How to Leverage Influencer Marketing for your Startup
If your startup does not have a sensible and robust marketing strategy, you’re in for a bumpy ride. Image branding, reaching out while attempting to speak your audience’s language, selecting the right marketing platform for your products/services, and finalizing only the optimum marketing strategies, can undoubtedly be a real challenge.
This does not mean that the said task is impossible, as there are many ways to kick-start your startup’s marketing strategies. Experts deem that influencer marketing is one of the best marketing strategies you can use today. Planning and executing an influencer marketing strategy can become overwhelming, but you can partner with agencies in Atlanta that specialize in influencer marketing.
What is Influencer Marketing?
Influencer marketing is a way to promote their products/ services via endorsements or recommendations by popular social media users or bloggers (influencers). These influencers have many loyal and engaged followers that businesses can tap into to build credibility, resulting in many conversions that drive sales.
Although the concept of influencer marketing started way back in 2006, its landscape has changed through time and revolutionized the whole marketing landscape for many. Influencers now have many more options to choose from – countless social media platforms, more available content types to use. Also, even when the influencers are abroad and cannot access certain apps, there are ways to circumvent this.
What is a Social Media Influencer?
As the name suggests, an influencer is someone who has gained strong credibility in a specific niche so much so they have the necessary clout. This power stems from their devoted followers, people who adore them and value their opinions and tastes. You don’t have to use this as your primary profession. You can use it as a hobby and be such a lifestyler while still working from home.
What they do, think, or even want affects the actions of their followers. Bear in mind that these people do not see them as merely paid endorsers; the influencers are seen as more of close friends as they are within reach.
Why Influencer Marketing is Best for Your Startup
Caption: Number of global social network users 2017-2025 (Source: Statista)
Over 3.6 billion people are using social media worldwide, and this figure will increase to almost 4.41 billion in 2025, making social media one of the most popular online activities. The market here is simply too big to ignore.
And, as more and more people joined social media channels such as Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, to name a few, you’ll find that some of them started to ‘influence’ others by creating, curating, and sharing their own stories, experiences, photos, and videos. Thus, the birth of influencers.
This has led many marketers to hunt for influencers to be their ultimate marketing weapons. This explains how influencer marketing became an essential part of any business’ marketing landscape.
In short, influencer marketing is a powerful marketing approach that allows you to reach your targeted audience more effectively and uniquely authentic. And if done rightly, it is especially cost-effective for startups. Also, as a startup, you’d want to increase your outreach as much as you can and build your brand. So, what better way than influencer marketing?
Types of Influencer Marketing
Your brand and influencers can work together in different ways to develop various new ideas that can keep your audience engaged and excited. While influencer marketing is all about an influencer sharing and promoting your product/service, there are many ways to go about this:
1. Contests & Giveaways
Look, everyone loves free stuff! As such, it’s no wonder that giveaway campaigns are commonly used. It is simple to execute and, best of all, mutually benefits both you and your targeted audience. This brings about guaranteed growth via follow-ups, shares, retweets, and comments. This can lead to higher potential conversions and ultimately generate higher ROI.
You’ll provide your influencers with a product/service that they can give away to their followers. The giveaway can be based on an upscaled contest or a simple one (the first 50 to share to at least 100 users). We recommend that the contest remains as simple as possible.
However, beware of possible hiccups that can happen in competitions. You may have gained a surge in followers who are only there for the prize and not your brand. As such, once the contest ends, you’ll see a huge decline in followers. Not forgetting the possibility of you getting fake accounts and bots, which can pose security threats too.
Remember that it is important to have the whole contest process be as transparent as possible and take extra care for critical responses from those who have not won. This must be handled very carefully to avoid anything negative that can backfire and affect your brand.
2. Gifts to Obtain Honest Reviews
This involves you approaching an influencer whose niche is in your alley, offering them your product for free to use. In return, the influencer can voluntarily record an unboxing video with an honest review, posting this on their social media channels. The followers will be taking a virtual journey with the influencer about your product which is great.
That said, you’re getting an honest review, so this can either work in your favor or bite you back instead. As much as influencers would usually feel obligated to be ‘gentle’ in such cases, there are some who aren’t afraid to tell the world flat-out that they hate your product.
Therefore, be careful if you decide to take this approach. You want good and positive Google reviews embeds o that the followers would be more inclined to buy and try. Bear in mind that this type of influencer marketing usually works better with micro-influencers.
3. Sponsored Content
As you know, Google stresses quality content, and even though you may have great and beneficial content, there is this risk that your content will not garner enough traction. This is where influencers come in.
You usually will engage an influencer who has clout in your industry. You then send the influencer a campaign brief that provides the guidelines, expectations, instructions, or themes from your brand so that the influencer would know your expectations. However, you also need to let the influencer have some creative freedom. After all, it is the influencer who knows the followers better than you.
The influencer then creates promotional content (image, video, post, etc.) and works towards pushing your brand everywhere, increasing your outreach to places you never thought you could go. Simply put, this type of influencer marketing borrows the influencer’s voice to ‘speak’ and reach out to more. You’ll then be able to get more traction.
4. Affiliate Marketing
Affiliate marketing is one great way of working with many influencers at a time, what’s more, at a low cost. The influencer promotes your product/service on their channels with a unique promotion code which they will use. They will then promote via posts and shares with their followers in the hope of redirecting more customers to your site.
Once a promotion code is used in your site, the influencer will get a commission, and you get a sale. It’s a win-win situation.
5. Social Media Takeover
Unlike other types of influencer marketing strategies which involve you showing up on the influencer platform(s), this works the other way around, where the influencer shows up on yours instead. So, when you grant the influencer the permission to control and manage your social media channels, this is called social media takeover. This can last from as short as a day to as long as maybe weeks.
However, to do so, you’ll need to share your login credentials with the influencer, which requires a high level of trust. If you’re concerned with the security of sharing login credentials, you can opt for certain tools that allow the influencers to do so without you having to give them your login details.
6. Long-term Partnership with Influencers
Do influencers make that difference, especially with your sales?
Caption: Impact of influencers on global consumer purchasing in 2018, by influencer tier (Source: Statista)
A worldwide survey done on 1200 respondents showed that 45.4% of micro-influencer followers said they tried something recommended by those influencers, and a further 26.9% said they made a purchase after seeing the post. This way that consumers behave in making purchasing decisions has opened up countless opportunities for businesses.
So, yes, influencers do make a difference with your sales; there is an immense value of influencer marketing, making this a solid ROI in the long run. However, you need to implement influencer marketing in a focused, strategic, and effective manner.
7. Long-term Brand Ambassadors
Brand ambassadors are influencers, and as the name suggests, long-term ambassadors partner with your brand for an extended period. So, it is like having a long-term partnership with an influencer which can last for several months to more than a year. In short, the influencer is the ‘face’ of your brand.
A brand ambassador actively shares and promotes your brand’s content in various formats, such as photos, tweets, videos, and articles, through their social media channels. This can help imprint your brand image into the ambassador’s audience, which helps boost brand awareness.
A stronger relationship with the influencer would mean more trust, credibility, and authenticity in the eyes of the audience.
Benefits of Influencer Marketing
For startups and businesses of all sizes and nature, influencer marketing can do so much for your brand, especially since it breaks many of the previously impenetrable barriers. It is unique because people view their influencers as within reach and thus believe that influencers understand them better than even their friends.
Also, influencers get personal with their followers. This one-on-one interaction fosters a positive, long-term rapport between influencers and their followers. As such, followers trust influencers more over time.
Here are the benefits that influencer marketing can provide for your startup:
1. Increase Brand Awareness on All Social Media Platforms
Influencer marketing is a very effective way to expand your reach, creating a more solid positioning in the market. Social media users (influencer’s followers and others) will learn about your brand, your story, and the products/services you offer. With the right content promoted by the right influencer, you’ll be able to move the needle broadcasts to the people, proving that your brand is indeed a leader in your industry.
2. Diversify Content Strategy
When you engage an influencer, you usually engage one that already has the clout in your industry. As such, you can work with him/her to produce fresh and engaging content. After all, the influencer would know his/her audience better. Simply put, an influencer can aid your content development process, so you always get high-quality, diversified and aesthetically pleasing content to your audience.
3. Reach your Targeted Audience Effectively
Influencer marketing can help create that direct reach to your targeted audience. Unlike the conventional marketing methods, influencer marketing is super organic and thus gives off a more genuine approach rather than posing as a mere marketing tactic to lure people in. After all, what’s better than having a glowing endorsement from an influencer, the person they trust.
As such, people would be more receptive to your brand. Bear in mind that you not only get to connect to your intended audience, you’ll also be able to bond with other market segments as well – millennials and gen Z consumers. You want to tap into this segment as they help lots in boosting sales and revenues.
4. Build Brand Trust & Authority
Influencers have a strong following. Through time, they have built concrete relationships with their fans, establishing trust and credibility. As such, the fans respect their thoughts and recommendations. In short, social influencers exert a degree of authority on the products/ services that they are supporting.
So, look for an individual with industry authority, engage this person to help people notice and recognize your brand. As a result, this fosters a perception that your brand is trustworthy, credible and an industry leader, based on the sentiment and endorsement of the influencer. Building trust and authority is essential in today’s business landscape.
5. Rise in Click-through Rate (CTR)
As you now know, influencers possess a natural ability to influence and lead their followers in the direction of your brand’s products/services. After all, influencers are very relatable people with relatable lives. Consumers are increasingly turning to influencers for recommendations on what products/services they should go for.
Many would then be more inclined to click on the specific links to see what comes next. This is what any marketer wants as this leads to a higher CTR, which is commonly used to measure the success of any online advertising campaign.
6. Boost Brand’s SEO
Caption: Expertise is one of the factors on Google’s Search Quality Guidelines (Source: Google)
If deployed rightly in your influencer campaigns, your quality affiliate and featured links can drive significant traffic to those pages. Google will notice this traffic and upgrade your page rankings accordingly. Additionally, once you rope in industry expert influencers, this increases your Expertise, Authority, and Trust (E-A-T), which adds credibility and authority to your website.
Alternatively, influencers with high domain authority scores can give your website quality backlinks, thus boosting your SEO. In short, influencer marketing can certainly help increase your online visibility, which helps with your SEO.
Influencer marketing is a marketing strategy that focuses on certain key leaders in the said industry who already have a significant number of followers to help drive your brand’s message. You need to identify and set your marketing goals and leverage the right influencers’ organic influence for your startup to create deeper engagement between their followers and your brand.
You may be tempted to do a one-off campaign with the influencer as you wish to test the waters as a startup. However, having a long-term relationship with the influencer comes with lots of benefits that you should look into. If done right, influencer marketing can be a very cost-effective way to help your brand make a breakthrough in the market.
Pui Mun Beh is a digital marketer of WebRevenue. She keeps an eye on the latest digital marketing and social media trends. She loves to travel around the world offline and online. Say hello to her on LinkedIn.