Influencer marketing is the fastest way to accelerate your brand on social media.
It’s the best way to reach new audiences, build brand awareness, and work with collaborators who can create beautiful content and make sales for you. Influencer partnerships build on themselves, constantly searching the web for people and opportunities to grow your brand.
Good news: you can tap into influencer marketing as an entrepreneur. You have products and an online store. And you have social media accounts, which means you can connect with influencers at a low cost.
This guide will show you step-by-step how to use influencer marketing successfully, with tips and examples from top brands online.
Learn about influencer marketing 🎯
Influencer marketing definition
Influencers are people who have built reputations around a specific niche. They’re like internet celebrities who work as ambassadors for your brand. Influencer marketing is a social media strategy where an influencer receives a payout for endorsing a brand’s product. Payouts come in the form of free products, cash, or discounts off expensive products.
Instagram is currently the most popular influencer marketing channel, with 67% of brands using it. Other strategic channels for influencer marketing include:
A recent study by MediaKix revealed that 80% of marketers find influencer marketing effective. Which explains why 75% of businesses surveyed by Influencer Marketing Hub have a dedicated influencer marketing budget in 2021.
Brands often collaborate with relevant influencers to produce content that promotes its products and services. This allows them to tap into the influencer’s engaged audience to build awareness in an authentic way.
Influencer marketing works similarly to when a friend recommends a vacation destination. You value their recommendation because you trust them. People who follow influencers trust their recommendations as well. When you team up with an influencer for a marketing campaign, you are gaining exposure to a warm and welcoming audience, which can lead to better business outcomes versus other marketing tactics like banner ads.
Benefits of influencer marketing
Influencer Marketing Hub’s report suggests that the influencer marketing industry is set to grow to approximately $13.8 billion in 2021, with more than 240 influencer marketing agencies or platforms established in 2019 alone.
With all these businesses popping up and the projected industry growth, it’s clear there are several benefits to using this strategy. Let’s take a look at some of them below.
The idea of influencer marketing is that the influencer builds trust with their audience through authentic presentation and engagement—which matching brands can then leverage. This way, influencers help to foster deeper customer relationships through their association with the brand.
In recent years, this dynamic of brand ➡️ influencer ➡️ audience has become a solid staple of our media consumption:
- According to Nielsen, COVID drove more opportunities for influencer collaborations and increased the amount of media we consume worldwide.
- Because of the increased media consumption, brands can work with influencers to create impactful messages and sentiment around their brand. Getting involved in this global social community can help businesses establish stronger relationships with customers.
Of course, for deeper relationships to form, it’s a given that the influencer’s personal brand and your own need to match (values, industry, audience, etc.)—but your business should also provide value to their audience for maximum impact.
The other obvious benefit to working with an influencer is the potential of increased reach from tapping into their audience. As you’ll see further down in this post, there are different types of influencers based mainly on their audience size and the platform they are on.
In terms of reach potential, consider the following:
- Active social media users have increased by 10.5%, with TikTok receiving the highest boost from Q3 2019 to Q3 2020, according to HypeAuditor’s State of Influencer Marketing report.
- While TikTok is a rising platform, as we mentioned earlier, 67% of brands use Instagram for influencer marketing, of which the number of monthly active users is projected to be nearly 1.2 billion by 2023.
- Lastly, 40% of customers on laptops and 15% on mobile use ad blocking technology (not even including those who pay a premium for ad-free services). Influencers can help reach these groups of consumers with in-content sponsorships.
Depending on your goals, influencers can help you broadly reach more people (think large audiences) or reach very specific people (those with small, niche audiences). Naturally, higher reach also typically leads to increased social engagement.
Increase social engagement
An increase of reach generally isn’t the only metric you should measure when running an influencer marketing campaign. You’ll also want to consider measuring the increase in social engagement likely to come your way.
The Influencer Marketing Hub 2021 benchmark report showed the engagement rate differs across various platforms and influencer audience sizes. In particular, micro-influencers typically have higher engagement rates than their mega-influencer counterparts.
Greater social engagement often also leads to higher brand awareness, since social platforms show posts your network engages with. Also, if your brand is seen to be well communicative, using the language of the audience, you’ll often garner more brand advocates.
High earned media value
The last major benefit of influencer marketing is getting higher earned media value (EMV). EMV refers to the return on investment (ROI) gained from third-party responses to marketing activities, such as an influencer marketing campaign—basically, the bang for your buck.
A higher EMV generally means you’re getting more social mentions and you have more meaningful social connections (which can lead to increased sales). When you involve an influencer in your marketing activities, you stand better chances of increasing your EMV.
Some stats that support this point include:
- 90% of respondents of the Influencer Marketing Hub 2021 report believe Influencer marketing to be effective.
- A Tomoson survey found businesses are making $6.50 to every $1 spent on influencer marketing.
- Research from the International Scientific Conference on Economic and Social Development shows 87% of participants said, when choosing a product, they pick one recommended by an influencer.
Now that you know what the major benefits of influencer marketing are, you’re probably itching to see a few examples of exactly what an influencer marketing campaign looks like.
Influencer marketing examples
Looking at some of the companies that use influencer marketing can help inspire your campaign. It also provides proof that it’s a legit and profitable marketing channel.
Health product brand Healthish actively uses influencers to launch its products. To launch its signature water bottle, co-founders Emily Chong and Nathan Chan worked with Instagram influencers to promote the product.
“We’re in a fortunate position where the product is relatively low cost,” Nathan explains in a recent Shopify Masters episode. “We just send out [products] to many subsections of the market.”
Because its water bottle is relevant to many industries, Healthish sends free products to fitness influencers, fashion bloggers, vloggers, and other groups related to their target market. Influencers then share images and videos of their products online—but only if they love the product.
“We don’t even ask people to post if they don’t want to,” Nathan says. “We just say, ‘If you love the products, we’d love for you to share it with your community or fans or audience.’” He continues: “We want to create a great product that people really love and they’re happy to receive for a contract deal or a sponsored Instagram post. They want to recommend it because it’s actually changed their life.”
Nominal is a jewelry brand that blends culture and fashion to create meaningful accessories. Founded by business and life partners Lena Sarsour and Akram Abdallah, Nominal grew from idea to seven-figure business in a short period of time, thanks to influencer marketing.
“Influencer marketing has been huge to us,” Akram explains in a Shopify Masters episode. “From the very beginning, we, of course, had no budget at all. We couldn’t afford anybody.” So what did Akram and Lena do? They gifted influencers free jewelry. If the influencers enjoyed the products and found them sharable, they would post about the brand on social media.
Nominal would even ask influencers if they could repost their content on the brand’s feed. “Although we didn’t pay them, now we have [branded] content that a lot of people follow and see. We build that credibility through a famous person wearing our product.”
The cost? Aside from shipping and production costs, nothing.
Doe Lashes founder Jason Wong is a serial entrepreneur who’s been launching and running businesses since he was 15 years old. His latest venture was started with only $500 and scaled with influencer marketing.
As a beauty product, Jason says he “knew that [Doe Lashes’] bread and butter was influencer marketing.” It’s a strategy he’s used successfully across his portfolio of growing brands. But he doesn’t often work with huge Instagram accounts.
“We focus a lot on micro-influencers,” Jason explains in a Shopify Masters episode. (To review, micro-influencers are accounts with under 100,000 Instagram followers.) “We reach out to those people and their friends and ask if they’d like to receive a product in exchange for promotion on their end.” The secret is not demanding influencers’ posts just because you sent them something for free.
Compared to Google and Facebook ads, Jason prefers influencer marketing to promote Doe Lashes. “With enough money, Facebook can find the right people,” he says. “The reason why I like to focus on this type of medium with influencer marketing is that, for us, we’re able to get it free.
“Using the free promotions through these influencers, we’re able to get their audience to go on our website, and that way we’re able to collect the data on these people and use the data for acquisition.”
Influencer marketing helps Doe Lashes not only build awareness but also drive traffic, improve SEO and content marketing metrics, and maximize digital marketing spend in the long run.
Types of influencers
Everyone uses slightly different definitions for influencer types. We typically identify five tiers of social media influencers: nano, micro, mid, macro, and mega. Recent data from Upfluence shows that engagement rates are higher for smaller influencers than larger ones.
Nano-influencers are your everyday people. They often have between 1,000 and 10,000 followers on Instagram. Their feeds aren’t glamorous or polished, and photos are typically not edited. Being an influencer is not their full-time job.
However, nano-influencers are excellent to work with for growing ecommerce brands for two reasons:
- They’ve built a lot of trust with their followers, which results in high engagement rates.
- They are more affordable.
Data from HypeAuditor shows how nano-influencers have noticeably higher engagement rates than bigger accounts, averaging 5% per post compared to the average rate of 2.2%.
Micro-influencers are social media accounts with between 10,000 and 100,000 followers. This group makes up 47% of all Instagram creators, according to HypeAuditor.
Although smaller than Kim Kardashian, these influencers have a loyal following they engage with regularly. Micro-influencers often have more compact and targeted audiences than larger accounts, which is useful when you are trying to sell products online.
They may be more expensive than nano-influencers, but they still provide the same one-to-one feel when it comes to promoting your business.
Mid-tier influencers are those who have a community of between 100,000 and 500,000 followers across their platforms. HypeAuditor’s State of Influencer Marketing report found these influencers represent 26% of accounts on Instagram, making them the second largest group.
Despite having hundreds of thousands of followers, mid-tier influencers have a large and well-segmented audience. For example, if you are a fitness brand, you’d likely collaborate with a mid-tier influencer for maximum exposure.
This group is also more affordable and is easy to contact. Sometimes when you work with maco- or mega-influencers, you have to pass through representatives or agents before getting a response to your proposal.
Macro-influencers are individuals with between 500,000 and one million followers. These influencers have typically grown a following through the web.
Macro- influencers make great brand collaborators because they have a lot of experience in the space. They know their target audience and what they like, and they won’t jeopardize their followers’ trust by partnering with the wrong brands.
Working with macro-influencers brings a handful of benefits:
- Their audience is highly relevant to your brand and its offerings.
- They have a massive reach.
- They have a streamlined process for working with brands.
With all this experience comes a price tag that, depending on the platform, can be between $1,000 and $10,000, according to WebFX.
You’re probably already familiar with mega-influencers. These are the social media celebrities on platforms like Instagram and YouTube. They have a community of over one million followers and have audiences with different interests and likes.
Mega-influencers like Louise Thompson, who has 1.2 million followers, can provide massive reach for your brand. These superstars also lend a level of credibility to your products because of the influencer’s reputation.
The downside? Prices can run from $10,000 to six figures, depending on the influencer.
Influencer marketing strategy tips
Finding an influencer and agreeing on a collaboration with them can be a time-consuming exercise that’s difficult to scale. For best results, use this five-step process to stay on track.
- Do your homework
- Set a clear brief
- Choose relevant influencers
- Learn how to reach out
- Agree on a collaboration structure
- Executing the partnership
- Maximize the content value
Do your homework
There is so much that you can learn from other brands. Discover what works for them, get inspiration from the different types of content they post, and look at what types of content get the most engagement.
An obvious place to start your research is by looking at what your competitors are doing. You could use a tool like Hootsuite, which lets you see metrics on your Instagram account and then compare it with others.
It’s also a good idea to research other brands that are not your competitors but perhaps share a similar demographic. Say you run a watch brand like Shore Projects. You may keep an eye on what campaigns backpack and accessory brand Herschel runs. While the two brands sell entirely different products, their customer base is similar. You can watch and see which influencer campaigns are working for the brand and pull inspiration for yours.
If your brand has a story behind it, research that too. Shore Projects, for example, has a story drawn from the British seaside, so it would spend a lot of time keeping an eye on seaside- and nautical-based accounts.
Set a clear brief
Your campaign will be more successful if you give the influencer creative freedom to produce content they know their audience will love. While it’s equally important to mock up a brief with the goals you want to achieve, allowing for creative freedom is one of the key ways to make influencer marketing successful on Instagram.
It’s better to trust them to create an authentic and engaging campaign for you rather than assigning the exact image, caption, and every last hashtag you want them to use.
One document you could supply with a brief is a mood board. Below is an example of a mood board you could use if you run a brand like Shore Projects.
Choose relevant influencers
Once you’ve got a clear idea of what you want to achieve, the next step is finding relevant influencers. Getting this wrong can be expensive, so it’s worth investing a bit more time to make the right decision.
There are influencers within basically every market. Whether it’s fashion, lifestyle, travel, or fitness, you'll likely find more than a few good options. One of the main ways to find people is by learning how to do an Instagram hashtag search to find the top hashtags in your market and look for the posts with high engagement (lots of likes and comments).
When it comes to identifying influencers, the best ones to work with are the ones that suit your target market.
You can also often find influencers on the accounts of other brands. Look for posts where they tag someone else as the content creator.
It can be quite hard to find relevant influencers without spending a long time trawling through hundreds of Instagram accounts, which is where tools such as Grin. You can search a database of influencers by topic, location, engagement, rates, etc.—all of whom are keen to collaborate with relevant brands.
A lot of people will make the mistake where they’ll spend money or send products to just about any influencer, anybody that has a lot of followers. It’s not the best strategy, and also a waste of time and money.
Having an influencer endorse your product can be valuable, but picking the right influencer is what makes these partnerships profitable.
When considering potential influencer partners, ask yourself this:
“How would my brand’s message sound coming from [influencer]?”
If it seems like the kind of endorsement you can picture them doing, you’ll want to try to secure a partnership with them.
For an influencer marketing campaign to be successful, what’s most important is that their audience views the endorsement as authentic.
To get a sense of the fit between your brand and an influencer, ask yourself these questions:
- What is this influencer interested in or passionate about?
- Does my brand share their interests or passions?
- If not, does my brand relate to the influencer’s interests or passions?
The goal here is to find an influencer who overlaps with what your brand is all about. The better the fit between the influencer and your brand, the more authentic their endorsement will feel. And the more authentic the endorsement feels to the influencer’s audience, the more likely they are to follow that recommendation.
That’s the power of a good fit between a brand and an influencer, like this example of a creative partnership between Tosh Snacks and popular nutritionist Amanda Holtzer.
On a similar note, make sure the influencer’s audience matches your target audience. Even the most authentic celebrity endorsement won’t help your business if it’s directed at the wrong audience.
It’s not just about audience size. The influencer’s audience needs to be engaged—that is, their fans regularly spend time liking and commenting on their posts. Genuine positive comments (not just emojis or generic phrases) are, of course, a more valuable signal of a strong social following than likes alone.
If an influencer has one million followers but only averages 1,000 likes or comments per post or video, their engagement rate is 0.1%, which is not great. Your ideal partner should have an engagement rate of at least 0.5%. Be mindful that engagement rates tend to be lower the more followers an account has.
Learn how to reach out
The biggest mistake a lot of brands make in this stage is in not knowing how to reach out to the influencer or, if they do know how to reach out, not positioning their brand correctly in their pitch. Here’s what you should know.
For macro-influencers and celebrities
To properly set up a deal with a macro-influencer, you need to work with their representatives, most likely their agent and their manager:
- Agents: an agent’s job is to find work for their clients and to negotiate contracts.
- Managers: a manager’s job is mainly to provide their clients with career guidance, which means they can either make or break a potential deal with an influencer. Think of managers as the CEOs of their clients’ businesses: you’ll need their buy-in on any potential partnership with the influencer you’re targeting.
What to say
The best way to reach out to agents or managers is by email, and when you email, be as quick and clear as possible. Influencer representatives aren’t going to waste time reading a 10-page email about your brand’s sales performance or your long-term vision for your company. They’re also unlikely to respond if your email doesn’t answer all of their immediate questions.
Your goal is to answer all questions relevant to the deal in one email so they can decide whether or not to discuss the opportunity further. To do that as concisely as possible, limit your first email to the key details:
- Who are you interested in? (The influencer you’re targeting likely isn’t their only client.)
- What do you want them to do?
- When do you need to know whether they’re interested?
- Where would their client have to go to promote your business?
- Why do you think your brand is a good match for their client?
With agents, your selling point should be simple: You’re offering an opportunity for the influencer (and the agent) to make money on Instagram or their preferred social network.
With managers, it’s a little more complex—you need to show them that there’s a good fit between your brand and their client. Remember, managers are focused on their client’s long-term career, so be prepared to sell them on why a partnership with your brand is a good career move for the influencer.
Here’s an email template you can use to make contact with a macro-influencer’s agent or manager:
Hi [agent or manager name],
I am with [your company], and we’re interested in working with [influencer] on a marketing campaign. The campaign would be centered around [describe what the campaign will look like and what the influencer would do], and we think [influencer] would be a perfect fit.
We’re targeting a kick-off date of [target date] for the campaign, and I wanted to see if this opportunity is something [influencer] would be interested in. I would love to discuss this in greater detail and answer any questions you may have.
[your full name]
[your phone number]
[your company with link to your website]
One of the benefits of targeting micro-influencers is that you can just reach out to them directly without going through their representatives. In fact, this direct access is one of the reasons why some brands prefer to work with micro-influencers.
Of course, because micro-influencers aren’t as well known as macro-influencers, the challenge usually isn’t knowing who to contact but in finding relevant micro-influencers in the first place.
To do that, try BuzzSumo or one of the influencer marketplaces.
These influencer marketplaces let you search for influencers based on keywords in their social media bios, and they’re a great way to identify micro-influencers and narrow down potential matches based on interest, industry, and audience size.
What to say
When you reach out to a micro-influencer, your pitch should be almost the same as it would be to a macro-influencer’s manager. Your goal is to highlight the opportunity, demonstrate how a partnership benefits both you and the micro-influencer, and explain why you think they’re a good fit for the campaign.
You should also be as concise in an email to a micro-influencer as you would be in an email to a major celebrity’s agent. If you’re unable to find an email for them, you can just send them a direct message through their social media profile. Micro-influencers may not receive as many inquiries as macro-influencers, but that doesn’t mean that their time is any less valuable.
Follow the same format you would with macro-influencers. For obvious reasons, you can skip the “Who” part, but be sure to keep it just to the “What/Where/When/Why” in your email to a micro-influencer. And just like you would with a macro-influencer’s agent or manager, include a call to action to improve your odds of getting a response.
As you’ve probably noticed, there are some differences between making contact with a micro-influencer and a macro-influencer’s agent or manager. But once you’ve made initial contact, the remaining steps for both should play out in pretty much the same way.
Following up and following through
Both influencers and their representatives are busy, so if you don’t hear back right away, don’t get discouraged or assume they’re not interested. It’s perfectly OK to send a follow-up email to jog their memory.
Just make sure you time it correctly—if you send it too soon, you’ll risk seeming pushy, and if you send it too late, it’ll seem like you’re not all that interested in working with that influencer.
A good rule of thumb for following up is five to seven business days after your first email; if another week goes by and you still haven’t heard back, move on to the next influencers on your list.
Micro-influencers and representatives for macro-influencers get these kinds of inquiries every day, so you have to do something to set yourself apart. The easiest way to do that is to have a polished pitch that covers everything we’ve discussed above. By doing so, you show that you know what you’re doing, that you’re taking this potential partnership seriously, and that you’ll be easy to work with.
Hopefully, the payoff for all that hard work is a “yes” from the influencer you’ve been aiming for. The final stage before the campaign kicks off is the contracting process.
If you’re partnering with a macro-influencer, their agent will handle the contract. With micro-influencers, you’ll usually work with them directly. In either case, assuming you’ve clearly communicated what you expect the influencer to do and what they’ll get in return, the paperwork should be straightforward.
Agree on a collaboration structure
Once you’ve found the influencers you want to work with you’ll need to reach out to them and agree on a collaboration structure. There are typically six key aspects you’ll want to negotiate around:
Time frame. Be upfront about the deadline and highlight that it’s imperative they meet it.
Output. Be clear with what you want them to produce. For example, two pieces of content, one to be published on the influencer’s account with a mention of your brand and one that you’ll use at your discretion.
Content usage. Let them know what content usage rights you want. The influencer will always retain the ownership as the creator, but you can typically ask for a two-year full-content usage right.
Payment. Almost all of the best influencers will require a fee for their services. Occasionally, they may be willing to negotiate or take a free product/service/experience as part of that fee; however, you should expect to make some payment to them. When you’re negotiating a price, keep in mind that you’re paying for multiple services: content creation, usage rights, and access to their audience.
Sponsored hashtag. Regulations on sponsored content are varied around the world and changing all the time. I suggest erring on the side caution and always using #spon or #ad. We’ve found it makes absolutely no difference to the performance or response to the post.
Campaign goal. Have a clear focus on the goal you’re trying to achieve when working with the influencer. That could be as simple as increasing followers on your account or driving clicks through their Instagram bio to your website or product page to increase sales. Knowing what you’re working toward as the campaign goal keeps you both aligned from the get-go.
Executing the partnership
The vast majority of influencers want the campaign to go as well as you do, because a bad campaign can be as harmful (if not more so) to the influencer’s brand as it can be to your own. But just in case, there are a couple of ways to protect yourself and ensure the influencer delivers what is expected of them.
First, you can withhold the influencer’s full fee until the work has been delivered and meets your expectations. You can pay influencers an upfront deposit (usually 50%, but it can be negotiated), with the leftover balance paid once the work iscompleted. This payment structure lets the influencer know you’re able to pay the bill for their services, while also giving you an additional layer of protection.
Second, if you use an influencer marketplace, most of them have a system where you can see an influencer’s history of partnering with brands. Before you sign a contract with an influencer, check to make sure there aren’t any red-flags about them with former clients.
And if possible, try to work with influencers who are active in a given marketplace—they’ll be more likely to deliver as promised, since bad feedback can make it harder for them to get work in the future.
Maximize the content value
Get additional value out of sponsored Instagram content by repurposing it for other channels. Here are three ways you can maximize influencer content value:
Publish it on product page
Publish the influencer content on your product pages. Not only does this make product pages look great, it adds positive social proof and has even led to real customers submitting their content as well.
Publish it as a Facebook Ad
It’s important to keep your ad units refreshed with new content. Some brands find it challenging to keep creating new graphics for ads all the time. Add influencer content to your ads to mix it up and see if you get better results.
By using influencer content, we are now able to refresh our ad units on a regular basis. On top of that, using influencer content has improved our conversion rate by 19%.
Publish it on social media
Share content created by influencers on your social media accounts. User generated content is often more relatable, engaging, and shareable. It also reduces the amount of time it takes to produce original content for your Instagram account.
Around 80% of the creative we post on the Shore Projects social media accounts comes from influencers and genuine customers. —Neil Waller, co-founder of Shore Projects
Note: Always make sure you have permission to use other people’s images.
How to pay influencers
Here’s the big question you’re probably wondering: how are you going to pay for the campaign?
Naturally, you’re more likely to get an influencer to say yes if they’re getting something out of the deal, but that doesn’t necessarily mean money.
Let’s look at the most common payment structures and considerations for influencer endorsements on social media.
The standard format for an influencer marketing campaign is for the influencer to post about a brand or product on their own social media account. You might think that you own the rights to that post, since your brand or product is featured in it. However, it’s actually the content creator—that is, the influencer—who owns it.
These days, more and more influencers are working to ensure they’re compensated fairly for their content—not just upfront with what they share with their audience, but the value they create after the fact, too. So if an influencer made a post on their account promoting your brand, you may have to pay a licensing fee to reuse their content on your own social media account.
If the influencer you’re targeting typically charges a licensing fee, it may be possible to work out a deal that gives your brand ownership or unlimited use of the content.
Ironing out that detail usually comes during the negotiation and contracting phase, but it’s important to be aware of it ahead of time.
Pay per post
The most typical payment arrangement is known as a “pay per post” deal. With these deals, you pay the influencer a certain amount of money (depending on the size of their audience) for a certain number of posts. The pricing for these deals can fluctuate based on a few factors, with the biggest one being the size of the influencer’s audience.
The cost per post can also vary depending on what kind of post the influencer is creating. For example, a travel blogger with 108,000 followers charges $1,000 per “static” (no video, no slideshow) post on Instagram, but only charges $200 for an Instagram Story post.
If you’re not sure whether you can afford a traditional pay-per-post deal, a temporary post can be a cost-effective option. But you get what you pay for—since Instagram Stories only last for 24 hours, odds are your campaign will have less visibility with your influencer’s audience.
On the flip side, you can also pay an influencer more for extra visibility with what’s known as a “link in bio” deal. With link-in-bio deals, the influencer includes a link to your brand’s site in their social media bio, which stays pinned to the top of their account page, or on their profile, and can drive direct traffic to your site.
The pricing for these can be difficult to predict, but since a link in an influencer’s bio increases the visibility of your campaign even further, most influencers charge up to 40% more for that add-on.
If you’re targeting an influencer with a large following on multiple social media platforms, you should also consider a multi-platform campaign, where the influencer shares one post on all their social media accounts. This can increase your visibility, and many influencers offer bundled pricing for a multi-platform campaign.
Free product as payment
If an influencer really likes your brand, you may be able to strike up a deal where they’re paid in free product rather than cash. This arrangement typically takes more effort to set up because not only do you have to find an influencer that you think is a good fit for your brand, you also have to find one who genuinely likes your products. But if you’re confident in your products (and you should be), supplying an influencer with free product can be a good cost-saving option.
If you want to go this route, you’ll need to reach out and introduce yourself and your brand. The goal should be to position your brand as a good fit for that particular influencer, so be sure to note the specific post, video, or article that made you think they might want to try your product.
Your outreach can be something as simple as this:
My name is [your name], and I am with [company name with hyperlink to site and quick overview of your brand]. We’ve followed you on [channel] for a while, and we think our brand could be a great match for you.
We’d love to send you a complimentary [product name with hyperlink to the item on your site] so you can try us out for yourself. Or, if you see something else on our site you would like to try, we’d be happy to send a sample of that instead. If you love it as much as we do, it’d be great if you could share it with your audience.
Is there a business address where we can send the complimentary sample?
Another option is to pay the influencer a commission, which usually comes in the form of pay per sale, pay per lead, or pay per engagement. So instead of paying a flat fee for access to their entire audience, you only pay if their endorsement leads directly to a sale, a new referral, or engagement—whatever metric you’ve decided to use to measure success.
The commission structure helps ensure that you’re only paying for results, but most influencers prefer not to be paid on a commission basis. The way they see it, why put in the effort to endorse a brand without a guarantee that they’ll be compensated for their work?
Influencer marketing platforms
Finding influencers remains one of the biggest challenges for brands that run influencer marketing campaigns. As influencer marketing became more popular, companies and apps to simplify the process arose.
More than 240 new influencer marketing agencies and platforms established in 2019 alone. Many offer additional features like affiliate program management, marketplaces, analytics, and relationship management software to run campaigns better.
How can you choose the best one? Some influencer marketing platforms to check out include:
Grin is rated among one of the best influencer marketing software for ecommerce brands. It offers 37 million influencers across social media platforms like Instagram, TikTok, Snapchat, YouTube, LinkedIn, and Twitch.
Grin offers relationship management tools to nurture authentic relationships with influencers. As well as everything from reporting and analytics to content management and payments. It also integrates with Shopify to handle shipping logistics for sales made through influencers.
Upfluence is a self-serve platform for finding influencers used by brands like Amazon, Verizon, Universal, and Zappos. You can set your own prices and find influencers to fit your criteria, with over 20 advanced search filters. The platform gives you access to influencers’ performance by analyzing audience size, engagement eates, posting habits, and more.
Upfluence also helps you identify influential customers and fans. It collects data when a visitor is shopping on your site, analyzes their social data, then adds them as affiliates for your campaigns. Whether you’re a large or small business, Upfluence will help you run campaigns more efficiently and maximize your influencer marketing ROI.
Creator.co is a newer influencer marketplace with over 500 million influencers to choose from. It’s known as an automation software for young brands to connect with the right influencers online.
Creator.co offers a self-service option where you can find influencers manually. It also offers a “hands-free” option where you define your ideal influencer and campaign, then its automated system finds the best fit.
Improving your social media marketing with influencers
There’s no doubt that influencer marketing can benefit your business. It can help find potential customers and influence purchasing decisions to drive sales for your business. Influencers can also build your brand image and make your products desirable to a target market.
With this guide in hand, you’ll be well on your way to growing your follower count across social networks, building traction for your brand, and growing your business online.
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Influencer marketing FAQ
What does an influencer marketer do?
How successful is influencer marketing?
How do I become an influencer in marketing?
- Pick your niche and platform.
- Create compelling content.
- Engage with and listen to your audience.
- Collaborate with other influencers.
- Be consistent with your posting schedule.
What is an influencer marketing campaign?