Influencer marketing. Ever heard of it? Ever seen an example of it? Maybe you have, maybe you haven’t. Or maybe you think you haven’t… when in reality you’re probably seeing examples of it every day.
If you haven’t heard of it, read on, because influencer marketing is growing at an astonishing rate. Just take a look at this Google Trends graph which shows growing interest over the past two years, and see why influencer marketing should already be on your affiliate marketing radar.
So you know interest in the subject is growing, but we still haven’t told you exactly what influencer marketing is. Well:
“Influencer marketing (also influence marketing) is a form of marketing in which focus is placed on specific key individuals (or types of individual) rather than the target market as a whole. It identifies the individuals that have influence over potential buyers, and orients marketing activities around these influencers”
You might be thinking, okay, sounds… weird. So if you’re still confused, here’s an example of influencer marketing in action, from the queen of influencer marketing herself, Kim Kardashian.
In this example, Kim is the ‘key individual’ on which focus is placed, as she is someone who holds influence over potential buyers, and in this instance the potential buyers are her Instagram followers. So the basic formula goes like this, @sugarbearhair pays Kim Kardashian for an ad placement. This is funnelled to her Instagram subscribers, a percentage of whom then go on to purchase SugarBearHair vitamins or engage with its social media pages or website. All based on the simple assumption that her followers are likely to be interested in hair and beauty products. Simple, right?
Well, yeah, it is very simple.
But it can be very, very effective. And people are making thousands of sales and huge profits thanks to influencer marketing. From supplement/diet companies, to stationery companies, from car manufacturers to fashion designers, you’ll struggle to find a retail sector that doesn’t have at least one brand engaged in influencer marketing in some form or another.
According to an article from Econsultancy, nearly 60% of fashion and beauty brands are already taking part in some form of influencer marketing while of those who aren’t, 21% are planning to do so in the next 12 months!
You might have even seen merchants on the MoreNiche network kind of using the practice as illustrated in the image below.
Here are some more great examples of influencer marketing in action and why they work.
Colgate & AndreasChoice – How to Accentuate Your Smile
The AndreasChoice YouTube channel has racked up an impressive 4,062,439 subscribers and 261,895,315 views since it started in 2008. So it was really no surprise when Colgate teamed up with them to promote their teeth whitening toothpaste products. The video above has had over 9 million views at the time of writing, and who do you think the majority of those views came from? Yep, a young female demographic with an interest in beauty, and therefore a potential interest in whiter teeth!
This is an amazing partnership for Colgate because it increases their brand awareness in an emerging market. The youthful demographic that engages with the video is likely to buy toothpaste for the rest of their lives (we would hope!). So having a positive product experience early on in the product buying cycle, (and of course a glowing recommendation from AndreasChoice) could benefit Colgate hugely in the long run.
BarkBox & UberHaxorNova – TOO MANY TOYS with Ein the Corgi
Furry friend subscription box specialists, BarkBox teamed up with YouTube gamer UberHaxorNova for an unboxing video with his corgi, Ein. BarkBox can’t help but have noticed that the successful YouTuber has stacked up 3,040,032 subscribers to date and over 1,000,000,000 views. Many of his numerous videos feature his corgi, Ein whom the subscribers love, and rightly so! But you might be thinking… Dogs…? Dog toys…? Gamers…? I don’t see the connection. Well, a young, probably male demographic that’s into gaming, and follows a YouTuber and his dog is quite likely to have disposable monthly income and a pet, so this might not be such a strange pairing after all.
So after seeing a few examples, I bet you’re wondering how all this affects you as a MoreNiche affiliate? So let’s take a look at some of the ways that influencer marketing could benefit an affiliate such as yourself.
INCREASES SOCIAL PROOF
Social proof is important because no one wants to be the only person participating in a process or activity, whether it’s buying, or anything else in life. It basically comes down to pack mentality and peer pressure. Someone is much more likely to buy if they think everyone is buying it! So an endorsement from someone whom a potential customer respects and looks up to is a powerful thing indeed.
This fits perfectly with influencer marketing. Not only do all the views, likes, shares, retweets and comments go a long way towards convincing a potential buyer that a product is hot property, but an endorsement from a social influencer doubles down on the peer pressure. Affiliate manager, Karla Villegas has written a comprehensive article for us about the importance of social proof that you can read here if you need further convincing!
Increasing social proof is a very important aspect of building a brand, and it’s definitely something you should be considering when thinking about building your online profile for your affiliate website.
SOCIAL MEDIA GROWTH
Influencer marketing is a fantastic way to grow your social media following quickly. In turn, this will enable you to reach out to, and educate a wider audience across multiple social media platforms. This is especially true if you’re just starting out on your affiliate marketing career. By connecting with YouTubers for collaboration videos, or purchasing scheduled posts and shout-outs on relevant and influential Instagram or Twitter feeds, you can increase your social media following with ease.
Many of the options available in these fields are either collaborative or completely customisable in terms of content and ad message. And the best part is you won’t have to pay Kim Kardashian $3.4 million to do it. There are plenty of affordable options available to you that we’ll come to in a while.
INCREASES BRAND AWARENESS AND DRIVES TRAFFIC
I’m sure you know that building backlinks and increasing traffic to your affiliate website can be tough, but influencer marketing could give your traffic a boost. Again, by reaching out to the right influencers you can arrange shout-outs and collaborations; this essentially amounts to adverts for your website from people relevant to your niche.
This especially applies to fitness/weight loss. There really are lots of options available when it comes to this niche. But don’t worry, we’ll come to that later. An awesome pre- or post-workout recipe blog post can quickly rack up hundreds of likes and click-throughs from an account with the right influence.
The amount of sales driven by influencer marketing is increasing all the time. Infact, Twitter updated their blog with a GREAT list of statistics that shows just how much socially influenced selling is altering the game. You can read the full post here.
PROBLEMS WITH INFLUENCER MARKETING
It’s true. There are problems with influencer marketing. Rules and regulations have tightened up in a BIG way over the last 18 months or so, especially when it comes to YouTube- and Instagram-based sponsored posts. Remember the Kim Kardashian screen grab we showed you earlier? Here it is again so you don’t have to scroll:
Notice anything? Yep, “#ad” right there at the beginning of the caption. This is because Kim and advertisers like Zoella and SyndicateProject who use their social influence as a money-making and marketing tool were all warned about not making it clear enough that the content they were creating and distributing was sponsored.
In August 2016 the CMA concluded from their report into online influencer advertising that:
“Social media personalities can have an important influence on people’s views, especially young people. It is therefore crucial that when people decide what to buy, they should not be misled by adverts on social media that read like independent opinions. Businesses, marketing companies and authors of online content all need to play their role in ensuring that advertising is clearly labelled as such.
It is also important that, when consumers read reviews on a company’s website, they are given the complete picture. Critical reviews must be published as well as those that praise the company’s products and services.”
So it’s not all smooth sailing. Any influencer marketing that you take part in will have to be tagged as such. It’s something you should certainly keep in mind. The platforms that I’m going to show you shortly will definitely be able to give you the ins and outs of what’s allowed and what’s not. And if they don’t… make sure you ask!
AFFORDABLE WAYS TO TRY IT OUT
So I said earlier that you wouldn’t have to pay Kim Kardashian millions of dollars to get involved in influencer marketing. And you don’t. So let’s take a look at some of the more affordable ways to start promoting your website and accounts.
FameBit is, in their own words, an “influencer marketing platform for branded content”. But what do they do exactly? Well they’re the middlemen between brands or agencies and content creators and influencers. They basically help you get in touch with people who can influence buyers in your niche. They’ve worked with brands like Canon, Activision, Sony and Adidas so you know they are the real deal (see how well social proof works?).
FameBit will help you create influencer campaigns for as little at $100, and give you access to influencers on multiple platforms such as YouTube, Instagram, Vine, Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr. There really is something here for everyone!
To start your first campaign, you simply have to set up what is essentially a brief for what you want to achieve. Influencers will then apply with the types of content they would like to make for you. Along with each influencer comes a handy selection of analytics and statistics based on their influence and social reach, so you know exactly what you’ll be getting for your money.
They even provide male/female demographic percentages so you know that you’re going to reach the right people.
As with everything, you get what you pay for, so don’t expect to reach an absolutely HUGE audience with a $100 campaign. However, it could definitely be the way to get a taste of what influencer marketing can do for you.
IgShoutouts.com is a great platform for a couple of reasons. It’s split down into categories for ease of use. And it’s one of the cheapest out there that’s available to smaller and unestablished brands.
As you can see from the screenshot above, it’s laid out in an intuitive way, making it easy for you to select your best account options. Prices vary widely depending on the package you choose and who you wish to work with, but generally come in at less than $100 and start from as little as $10.
Typically, you’ll want to work with accounts that aren’t following many people compared to how many followers they have. Essentially this ‘score’ is what will make them an influencer. Make sure you read the reviews, because not every account will be right for you and the products you’re promoting, so make sure you check out their feeds for previously promoted content. In general, this is a pretty cheap and quick way to gain exposure, especially when you’re building a subscriber base for new Instagram accounts.
Sponsokit “build relationships with influential video creators”. As you might have guessed from their description of themselves, Sponsokit work closely with influencers who are video specialists. Much like FameBit, they’ll put you in touch with a variety of influencers in different target markets, so you can work together to create content that speaks to your potential buyers. You start the bidding, and potential influencers will make suggestions on how best to collaborate and get the most out of your shared experience.
Although Sponsokit is continually growing, and aims to provide content for a global audience, there’s a definite trend towards German content creators at the moment. So be aware that the global reach is still expanding before you jump in and make videos.
But, as you can see from this screenshot, the offers do come flooding in if you have a healthy budget set aside.
WHAT’S NEXT FOR INFLUENCER MARKETING?
If things keep going the way they are, influencer marketing is probably going to become even more popular than it already is. And as with a lot of advertising, this means there will be more rules and regulations imposed on the practice. So the time to strike is now, before it gets more difficult to utilise as an affiliate marketing tool.
However, there’s likely to be a shift away from traditional ‘celebrities’ in terms of influencer marketing, and that’s great news for people with smaller budgets. There’s a definite trend towards “micro-influencers” – these are the guys that have a more specific reach; less broad than someone like Kim Kardashian has, but more accurate in terms of targeting.
What this means for advertisers is better targeting when using influencer marketing. Initially influencer marketing used a scattergun approach, trying to reach as many people as possible, in the hope that it would yield sales and traffic.
Going forward, many advertisers will be focusing more on reaching the right people in smaller numbers, and pursuing more numerous influencers with a smaller reach and contained within a specific niche. So while a celebrity might generate huge social reach numbers, they won’t necessarily provide the ROI that advertising with a smaller but more product-specific influencer could.
Another trend to look out for in the future will be more collaboration between brands and the influencers themselves. Imagine you’ve built up a huge Twitter or YouTube following; it’s not easy and it takes a lot of time and effort to build a subscriber base. So you wouldn’t want to put out any content on your affiliate website that you weren’t happy with, would you? It’s exactly the same for social influencers. Why? Because it might alienate their subscriber base and if that happens, they’ll no longer have anything to sell to advertisers.
The solution to this is collaboration. Collaboration between brands, agencies and influencers will be essential going forward in influencer marketing, because no one knows their audience better than the influencer themselves. This means they will be advising on ad content, messaging, scheduling and creatives. By working together, both parties will be able to achieve better results, and this is something you should bear in mind when it comes to utilising influencer marketing as part of your affiliate campaigns. Listen to the influencers you work with. They know their audience and what it will respond to.
So, you should now have everything you need to go out and give influencer marketing a try. You know what it is and how it works. You’ve seen examples in practice and have been shown a selection of platforms to try it out on. We’d love you to leave a comment below to let us know how you get on. Good luck!