In the fifth episode of our I’ve Heard That podcast on the Hurrdat Media Network, host Meghan Trapp is joined by Social Media Director Kirsten Smith and Media & Entertainment Director Chris Gorman to discuss the rapid growth of influencer marketing, how to identify the right influencers for your brand, how COVID-19 changed the way businesses approached influencer marketing, and more!
What is influencer marketing?
Smith: Influencer marketing is an opportunity for businesses to work with an individual that possibly has a large reach online. This individual is looked at by the audience as reputable, authentic, and trustworthy. People are interested in what these influencers say in their daily lives and they follow along. They work well with brands because of that trust and their connection with the audience.
Gorman: It’s individuals or groups that are lending their credibility to brands that want to sponsor them. It’s new territory. Influencer marketing spending is expected to top $15 billion by 2022. It had this crazy ascension over the last few years. Brands are seeing the value and most brands are increasing their influencer spend.”
How did 2020 and COVID-19 affect influencer marketing?
Smith: That’s really where we saw this influx of influencer marketing happen in 2020. Commercial ad spends were down. Billboard spends were down. Store foot traffic totally was down. So how do you continue to sell your products to your customers without them being able to go into a store? That’s where businesses looked toward influencer marketing.
Where do brands start with influencer marketing? How do you find who fits your brand?
Smith: Like any strategy, start with your goals and what you want to know. Is there one campaign or one product you want to focus on? Then, you really search for the influencers that support that, and there are a lot of programs out there that can help you look for influencers. You do need to make sure that they’re authentic, able to support brands, and if they fit your brand. You also want to look at their audience and how their audience reacts to them. How many followers do they have? Is their audience engaging with them? Do they have lots of comments? There are a lot of different metrics you want to look at, but it all needs to support what you’re looking for as a business. If you just want to reach a large audience, you could work with any type of influencer. There are nano influencers to micros, macros, and celebrities. Celebrities are going to get you the highest reach, but they’re also going to cost the most, and they might not have the highest engagement.
What are some potential hazards with influencer marketing?
Gorman: We can’t just look at a number. That doesn’t tell the whole story. We’ve had people with a million followers that have only pushed one product. We have influencers that have 50,000 to 100,000 followers that made this three-minute rap video for us, and it’s the greatest piece of content that I’ve ever seen. And they were one of the more reasonable rates that we paid for an influencer, and we got so much out of them.
When we’re trying to activate influencers, they usually split into two camps. The first is the reluctant influencer that’s like “I don’t know how to do this. I just built this channel because I liked traveling across the country in my school bus. We thought people might want to come along, but we really don’t know how to do this.” And then there’s the over-prepared influencer that’s like, “Yep, here’s my sales deck. Here are my prices. Here are examples of what I’ve done. Here’s my resume and here are people you can contact.”
The easy way is to look at the second person and say they’re so prepared and ready to go, but a lot of times I’ve found that person has a system down, and they’re just churning these out for anybody. They’re a gun for hire, and their audience is getting fatigued from just getting sold stuff every week. It starts to feel less about why you first followed them and more about how many products they can shill. When I’m looking for influencers, I’m looking for folks that don’t have a ton of influencer opportunities or are a little reluctant.