Today, millennials consider the individuals that make-up their social community as being peers. If they follow and engage with them they consider their recommendation and endorsement as gold. In fact 70 per cent of millennial consumers are influenced by their peers in buying decisions. Charlotte Johnson – Founder and CEO of Live Consultancy explains further.

Marketers are now starting to realise the power of influencers, with 86 per cent using influencer marketing in the last year – see influencer marketing content delivers 11X higher return on investment than traditional forms of digital marketing.

This is really exciting news for small and medium-sized businesses as the larger brands have tested this out for a while and now show positive signs that it works, as 60 per cent of chief marketing officers plan to increase their influencer marketing budgets.

Who are influencers?

An influencer is a person with a large and engaged social audience, they will post regularly about certain topics or a lifestyle - for example, a mummy blogger, food and drink or travel blogger. They are paid to promote your brand/product on your behalf. However, you can find people that have a more specific interest depending on your business/product. The level of engagement of the influencers post is very important, high engagement shows there is a good connection between the community.

Over the last five years, influencer marketing has grown at such a rate there are now levels of influencer, for example, celebrity, or micro-influencers. This developed when influencers with a high followings (over 1m) started to learn their worth as the bigger brands started paying very high fees for them to post about their products. Until recently, most of the bigger opportunities were realised by celebrity bloggers. This began to change when brands realised that consumers are less likely to be influenced by celebrity bloggers, in fact, millennials are ten times more likely to listen to a non-celebrity influencer.

This means that small and medium sized companies can also afford influencer marketing in their marketing strategy by working with micro-influencers, these are influencers with smaller followings but have hyper-engaged audiences.

How to find the right influencers and create an influencer marketing strategy

If you have people in your team that are already very social and have the capacity to find the right influencers for you then great, they can take on the project. As a team, you will need to agree on the right type of people, behaviours and values to ensure they represent your brand. Ensure you have a clear brief of what you are looking for and what you would need them to do. You will also have to be very clear on the volume of posts and the channels themselves, as this will impact the costs.

They will need to spend some time following and checking that this list of people have the right tone of voice, behaviour and values that match your brand. Keep a list of potential people with a summary of what they talk about and when appropriate engage with them directly to find out what fees that charge and if they are an authentic fan of the product/service/brand. Try to avoid working with people that do not have an authentic interest in what you are doing.

Being authentic online is key to influencer and content marketing

If you do not have the luxury of resource to do this, there are some great website that can do it for you for a small fee including: Upfluence, Tribe and Hyper brands.

The Do’s and Don’ts of influencer marketing

  • Do find the right influencer for your brand; for example, don’t go to a vegan influencer to promote your new 100 per cent real angus beef burger.
  • Do not take full content control, you hired the influencer for a reason. They know what content works with their audience.
  • Don’t dismiss micro-influencers. Micro-influencers have super engaged audiences. Millions of followers do not equal high engagement. Micro-influencers have 22.2x more conversation than typical Instagram users.
  • Don’t pay late, influencers are generally freelance and have bills to pay just like you and me. Pay on time.
  • Do make sure that for all sponsored, paid for posts #Ad #Sponsored hashtags are used.
  • Do remember there are many ways to work with influencers such as gifting goods and services, sponsored posts, product reviews and give a way’s.
  • Do repurpose the beautiful content influencers make for you. Just be aware that some platforms such as Tribe will have an extra fee to pay for this privilege.
  • Don’t go to influencers without having a plan, it wastes all parties time. Create a clear and structured plan with clear actions and targets you want to achieve.
Article by Charlotte Johnson – Founder and CEO of Live Consultancy – a full service creative comms, digital and events agency, who work with influencers for global brands including Estee Lauder Companies, Nectar Card and QVC.