PR + Social
How Any Industry Can Tap into Influencer Marketing
Food. Fashion. Travel. Lifestyle. These are the four horsemen of the influencer apocalypse. OK, that’s a bit dramatic, but there’s no question that these topics dominate the influencer landscape. If your brand lives in any one of these arenas, you likely have been on influencer marketing for a few years. But for those brands that live outside of the Big Four—which is most—you may still be unsure if influencer marketing is even an option for you. I’m here to say it is.
Wrapping your arms around the idea of influencer marketing starts with dumping the preconceived notions of what an influencer is. It’s not a person with seven-digit followers or who goes viral with each post. At its core, an influencer is simply someone whose opinion matters to someone else. If that ‘someone else’ is from your target audience, then the door is open.
For the purposes of applying influencer marketing for your brand, there are three types of influencers with respect to the content they produce: product-centric, product-adjacent, and audience-centric.
The most common, straight-forward type of influencer is product-centric; they use your product or service and tell others how great it is. Critical to success is finding an influencer who has a legitimate reason to use your product; one that is rooted in the reason people trust that person in the first place. This is an obvious fit for B2C or D2C companies and has become the default understanding for Influencer Marketing altogether. Perhaps the biggest movement in this space is how it mirrors social media in general, and that’s to say that audience size is no longer a measure of an influencer’s effectiveness. Micro-influencers gained a great deal of steam in 2021 and that expects to grow going forward, giving smaller, regional companies a path to building meaningful partnerships that benefit both sides of the equation.
While sales are the most common conversion for this tactic, the approach can also work for things like content downloads for B2B companies and donations for non-profit organizations. Audiences are typically OK with being directed to a branded interaction if the connection between the influencer and the CTA is a strong one.
- Product relevance: High
- Audience relevance: High
- Goals: Conversion + Lead Gen
Not all products and services fit nicely into the core influencer content categories, and this may cause marketers to stall when building an influencer program. Go beyond what your product or service is and consider the context it’s used, wanted or needed through product-adjacent influencers.
Take a retail bank, for example, that is promoting home equity loans. This isn’t the type of product you can just give away to an influencer, so you need to go a different route. The context that these are commonly used in is to make major home improvements, and this is an area that generates far more interest on social media. While influencers in this space regularly focus on before-and-after project content, they’re more than qualified to talk about the financial aspect. This may even be viewed by audiences as a welcomed addition to the influencer’s content offering. A co-created content piece that lives on your blog gives their audience a place to go on your website, leaving the best opportunity to capture interest.
- Product relevance: Medium
- Audience relevance: Medium
- Goals: Demand Gen
Audience-centric influencers are those who have a strong connection with one or more of your high-value niche audiences, but the connection between their content and your product is less clear. Just as your audience may be niche, the influencer may be as well. That typically means a smaller audience, so this is a good time to remember that audience size is not the goal—it’s action. If you understand the connection between the audience and the influencer, you can find a home for your product. This is less about product features and more about the benefits that enables the audience to do what it wants to do. For example, an influencer who creates content around senior leadership best practices can talk about your product or service in the context of how it frees up time or resources in a meaningful, beneficial way. Leverage existing testimonials to help create the narrative and then partner with influencers who have the strongest connection to those use cases.
- Product relevance: Low
- Audience relevance: High
- Goals: Demand Gen
Identifying the right influencers to partner with starts with asking audiences you have access to (employees, colleagues and clients) who they follow and what platforms they use. This will narrow your search and get you operating in the right spaces. Free advice: Any influencer you work with will have a varying degree of waste built into their respective audience, especially when it comes to geography. Account for this by promoting their content within the platform so it’s seen by people who can realistically do something about it.
As you collect potential influencers, categorize them into one of the three buckets outlined above and think through how you would use each of them. Based on the opportunities you find, it’s time to decide if this is a worthwhile investment just like any other marketing tactic. Remember, you need to provide value to your influencers, too, and that can be money or product, but it can also be access or information that gives them an edge in the content game. Like with any other marketing tool, it’s about assessing the opportunity and scaling the investment. Do the work to determine what the value could be for influencer marketing and go from there.
To learn more about how to tap amplify your brand through social media influencers, work with us to find out how to engage for impact. Ready to move on influencer marketing now? Contact us and we can help.
Paul Gangarossa is DS+CO’s public relations and content supervisor who understands emerging platforms, audiences and how to reach them.