How many sponsored ads did you see the last time you scrolled your Facebook or Instagram feed? Quite a few, I’m sure. Now, more than ever, I’m seeing brands partner with celebrity “influencers” as they work to create a new sense of brand awareness.
But here’s the thing: influencers come in all shapes and sizes. They’re definitely not all celebrities – in fact, very few qualify for this classification. I’ll explain in today’s post.
What are Influencers?
An influencer is, by definition, someone who has the ability to influence another person’s decisions. In the marketing world, this translates into strong brand awareness and increased sales.
Influencers spend a great deal of time creating their own personal brand by sharing unique personal experiences, including interests, hobbies, or even favorite products and services. By describing experiences, or sharing specific talents and skills, they create a unique bond of trust with audiences; this can be immensely compelling. Most good influencers are deeply creative, credible, authoritative, and trustworthy.
What makes influencers so useful is their transparency and close bond to a cultivated audience or fan base. Because followers trust them, they’re more likely to carefully consider their recommendations over, say, a simple commercial or social media ad.
Types of Influencers
Take a look at Facebook and Instagram and you’ll see influencers of all different sizes and status. The idea that the only true influencers are celebrities is long gone; these days, anyone can become one with the right effort.
Influencers fall into these categories:
- Celebrity influencers – These are big names you likely recognize from television, movies, and sports. They’re usually incredibly expensive to hire and, in many cases, carry the least credibility because people do tend to associate them with their paid status.
- High-Level Influencers – Very popular and have a large audience. They generally have a broad niche audience and can easily touch on a wide variety of different products within the same general niche. They’re popular and they’re serious about what they do, often looked upon as industry experts.
- Mid-Range Influencers – Have slightly smaller audiences; yet, their niches are not quite as broad as the higher-level influencer. Instead of “health and wellness,” this type of influencer might be more focused on “nutrition” or another narrower subtopic. This includes crafters, and beauty enthusiasts.
- Micro-Influencers – Tend to have smaller audiences (10k+). However, they’re often consistent and maintain excellent engagement. These influencers are hyper-focused on specific niches, like make-up products or a certain type of fashion (such as plus-size or kid’s clothing).
No matter how they’re categorized, the most effective influencers are always incredibly creative. You should work closely with your influencers, but never be afraid to give them creative license – if they’re good, they already know what they’re doing. The one caveat here is that you need to feel comfortable knowing they’re going to design great visual content that speaks to their brand and audience first. This is where research comes in.
Micro-influencers are often willing to work in trade for product, but be cautious about over-utilizing this option. The truth is that influencers are, in fact, a type of freelancer or business; it’s more ethical to pay them well for the services you request. Moreover, respecting and valuing your influencers will almost always net you better results (assuming the influencer is effective).
Where to Find Influencers
When asked about influencers, what do you think of first? If you said Instagram, you aren’t alone. This incredibly visible and visual platform is full of creative people with engaged audiences. But don’t assume this is your only option for making connections; modern influencers are starting to branch out to other platforms, too.
This is where I drop a little truth bomb.
The best influencers for your brand are already hanging out with your audience.
Is your audience a 20-something Millennial with an iPhone attached to their hip? Then yes, you probably need to take a pretty close look at Instagram. Maybe Snapchat or a similar platform, too.
Is your audience made up of 30 to 50-something adults who move at a slightly slower pace? These are the people who love to keep in touch with family and friends. You’re likely to find effective influencers in this category on Facebook.
Do your audience members love to read informative, long-form content? You may need to find major bloggers or even well-known writers working in your niche instead.
Here’s the thing, though. You don’t have to limit yourself to one audience or platform.
You do need to know which segment of your audience exists on each platform. This lets you ensure your chosen influencers cater to your campaigns in the right way.
For example, there’s no reason to waste resources advertising a senior-silver vitamin supplement on Instagram. That segment of your audience is much more likely to be found on Facebook, instead. You can still advertise health and fitness supplements from the same brand on Instagram — a known hangout for workout enthusiasts.
What to Look for In an Influencer
Ready to start partnering with influencers as you work to create a stronger brand image? Don’t settle for just anyone.
The best influencers are:
- Likeable – Audiences enjoy their posts (no matter what the platform). Followers are constantly liking and engaging. They’re relatable.
- Engaged – They aren’t just soaking in their fame. They’re regularly engaging with their audiences, replying to comments, or even addressing them in their posts and videos.
- Consistent – They don’t disappear for days or weeks at a time. They maintain a regular publishing schedule.
- Passionate – They love what they do, genuinely love the ideas they share, and are determined to give honest feedback.
- Relevant – To their audiences, and to your audience. You need to make sure your influencers are the right fit in terms of niche and values.
- Creative – They’re awesome at creating high-quality product photos, action shots, and even videos.
- Authentic – They will never review things dishonestly, and likely won’t review anything they’re not truly interested in. They stay true to themselves.
- Honest – They never take part in sponsored posts without disclosing their relationships (this is important if you don’t want to get slapped by the FTC).
- Experienced – They didn’t just pop up out of nowhere overnight. They’re good at what they do and have a genuine following.
It doesn’t matter if you’re looking for high-end bloggers, Facebook superstars, or traditional Instagram influencers. These criteria are important for any platform and will ensure your brand’s message is shared carefully and consistently.
Remember, knowing your audience is paramount. Once you know where they are hanging out, finding influencers becomes easier. Customizing your influencer strategy to your audience’s behaviors ensures your campaign will be effective! You can always reach out to me for help, too – just hit this link.