Influencer marketing has become a powerful tool for businesses looking to reach their target audience. In fact, influencers can generate millions of dollars in revenue for brands. This marketing approach opens up your brand to wider audiences, niche markets, and differentiated content, all while building brand trust and loyalty.
But how exactly does influencer marketing work? What are the benefits of using influencer marketing? And how does it affect your SEO?
Let’s start with the basics: who is an influencer?
The term “influencer” was only officially added to the English dictionary in 2019. It is commonly used to describe people who have a strong presence on social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, etc. At the same time, an influencer may not have a large social media following, and instead boasts a large audience on YouTube, website blog, etc.
Influencers can be celebrities or non-celebrities.
Depending on the number of followers, influencers are divided into:
- Nano-influencers (1K—10K followers)
- Micro-influencers (10K—50K followers)
- Mid-tier influencers (50K—500K followers)
- Macro-influencers (500K—1M followers)
- Mega-influencers and Celebrities (over 1M followers)
It is worth noting that simply having more followers doesn’t make one a ‘better’ influencer. Rather, what makes an influencer effective is the strength of their relationship with their followers as well as their engagement rates.
Influencers tend to have a high level of engagement, as they interact with their followers frequently. What is defined as a high level of engagement differs between social media platforms. Per post, for Facebook influencers, the engagement rate is 0.19%, for Instagram influencers, it is 1.42%, and for Twitter, it is 0.36%.
What is influencer marketing?
Influencer marketing is a type of marketing where brands pay influencers to promote their brand or products.
This can be done through social media posts, blog posts, or videos.
The concept was pioneered by companies such as Coca-Cola and Nike, who paid celebrities to endorse their products. Nowadays, influencer marketing is becoming more mainstream, and brands are using it to reach new audiences on social media platforms.
Where can you find influencers for your marketing campaign?
The collaboration usually works as follows:
In return for cold hard cash, a discount, or free products, a brand expects an influencer to include their products in their content an agreed-upon amount of times.
But where does a brand find these relevant influencers?
Finding mega-influencers is easy, but collaborations with celebrities are usually too expensive for smaller brands. I suggest looking at your own followers (or your competitors’ followers) to find influencers with the same values, who already have an interest in the products you are selling.
You can also look at the users your followers follow, as you know that they have already captured the hearts of your target audience.
What to look for when choosing an influencer
When choosing an influencer, a brand is looking for 3 main things:
High engagement rates
Before making a deal with any potential influencer, it is important to ask the said person for their engagement rates—a metric they should be familiar with.
The traditional engagement rate formula for a particular post is as follows: number of post interactions/account followers x 100
The advanced engagement rate formula for a particular post is: number of post interactions/reach of post x 100
Most social media platforms calculate this for you automatically. But these formulas are also easy to implement, and you can very quickly use them to verify any engagement rates given to you by potential influencers.
With YouTube, the formula will be slightly different: total number of all likes, dislikes, and comments for all the uploaded videos within a selected time/total number of channel subscribers x 100. This is how you can calculate the channel’s average engagement rate.
Finally, speaking of blog posts, you’ll need to consider the amount of traffic a blog post gets on average and the average amount of time users spend reading an article. The data is readily available in the influencer’s Google Analytics account. You can also pay attention to the number of comments and shares the influencer’s blog posts get.
Nowadays, it is too easy to buy fake followers, likes, and comments. Brands want to ensure that they are working with real people who will actually engage with their posts. If there is not enough engagement from the influencer, this could negatively impact the success of the campaign.
This is important for the consistent branding and messaging of your company.
For instance, if you are a vegan food company, there is no point in choosing a person who eats meat to be your ambassador. That will just confuse your target audience. It is best to choose someone who aligns with your values so that you can work together toward a common goal.
Check out the followers of a potential influencer and make sure that, demographically, they may need or want your product and have the means to buy it.
Say you ship only in the US. If so, UK influencers should be crossed off the list.
4 major benefits of influencer marketing
When done correctly, influencer marketing can bring lots of benefits to your business. It can get your product in front of potential customers, improving your brand awareness and conversion rate. It can also support your other marketing activities across different channels, especially SEO and social media.
Let’s take a closer look at the four major benefits of influencer marketing:
1. Increasing engagement & brand awareness
Influencers increase brand awareness by posting about your company and its products. Their followers are interested in what they post, and therefore, are more likely to visit your website and learn more about you. Plus, they trust what their favorite influencers say and share. It helps build relationships between your brand and their followers.
2. Improving conversion rates
The higher the number of clicks on your website, the better. With influencer marketing, you get more clicks because potential customers trust what influencers say about your brand, therefore they are more likely to visit your website and buy your products. For example, it was found that, through YouTube, influencers’ average conversion rate is 3.3%, whereas, for ecommerce websites, the conversion rate was found to be 2.17% on average.
3. Creating backlinks on your behalf
Influencers generate backlinks by creating posts on their sites that contain links to your website pages. The way you can encourage influencers to do this is by giving them an affiliate link. If people use this link to buy one of your products, the influencer will get a commission.
Inbound links are vital for Google and other search engine rankings (yes, Google is not the only one) because they help search engines understand that your page has relevance and authority.
4. Producing regular trendy organic content
Producing regular quality content around your brand shows search engines that your brand is worth talking about and that it is something that other people may be searching for.
It is acceptable of you to expect influencers, under regular collaborative circumstances, to post content surrounding your brand at least 4 times over a period of 2 weeks on a social media platform and at least once a week on blogs. However, this is something that needs to be discussed when you are agreeing on a strategy with them.
Quality content for social media platforms needs to:
- Show off your product positively
- Use the correct hashtags
- Contain a call to action
- Match the specific platforms’ formatting
Quality content for blog posts needs to:
- Provide helpful information to users
- Be structured and easy to read
- Use the right keywords
- Have clear and concise titles and descriptions
What strategies can you take with influencers to improve your marketing and SEO?
There are many different strategies to take with influencers to improve your SEO and the success of your marketing efforts. Here are some of the examples of how you could collaborate with influencers:
A solid strategy is to give an influencer their own personal discount code that they can share with their followers.
Discount codes are a great way to promote your business because they encourage action. What you can offer an influencer in return is a certain percentage of the sales made using their unique code.
Discount codes are primarily used by social media influencers and are shared via their stories, so the offer isn’t permanent, therefore creating a sense of urgency. Although, they can still be included in actual posts, too. Below is an example of such:
Why would you give something away for free?
When the reward is greater than the cost, of course. Partnering with an influencer and other brands for a giveaway is a great way to increase your brand visibility and awareness across the various social platforms. A recent study showed that, on average, giveaway contests increase the number of your customers by 34%, and another study indicated that it helps you to grow your social media followers 70% faster.
The video above is a prime example of a giveaway using influencer marketing. Samsung partnered with renowned technology reviewer and influencer, Marques Brownlee, to offer his followers a chance to win a Note8.
Mentions or links in user-generated content
A huge benefit of collaborating with influencers is the fact that they can create and post user-generated content (UGC) on your behalf. The content they create must be centered around and mention your brand, products, or services, and as an added bonus, they can even include a link back to your website.
If you form a strong relationship with your influencers, and they become brand ambassadors for you, you may even benefit from them loving your products so much that they naturally start to mention them in comments on other people’s posts.
Since Influencers generally have large followings (or at least high engagement rates), it may be beneficial for you to get them to interview you or another employee at your company.
Instagram Live is a great way to do this, as you don’t even need to be in the same room as the influencer, and it shows off your brand authenticity. Another great option is collaborating with YouTube influencers and having your interview posted on their channel. Finally, if the influencer also runs a blog, they could do content repurposing and post a text version of the interview. In the latter case, you’d probably get a backlink to your site, which is great for SEO.
In the interview, you could discuss your company values, a new product release, or have a general discussion about the trends in your industry.
HARO stands for “help a reporter out” and is only beneficial if the influencer you are working with is an expert in your industry.
HARO works is as follows: someone writing an article posts a question on HARO that they are looking for a response to, you (or, in this case, your influencer) then respond in a fashion that is full of expertise and real-life knowledge. If your response gets picked, it will be featured in the article.
To get the most out of HARO, make sure that you include a brand mention in your response so that readers are always led back to your company.
Guest posting is a technique where you write posts and fresh content for another site.
The goal is to increase your visibility and gain new readers. In this case, you would be asking the influencer if you could write something for their blog. The writing would then include a link back to your own content.
To write a successful guest post, you should:
- Provide information that is relevant to the website’s audience and fully cover the topic.
- Follow the website’s guidelines for style formatting.
- Include your link in a natural manner.
A product review is when an influencer shares their experience of using your product. These reviews can come in many forms such as photos, videos, social media posts, and even written reviews on a blog.
In fact, blog post reviews are the most beneficial if you are looking to improve your SEO!
All product reviews are very effective at increasing sales, as they are seen as trustworthy sources of information and have a huge influence on purchase decisions. A recent study showed that one product review can lead to a 10% increase in sales.
Product reviews do not have to be blatantly obvious; they can also be more subtle, like the one below about Audible:
Repurposing product reviews
The creators behind Vectornator, graphic design software, had a very effective influencer marketing campaign based on product review repurposing.
Their strategy was to partner with influencers of all sizes who are graphic design artists and get them to upload video posts and stories of them using the software and showing off its capabilities.
They then reshared these review videos to their own Instagram account as a means of social proof for anyone already following them. This way, they were not only gaining a wider audience but also fostering trust among their followers.
What are the other advantages of influencer marketing?
Earlier, we spoke about the 4 major benefits of influencer marketing for your brand, including how it can improve your SEO. But what about all the other positives it brings to your business?
Influencer marketing has a whole range of advantages, including:
1. Improved social media presence
Using influencers can improve your social media presence simply because your brand is now being featured across multiple accounts and has a wider audience. Influencers will also create different content to the content you produce for your own brand, thereby diversifying your social media presence.
2. Increases your audience
Influencer marketing increases your audience, as the chances of influencers having the exact same followers as you is close to zero. Therefore, your brand is getting in front of new and fresh eyes. It is estimated that, on a weekly basis, 65% of social media users discover new brands and their products through influencer marketing.
3. Enhances customer loyalty
Potential customers view influencers as a more credible source of information. They are more likely to trust influencers and their opinions. A recent study shows that 75% of all generation Z listen to and trust influencer recommendations when making a purchasing decision. Partnering with influencers shows customers that you have the same values, and they are more likely to be loyal to your brand.
4. Builds partnerships
You can partner up with influencers by giving them products or services in exchange for a mention or post. This partnership can be advantageous in the long term, as they can continuously bring in business and opportunities for you over the years. After all, sometimes it isn’t about what you know but rather who you know.
5. Explore an un-utilized niche
The influencer you choose may occupy a niche that your brand hasn’t been able to effectively explore yet. This will add a new dimension to your brand’s identity, and, of course, increase your potential audience and customer base.
For example, if you’re a clothing brand, you could target a beauty influencer and get them to wear your clothes (and tag you of course) while they discuss the latest beauty products.
6. It is a more trusted form of advertising
Influencers are more trusted than traditional advertising methods such as TV ads. You tend to trust those they already know. This means that, when someone sees an influencer promoting your product, they are more inclined to buy from you or take action. According to Facebook, Instagram users are 87% more likely to take the desired action after seeing a product on an influencer’s post or story.
7. Increases your revenue
With everything we have mentioned above, it should come as no surprise that influencer marketing improves your sales and increases your revenue. Your products are being marketed across a wider audience, therefore, increasing the chances of making a sale. According to a survey by Twitter, 40% of respondents make a purchase after seeing an influencer using a certain product.
8. It can be relatively cheap
Influencer marketing can be cheap if done correctly.
You don’t need to spend thousands on sponsored posts. On average, a brand spends less than $175 per piece of influencer-created content. But some influencers charge even less than this for their work. If you are looking for a cheaper option, then this could be perfect for you.
As you can see, influencer marketing can benefit your marketing and SEO in many ways. The benefits include increased brand engagement, brand awareness, and sales, as well as the opportunity to build long-lasting, positive partnerships.
If you embark on the influencer marketing journey, you can also expect improved brand awareness, increased customer loyalty, and, in turn, an increase in revenue. However, it is vital that you choose the right influencer for your company so that you can truly maximize your results.