Influencer marketing has spent the past few years being “the next big thing” for companies seeking to stand out from the crowd.

Although the concept has gotten a significant amount of press in that time, the jury is still out on its long-term value. Will it deliver on all of its promises? Is it ultimately too expensive to be practical?

We haven’t yet seen all that influencer marketing can do. Answering those questions will require the field to mature. But we’re not completely in the dark: We do have a fair idea of what’s been working thus far.

Linqua’s State of Influencer Marketing 2018 report reveals that 86 percent of surveyed marketers used influencer marketing in 2017, and 92 percent of them found success. Now, even Amazon is diving deep into the practice.

What’s working in influencer marketing?

Influencers create trust in your brand. They can do that by circumventing the traditional advertising approach, which comes off as pushy and inauthentic to many of today’s consumers. And influencer marketing does seem to be working to drive sales.

Twitter, for example, has reported that almost 40 percent of its users have been persuaded to purchase something after reading an influencer’s tweet.

Influencers target an already interested audience. Followers trust their opinions, so your brand is presented in a favorable light from a familiar face.

Of course, this means you need to think carefully about picking the right influencers for your brand. You’ll want someone with a significant number of social media followers and high-quality posts, which should be authentic and engaging. In fact, you should observe solid and enthusiastic user excitement right on the site as people respond to posts.

That’s how you pick an influencer to work with, and it’s a crucial ingredient in an effective campaign. Beyond that, which (Read more...) strategies might work for your brand?

Here are a few ideas you can use to increase your success with influencer marketing

1. Think local and experiential

Your contracted advocates don’t have to be mega-influencers, boasting more than a million followers.

Micro-influencers, with fewer than 100,000 followers (but at least 1,000), can be an important component of your influencer brigade. Micro-influencers have more capacity to interact one-on-one with their followers, so engagement increases as number of followers decreases. In Linqua’s study, 90 percent of marketers indicated engagement was critical to gauging performance.

Plus, influencers with a smaller following can sometimes carry out interactive and experiential campaigns for a local audience. This makes micro-influencers a great match for Millennial marketing campaigns.

A Harris poll of Millennials found that 78 percent of them value spending their money on experiences over acquiring possessions.

Coca-Cola wrapped these Millennial-oriented marketing tactics together. They promoted an upcoming live event through a video by Australian micro-influencer and comedian Alan Tsibulya. By encouraging his followers to comment and tag their friends, Tsibulya spread awareness of Coca-Cola’s event still further, reaching an engagement rate of 23.9 percent.

2. Get outside your vertical

It’s natural to think first of recruiting influencers inside your own industry, but resist clinging to the most obviously related influencers.

Tapping influencers from outside your vertical can be a very useful way to expand your reach.

For example, a food company might partner with a travel blogger to explore local cuisines or show how it sources its products.

And how can you avoid getting lost in the overflowing beauty influencer space? Cosmetics brands like MAC and NARS have partnered with comedians like Arielle Vandenberg to engage a wide audience.

Educators, many of whom already have side hustles as paid influencers, also present promising opportunities for other-industry engagement.

Lysol partnered with Dun & Bradstreet’s MDR to get its products on the school supply list. The campaign generated more than 10 million brand impressions, increasing educator loyalty and providing incentives for parents to purchase Lysol products.

MDR has found that educators are on par with parents in terms of influencing teens, so this tactic gives you prime access to Generation Z. Brands can also target Gen Z by working with influencers on Instagram, which is a key social media platform for this generation. When brands collaborate with influencers who represent authenticity and communicate socially conscious messages that resonate with this group, it promotes effective engagement.

3. Tailor your strategy for each audience

Of course, Millennials and Generation Z are hardly the only generations you should be thinking about.

Baby Boomers and Generation X represent important markets for influencer campaigns — particularly when you consider that people 55 and older are responsible for around 40 percent of consumer spending.

For these cohorts, focus on Facebook. Compared to other generations, Boomers are 19 percent more likely to share Facebook content, which will boost your influencers’ reach.

Boomers also are more text-oriented compared to people in younger generations, who prefer images. They like to research carefully before making a purchase. So focus on longer-form textual content like substantial blog posts. While you’re at it, try to select bloggers from a similar age bracket so your audience members can relate.

Influencer marketing can be a boon for your brand if you use strategies that have proven successful.

To do that, drop your lofty expectations, and be ready to work outside your typical marketing channels. Whether that’s by being present at the local level, promoting experiential engagement, expanding outside your vertical, or exploring new markets across generations, it can all make a big difference to your marketing efforts this year.

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