Influencer marketing continues to grow in popularity and effectiveness. According to this recent survey by Mediakix, 80% of marketers find influencer marketing to be an effective way to build brand awareness and increase conversions, and about 70% consider the quality of traffic and leads to be better than those from other sources. Almost two-thirds of marketers have planned to increase their influencer marketing budgets this year.
Influence is no longer just about celebrities; many brands have widened their pool of influencers to include networks of ambassadors and ‘microinfluencers’ who focus on specific topics or products. For local businesses, the key is finding local consumers with a large following who will engage with your brand and bring it to life.
Choose Your Influencers Wisely
Rachel Paraoan, a Baltimore blogger (Fleet Street Write-Up) and influencer who specializes in food and restaurant promotions, affirms that Instagram is the most valuable influencer marketing channel, with YouTube a close second. Paraoan, who manages social media and promotions for Hampden’s Golden West Café and other area food establishments, recommends choosing potential influencers who have at least 1,000 followers, but also advises businesses and brands to look closely at the person’s likes per post, to ensure that the number of followers is authentic and not acquired via purchase. “If someone has 10,000 followers but their posts only have around 1,000 likes, that’s not right,” says Paraoan. She also notes that the desired number of followers depends on the size of the business: generally, the larger the business, the more followers an influencer should have.
A business should also be sure to choose influencers who post and interact with their followers consistently and whose posts are generally positive. An influencer who posts negative comments or other posts that don’t align with the business’s brand should be avoided, as well as any influencer who has done something publicly that garnered negative reaction from followers. Paraoan also determines an influencer’s effectiveness by gauging how he or she interacts with followers. They should connect with the business’s target audience: in her work with restaurants and food brands, Paraoan looks for influencers with food-related accounts or for lifestyle bloggers who focus on food.
Designing Influencer Campaigns
Paraoan notes that events are an ideal vehicle for influencer marketing. The first three months after a business opening are also a great opportunity to reap the benefits of using influencers. Influencers can post pictures and reviews, sharing content through both posts and Instagram stories. In her work with restaurants and food brands, Paraoan will invite local food influencers (often lifestyle bloggers whose posts focus on food) to special events. In addition to their standard picture-taking and subsequent sharing, she will also work with them to run contests or giveaways through their social media. As the influencer runs the promotion through their own page, Paraoan will promote the influencer’s account on her business’s page.
“Each influencer has their own goal – to be famous or promote their work – but they are also helping a business reach their goal,” says Paraoan.
Reaching Gen Z
Research on Generation Z, comprised of those born after 1997, shows they use and respond to social media differently than Gen X and Millennials. The days of celebrity influencers may be a thing of the past. While Gen Z members spend more time on social media than previous generations and pay attention to influencers, they value authenticity and connection more than their predecessors. They want influencers to be people they trust and they tend to pay more attention to organic posts than sponsored ones. Marketers will need to adjust their approach to influencer marketing to gain the loyalty of Gen Z. Paraoan acknowledges that the younger generation may be less influenced by promotions but notes that brands and businesses can encourage their Millennial followers to pull in Gen Z friends to events and promotions.
For more ideas for influencer marketing campaigns, read this article with 13 influencer marketing campaign ideas.