Social Media Influencers: What They Do And How To Work With Them
Laughed over a YouTube video? Drooled over an Instagram post by a food blogger?
Chances are that the content which you regularly consume online are created by social media influencers. From mega-celebrities like Kim Kardashian and Ronaldo to micro (and even nano) influencers with more modest followings, social media influencers like Instagrammers, YouTubers, TikTokers, bloggers, and Facebookers play vital roles in brand marketing campaigns around the world.
With social media influencers on the rise, engaging with them can effectively boost your social media marketing efforts.
In this article, you will learn and understand how influencer marketing can help to achieve your marketing goals. In addition, you will also learn how to approach influencers and increase your probability of receiving a reply from your targeted influencers on the different social media platforms.
Let us begin by defining who exactly is a social media influencer.
Who is a Social Media Influencer?
A social media influencer is a social media user with credibility in a specific domain or industry, has access to a sizable audience, and can persuade others to act based on their recommendations.
Typically, an influencer would have the following characteristics:
- They could be bloggers, Instagram users, YouTube video creators, Facebook users, or TikTok video creators.
- They are specialist content creators and are fairly consistent and regular in generating “episodic content” on their channels.
- They have the charisma and authenticity to consistently attract viewers, grow their fanbases, and motivate their fans or followers to take action.
- They have websites or YouTube video channels that utilize basic principles of Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Food, travel and fitness bloggers are especially adept at this.
Influencer marketing, if executed well, can be extremely effective. Interestingly, 40 per cent of Twitter users make buying decisions due to an influencer’s post based on Twitter statistics.
An example is Seth Lui, the most-read online local food publication. Seth and his team regularly offer balanced reviews on the F&B outlets that they visit. They cover a wide range of F&B options in their blog posts, YouTube videos, and Instagram posts — from articles on heritage hawker food to reviews of fine-dining restaurants.
Influencers like Seth Lui have garnered a loyal following by virtue of the quality of their content. Their followers trust their recommendations, and they’ve built a robust reputation over the years. These social media influencers can be great advocates and spread positive word-of-mouth about your brand to their followers.
Beyond Twitter, 72 per cent of Instagram users have made fashion, beauty or style-related purchases after viewing something on the app. This demonstrates Instagram’s continued influence on purchase decisions in the 2020 digital marketing environment.
An influencer who successfully harnessed fashion in social media is Andrea Chong. A talented blogger and influencer, she received a Fashion Icon of the Year Award due to her fashionable beauty tips. Her insights into the latest fashion trends and sensible tips have helped thousands of fashionistas to achieve classic and timeless looks. Brands that she has worked with include Superga Singapore, Kate Spade and Adidas.
So, how can these social media influencers effectively boost your company’s digital marketing outcomes?
Here are some of the more common benefits of hiring an influencer:
- Build a larger brand following – your organisation can gain greater brand awareness, top-of-mind brand awareness, and brand recognition
- Increase your company’s credibility – you can improve your company or product brand image through positive reviews by influencers.
- Generate more sales, new leads and conversions – you can grow your customer base, trigger sales, and attract more leads through partnerships with influencers.
How to Find the Right Social Media Influencer?
The right influencer can help to create confidence and drive interaction with your target audiences. To maximise your engagement with influencers, you should only collaborate with social media influencers whose vision, audience, emphasis on content, and values align with your own. With that said, listed below are some crucial characteristics to kickstart your journey in search of the right social media influencer.
Influencers help in sharing market and industry-relevant content. Their fans, followers and audiences should be aligned with your target market. One such case study would be Intrepid Travel which partnered with Erin Ireland, a committed vegan advocate, to launch its new vegan tours. In an engaging and honest manner, the influencer had a highly critical audience to which the business gained access.
Another case study would be Singapore vegetarian travel blogger, Keith Yuen who made a list of vegetarian food in Bangkok that catered to the vegetarians in Singapore who love to fly to Bangkok in his blog,Travelinspiration360.
The ability to deliver content through an influencer to your target audience helps increase your brand and product recognition. As social media users with a large following, influencers are able to reach out to new potential customers that your brand may find difficulty in reaching.
To determine your influencer’s reach, consider the following variables:
Impressions define the number of times a post appeared in a news feed or timeline for a user.
A viewer does not have to interact in the post to count it as an impression. An individual may also have multiple impressions for a single post.
However, there is a difference between reach and impressions. Reach is the total amount of audiences who view your content while impressions are the number of times your content is displayed to them, regardless if it was clicked or not.
#2 Post Reach
The reach of posts defines a group of unique individuals who view a certain piece of content at least once over a period of time. To be counted as reach, a viewer does not have to engage with the post.
#3 Number of Fans/ Followers (also known as Potential Reach)
Potential reach describes the potential number of people within your company’s audiences, compounded by friends of these audiences or audiences in a community who encounter a piece of content over a period of time. For social media influencers, it normally includes the total fan base (i.e. followers, subscribers or page likes) of that influencer.
Resonance measures the engagement that an influencer can generate with an audience similar to your brand. In relation to engagement, the engagement rate is measured by the number of engagements or interactions divided by either the post’s reach or impressions. The engagement rate varies depending on the social network you select.
Engagements or interactions include the following:
- Swipes (for Stories)
Increasingly, engagements or interactions have superseded no. of fans or followers as the most important metric in hiring influencers. A large number of followers does not mean greater engagement as those followers may not be interested or keen on the content posted by the influencer.
With the rise of nano-influencers (influencers with less than 1000 followers), brands have found that some of these smaller influencers actually deliver better engagement rates per post than the mega influencers. This is because such influencers may be able to engender a higher level of trustworthiness amongst their loyal supporters. They may also be more selective regarding the goods, services and brands that they endorse, and be perceived to be more authentic as they know their followers personally. An example is Abigail Brookes, a lifestyle nano-influencer who is the brand ambassador for creative studio By Forms.
The final R is Research — an important task that all brands looking to hire influencers should undertake.
There are several tools that assist in finding the appropriate social media influencers for your brand. You can use these tools to objectively evaluate each influencer based on established metrics and reduce the subjectivity of working only with influencers that you like.
Buzzsumo is a powerful tool that uses specific algorithms to help you search, follow, reach out and evaluate information about influencers. Their powerful search engine helps you find important influencers around topics and places, as well as additional resources to assist with your outreach efforts.
You may also export information about influencers to other channels or for reporting purposes. It is an ideal platform to locate social media influencers with strong engagements on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or Instagram.
While Buzzsumo is not a free site, they do offer a 7-day free trial, hence it is worth taking advantage of that to analyze the tool’s efficiency.
Buzzsumo Influencer Tool
Followerwonk has a tool that enables you to find Twitter influencers by searching for keywords on Twitter profiles or Twitter bios, which can then be further personalized by adding a place, name, or URL. The search results will give a list of Twitter influencers along with their number of tweets, fans, how many people they are following, their account age, and social authority.
Followerwonk also enables you to build a list of potential influencers which you can then engage with. This free tool helps in organizing by using Twitter lists to track influencers and remain on top of the engagement activities.
Followerwonk Twitter Influencer Tool
Hootsuite offers a platform for brands to utilize their search streams by tracking related conversations to identify social media influencers. The platform allows the creation of Twitter lists and easily saves them into trackable streams. This significantly simplifies the interaction efforts with the various influencers.
HootSuite Stream Searching via Synthesio
TrendSpottr is an app built by the intellects of Hootsuite that allows marketers to spot trends, including trending influencers. Images, videos, and influencers can be found via the app for any tag or topic. There are also resources for communicating with key influencers, viewing which hashtags are trending, choosing common tag lists, and sharing trending content. However, TrendSpottr is a paid tool, but it will not break the bank at only $4.99/month.
TrendSpottr Pro Search Tool
Google Alerts (Free)
Googling your audience’s interests would possibly lead to LinkedIn groups, Reddit discussions, popular blogs or websites that are often visited by your audience. An example would be googling interest in learning how to play the guitar, enabling you to find groups and discussions relating to music and stringed instruments. By utilizing this method, you would be able to discover your target influencers.
Influencer Marketing Platforms
There are several influencer marketing tools that help you find the right brand influencers such as Partipost, Kobe and Narrators. They have various forms of payment for influencers, such as pay-per-post, pay-per-engagement, and other models. For example, Partipost allows influencers to directly withdraw their earnings from the app to their bank account after posting content that promotes the brand.
Partipost: How It Works
How to Engage Social Media Influencers?
Once you have decided on the appropriate influencers, the next essential step you will need to know is how to engage with them.
1. Research Potential Influencers’ Content
From the outset, you should research every aspect of your target influencers’ online activity and the history of their online content. If the influencers have previously touted your competitor’s advantages, it might be seen as insincere to the influencers’ followers. Therefore, any posts advertising your brand might have a significantly lower influence on their followers.
Investigate all of your target influencers’ social real estate – while they could be a suitable candidate to work with on Instagram, their Twitter behaviour may be off-brand. In cases like this, it would not be ideal working with an influencer who may garner recognition inappropriately.
2. Send Them a Personalised Direct Message
A direct message is an excellent place to start, but you should be mindful not to send a generic direct message or mass email. You can make it easier for influencers to trust you by providing as much data about your brand and what your campaign aims to achieve.
It is possible to use template messages of what you engage them for, but there must be elements of personalization that make them feel that you know what they stand for and how your beliefs match with each other. Invest time to write a personal message to each influencer and demonstrate a willingness to collaborate. This will help to improve the chances of reaching an agreement.
When you have a template for engaging influencers, you would have a higher chance of achieving your desired outcome. By using a personalised template, influencers would be more likely to have a positive impression of your brand and work with you.
Template For Engaging Influencers
3. Let Influencers be Authentic
The heart of influencer engagement lies in working with social media influencers who are transparent, authentic and real. These individuals have been influential through crafting great content in reaching a specific audience online. It is vital to enable the influencers to lead you based on the type of content their followers will respond to and allow them to use their own personal voice.
You should avoid forcing a certain method of doing things as it will result in ingenuine sounding content on your influencer’s social feed. This may lead to a negative and vexing work relationship between you and the influencer.
4. Process and KPIs
Although allowing creative independence for influencers is essential, your hired influencer should also recognize your expectations for the collaboration. Where possible, they should sync their messages to align with your brand sentiment.
There are three common ways of engaging influencers:
- Paid commitments: This can vary greatly, from $50 per Instagram post to as much as $30,000 per YouTube supported video. Typically they are for macro-influencers or celebrities.
- Supported goods/services: Giving them gifts and premiums or vouchers can be helpful for micro-influencers and nano-influencers. Some of these influencers may post an Instagram story featuring the goods or services based on what they receive.
- Events: Typically, these are unpaid and include inviting an influencer to a launch event. Commonly, a goodie bag of samples, freebies and food and beverages would be given to the influencer which they can, in turn, take pictures or videos of to upload on social media.
From the start, be specific about the number of posts you expect, the rough content or message of posts and the cadence of posting. A robust process from interaction to payment through the entire influencer relationship would allow you to scale more effectively and efficiently.
5. Rules of Social Media Advertising (Singapore)
When hiring influencers, do note that some degree of transparency should be observed.
Wherever possible, social media influencers must disclose if their posts are paid or sponsored. Such disclosure clauses should be included in your agreements with the influencer.. To ensure greater transparency in online advertising, the Advertising Standards Authority of Singapore (ASAS) have developed guidelines regulating transparency in influencer engagement.
Identification of Commercial Message
Marketing correspondence should be easily distinguishable from, and should not be made to look like, personal views and editorial content. Marketing communication does not say or suggest that another company or individual has endorsed the product or service because it has not. Marketing communication should not take the form of social media content that seems to originate from a reputable and unbiased source, but it should be from a marketer who produced that solely for promotional purposes.
Disclosures in marketing communication, using plain terminology and grammar, should be simple and concise. Avoid legal or technical jargon. Disclosures should also be transparent and prominent for supported content.
Elements such as graphics, sound, text, links leading to other screens or sites, or “add to cart” buttons should not distract consumers from the disclosures. Disclosures should also be identifiable.
Clarity of Offer & Conditions
Software or other technological devices should not be used to mask or obscure any content factor likely to affect customer decisions, such as price and other terms of sale.
Beyond the above guidelines, you should also adopt high standards of integrity in hiring the right influencers. Influencer marketing ethics is important as trust and authenticity form the cornerstone of successful brand-influencer relationships. Hence, influencers should bear the responsibility to be transparent and disclose all types of benefits in their sponsored posts.
Respect the intellectual property of another person. If we have cited the material of another person (even if we have rewritten them), it is common courtesy to acknowledge them and if possible, provide them with a link. For images and videos, a link with the right credit should be provided to the original source. While you may be inspired by another party’s work, it is important to respect one’s intellectual property by providing credit and citation.
Buying Fans and Followers
The issue with buying fans and followers from click farms is that in the long run, it will just sabotage you. Click farms refer to a commercial company that hires a large number of people (often from third world countries) to click on web content products continually in order to falsely inflate traffic or engagement.
The danger of buying from click farms is it might tarnish your brand’s reputation because once it is exposed, your genuine followers would unfollow your brand. Not only is it inappropriate, but buying fans from fake accounts also reduces legitimate contact with genuine fans and clients.
Done successfully, influencer marketing can greatly improve your brand’s online reputation, and allow you to expand into new audience groups. It allows you to tap on a ready market of potential buyers who are keen in a specific domain.
However, do not rush into influencer marketing without thoroughly studying the space and each target influencer you are considering working with. The key is to implement a method that includes every stage — from influencer selection and contract negotiation to publishing and payment agreements.
Lastly, let influencers have the freedom to lead with genuine content and avoid controlling the content they post to ensure authentic content.
If you are eager to learn more, sign up for our Social Media Marketing course where you will be well-equipped with the fundamental frameworks, concepts and tools needed to succeed in social media. You can also browse and sign up for the other digital marketing courses held in-person in Singapore or online, which cover the remaining five core modules in Equinet Academy’s Digital Marketing Curriculum.
At Equinet Academy, the remaining five core modules of Digital Marketing include:
- Digital Marketing Strategy
- Content Marketing Strategy
- Search Engine Optimisation
- Digital Advertising
- Digital Marketing Analytics with Google Analytics
At the end of all six courses, you will be awarded an industry-recognised Certified Digital Marketing Strategist Certificate which will put you in good stead with potential employers and business partners.
Walter is the Founder and Chief Content Strategist of Cooler Insights, with over 25 years of leadership experience in content & social media marketing, PR, strategy, and industry development. He is also the lead trainer for the Social Media courses here at Equinet Academy.