Influencer Marketing: Everything You Need to Know

January 23, 2024

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If you think about it, influencer marketing isn’t new. It just has a sexy name.

The foundation of influencer marketing is simply word-of-mouth recommendations which marketers have been leveraging for a very long time.

You’ve probably been influenced by an influencer yourself. After all, 84% of consumers have made a purchase decision based on an influencer’s recommendation. 

I’ve been doing influencer marketing for over a decade and have worked with hundreds of brands and thousands of influencers. So, I have a lot of insights to share.

What Exactly Is Influencer Marketing?

Influencer marketing is simply building relationships with content creators who have an engaged following. 

Brands work with influencers to amplify their products or services. Influencers share their experiences with brands in an authentic way.

At the end of the day, influencer marketing is basically about building relationships at scale.

Does Influencer Marketing Really Work?

Influencer marketing has been a game-changer for many brands.

In fact, influencer marketing is used by 88% of brands. The average ROI for influencer marketing is $5.20 for every $1 spent. There are a lot more enticing statistics and you can get them here.

So, yes, when implemented strategically, influencer marketing works, or else so many brands wouldn’t be doing it.

If you want influencer marketing to work for you, you must value authenticity above all else. Your efforts will excel if you find niche influencers who sincerely like your brand. This authenticity shows in their posts, and that is what makes their audience convert.

How Do I Decide on Influencer Criteria?

To find the influencers that are going to move the needs of your brand, you have to be strategic.

Start by looking at your buyer personas. Determine the following:

  • Which platform(s) do your target consumers spend time on
  • What pain points does your brand solve
  • Topics that entice your consumers

Once you have a better understanding of what your consumers want to see from influencers and the platforms they are spending time on, you are ready to start recruiting influencers.

How Do I Find Influencers to Recommend My Brand?

You have a lot of options to find influencers for your brand. Depending on your budget, there are different ways to source your influencers.

Google search: Type “list of influencers on (insert social platform) and (insert topic affinity)”

Utilize an influencer marketing database: There are a lot of influencer marketing databases out there that have millions of influencers you can pull lists from. Do a simple Google search for “influencer marketing platforms” and you’ll see that some are only $100 per month and some are $1,000. The beauty of this industry is that it is competitive, so almost all of these platforms offer a free trial so you can try a few and determine which one is best for you.

Hire a freelancer: There are a ton of freelancers out there who specialize in influencer marketing. Take me for example. Or you can find freelancers on UpWork. Just make sure they have a few years of experience and already have relationships with influencers in your industry. 

Partner with an agency: If you have the budget and want to really get serious about influencer marketing, you can hire an agency. This way, you’ll have a whole team dedicated to your efforts. Again, a simple Google search will reveal the agency partnerships that you have to choose from.

How Much Does Influencer Marketing Cost?

The cost of influencers is the most common question that I get. And it’s a tricky one.

There are a few factors to consider, such as the price point of the product you are sending them, how many followers they have, and what exactly you’re asking from them.

I tend to work with “mid-level” influencers who have about 50,000 followers. The average cost per post from them is $250-$300.

What Should I Look For When Vetting Influencers?

When searching for and vetting influencers, remember the criteria I mentioned earlier in this post.

In addition to the criteria, vet for the following:

  • Engagement rate should be at least 3%
  • Their content is visually appealing
  • Their morale fits with your brand
  • They have some sponsored posts but half is organic (as not to come across as too salesly)
  • They have contact information
  • They post consistently 

Do Influencers Have to Disclose Their Partnership With My Brand?

Influencers absolutely have to disclose their partnership with your brand. The FTC requires it.

If an influencer doesn’t disclose that they were compensated and they get caught, the brand gets in trouble, not the influencer. So when you’re working with influencers, make sure they disclose.

This can be a sentence at the beginning of a blog post, a mention at the beginning of a YouTube video, or a hashtag on social that says #sponsored.

How Can I Track the ROI From Influencer Marketing?

The easiest way to track ROI from influencer marketing is to give each influencer a unique discount code. They will give this code to their audience, who can then use it when they purchase online. This allows me to attribute sales from each influencer and the campaign as a whole.

Other ways to track ROI are through Google Analytics and UTM parameters.

Some more metrics that you may want to track are engagement, traffic, follower growth, and earned media.

How Many Influencers Should I Partner With?

The goal of influencer marketing is to build solid partnerships. Once you run your first campaign, data will reveal which influencers you should partner with again.

In the spirit of relationship building, I recommend a campaign of 20-30 influencers to start. This is a good amount to create buzz but not too many that you can’t keep a pulse on the relationships.

If you have a lot of time to dedicate to this strategy or multiple team members working on it, feel free to scale up.

Do I Have Control Over the Narrative When Working With Influencers?

There is a delicate balance when instructing your influencers on what you want from their posts.

Of course, you want them to represent your brand accurately. But you also don’t want to infringe on their creativity. Their creativity is what got them their large audience in the first place. Not to mention, an influencer knows their audience better than you do.

I recommend that you create a campaign document that you seed the influencers with so they represent your brand well but still have room for creative freedom. Items that should be in your campaign document are:

  • Hashtags influencers should use
  • Campaign theme
  • How to link to your brand
  • A few talking points
  • A due date
  • Their discount code

How Can I Get the Most Value Out of Influencer-Generated Content?

Since influencers have large audiences, you’ll get a lot of leverage from their followers. But don’t just rely on an influencer’s organic audience.

Utilize influencer-generated content on paid ads on social media, post it on your website, and utilize it in email marketing. It’s smart to get as much out of your earned media as possible because nowadays, consumers crave social proof, and it’s your job to give it to them.

Do you have any questions about influencer marketing that I didn’t answer? Feel free to ask your questions in the comments below and I will answer them!