales and raise brand awareness where it really matters

Using digital influencers as a part of your marketing strategy is something that has boomed over the last few years. It is simple, cost effective and can provide a large return on investment so it is clear to see why small brands and large businesses alike are including this within their marketing. Here are my top tips on using social influencers to promote your brand.

How can using a digital influencer help promote your brand to the target audience?

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A digital influencer is a high profile user of social media, often a celebrity, with a large following.

There are various categories, starting with micro-influencers who have between 2,000-10,000 followers through to more high-profile influencers with followers of over 400,000 and beyond.

The general approach when engaging with digital influencers for your marketing strategy would be to ‘gift’ the individual a product in return for them featuring your item in either a blog post or an Instagram picture, tagging your brand to spread awareness of your products. It can be a very cost effective method of driving traffic to your website, resulting in subsequent sales.

Choosing the right Digital Influencer for you

It is easy to become overwhelmed by the sheer volume of digital influencers shown on social media, specifically finding those which suit your brand and share the same ethos. 

A good way to start is searching hashtags that could be relevant to your brand followed by the word ‘blogger’.  For example, if your brand is footwear, then you could try searching #shoeblogger or broadening your search to #fashionblogger.

With a view to testing how suitable or genuine a digital influencer is, it is important to see how engaged their followers are by:

  • Checking that their followers leave positive comments and like their photos.

  • Are the number of comments and likes relative to their number of followers? For example, users with 100,000 followers should be getting more than 10 likes per post.

  • Most importantly, is their style/feed in keeping with your brand? For example, you might not gift a pair of wellingtons to an influencer who’s brand is strictly urban.

What you should offer

We always advise a targeted approach that ties in with your marketing strategy. We recommend breaking your outreach into manageable chunks so you can monitor the response and manage follow-ups.  Gifting should be budget appropriate and link with a collection or new product that you are pushing on other channels.

You can offer digital influencers anything within reason that promotes your brand and would make an impression on their audience, however it is wise to consider if the product is in keeping with their style. The aim is to gift an influencer a piece they genuinely like, as they are likely to wear it more frequently, providing more ROI.

Often, digital influencers with larger followings can require a fee to post a picture advertising your products, so it is worth considering whether you have a budget.  However, if you find the right fit, many digital social influencers will willingly post pictures tagging your brand, especially when they genuinely love your product.

Reaching out

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Do your research!  Many digital influencers will have either an email address or contact information in their social media bios or on their website. Ensure you contact them in their preferred way.

Failing that, the best way to approach them is by sending them a direct message on Instagram with your proposed opportunity and what you would require back from them.

Some key things to remember are:

  • Be polite

  • Reference their feed and style

  • Let them know why you think you’d make a great partnership

  • Set clear deliverables to avoid confusion down the line

Be patient – many influencers, especially micro-influencers, have careers on the side so they may take a little longer to reply.

Return on Investment

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We always recommend that brands encourage long term partnerships with influencers by being flexible and taking time to build relationships.  Building a strong affinity with the brand will allow influencers to become true advocates. It’s important to remember that it’s not all about instant sales - choosing the right brand advocates can increase your brand awareness and pay dividends in the future.

Monitoring posts to ensure both parties meet their deliverables is important. Many brands require the brand to be tagged in a post, allowing followers to click through on to your profile. To be clear on deliverables and to avoid awkward conversations, it can be a good idea to create a document outlining what both parties will deliver.

In terms of measuring returns, providing your influencer with a unique discount code or affiliate link to share with their followers is a great way to monitor how many people they have influenced to purchase from your site. You can also monitor specific product views and purchases on the day they posted to see if you had a spike in interest or sales during that time.

Legalities

Last but by no means least, when discussing influencer engagement, it is vital to mention the legalities of the partnership. All digital influencers, if being gifted or paid in return for content must make this clear to their followers by using hashtags such as “ad” and “spon”.

Later.com states “A common practice among influencers is to include a hashtag like #spon, #sponsored, #ad, #paid, or #partnership in the captions of their sponsored Instagram posts. 

The Advertising Standards Authority or ASA (the UK's regulator of advertising) states that “the advertiser and the publisher need to provide reassurance that future ads and ad features will be obvious as such to the audience; where they're not, they should clearly label the content as an advertisement. Depending on the media platform, this might come in the form of an assurance that an appropriate identifier such as ‘#ad’ will be added to text.”

The FTC (ASA’s American counterpart) also states that, you simply cannot hide #ad in the middle of your 29 other hashtags (especially because Instagram captions are shortened after 3-4 lines of text). The disclosure hashtag has to be easily noticed and understood by users - so using #ad or #sponsored in your Instagram caption is allowed, but the hashtag must be clearly visible to users.

When promoting sponsored content on Instagram that originated on another channel (such as your blog), you must disclose the partnership in both locations.”

For help or advice with implementing your influencer strategy, please contact us on 01452 346 466 or email maddi@bloxhampr.com