What is Influencer Marketing? What is an Influencer?
Today let’s talk about influencer marketing. What it is, how it works, and how to approach it. We’ve done some research and gathered several great insights from actual influencers, brands who have worked with them, and marketing experts at the BeautyX Summit in Los Angeles.
Influencer marketing, in a beauty brand context, means either giving product or paying for reviews of product by someone who has a large number of followers, usually on social media. Let’s say you have a body scrub—you might send it to someone with anywhere between 1,000 and 500,000 followers. If they like it, they might choose to talk about it in their own style to their audience. Alternatively, you can engage in a paid collaboration where you might pay per post or campaign.
What is an influencer? What should I look for when choosing one?
An influencer is someone with a visible platform who creates content that is consumed by their followers. Successful influencers create their content with a clear focus, consistent quality, and frequent posts. Influencers that are valuable to brands are credible to their audience, have some sense of authority, and are recognized. Conversely, what makes an influencer appealing to work with is the type of followers they have earned. These followers should be numerous, engaged, and responsive to posts.
Why Influencer Marketing?
When done well, a successful influencer marketing campaign will generate brand awareness and sales. Ideally you are speaking to an audience through someone they like and trust, so they are willing to hear honest, positive opinions about products that will make their lives easier and better. To the consumers, your products will be presented more organically than a direct ad, and this increases the credibility of your brand. Return on investment can often be visible and clear in sales, so it’s worth developing a relationship with your chosen influencer to take advantage of their established position in the mind of their followers and your potential consumers. This means that their followers will see the loyalty to this (your) brand over time and be more inclined to purchase it themselves. Also, as you develop products you already have a strong platform from which to launch them. All told, influencer marketing, whether free or paid, can have a major impact on your brand and your bottom line.
Types of Influencers in Marketing
- Pure Celebrity: these include celebrities of any size who are followed simply because they are famous. They are trading on their fame, and they can be useful for marketing via celebrity endorsement. However, they have not always built up the level of authority and credibility on products you might desire. Proceed with caution unless you are already established and can face potential costs.
- The Tastemaker: these influencers may not be famous, but they have good taste and their choices are respected. They may carefully curate their feeds or blogs and talk about items that are worthy of followers’ attention. What they lack in expertise they may make up in loyalty.
- Aggregators: aggregators are less driven by a persona and are essentially depositories of every item in a given category. For example, an aggregator site, or account, may list all mascaras, or perhaps all mascaras not tested on animals. Getting your product onto one of these sites, or better yet into one of their monthly subscription boxes, can be a great business opportunity.
- Experts: these influencers also stand slightly apart in that their following is based on some type of acknowledged qualification. This could include a makeup artist, an esthetician, or a dermatologist. Harness these people if you’re trading on certain ingredients, green beauty, or similar.
- Authorities: these are people with authority in a given area. Perhaps they have gained it through focusing only on vegan products and are now reliable sources of information on the market. Perhaps they are retired soap makers who understand every possible saponification method. If you fit their criteria and have a quality product, this type of influencer may be very beneficial.
All of this information can be a little overwhelming, so let’s boil it down a little bit.
The 2 messages we were told again and again by influencers and brands alike is as follows:
- Find an influencer with the right type of audience for your brand, who’s audience will actually be interested in what you have to sell. Don’t underestimate the important of this point.
- Strive to create a genuine relationship with your chosen influencer. Getting both of you on the same side, understanding each other and your goals—this is key to an influencer marketing strategy.
How to find an influencer
We recommend starting with niche influencers, who may have smaller followings around 1,000 to 4,000 people. These influencers are constantly looking for content and may relish the chance to try a free product you send to them. We’ll be addressing exactly how to start building a relationship with an influencer in later posts. In the meantime, have a look on social media for people who resonate with your brand, and have enough followers to consider reaching out to them.
It might also be useful to review our blog on How to Reach Millennial Consumers.