Influencer marketing is a rising trend that taps into social media users’ tendencies to gravitate toward informal experts or powerful personalities. Charismatic social media users with honest, authentic voices can become critical partners in your next marketing campaign.
Influencer Marketing Unpacked
An influencer is a social media user who markets themself as a source of entertainment or information for a particular audience. This audience may be broad, or may address more niche interests like fitness or crafting. The influencer creates posts on social media channels — often highlighting things they do or buy, including products from sponsors. This form of marketing is known as influencer marketing, and having an influencer affiliate program is becoming a key asset for companies looking to reach younger consumers.
Influencers may have millions of followers, but some maintain strong relationships with just a few thousand. The number of followers does not matter as much as the audience engagement, and how likely those followers are to buy your product. Influencers exist across every social media platform, and some use multiple platforms to appeal to different audiences. The biggest platforms for influencers vary depending on the demographic. Since TikTok and Instagram draw younger users overall, they tend to host more influencers who appeal to young millennials and Gen Z. Facebook doesn’t have as strong of an influencer presence but is still a safer bet for reaching older millennials and Gen X.
Differences Between Influencers and Affiliates
Understanding influencer marketing also requires answering “What is affiliate marketing?” Affiliate marketing is a broader term encompassing more than just influencers and may include bloggers and content creators. Affiliates can use their affiliate links on almost any platform and may use them for a wide variety of products and brands. Affiliate links are often a passive income stream for influencers who keep themselves busy with other projects and campaigns.
Influencers have an overall image and lifestyle to maintain and prioritize their social media presence, especially in photos and videos. They actively work to create new content they think is relevant and make their personalities part of the brand. They will likely only partner with companies that are consistent with that image and their followers’ interests. Most companies can use both basic affiliate marketing and more active influencer marketing to reach customers. Since affiliate marketers that use blogs or websites tend to create evergreen content that attracts readers and customers for years, they play an important long-term role in your marketing strategy. However, on highly visual social media platforms like Instagram and TikTok, influencers’ knack for creating engaging content makes them a powerful asset even if their content fades from view within a few weeks.
Influencers as Partners
Influencers are typically compensated with free products and a small commission on sales they generate. You may want to reward your top earners with additional products or compensation, but make sure to send them merchandise they are likely to enjoy and review favorably. It’s important to remember that influencers value their creativity, independence, and honesty. Although it’s possible to give them pointers and ask them to follow a few basic advertising guidelines, closely controlling their messaging can damage your relationship. Remember, they know their audience best, so their messaging and approach to promoting your product or service will likely achieve the best results.
Most influencer collaborations are managed remotely, with phone calls uncommon and asynchronous communication the norm. However, you may want to collaborate with top-performing influencers in person, especially if they’re local. This is an exciting way to continue to hold followers’ attention and benefit both you and the influencer. Many influencers are young and enthusiastic about helping others find new products, but need a little time to hone their message and tone. The influencer marketing process is a learning experience for you and the influencer, so you can both walk away with new insights and ideas.
Building a Data-Driven Influencer Marketing Strategy
It’s essential to bring a data-driven mindset to your influencer program. With the right influencer tracking and attribution technology, you’ll be able to recognize the limits of an individual influencer’s reach — and keep track of statistics demonstrating their effectiveness. Finding the right influencer marketing platform is critical, so you can make the most of your outreach and reward your most powerful partners.