As Instagram continues to grow and evolve, so does the influencer landscape. Influencers have proven to be especially important during this global pandemic as brands need to create more awareness and storytelling around their messages before people go to stores and to help facilitate online sales during a big uptick in at-home shopping. We sat down with Sircle Media Influencer Marketing Director, Michelle Paltan to give us the dish on all things influencer marketing, during our current pandemic, and how brands can choose partners that are the perfect fit for their message and goals.
What’s the most common misconception when it comes to influencer marketing?
That there’s only one type of influencer that works for your brand. Influencers are people, and just like your customers who are also people, they are multi-faceted and could be looking for a product just like yours even if their feed may not show it. The brands that are doing it right, aren’t staying in just one niche. It’s a balance between your main target consumer and your actual consumer who is buying the product.
How have you seen influencer marketing change since the start of COVID, and even with the rise of Black Lives Matter?
The main change I’ve seen with both COVID and Black Lives Matter is the increased demand to work with authentic influencers who are able to relate to the state of the world but are also accountable. “Authenticity” has always been a word that was thrown around by brands and influencers, but with the rise of these two topics on social media, it’s become essential to fully understand the true meaning behind it. Just behind that, is accountability. Consumers are holding brands and influencers accountable to make the right decisions on social media which means both sides really need to do their research and make sure they are moving forward in this new world in the right way.
What size (follower count wise) influencers do you think work best for brands?
There’s no one size fits all for influencer marketing. The best way to go about it is to have influencers of all sizes talking about your brand. Different sized influencers might be geared toward specific KPI’s, but they also all have the potential to achieve your marketing goals. I love to use Vital Proteins as an example for this; if you really take a look–they are not pigeonholing themselves to one group over another therefore they are getting constant awareness and visibility.
How can influencer marketing translate to actual sales for a brand?
This is probably the most frequently asked question I get and the answer isn’t simple. First, remove the idea that your first at bat working with an influencer MUST show sales. More often than not, it won’t happen–it’s not impossible but it’s not likely as the influencer’s audience is first learning about your brand. It’s like making a cold call and expecting to close a deal on the first conversation. Brands will start to see ROI through long-term relationships. The sales cycle with an influencer isn’t always easy to track, but over time, you’ll see patterns that show the awareness + engagement that they have brought to your brand will turn into future customers. Adding elements like affiliate programs, paid support through the branded content ads, and again, leveraging the relationship for more then just one post will help lead to ROI faster.
What is something brands should be doing more of, to attract more influencers to their brand?
Adding a contact form or an application on your website for influencers to directly reach out to your brand is a simple, but impactful step. Any area where you can include more touchpoints for influencers that are already interested in your brand to engage and get a hold of you is a major plus in my book.
Where do you think influencer marketing will be a year from now?
If I had a crystal ball…I would say that we’re on the path to even more authentic influencer relationships, which will lead to more education of the brand prior to influencers posting about them. Brands should already be thinking this way and the influencer should be like an extension of your brand. So to make partnerships come from a real, authentic place, you need to act like they are part of your company and provide as much insight as possible so influencers can bring your product to their audience in a way that makes sense and works.
With the increased usage of Instagram, more influencers appear. What do you think about the overwhelming number of influencers, and how do you choose one that is right for a brand?
There’s no such thing as too many, in my opinion. I think it’s great that there are more influencers out there because there’s space for everyone and niches waiting to be tapped into. There are also new brands popping up every day too! However, choosing the right influencer takes a decent amount of research and development. At Sircle, we have come up with a formula that takes into account your brand goals and looks for specific metrics that help us narrow this down. The “right influencer” for your brand can be ever-evolving, as is your brand on social media. At the end of the day, keep in mind who your target consumer is and when considering influencers, make sure they represent that audience.