A major online trend in recent years has been a rise in influencer marketing. U.K. Agency, PMYB, recently polled 272 marketing managers and discovered that 28% named influencer marketing as their fastest-growing online customer-acquisition method. The Influencer Marketing Hub also surveyed companies and discovered that 28% named influencer marketing as their fastest growing customer acquisition method (almost double the next highest method).
Whether you are a brand wanting to increase your sales, or you are a soletrepreneur looking to make a few bucks online, the big question is, how can influencer marketing help you?
What is Influencer Marketing?
Influencer marketing grew out of celebrity marketing. For years, businesses paid celebrities to promote their products for them. In some cases, this can be a considerable sum paid.
Brands have discovered, however, that it is not just celebrities who can help them online. They can benefit from building up relationships with more ordinary people. Sure, you are not going to benefit a brand if you have a mere 1,000 Twitter followers. But somebody who is active on social media, and who builds up a committed following has the potential to become an influencer.
If people recognize a person for their knowledge in a particular niche, and as a result, they trust and follow them, it is possible to build up a sizeable active following online. These people are known as micro- influencers – they are recognized for their influence in a small, narrow niche.
Influencer marketing happens when brands associate themselves with micro- influencers (or celebrities) and work with them online to promote the brand’s products.
Influencer Marketing Is Particularly Important in the Fashion and Beauty Niche
Some influencers, who start small, build massive followings. One example is in the fashion niche. The top influencers who talk about fashion on social media started off as ordinary people like anybody else. They had a keen interest in fashion and looking good, and were happy to talk about it.
The top fashion influencer in the world is Zoella Zeebo, aka Zoe Sugg. She is a prolific fashion and beauty influencer across a wide range of social media. Zoella started up a blog about fashion in 2009, which has skyrocketed in popularity since. She is active on social media, to the point where she has incredible followings: Instagram (@zoella) – 11.1M, Facebook (@zoe.zoella) – 2.6M, Twitter (@Zoella) – 65,000, and YouTube (@Zoella) – 11.8M.
With this level of support, brands know that customers will flock to them if they can encourage Zoella to recommend their products. As Forbes has discussed, Zoella makes millions from her YouTube beauty tutorials alone. She can command up to $300,000 from a single post.
How Can Influencer Marketing Help Brands?
There has been a real shift in society over the last decade. It is not all that long ago, that most people watched a narrow range of television programmes each evening. They read the same magazines and newspapers and they listened to the same radio stations (well for their age group, anyway). Brands and marketers knew that they could attract their target audiences by advertising on the popular old media.
Things have changed, though. This is particularly evident with the young. Generation Z operates in a completely different way to their older forebears.
The internet has fragmented society. Television ratings are down across the board. Newspapers are dying (most people read the online editions now). Magazine and newspaper circulation is down. Radio survives better, probably because people still play it in the car, but there are now more stations for the audience to spread across.
People spend a considerable amount of their time online. In the case of Generation Z, this is more than the time they spend watching television.
Brands have discovered this and now spend a considerable part of their advertising budget online. They have a problem, though. People have developed “banner blindness” over the last few years. This means that many people no longer notice banner ads. Others have set up adblockers and don’t permit banner ads to display.
Influencer marketing is different, however. People trust influencers – that’s why they are influential. If an influencer promotes a product, then people believe that the product must be worthy of their consideration. People trust a message sent from an influencer’s account far more than they do one sent from a brand’s own accounts. Modern consumers are far more likely to spend money on something that an influencer has positively reviewed.
How Can Influencer Marketing Help People Who Try to Earn a Living Online?
You do not have to operate social media accounts with numbers in the realms of Zoella to succeed as an online influencer. I have seen influencer marketing help influencers with as few as 5,000 followers. This is particularly so for niche topics with a highly active following.
The key is to find a subject where you can come across as an expert, and then you need to build up an engaged and solid following.
It is easier for you to focus on building a following on one social network, or with your blog before you try and spread yourself widely across them all.
Make certain that you create an interesting profile that encapsulates your story. Ensure that you have a clear profile picture and background image for your profile page.
You will then need to gradually build up a following on your chosen platform. In general, the way to do this is to share plenty of valuable content about your niche. You also need to share (retweet in the case of Twitter), other people’s content on a regular basis.
To build up a following you will need to follow other people first. You can’t rush in, though. Most of the social networks become uneasy if you try and follow more than about 100 people in a single day.
You will want to follow a mix of people who are already influential in your sector, as well as those who you hope will look to you for inspiration.
Remember that for people to consider you influential, you need to have more than just lots of followers. You also need to actively engage with these people.
How Can Influencer Marketing Help Bloggers and Vloggers?
If you are building up a blog, you can use your social media postings to help publicise your blog posts. Similarly, if you are into video, and create a YouTube channel, you can use another social media channel of choice to promote your videos.
Many of the people now considered top influencers began their online lives blogging or vlogging (which is like a blog but delivered by video). People recognized the quality of their posts and videos and wanted to see more. These influencers used social media to spread the message about their great content and expanded their support on their social media channels.
How Did Influencer Marketing Help Me?
I can’t claim to be an influencer – yet. I have about 3,000 Twitter followers and just over 500 Facebook followers (and I got most of those through playing an online game). But ironically I have become quite knowledgeable about the topic of influencer marketing.
I reinvented myself as a freelance writer. About a year ago, I gained a gig ghostwriting for a major influencer marketing site (being ghostwriting, I can’t name it here). I have written over 50 posts, all about 2,000 words or more, covering virtually every facet imaginable about influencer marketing.
Subsequently, I have also landed a writing job for UK influencer agency, PMYB, where I have written about 20 posts to date.
A couple of years I had never heard of influencer marketing. Now I know quite a lot about it. This is one of the advantages of earning your income online by writing. You are always learning new things.