An Introduction to Influencer Marketing

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The internet has given us so many gifts over the years — cat videos, funny memes, hashtags, selfies, and, of course, social media. Online social connection has become more a way of life than a means of entertainment, with millions of people sharing every moment of their lives in return for likes and shares. 

Nowadays, certain users are able to turn their platforms into virtual billboards for businesses — also known as influencer marketing. 

True to its name, influencer marketing brings companies and influencers together to promote brand awareness and increase revenue. In fact, 93% of marketers incorporate influencers into their marketing strategies, and 92% consider it effective. 

Now, if we've lost you at "influencer," fear not — we're here to explain. Here is an introductory guide to influencer marketing: 

What Exactly Is an Influencer? 

Let's start with the most obvious question: Who is considered an influencer? 

In short, a social media influencer is someone who has a strong effect on other users' opinions and buying decisions. They have either generated a massive following (i.e., celebrities) or established a credible reputation in a specific industry. 

Whether it's a makeup artist, fitness expert, or marketing guru, influencers attract dedicated followers, share their expertise, and provide advice about which brands are best (which is perceived as trustworthy by their followers). 

In general, influencers are broken up into four categories: mega, macro, micro, and nano-influencers. Here is a brief look at each: 

Mega-Influencers: Typically have millions of online followers, providing more overall reach than connection to a specific audience (think A-list celebrities) 

Macro-Influencers: Anywhere from 100,000 to one million followers, they usually have the internet to thank for their celebrity status 

Micro-Influencers: Industry experts with follower counts ranging from 1,000 to 100,000 

Nano-Influencers: Less than 1,000 followers, but have an influence in their local community 

How Does Influencer Marketing Work? 

So, what is influencer marketing? 

When influencers partner with companies, their job is to produce original, sponsored content on social media platforms that generates brand awareness, engagement, and revenue. 

Target the Right Audience 

The first step is to determine your target audience and which platform is best suited for your marketing strategy. Who do you want to influence, and how? 

Let's say your brand targets parents in search of organic meals for their kids. Who is the best influencer to help promote that? Maybe it's a popular mom blogger or a well-known health and fitness coach. Determining your audience takes time, research, and a strong sense of brand identity. 

Keeping your target market in mind, you'll also want to establish the best channel for your product, service, or message. While Instagram is the top choice for influencer marketing, other platforms like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, blogs (and more) are other valuable options. 

Choose the Best Influencer Type for Your Brand 

Once you've established your target audience, budget, and preferred channel, the next step is to select the right type of influencer. Odds are, a mega-influencer isn't necessary (or affordable). For example, Kylie Jenner (the infamous Kardashian sisters) makes around $1 million per sponsored Instagram post. (Insane, right?) 

When making your decision, it's helpful to look into the cost per sponsored post. While mega-influencers reach the masses, the cost is almost always out of reach. Their follower base is so diverse that a specific market is almost impossible to target. 

In contrast, nano-influencers fall into a much more affordable category. Where they lack in follower count, they make up for in relationship-building. Since they don't have millions of followers to keep track of, they're able to maintain a more intimate relationship with their base, cultivating more loyalty. 

Ready to Start Influencing? 

Influencer marketing is an effective way to gain traction for your brand. Partnering with successful social media influencers is almost necessary to stay relevant in today's digital age. 

Of course, it's not the only strategy that plays into your marketing plan — this izea.com article, for example, lays out the benefits of combining influencer and content marketing. Influencer marketing is here to stay, so your business better get on board!

For even more marketing ideas, check out the Social Media and Marketing sections of the Frugal Finance Blog. Building a strong marketing strategy is essential for success, and we're here to provide tips and advice to help you achieve your goals!

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