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How important are social media influencers and should I incorporate them into my marketing plan?

Influencer marketing has grown into a $1.07 billion global industry and is especially hot right now, according to Statista. Companies all over the world are forging relationships with (and sometimes writing big checks to) bloggers and content producers in an effort to reach their audiences. Maybe you have some experience working with influencers or are thinking about dipping your toes into the water. In either case, here are some factors to consider as you look to take advantage of this relatively new marketing strategy.

Why work with influencers

Simply put, many influencers have amassed large or very engaged audiences that are extremely desirable to brands. Imagine you’re a cosmetic company, and you see that 10 million potential customers happen to follow a beauty blogger who has a history of getting her devotees to buy the products she recommends or endorses. Striking up a partnership with her might not be a bad idea.

Influencer marketing has truly changed the way consumers interact with brands. In fact, a recent survey from Nielsen showed only 33 percent of consumers trust advertisements, while 90 percent put their faith in peer recommendations. Because influencers present their content in meaningful, engaging ways, they create appeal. Influencer marketing doesn’t push content at consumers in the same way ads do. It’s more about people getting the information they value from a source they trust. 

Vetting influencers wisely

To choose the best influencer partner, don’t just look at the numbers. Unfortunately, as the popularity of influencer marketing has risen, so too has the potential for fraud. As up-and-comers look to grow their social presence and experience — some may portray themselves as more established or with more followers than they really have. Why? Because it’s all about perception.

How are they doing it? Some influencers insert sponsored lingo and hashtags into their product posts — without actually having a contracted partnership with those brands. Another common pitfall? Instagrammers are buying followers through third-party accounts, paying as little as $3 for 100 followers. Kellogg, the multinational food manufacturer, also uncovered that many of their paid influencers’ posts included fake comments: Rather than authentic brand engagement, the influencers were using group messaging platforms to request engagement with their posts. 

With these fraudulent metrics, should you be concerned about partnering with influencers? Not necessarily. Just be aware, and with a bit of research and due diligence in monitoring prospective influencers’ content and interactions, you can find the right influencer to fit your business. 

Kellogg, for instance, is changing its social strategy, no longer paying influencers based on their potential or reported reach. Instead, the company is increasing reporting demands to help combat fraud and capture meaningful results: effectiveness of social campaigns. Specifically, the company is now focusing on finding influencers who are genuine users of the brand. Additionally, in 2019, they hope to use image-recognition to find posts that feature their name, product and/or brand to help better identify potential partnerships.

Identifying influencers and determining compensation

Once you feel confident that you’ve identified influencers that you’d like to partner with — how do you determine compensation?

First, don’t immediately jump to monetary compensation. Try offering your product and/or service. If it has a substantial price tag, you’d be surprised how many will happily accept this as full or partial payment.

Also, utilize tools, such as Instagram Influencer Earnings Calculator, which tells brands how much they should pay per post with the click of a button. What can you expect to pay? It depends on your location and type of influencer. For instance, at $214 per post, American influencers are one of the most expensive influencers to work with, second only to those in the United Arab Emirates2. Travel, entertainment, and home and lifestyle influencers are also amongst the highest sponsored, according to Influencer.co’s Influencer Rate and Engagement Report

Finally, when determining compensation, consider your potential reach and engagement. Pay attention to how often the influencer is posting; Do they post similar content to your story? Do their followers respond positively in the comments? Does this person’s feed look professional? Does it align with your brand standards? All of these are important questions to keep in mind.

Influencer marketing, if done right, can be a cost-effective and authentic way to reach key audiences.  Just be sure to do your research — or utilize the services of an agency like Falls — to fully vet those that you choose to partner with.

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Karolina Ciepiel

Assistant Account Executive

Karolina is an Assistant Account Executive with Falls Communications, where her passion for influencer marketing and storytelling allows her to garner local and national media coverage for clients from a variety of industries.