Influencers are expensive. There’s no getting around that. A macro influencer with 75,000 followers or more can cost between $1,000 and $5,000 per post. A micro influencer can cost up to $1,000 per post too (see our article on micro vs. macro influencers). While an influencer marketing professional may be tempted to hire an Instagram influencer, kick back and watch the profits roll in, but there’s much more to it. Successfully leveraging their content is a separate art – one that this article will dive into. After all, if you aren’t capitalizing on every dollar spent – maybe thousands – on influencers, then your marketing budget is wasted.
Why Work With An Influencer
Why work with influencers at all? To summarize, many brands need them. Speaking generally, they work well in tandem with brands requiring a bigger scope to their marketing operations. A common case for influencer partnership is a brand which does not produce enough videos, images, posts and general content to succeed. Maybe they’re an up-and-coming sunglasses brand attempting to boost consumer engagement by reaching an influencer’s 75,000 followers. Maybe they are an established brand with a larger audience, yet still have trouble implementing content on their website, emails and social media (consistent content production can be overwhelming, depending on the industry). You can think of influencer work as “outsourcing” content production to a minor celebrity. Your brand can stand behind the endorsement of a creative asset.
Benefits of Influencers
Overall, influencer partnerships grant a brand several perks. First and foremost, the brand secures a third-party endorsement. Given the nature of Instagram followers – i.e. admiring the content of the people they follow – it stands to reason that a third-party endorsement from a certain influencer will drive their audience towards the brand too. This is especially true if the influencer’s niche audience is properly positioned to appreciate the brand’s product. For example, an Instagram influencer with a primary audience of 18-25 year old males would do well partnering with a trendy razor and shaving cream company. Second, the influencer partnership usually generates lifestyle content – any content connecting the brand with the influencer’s real life. In the “sunglasses company” example, this would be a post akin to, “Couldn’t spend all day at the beach without these shades! #RayBans”. In effect, the brand is bolstered by their audience’s connection with the influencer’s apparent “real life”. Last, working with influencers gives your brand testimonials. As has been the case for decades, testimonials can be the centerpiece of a brand’s marketing campaign. However, how that testimonial is shared has changed in 2019. Now, as we’ve mentioned, dollars spent on Instagram influencers must be strategically employed…
The Best Ways to Leverage Influencer Content
Influencers market through one of two ways: either a static Instagram post, or their Story. For the uninitiated, a static post appears in their feed alongside eight other posts, while their story hovers at the top of Instagram to be viewed for a limited time. Starting with Story posts, here are the best ways to leverage your influencer’s unique content:
- You can re-post the influencer’s Story post on your company Story
By clicking the small paper plane icon, you re-post your influencer’s newest Story post on your Story. A new feature allows what Instagram calls “@mention sharing”, in which the influencer tags your brand in their Story post; you receive a direct message notification that offers to “Add This to Your Story”. Tapping the link allows you to edit their Story post with text or stickers for use on your brand’s page. The re-post has links to the influencer’s profile as well. Serving as a third-party endorsement, re-posting shows consumers that influencers are engaged with a brand. Their followers, and yours, are given the impression that your brand is being discussed in a wider circle.
- You can request the influencer send their Story post for your company’s use
Unlike re-posting, receiving the influencer endorsement through another channel (i.e. email, private message) allows for more freedom. With a re-post, the endorsement is exclusive to Instagram. Receiving their endorsement pictures, quotes and hashtags over email allows your brand to use the content anywhere, in any format. You might still use it on your story, but this would be less efficient than the re-post method. A sensible use would be on your paid Instagram Story ads. Another would be on your company’s website as part of a slideshow, or inside a video on the brand’s YouTube channel. Here, your marketing dollars can be used strategically, albeit in a more time-consuming fashion.
For static Instagram posts…
- You can quote the influencer for testimonials
Unlike their Story, an influencer’s static Instagram feed is fixed. Instead of endorsement quotes floating atop their Story in colorful letters, they will be in regular text format below the static post. The format affords them more space to write specific lifestyle content endorsing your brand. They’ll often use a variety of hashtags here as well. Your benefit here is to use these longer endorsements as testimonials everywhere. A quick copy paste job of a well-written quote could feature it prominently on your website’s homepage, for example. Maybe it becomes a testimonial you’ll use for a long time.
- You can also re-post the influencer’s feed posts
As is the case with the influencer’s Story posts, you can re-post their static feed posts to your company’s Story. When they write their third-party endorsement, they should tag your brand’s Instagram. This puts your brand’s name in the minds of their followers scrolling through the feed. They can click through to your brand too. Through the same methods as the Story re-post, you can feature their post on your Story and boost your brand’s visibility.
- You can comment on the influencer’s feed posts
Last on this list, you can directly engage with your target audience by commenting on your influencer’s feed posts. Tagging them in your comment, thanking them for the endorsement and answering questions about your product are all common. For a fashion post, you might even compliment their appearance with a fun comment – think of a tone that could read especially well for millennials. Participating in the influencer’s comments section draws attention to your brand, giving readers extra chances to click your link. It also builds a sense that your brand is active, fun and responsive on social media. A brand that engages with potential consumers via comments sections is likely to win out over a brand with a comparatively quiet Instagram. The app gives your company a chance to have a real voice. Use it.
Where Else Can You Use Your Influencer’s Assets?
As we’ve discussed at length, Instagram is often the main hub where your influencer content is on display (on your company Story, your feed, or the influencer’s). Mentioned before too, paid ads can benefit from influencer content. You can deploy their testimonial on a paid Instagram or Facebook ad, which should not be overlooked. Facebook marketing can be easily tied in with Instagram. Since the two companies have the same owners, cross-app functionality is simple.
As for other avenues, you can’t overlook email marketing as an open canvas for influencer content. Email marketing campaigns can be varied, targeted based on persona, etc. You might use a testimonial from your influencer’s static feed as a quote towards the bottom of a B2C email. Compared to a B2B context, B2C could be much more in-line with the tone of your Instagram influencer (i.e. informal and fun). Your website is another avenue where influencer content could come in handy. Most sites have a testimonial section anyway, so why not quote your influencer? Additionally, if you request their posts via email, make good use of the pictures and quotes. You are paying for it, after all.
If physical product purchases are your goal, also consider deploying your influencer content on an Amazon Store. Creating a store is free, so long as the seller is enrolled in the Amazon Brand Registry (read up on the process here). These multi-page stores are customizable in terms of advertising; you can add your own text, images and videos to explain your brand. Multiple pages could again allow for a dedicated testimonials page. Your Amazon Store could be the perfect place to deploy that influencer content. The Amazon Influencer Program is also worth looking into. Since hyperlinking to your Amazon Store is not possible in a concise Instagram caption, consider partnering with a registered Amazon Influencer. If an Instagram influencer has enough followers to qualify, Amazon grants them an official page filled with products they endorse. This could streamline the connection between your Instagram presence and product sales.
To wrap up: get creative with influencer content! Use this list as a jumping-off point for ideas. If nothing else, make sure you’re using every piece of influencer content so your marketing dollars aren’t wasted. Success and profit will follow.