Working with online 'influencers' to promote your brand can help you reach your audience in a convincing way. Done well, it can be more persuasive than traditional advertising.
What is influencer marketing?
An online influencer is a person with a strong social media following who has the power to affect purchase decisions. This could be a celebrity, sportsperson, industry expert, or a local blogger. They may have a large audience or a small highly engaged niche audience. Influencers are often focused on particular interest areas, such as:
- tourism and travel
- health and fitness
- beauty and fashion
- TV, film and gaming
Advantages and disadvantages of influencer marketing
Some of the benefits of influencer marketing include:
- Persuasive - Influencers have gained trust from their audience. Their endorsement of your product can be very convincing.
- Cost - Working with small niche or local influencers (micro-influencers) could cost you nothing more than giving them free samples of your product or service. This may be enough to secure a mention or review. For more in-depth campaigns there will usually be a fee.
- Brand awareness - Working with an influencer can be a good way to spread the word about your business among your target audience.
- Targeted - Most influencers have a reputation for knowledge in a certain area. This can help you find an audience with a specific interest that relates to your product or service.
Some of the potential downsides of working with influencers are:
- Risk to reputation - If badly executed, a campaign could have a negative impact on how your brand is perceived. It's important to be upfront when a recommendation has been paid for. You should only work with influencers that align closely with your brand values to maintain authenticity. There is a risk that an influencer could become involved in a controversy and damage your brand.
- Results not guaranteed - It can be hard to predict the impact of an influencer campaign on sales. It may take some time for brand awareness campaigns to make a difference to your bottom line.
- Resources - Finding the right influencers to work with is the key to success. You will need to invest enough time and resources into research and planning. Negotiating with influencers and developing content and campaign tactics with them can be time-consuming.
- Monitoring - tracking the success of your influencer campaign can be trickier than other types of online marketing. You will have to consider how to effectively measure your campaigns. See measuring your online marketing.
How to make an influencer marketing campaign a success
Taking a strategic approach to working with influencers will increase your chances of success. Consider the following:
- Find the right influencer for your brand - Do your research before choosing an influencer to work with. It's important that their focus area is in line with your offering and brand identity. For example, a local restaurant specialising in vegetarian food could work with a local vegetarian food blogger.
- Choose the right channel - It's also important to choose the right social media channels for your campaign. Some important social media platforms for influencers include Instagram and YouTube. See choose the right social media platforms.
- Set objectives - Consider what you ultimately want to get out of your influencer marketing. For example, increased brand awareness, online sales or event registrations. See your marketing objectives. Ensure you track your result to evaluate the success of the campaign.
- Negotiate the contract - Agree in advance what you expect from the influencer. Create a contract that includes details such as the cost, content required and the duration of the campaign.
Influencer marketing legal issues
It is important that influencers make it clear when they have been paid, incentivised or in any way rewarded to endorse or review something in their posts. There are laws and advertising rules to prevent consumers from being misled. Influencers who don't comply could face enforcement action. The Competitions and Markets Authority has produced guidance on social media endorsements: being transparent with your followers.
There are a number of ways that influencers and brands working together can be clear about their relationships. Download a guide for influencers to making clear that ads are ads (PDF, 1MB).