How Should My Company Use Social Media Influencers?

With 72% of Americans now on social media, there is no disputing that influencer marketing deserves consideration in your company’s overall advertising budget. But can social influencer marketing work for any retail brand, and will it be an effective tool within your product category?

How does social influencer advertising work?

Influencer marketing may be a more recently prevalent social media marketing tactic, but the idea behind it is as old as advertising itself. From Olympic athletes’ endorsement of Wheaties to Rachel Ray’s foray into the pet food industry, consumers look for people they recognize, admire and trust when making purchasing decisions.

Influencer advertising is fairly simple: Influencers are compensated for creating content that features or reviews your product, allowing you to capitalize on the influencers’ existing social media following. Because influencers already have an established brand of their own, choosing someone with an audience that mirrors your brand’s prime prospect is a fantastic way to channel your marketing efforts.

Are all influencers celebrities?

Definitely not. While there certainly are famous influencers, many of the most-followed Instagram and TikTok accounts attained their reach simply by creating popular or helpful content.

There are several different categories of influencers, broken down by their number of followers. Celebrity and mega-influencers typically have more than a million followers, whereas micro-influencers will have fewer than 50,000. On an even smaller scale, nano-influencers have fewer than 10,000 followers and can be tapped into for more localized or niche marketing efforts.

Followers vs. engagements: what matters most?

If your business is new to influencer marketing, it makes intuitive sense that accounts with the most followers will have the most reach, and are therefore better prospects to represent your brand. However, in many cases, micro and nano-influencers are quite viable (and affordable) options.

For all the emphasis placed on followers, engagement is a highly important indicator of an influencer’s true reach. An Instagram user’s engagement rate is a measure of how often their followers interact with the content they post. Surprisingly, a huge following doesn’t necessarily correlate with high engagement - an important consideration when investing in influencer advertising.

When it comes to influencer marketing, success depends on finding the right balance of followers and audience engagement in an influencer who is a good fit for your brand.

What kinds of products can benefit from influencer marketing?

Retailers specializing in home improvement products or hardware may have more difficulty imagining how to effectively utilize influencer advertising than lifestyle brand marketers, but any demonstrable product can benefit from a social media endorsement.

Influencer marketing generates highly digestible content. Videos are in high demand, with more than half of consumers reporting that they prefer video content to all other types. Influencer partnerships put content generation into the hands of individuals who are already intimately familiar with their medium and well-positioned to produce high quality photography and videos.

Products with believability questions are especially well-suited to social media influencer marketing. Consumers are often skeptical of brands’ grand claims about their products’ superiority and effectiveness. An endorsement from a trusted source, in their own words, can go far to establish authenticity and gain the trust of your target audience. Likewise, if your product exists in a brand new category or has a learning curve for use, a personal review or demonstration from an influencer is a wise investment.

How much do Instagram influencers cost?

The cost of each influencer post varies between social media platforms. For example, because of the complexities involved in making a YouTube video, retailers can expect to pay more for that piece of content than one posted on Instagram.

The main variable in the cost of social media influencers, however, is their number of followers. A micro-influencer may cost between $100-$500 per post, whereas an account with hundreds of thousands of followers can cost your company around $10,000. Celebrity endorsements are the most costly, with big names like Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson banking $1.5 million for a single post.

How to get the best ROI from influencer marketing

Household names or local experts: which targeting option is best for achieving brand awareness? Keep in mind that follower count isn’t necessarily a predictor of reach or campaign success – engagement rates and brand fit also play an important role. Influencer advertising is an opportunity to target a highly specific brand tribe, so choosing an Instagrammer with a following that aligns with your target audience is a more strategic approach than aiming for the most followed influencer your budget will allow.

Additionally, businesses that serve a particular region often benefit more from a local brand representative than they would from a nationally recognized influencer. Because pricing tends to be based on a social influencer’s following, not on their engagement rate, smaller companies can find a great deal of value in a niche micro-influencer.

Like most important marketing decisions, the key to making influencer advertising work for your retail business is knowing your prime prospect inside and out, so that you can be targeted and deliberate in your approach. Ready to learn more about social media marketing? Reach out today.