The advent of social media has led to the creation of a whole new job description- social media influencers. As industries continue to transition from traditional marketing to digital marketing, there comes a point where one may consider hiring an influencer as part of their digital marketing strategy. But how and when to delve into it is the big question. Any collaborative marketing effort has to be timed right and directed towards the right audience.
Who are social media influencers?
The savvy world of social media is abounding with influencers who are hugely popular and boost millions of followers. With the immense exposure and reach, these influencers have a massive impact on consumer trends. To understand this new job profile we need to ask ourselves the question- who are social media influencers? Although there is some contention on their definition most authors identify influencers as a “third party who significantly shapes a customer’s purchasing decision but may never be directly accountable for it”.
Any social media user that boost a few hundred thousand to millions of followers can come under the umbrella of influencers, however, that large number of followers doesn’t always translate into actual influence. It just means that they have a lot of followers, that’s all. The real behemoths of social media have immense clout. Their posts usually generate a lot of responses, some positive and some not so positive, but it’s always talked about and dissected to minute details in the social media universe.
Why should you consider influencer marketing?
Although influencer marketing primarily began with celebrity endorsement it has expanded to include bloggers, macro and micro-influencers, Youtubers and industry experts like journalists, professional advisors and academics. If we go by statistics, 88% of all buyers rely on online reviews and consider it as a crucial factor in their purchasing decision. Of all the consumers 90% trust peer and expert recommendation compared to trust ads. With such an impressive sway over consumer purchasing decisions, it is a smart move to include influencer marketing in your marketing strategy radar.
What factors to consider when hiring an influencer?
Whenever you are considering hiring an influencer for marketing you have to take into consideration certain factors.
- The scale of your social media marketing campaign
- The relevant platform for promotion
- A relevant influencer in your specific industry
- The right content targeted at the right people
The scale of your marketing campaign- Let’s come to the first point. The scale and budget of your marketing campaign play a vital role in the decision making process. If you have a larger budget, you have a wider selection of influencers at your disposal. While for a medium and small scale budget you have to find a niche influencer among your pre-existing customer base or someone who is just happy to blog about you because they think your idea is cool or they are trying to build a long term mutually beneficial business relationship which currently may not be monetary.
The highest-paid Instagram influencer is Kylie Jenner who gets paid over $1 million per post while Dude Perfect aka Cory & Coby Cotton and three college friends earn a whopping $85,026 per minute of YouTube video. However, the overall highest-earning YouTuber is Ryan Kaji of Ryan ToysReview with an annual income of $26 million. The likes of Kylie Jenner with her massive 164 million followers on Instagram and Ryan Kaji & PewDiePie (aka Felix Kjellberg) with 23 million and 103 million followers respectively on YouTube have immense social media clout. Hiring such mega influencers would definitely burn a hole in your pocket but it will likely give your brand a massive boost in terms of brand awareness and sales. A single mention from these superstars generates an instantaneous spike in web traffic related to that particular product.
For a medium-sized budget, the right choice for you would be to collaborate with a macro influencer (100,000+ followers) or an industry expert professional (200,000-100,000 followers). With their significant followers and expertise in relevant areas, they would provide another level of trust and value to your brand.
For small budget campaigns, your focus should be on micro-influencers (1000+ followers) or bloggers who specialize on quirky, offbeat and very niche topics. Their smaller numbers do not mean they are any less effective. In fact, their niche expertise generates greater consumer engagement compared to celebrity and macro-influencers. A smaller audience means more personal and hands-on interaction which translates to higher conversion rates. An impressive 49% of consumers say that they trust the recommendations of influencers when purchasing a product. Hence these small influencers wield huge power and are far more relatable to their audience so you are likely to draw more eyes to your brand when engaging with micro-influencers.
The relevant platform for promotion– The second consideration is the selection of platforms out of the multitude of social media platforms available today. Different platforms have a different audience and different function. For fashion and beauty brands Instagram is the preferred social platform. Gaming companies use YouTube and Twitch as their prime platforms for target marketing. As for food and travel-related businesses, Instagram and dedicated blogs are the places to find their target audience. So to create a loyal base of online consumers the right selection of social media platforms is crucial. Define your target audience and understand what appeals to them, what influences their purchasing decision and where they congregate and engage the most online. Research on your target audience to find the most value for money platform as well as influencer.
A relevant influencer in your specific industry– Coming to the third factor, brands need to focus on industry-relevant influencers. It doesn’t make sense to involve a beauty influencer for a car marketing campaign. The expertise of this particular influencer does not involve cars and hence their involvement doesn’t add any value to your campaign whatsoever. The key here is to find influencers that have keen knowledge and understanding of your product and industry and the interest of their followers aligns with your target audience. Involving KOLs (key opinion leaders) like academics, industry leaders, journalists can work wonders for your marketing strategy because they are authoritative figureheads in their respective fields and their opinions and reviews are highly regarded by all. Their expertise commands immense respect and trust and they can help you attract an audience in a very specialized field.
The right content targeted at the right people– Lastly, the content of your marketing strategy has to be designed specifically for your target demographic. Content is king. So the success of your story will depend on how well your content is crafted. The content style and overall aesthetics should be designed to reflect the demographic of your audience as well as the social media platform.
Older users are more drawn to Facebook and Twitter, the millennials are more active on Snapchat, Instagram, and YouTube. Each platform requires a different content format. For example, Instagram content needs to be colorful, vibrant photos and short videos. For YouTube, it’s all about eye-grabbing, crazy, and OTT video content. Twitter is the space for well-written and witty responses that tickle the funny bone or an important micro message conveyed through 140 characters or less. Twitch is all about video game live blogging while Snapchat, popular among Gen Z internet users, is all about sharing pictures, videos and endless filtered ‘snaps’ with close friend circles or the general public.
The focus group of your brand and which social media platform that they engage the most on would be the deciding factor of how you create your marketing content. The influencers you plan to hire should be relevant figures in their respective social media platform. A beauty blogger on Instagram may not have as much pull on other platforms. Or a prominent Youtuber may not have an extensive reach on Twitter or Snapchat. So the influencer and the realm of their influence is something you should always keep in mind whenever you think of indulging in influencer marketing.
How to select and reach out to influencers?
Once you have your marketing goals in place, a deep understanding of your target audience and a selection of social media platforms to reach your audience, begin your search with a list of possible candidates that you think best represents the vision and aesthetics of your brand. Influencers work hard to build their reputation and a dedicated base of followers. They would naturally be protective of their image and selective of who they work with. Not everyone will be willing to work with you. So create multiple options of influencers who have the right profile for your brand.
You don’t have to restraint yourself to choosing just one influencer. But the more important question is whether you choose one celebrity/macro influencer or multiple micro-influencers? Studies show that the greater the number of followers, the lower the commitment of the audience is. So a micro-influencer with their small following would likely give you more engagement than a macro influencer. So hiring a multitude of micro-influencers, which is more affordable, could get you the brand cognisance that you seek. However, if your objective is creating a massive online buzz with your brand and cost is not the biggest factor, then go big and hire a celebrity or macro influencer. Their massive following will definitely give you all the eyeballs you need.
The next step would be to investigate the influencer and their content. Learn about the influencers as much as you can. Analyse their content and approach, ensure that their profile aligns with yours. Research about their past professional engagement and campaigns to get insight on their level of responsibility and professionalism, if they have worked with your competitors and if they have worked with brands that are polar opposite to yours. It’s important to be on the same page when it comes to setting boundaries of creative control. Not everyone is willing to let go of control on their content nor is it easy to work with control freaks. You need to look for someone who would mutually cooperate & collaborate with your team to create a campaign that resonates with the audience. When you find someone who ticks all the right boxes for you, take it forward with them.
Most big influencers have PR agencies that handle their professional commitments while others have small social media team or do it completely on their own. You need to get in touch with them either through their agency or just simply DM or email them with an offer to work together. If all goes well and the influencer seems interested in your brand collaboration then you can start the process of negotiation.
How much does an influencer cost?
The cost of hiring an influencer can range from anywhere between $1000 to $1 million per post or video. But the price varies across different platforms and among different categories of influencers. Let’s breakdown the cost of influencers in each platform
An average facebook influencer with a certain following would charge $25 per 1000 followers. So by that calculation the cost would be-
- 10,000 followers- $250 per post
- 100,000 followers- $2500 per post
- 1,000,000 followers- $25000 per post
However, the more popular and well known you are the higher would be the average cost per post.
An average Instagram influencer with a considerable following would charge $10 per 1000 followers. So by that calculation the cost would be-
- 10,000 followers- $100 per post
- 100,000 followers- $1000 per post
- 1,000,000 followers- $10000 per post
Celebrities on Instagram command a much higher asking price than this. It can go upto hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars.
Twitter offers the lowest market price at an average of $2 per 1000 followers. So by that calculation the cost would be-
- 10,000 followers- $20 per post
- 100,000 followers- $200 per post
- 1,000,000 followers- $2000 per post
Again, celebrity and well-known influencers deviate from this model and demand a higher asking price per post.
On average a Youtuber would charge $20 a video per 1000 followers. So the cost would be
- 10,000 followers- $200 per post
- 100,000 followers- $2000 per post
- 1,000,000 followers- $20000 per post
As we learned earlier, there are some youtubers who earn more than this estimate in a single minute of their video.
Snapchat influencers on average charge $10 per 1000 followers. So the cost per post would be-
- 10,000 followers- $100per post
- 100,000 followers- $1000 per post
- 1,000,000 followers- $10000 per post
Similarly like the other platforms, better-known influencers would charge you a higher price than the aforementioned.
Now that we have a breakdown of the average cost of hiring an influencer, the next step would be to find an influencer that fits your budget and profile.
Not everybody needs influencer marketing but influencers can help you reach prospective audiences that are detached from traditional marketing forums. With consumer behaviour leaning towards recommendation from trusted sources versus traditional ads, influencer marketing is definitely an option to create bigger brand awareness, improve social media engagement, and increase revenues.