Influencer Marketing on Social Media: A Beginner-friendly Guide

Influencer marketing has stepped into the limelight of the social media marketing world - for a good reason! Only a few digital marketing forms can skyrocket your results as much as leveraging influencers.

Ready to learn how to make influencer marketing work for your brand?

If you've been following any social media marketing news recently, you have likely come across these two words: influencer marketing. From industry experts to major publications, everyone is offering their own insights on the topic.

Don't worry if you're feeling overwhelmed by all that information - our guide is here to help! We're going to walk you through the A's to Z's of influencer marketing one step at a time, so you know exactly how to start, push forward, measure, and be smarter than others when collaborating with influencers.

Let's dig right in.

What is influencer marketing?

The influencer marketing definition is pretty straightforward:

Influencer marketing is a marketing form that focuses on identifying influential individuals and leveraging them to reach specific audience segments.

Let's focus on the first part of the definition for a second.

The "influential individuals" can be all sorts of people, ranging from prominent politicians to niche DIY enthusiasts. In social media marketing, we distinguish three types of influencers, depending on their audience size:

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So why exactly should you work with social media influencers to reach particular audience segments?

The benefits of influencer marketing

There are many reasons why you should embrace influencer marketing. Here are six of the most important ones:

  • Influencers have established trust and loyalty, which is one of their most valuable assets. You can use it to reach users who are generally hesitant about trusting marketing and advertising.
  • Influencers advertise authentically - something that many brands still haven't quite figured out. Influencers create personalized content even when promoting brands, so they come across as authentic.
  • Influencers can help you reach niche audiences. That's because they work like "magnets" gathering specific communities in one place. So if you're trying to appeal to foodies following a paleo diet, you know where to find them!
  • Influencers can generate quality leads for your business. How? They speak to specific audience segments through personalized content - a recipe for driving conversions, which worked for 50% of marketers leveraging influencers. 
  • Influencers can boost your ROI. The more conversions social media influencers earn you, the higher your social media ROI. In fact, working with influencers can improve your ROI by 11 times
  • Influencers can improve your SEO ranking. This little-known benefit of influencer marketing is a real gem. An influencer putting a link to your website in their content can give your search ranking a major lift!

9 essential influencer marketing statistics you need to know

If you're still on the fence about trying influencer marketing, these nine statistics might ultimately convince you to give it a shot:

The Power of Influencer Marketing

  • 94% of marketers claim influencer marketing to be effective for their business
  • 51% of marketers declare they attracted higher quality customers through influencer marketing campaigns
  • 26% of marketers claim influencer marketing is more effective than traditional advertising
  • 22% of marketers claim influencer marketing is the most cost-effective form of online marketing
  • Marketers leveraging influencers achieve 37% higher customer retention rate
  • Businesses are making $6.50 for every $1 invested in influencer marketing
  • Influencer marketing can help you acquire new customers 2x faster compared to organic search
  • 31% of consumers across US and Europe purchased a product or service after seeing it in an influencer's post. 
  • 40% of Twitter users claim they've bought a product after seeing an influencer tweet about it

Building a successful influencer marketing strategy

More and more brands are starting to collaborate with influencers. To make sure you get ahead of the curve, you need to develop a solid influencer marketing strategy.

Here's how you can do it:

1. Define your goals and KPIs. There are many different objectives you can achieve through influencer marketing. Some of the most common ones include raising brand awareness, increasing sales, and reaching new market segments. Depending on your objective, you need to set different KPIs:

  • Raising brand awareness: social shares, brand mentions, earned media, reach, direct web traffic, brand search volume
  • Increasing sales: volume of SQLs (sales qualified leads), sold products or services 
  • Reaching new market segments: reach, volume of users other than your usual audience personas engaging with your content, visiting your website, purchasing your products or services, etc.
2. Find the right influencers. This step is vital, so we're going to cover it in more detail below:

How to find the right influencers for your business

Identifying the right influencers is crucial to making your influencer marketing efforts successful. Yet, roughly 70% of marketers declare finding relevant influencers challenging.

Luckily, today's advanced influencer marketing platforms make the influencer search easy and efficient. You no longer have to manually sift through thousands of influencer profiles. You don't even have to analyze their performance to find the perfect match. Instead, you can sit back and let smart algorithms do the job for you.

Sounds good, right?

See how it works for yourself:


With our tool, you can easily search for influencers based on their audience size, interests, location, age, and gender. You will also see an easy-to-understand score estimating the performance of the influencers, so you can partner up with the most effective ones.


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TIP

Watch out for fake influencers! They're social media users with a seemingly large following that they didn't build organically, but rather purchased.

Fake influencers are notorious for buying fake followers, hoping to trick brands into a paid collaboration. Don't fall for that - those people aren't worth your time, because their followers aren't engaging with their content.

To make sure the influencer of your choice isn't "fake," look at their volume of interactions per 1,000 followers. A fake influencer will have a low share of engaged fans, which is a red flag showing you shouldn't work with that person.


Identifying influencers your audience trusts

You can make your influencer search even more efficient if you first define your audience personas. This way, you're able to pick influencers that will work with your different audience segments.

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Why is this important?

Your social media audience is diverse. An influencer that is followed by an audience group A might not be trusted by audience group B. That's why you need to understand your community on a detailed level and make sure the influencer of your choice is the right fit for the audience segments you're targeting.

Influencers and Hashtags

It's no secret that social media influencers have mastered the art of using hashtags.

You can capitalize on this fact to make your influencer search more effective.

How?

Look into the hashtags influencers are using to discover topics they discuss and engagement they generate. This will help you identify top voices within hashtag campaigns and strike up a fruitful collaboration.

Analyzing influencers' hashtags is also a great way of finding new brand ambassadors. Imagine you search for your branded hashtag and discover a prominent influencer already using it in their posts. From there, it's an easy step to contacting that person and amplifying your brand message even further.

3. Get to know the influencer. The success of your influencer marketing campaign largely depends on how well you know the influencer of your choice.

Take your time to talk to the influencer. Explain your goals, expectations, and campaign vision, and let the influencer do the same. It will allow you to align your approaches and collaborate more efficiently.

Need a hint on how to approach an influencer? Take a look at our blog!

4. Pick the right social media platform. When picking a platform for your influencer campaign, you should ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is my target audience present and active on the platform?
  • How big of an audience does the influencer have on the platform?
  • What are the demographics of the community on the platform?
  • Which content formats work best on the platform? 
  • What business objectives will I be able to meet on the platform?
Here's a little cheat sheet you can use to select the right platform for your campaign:

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5. Get the content right. The content formats you decide to use in your campaign need to be effective on the platform you choose, and aligned with the influencer's overall content strategy.

Remember that influencer marketing is all about authenticity. Instead of thinking of how you can make influencers' content fit your brand guidelines, focus on enabling the influencer creating the best possible posts.

How?

Make sure that the influencer has all the necessary information and deliverables to best showcase your business. Plus, let them be the creative force behind your campaign. After all, influencers know best how to communicate your brand to their audience in a genuine, meaningful way.

6. Set up a publishing schedule. Developing a publishing schedule is an important step in building your influencer marketing strategy. Reach out to the influencer to agree on the frequency and timespan of publishing content.

7. Monitor your results. To be able to understand the effectiveness of your collaboration with the influencer, you need to monitor the results of your campaign.

You can do it easily using a measuring and reporting tool. Just add the influencer's profile to your dashboard to immediately see their key KPIs - from reach and volume of interaction types to top-performing posts.

To add more context to your strategy, track your influencer campaigns alongside your other marketing activities. Doing so will allow you to see how your influencer campaigns are adding to your strategy overall and quickly report on how much their campaigns are contributing.

Measuring your influencer marketing revenue

So your influencer campaign is up and running and you're closely monitoring its performance. Now, how do you translate your results into actual ROI?

There are several ways to do it, depending on your campaign objective.

Again, let's zoom in on the most common objectives to explain different methods of calculating your influencer marketing revenue.

Raising brand awareness

When it comes to measuring the uplift in brand awareness, a social media listening tool will come in handy. It will enable you to discover the volume of brand mentions, earned media, and conversations sparked by your influencer campaigns.

You can also track the volume of brand searches - as long as it's big enough. Using tools such as Google Trends or SEMrush are a great way to find out how often people are searching for your brand and in what context.

Brand awareness is largely about reach. That's why you need to consider how effectively you'll be able to achieve your goal using different types of influencers.

Is it better to work with multiple micro-influencers or partner up with one micro-influencer? Answering this question will help you to reach a maximum number of users more efficiently, which will ultimately improve your ROI.

Reaching new market segments

In most cases, the audience you're going to reach through influencers will be new to you, which means you'll be exploring untapped market segments.

How do you measure the effectiveness of reaching new users?

Take a closer look at users who were reached by the influencer campaign and who later engaged with your business, for example by visiting your website. Then, compare them with your own buyer personas.

Can you spot any differences in terms of demographics, interests or behaviors?

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If you answered "yes," congratulations - it means you successfully attracted a new target audience to your business.

Increasing sales

The easiest way to measure the increase of sales is leveraging Google's conversion tracking tags, called UTM parameters. Add these to any hyperlinks posted by the influencer that are leading to places on your website where users can buy your products. As a result, you'll be able to see how many users converted after seeing the influencer's content.

Sometimes tracking sales isn't as straightforward, though.

Some users might go through more stages of a buyer's journey before they eventually convert. It's important that you keep an eye on activities users performed before converting, such as new newsletter sign-ups, that resulted from your influencer marketing campaign. This way, you'll get a full picture of all the ways influencers help you drive sales.


Now you're more than ready to kick off an amazing influencer collaboration!

As a final piece of advice - learn from those who were successful. Get inspired by the three amazing influencer marketing examples below and use their best practices in your own campaigns:

3 inspiring influencer marketing examples

Lenovo

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Lenovo, a Chinese technology company, partnered up with millennial influencers to raise awareness about their new YOGA 3 Pro laptop and YOGA Tablet 2 Pro.

Their campaign featured influencers using Lenovo products in their day-to-day life. The idea was highlighting how Lenovo's laptops and tablets can help with anyone's creative work.

In the image, you can see a fashion and beauty "mom-fluencer" Kileen. She wrote a blog post on how using Lenovo's laptop is making her busy mom life easier and announced a cool giveaway contest.

Lenovo's collaboration with influencers felt really natural and authentic. It's no surprise, then, that it was a major success. The campaign generated over 51 million social media impressions and became one of the top trending national topics on Twitter. Definitely an example to follow!


Dunkin' Donuts

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To raise awareness of National Donut Day, Dunkin' Donuts, an American doughnut company and coffeehouse, launched a fun influencer campaign encouraging people to visit their stores.

Dunkin' Donuts asked eight popular social media influencers to create playful content announcing the company's special holiday offer - a free donut with the purchase of any drink.

To spice things up even more, the influencers took over Dunkin' Donuts' Snapchat account. They used creative Snapchat Geofilters designed specifically for the occasion to enhance their content and boost engagement.

The result?

Dunkin' Donuts won 10x more followers on National Donut Day than their average monthly followers. Plus, they reached over 3 million people across social media and generated 40,000 interactions.

If this isn't a proof of the power of influencer marketing, then nothing is!


Daniel Wellington

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Daniel Wellington, a Swedish watch company, went all in with influencer marketing. In fact, leveraging influencers works so well for the brand that they're not using any other marketing forms!

If you take a look at Daniel Wellington's Instagram account, you'll see that it fully consists of influencers' posts. This unique approach has many benefits: it allows the company to easily curate content, diversify their newsfeed, and spark tons of interactions.

Daniel Wellington focuses on collaborating with high-quality social media influencers. The company gives the influencers unlimited creative freedom, so their sponsored posts feel genuine and authentic.

Overall, the influencer-centric strategy enabled Daniel Wellington to grow their social media audience by 31% and earn a whopping $63 million in earned media value in 2017. Talk about the potential of working with social media influencers!

The Takeaway

Social media influencers can work wonders for your brand. From reaching niche audiences to boosting marketing revenue, the benefits of influencer marketing can't be overlooked.

So don't wait any longer to try it!

Start off your influencer collaboration on the right foot, see how it works for you, measure your results, and you'll quickly understand how easy leveraging influencers can be.


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