Do you always read the reviews before you buy that new gadget? Did you try the new restaurant in your neighborhood after seeing friends post about it on Facebook? Did you end up going to a concert after a little convincing from your favorite on-air personality?

If you answered yes to any of the above—or can think of a similar situation where someone influenced your buying decision—you, my friend, were the target of influencer marketing. And you’re not alone! 60% of YouTube subscribers follow advice on what to buy from their favorite YouTube creator over a traditional celebrity (The YouTube Generation Study) and 83% of consumers trust recommendations from their peers over advertising.

Brands have used celebrity spokespersons to sell their products or amplify their brand awareness long before YouTube and Yelp were on the scene. The concept of using influencers to sell products is not new (celebrities from Whitney Houston to New Kids on the Block to Weird Al have been helping sell Coca Cola for decades) but has exploded with the increasing use of social media.

What is Influencer Marketing—and Who are Influencers?

Influencer marketing is when a business collaborates with an influential person or “influencer” to promote a product, service, or campaign. Influencers are the people brands use that influence the behavior or opinion of others. Influencers can either be paid or simply inspired to create conversations with your customers and prospects. The most valuable influencers are trusted and respected by and have high levels of engagement with your audiences.

But wait—what if you don't have the budget to hire Blake Shelton or Amy Poehler as your spokesperson (or spokesmodel, in the parlance Star Search)? A larger follower base doesn’t always equal more success. There are plenty of low-cost strategies that can be incorporated into your company’s marketing strategy. Tapinfluence, for example, found that engagement rates are usually higher for “micro-influencers,” or influencers with between 5,000-25,000 followers.

Examples of influencers include social media celebrities (think the Kim Kardashians of the world); regional/local celebrities like chef José Andrés or radio personality/icon Donnie Simpson from the Washington, DC metro area; and inspired influencers or “earned influencers”— people who promote a brand for free or for a small incentive. These may include your friend writing a Yelp review for the new restaurant in your neighborhood to earn a discount for their next visit.

How to Get Influencers to Market Your Brand or Product

A successful influencer marketing campaign is one that creates mutual value for your brand and the influencer’s brand. Following the steps below are crucial in securing a long-lasting, beneficial relationship with influencers.

  1. Determine what your brand needs by identifying your target audiences, what type of market reach are you looking to secure, budget constraints, the level of audience engagement that is required to make an impact and a realistic goal for lead-generation/conversion possibilities.
  2. Find the right influencer by searching for influencers who have a presence on the media channels that your target audiences use. Your chosen influencer should not only have reach—their brand values should align with yours. Remember, brand trust is paramount. If you choose the “influencer du jour” who doesn’t align with your brand, your audience won’t pay attention—or worse, develop a negative perception of your brand—and the campaign will not be successful.
  3. Engage your influencer(s). There are quite a few regulations that have been put in place when it comes to influencer marketing and online promotion, so make sure you’re well versed before you reach out. Once you’ve connected with an influencer, lay out a plan that lays out clear goals and expectations, brand alignment, and the benefits they will realize by working with your brand. Once you’ve secured relevant influencer(s), make sure to establish a consistent communication and reporting schedule to ensure success.

Influencer Marketing in Action

LMD has implemented numerous influencer marketing for our clients. For example, working with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, we’ve engaged radio personalities around the country to amplify messaging via on-air promotion of the “If You See Something, Say Something®” campaign to educate citizens on the importance of the campaign. Additionally, we’ve relied on high profile, former members of the U.S. Coast Guard including SHOE GUY Devlin Braswell (Dee-nyce) of Fly Boys Couture Club and Liam Bell is of Rip Rap Brewing Co.- both of which have provided video testimony on their experience with the USCG that are being used for recruiting.

And it seems like marketers are believers too. One in three marketers will allocate $500,000 a year for influencer marketing- which isn’t surprising since influencer marketing delivers 11x higher ROI than traditional forms of digital marketing. There’s no denying the power of influencers and the opportunity that lies for your brand to prioritize influencer marketing.

So what are you waiting for? Contact us today and let’s get to work on an influencer marketing strategy for your brand!