What is an influencer?


What’s your ultimate 2022 marketing goal? Authenticity? Reach? Persuasiveness?

Virtual Marketing Manager
July 22, 2022
  (NZDT - GMT +12)

What’s your ultimate 2022 marketing goal? Authenticity? Reach? Persuasiveness?

Do you often wonder how to communicate with your target market in a way that doesn’t seem ‘sale-sy’ or fake? And how to measure the results to ensure your advertising spend was worth the financial outlay?

And what about word-of-mouth, how can you get people organically talking about how great your latest product is?

That’s where influencer marketing strategies are so powerful. Because of the unique relationship a social media influencer has with their followers, and the equally unique position as ‘trusted mouthpiece’ followers bestow on the influencer, they have become a powerful avenue for brands to connect with people. Meanwhile the online nature of influencer marketing means the results are measurable – and in real time.

But hold on, what is an influencer?

An influencer is someone who has a credible voice in a certain sphere. Generally, a strong personality or someone with knowledge in a specific area. This person then uses their influence with followers on behalf of brands to affect purchasing decisions, or to encourage engagement with services or ideas. They ‘sell’ through digital content creation on social media, such as Instagram and Facebook posts and stories, Twitter, TikTok and blog posts.

An influencer may have become influential through another domain such as being a successful sports person or television personality. When a brand uses this kind of influencer for their marketing campaign it is known as celebrity endorsement. A non-celebrity influencer is someone who has garnered an organic following on social media – and have come to be known as a persuasive voice in a specific area such as fashion, lifestyle or health.

Through creating content, an influencer markets a brand or product in a connected and authentic way. Utilising the power of digital word-of-mouth to influence purchasing decisions or to persuade potential customers to engage with the brand. The aim for you is to turn an influencer’s followers into your brand’s devoted customers. And in doing so increase brand awareness and of course sales.

Planning is Key

Sound exciting? Yes! Want to start working with influencers in 2022? Yes! But before you jump in, planning (as with any robust marketing strategy) is key. And while influencer marketing could be one of the most powerful tools in your digital marketing toolbox, it remains essential to utilise the tried-and-true frameworks for marketing planning.

So first let’s create an influencer marketing strategy that fits well with your business.

Who are your customers or clients? Getting to know your market by creating buyer personas (essentially examples of your ideal client) will make it clear who you want to communicate with. What are their likes and dislikes? What does their weekend routine look like? Who is their favourite band? Once you have created clear personas, you’ll know the kind of followers you seek – and therefore the type of influencer you need to connect with.

What are your goals? Are you aiming for brand awareness? Increased sales? Or client retention? By creating these goals you’ll not only define what you want to achieve, but you’ll know when you’ve achieved it. For setting these, let’s take a trip back to that Marketing 101 class, and that ever helpful acronym SMART. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely.

  • Get specific.  
    Use numbers! You want to make more sales? How many more sales per month? More traffic flow to your website? How many? 100 visitors, or 1000, or more?
  • Make them measurable
    By using numbers your goals become measurable. How many visitors do you aim to get from each influencer post? How many more followers would you like on your brand’s Instagram page by the end of the campaign?
  • Make them attainable
    Be realistic. Are your goals possible for the length of engagement with your influencer? Is their following large enough to reach the goals you’ve set?
  • Make them relevant
    Your goals must align with what you are trying to accomplish. If you’re wanting to increase social media followers then your goals should be just that, not about traffic flow to your website or sales of a particular product. Stay focused!
  • Make them timely
    This is especially important when engaging with an influencer as your relationship with them is likely to be over a set period. In some cases, this may look like one post, in others, a series of posts will be used to promote your products or services over several months. There might be a particular period when you would like maximum engagement from your influencer, perhaps for the launch of a new product, or over a traditionally slow season to increase sales.

    To ascertain if your goals have been reached you will need to define your KPIs or Key Performance Indicators, and these will change depending on the goals you’ve defined. Get to know your website platform and it’s monitoring capabilities. You’ll be able to see sales over specific time periods, traffic flow to the website (and from what social media platform they have been generated), whereabouts your website visitor is based and the products they are most interested in. Therefore, if your influencer’s brief is to steer Aucklanders to your website from Instagram, to look at your newly launched product – you’ll be able to measure this and ascertain if the influencer marketing campaign has been a success.
  • Budget.
    Once you’ve defined your goals and have a better understanding of what you would like to achieve the next step is to establish your budget. What level of spend is available for influencer marketing from the marketing budget? And, what level of spend will help you to achieve the goals you have outlined above?

Choosing your influencer

Armed with a clear marketing strategy, and well-defined goals for your marketing campaign the search for your perfectly aligned influencer can begin. Remember your intention is to convert your influencer’s followers into your new customer base, therefore alignment is imperative.

Having already defined your ultimate customer persona in the marketing strategy planning stage, you will know the type of follower you are looking for, and therefore the type of influencer.

If your brand is selling sports drinks, then yes, you guessed it, you’ll be looking for an influencer who posts about sport, health, fitness, healthy eating – and more importantly whose followers will be genuinely interested in the same.

Once you’ve established the type of influencer you’ll engage with, you can start your search. Following the hashtag #sponsored or #sponsoredpost or #ADpost is an effective way to start exploring the influencer options available. You might like to also search who your competitors or others in your industry are using. And look through your own followers, are there influencers already following your brand you could reach out to?

But you don’t have to search alone, you might choose to engage with an influencer marketing agency, or access online tools such as influencer directories.

Whether you choose to go it alone – or seek outside help, a key to choosing an influencer with impact is to assess their follower engagement. Just because an influencer garners a huge following, doesn’t necessarily mean they will create the biggest impact for your brand; engagement rates are key. Think about traditional word-of-mouth. If your Uber driver tells you about a great new restaurant he visited on the weekend, you may not take his advice as your relationship is passing. Whereas if your best friend tells you about the same restaurant, you’re likely to make an immediate booking. Engagement rates for influencers work in much the same way. The followers that ‘engage’ are more akin to a close friend than a Uber driver. Therefore, they are more likely to be influenced by the influencer relationship. These are the kinds of relationships you should focus on as you seek influence for your brand. Followers’ engagements such as ‘likes’, ‘comments’, ‘saves’ and ‘shares’, are the cues that signal the depth of relationship and connectedness, and therefore the likelihood they will listen to the influencer and act on the information. Engagement rates are the currency of social media marketing.

But how do I ascertain engagement rates, I hear you ask?

The answer is simpler than you think! While there are varying degrees of complicated formulas across the internet. Here’s a good, solid, simple formula to shed light on the level of engagement your prospective influencer enjoys.

  • Count the number of engagements on a post.
  • Divide by total number of followers.
  • Simple.

This will calculate the engagement on a particular post, if you would like to calculate an average across all posts, do the same calculation but include all posts, divide by total followers, then divide by number of posts.

The number you are looking for varies depending on the followership, as engagement naturally diminishes as the followership increases. For

  •   <1000 followers average about 8% engagement
  •   1,000 – 10,000 followers average 4% engagement
  •   10,000 – 100,000 followers average 2.4% engagement
  •   100,000 – 1 million followers average 1.8% engagement
  •   > 1 million followers average 1.7% engagement

Reaching out to an influencer

Once you make contact, professional influencers will have a well organised media kit for you to peruse, which will help you decide if the relationship is a good fit. The media kit will contain important information such as their area of influence, number of followers, (the all-important) engagement rates, and of course their fees. Often, they will offer a series of packages at different rates and for different lengths of time for you to choose from. A package might look like - 3 x Instagram posts, 1 x Story Reel, and a blog post, over 3 months, for ‘X’ amount. They’ll also need to try out your product or service so they can share about it in an informed way, and so this will need to be provided alongside payment.

What do you think? Is 2022 the year your brand smashes its marketing goals with the help of a perfectly aligned influencer?

Hopefully we’ve helped make things a little clearer for you as you start your search for your first influencer – and experience the power of this incredible digital marketing tool.

Contact us for advice on how you can maximise the results of your efforts, and let us help grow your business.