In the age of social media, platforms such as Youtube and Instagram have become the ultimate resource for product research. When we can’t get the information we need from our friends, we turn to social media to learn about and discuss products and brands in great detail – after all, the people talking about them are just like us. Naturally, those that develop honest, trusted content that appeals to the masses will become more popular and their opinions will be revered and valued – enter the birth of the influencer.

Who is an influencer? An influencer is someone who people turn to for enjoyable content that is, for the most part, informative – therefore ‘influencing’ social media trends and, in turn, the culture around them. It makes perfect sense then that followers would be interested in the products these influencers are talking about. So while authentic word-of-mouth can never be replaced, it only makes sense that influencer recommendations would become a strong marketing strategy as our lives becoming increasingly intertwined with social media.

Influencer Marketing – the act of partnering with an influencer to promote a product or business – has become more and more popular as social media platforms continue to grow. As influencers become an increasingly trusted source for their audiences, marketing agencies are working with them to promote targeted brands and products. And while most influencers are now (transparently) being paid for their services, most make it an ethical point to be honest in their reviews, thus maintaining their integrity amongst followers.

Because of the visibility and authenticity it offers, Influencer Marketing is an extremely effective tool for many brands, both large and small. If you’re thinking about working with influencers to promote your brand, here are some ways you can ensure your efforts are effective:

Identify Your Target Audience

While an influencer may love your product so much they feel the need to shout it from the social media mountaintops, your brand won’t benefit if the right people don’t get the message. A crucial step in developing marketing tactics is identifying your objectives and ensuring they are tailored for the correct audiences. If you’re selling a product meant for people ages 40-60, engaging with an Instagram influencer most likely will not help you achieve your goals. Understanding what your audience is interested in, how they use social media and where they get their information from will help you identify the kind of influencer you want to partner with.

Have a niche product that you want to market to a very specific target audience? A micro-influencer may have just the right amount of clout to reach them effectively.

Understand Your Social Media Landscape

Now that you know who your target audience is, you need to learn which influencer(s) will be best for your marketing campaign and why. Are you targeting a specific city, or is your campaign national? Is it important for audiences to simply be exposed to the content, or do you want them engaging through comments? Answering key questions such as these will help you choose the right influencer that will help push your marketing efforts further.

Be Clear About Your Ask

Brands are often put off by Influencer Marketing because of its perceived inconsistency. Not only is its effectiveness difficult to measure, but the content created by the influencer is often not what the brand envisioned. However, if this has happened to your business, you should ask yourself if you were absolutely clear with the influencer about what you expected out of the partnership. Did you send them a product to test without any explicit request for review on their platforms? Did you think they were going to make an Instagram post but instead they only shared the product on their Instagram story?

As influencers are working with more and more brands on a daily basis, it is crucial that you communicate exactly what it is you want from them in terms of coverage. That way there is no ambiguity and both parties will be clear on what is expected.

 Ensure Transparency and Authenticity

While you may be explicit in the amount of posts you’d like them to share with their audiences, it is important both to the influencer and their audiences that the content remain authentic – and it should be important to you too. As previously mentioned, the reason Influencer Marketing is so effective is because audiences have developed a level of trust with the influencer and are confident that the information they share is honest. If you believe in your product so will the influencer and, in turn, their followers.

That being said, audiences want to know when an influencer is being paid to promote something or has a partnership with a brand. Transparency is highly valued in Influencer Marketing, so if an influencer wishes to express that the post is paid or they are working closely with your brand, let them.

As we become increasingly more connected with the world around us through social media, influencers will continue to be a source of reliable information for consumers. However, identifying whether or not Influencer Marketing is right for your brand is not always easy. At William Joseph Communications, our years of experience will help you identify the right marketing strategies for your business  – feel free to reach out if you have any questions.