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Influencer marketing is a growing strategy used to widen a brand’s reach, increase leads, and ultimately result in more conversions.
In 2022, the global influencer market was valued at $16.4 billion—more than double what it was in 2019.
With the help of influential content creators on popular social media channels, brands can earn the trust of new audiences and more effectively meet their marketing and sales goals.
If you’re wondering how or why influencer marketing has become so popular, consider that influencer marketing is today’s version of celebrity endorsements.
Remember the “Got Milk?” campaign involving dozens of celebrities? Or Beyonce’s Pepsi partnership?
Influencer marketing works the same way, but is more accessible and can be tailored to the unique needs of your business.
Let’s take a look at what influencer marketing is, and how you can create a successful strategy that works for you.
Social media influencers are people who have a large following and a high level of engagement across their channels.
Influencers do include celebrities, politicians, and already-popular brands due to their large following, but they also include thousands of “everyday” people who have built a following themselves based on their engaging content, personality, expertise, or ability to entertain others.
Celebrity influencers are known as mega-influencers. They are the least accessible and the most expensive, but many businesses are finding success with non-celebrity influencer partnerships.
Over time, a social media influencer’s content and personality have earned the trust of thousands or even millions of followers who will buy the products they use in their videos or connect with the people they partner with.
If you put the time and work into it, you can become one of these partners!
Marketers most often break down influencers based on the number of followers they have and the types of content they create and share.
Let’s first take a look at four types of influencers based on follower count with examples.
If you’ve been scouring the web for information on influencer marketing, you’ll find that each source may define the number of followers a bit differently.
There currently are no strict cutoffs for these follower count definitions. Instead, it’s more about an influencer’s current reach, their post engagement, and whether their content matches your brand’s goals.
No matter what type of influencer you are targeting, remember that engagement is worth more than follower count.
If the influencer has hundreds of thousands of followers but low engagement, it won’t help you as much as the influencer with 1,000 followers but high levels of engagement.
Nano-influencers generally only have a few thousand followers up to around 10,000 followers, but they have a high level of engagement on their posts.
These types of influencers may have a growing audience, are just getting started, or serve a local area.
Their content often is fairly niche, which means they may only work with companies that are fully aligned with their image.
Nano-influencers are generally less expensive to work with because they have less reach, but you’ll have to weigh whether the reach is far enough for your marketing influencer goals.
Niusha Walker is a luxury real estate broker with 11,600 followers on TikTok.
She recently promoted a scent diffuser with the angle that it will bring the same five-star hotel signature scent experience into your home.
She’s also promoted a company that produces pre-made social media templates with a discount code.
Her social media template promotion had an engagement rate of 5.28%, which is considered a great rate.
You can calculate an influencer’s engagement rate on a promotion post with the following formula:
Total number of interactions (likes, comments, saves, etc.) / Number of followers x 100
There are also other online tools you can use to discover an influencer’s reach and engagement, which we will dig into later.
Unfortunately, there are some influencers who aren’t truthful about their following and purchase their followers. Influencer marketing tools can help you easily eliminate fake influencers as you search.
Micro-influencers generally have a following of up to 100,000 people, with specialized content tailored to highly engaged followers.
Micro-influencers often are the most accessible to businesses, but they may be choosy about who they work with. Their following is loyal, and they don’t want to let them down.
However, businesses that are just getting started with influencer marketing on social media often will find success with the right micro-influencer partnership.
Your business will gain more exposure, and the budget will often be lower than it would be with a macro or mega-influencer.
Megan, the creator behind @mid_centurymillennial, has 102,000 Instagram followers and frequent partnerships, giveaways, and sponsored posts featured on her page that are centered on design and DIY.
She features products she loves and uses herself, and is open about her life and struggles.
This openness about shared struggles allows her audience to trust that she has their best interests in mind.
When your business is choosing influencer partnerships, remember that the goal is to find a person who can connect with your company’s beliefs and mission. The audience can see through a partnership that isn’t genuine.
Macro-influencers are in the hundreds of thousands of followers, and may even have up to 1 million.
These types of influencers are often busy working with several partnerships and collaborations.
They have a high influence on their followers, are considered experts in their craft, and will charge more per post.
Peyton Pratte is a lifestyle blogger with 625,000 followers on Instagram.
She features her favorite products on her profile and recently partnered with big-name brands Chobani and Walmart.
Mega-influencers are essentially celebrities. They have frequent collaborations and the farthest reach, but you will likely end up paying hundreds of thousands of dollars—if not millions—for a post.
Mega-influencers are going to be the least accessible, but brands who are able to work with them will certainly get their money’s worth.
Khaby Lame is currently the most-followed person on TikTok, with 152.8 million followers and 2.5 billion likes.
According to Fortune, he has made up to $750,000 per post. Lame is not a celebrity—he started TikTok as a hobby in 2020 and grew his platform to millions of followers in days with his comedic posts.
His trajectory is a prime example of an influencer’s grasp of their audience.
Follower count of course isn’t the only consideration for businesses looking for a partnership or collaboration.
The types of content and the social media platforms they use are just as important for determining how to share your message and who might be the right person to do it.
The most powerful influencers today can be found on TikTok or Instagram, but many also have found success on YouTube, Twitter, or Facebook.
Additionally, influencers often share their content on multiple platforms, including blog posts or podcasts.
There are numerous ways businesses can choose to partner with an influencer—it depends on your unique goals and objectives for the campaign.
Let’s take a look at some of the most common types of influencer marketing campaigns.
Sponsored posts are paid promotions. They usually are tagged with the words #ad or #sponsored to let followers know the influencer is being paid to talk about the product or service.
Depending on the specifics of the promotion and the social media platform, the advertising influencer may create a video about the product, post a photo with a description, write a blog post, or discuss your product or service on a podcast.
On TikTok, for example, sponsored posts are videos, while Instagram-sponsored content may be a photo or video.
The most successful influencer partnerships occur when both parties believe in what the other has to offer.
The message will come across as more genuine, and the follower will trust that the influencer believes in what they are promoting.
If your business has a blog, you can ask the influencer to write a blog post for your website, or you can write a blog post for theirs.
When blogs are done right, they don’t feel like you or the influencer are selling something.
Instead, they feel like a natural, honest perspective on a product or service, and they offer the audience something of value to consider.
Meetups can go a few different ways. You could ask an influencer to simply promote an upcoming event or meetup to their followers, or you could have them both promote the event and attend it as a guest speaker.
Asking an influencer to attend an event probably will work best if they are a nano or micro-influencer, or if they cater to a local audience that you are also a part of.
For example, if you are a mortgage loan officer, you might choose to partner with a real estate agent influencer who can offer valuable insights on the home-buying process.
Contests, giveaways, or discounts are a great way for influencers to help you generate leads, expand your reach, and encourage engagement.
If you’re trying to promote a certain product, you can offer the product for free or give out a discount code that’s associated with the influencer.
For example, many influencer discount codes include their name and the discount amount. Influencers frequently have many discount codes associated with their name for the different brands they promote.
If you offer a service rather than a product, you could offer free consultations, gift cards, or discounted services.
An influencer becomes a brand ambassador when they promote your products or services for an extended period of time.
The best brand ambassadors are influencers who use and love your brand, but if you can’t find a person who fits this description, it’s up to you to build that trust with an influencer.
If you’re new to the influencer markets, you may be able to get a brand ambassador once you’ve worked with an influencer and are able to build a relationship with them.
The value of a brand ambassador is the frequent exposure to your business and the long-time lead nurturing that undoubtedly will result in more conversions.
A review can take many forms, depending on the brand and influencer.
Reviews most often are videos or blog posts describing a product or service and the overall experience.
It is a more natural way to “sell” your brand because the influencer can provide honest feedback.
A social media takeover is when you allow an influencer to take over your social media page for a period of time.
The influencer will promote the takeover on their page, which will direct their followers to your page.
A takeover might involve a few main posts, a stream of story posts, blog content, or even hosting your podcast for an episode.
According to the Digital Marketing Institute, 70% of teens trust influencers more than “traditional” celebrities.
Influencers are able to connect with their audience in a way that makes them feel understood. They often are open about their struggles and pain points, and offer their solutions to the audience.
A study from the University of Washington found that if businesses spent 1% more on influencer marketing, they’d see a nearly 0.5% increase in engagement.
Based on this research, they also found that reallocating spending based on the study’s findings could result in a 16.6% increase in engagement.
Let’s take a look at some other reasons why you should consider partnering with an influencer.
One of the most important aspects of this form of marketing is that it’s rooted in trust and real people.
Consumers trust the people they follow on social media because they offer them valuable content and help make their lives better with their suggestions.
They also want to make informed decisions about the services and products they purchase. In a world saturated with products you can purchase at the touch of a button, people want to know whether they’re making the right decision.
Hearing about the experiences of others helps people make these informed purchases — especially when an influencer is able to actually share the experience with them via video or photo.
How much closer to the actual experience can you get?
Remember that the trust between an influencer and their followers was not earned overnight. Influencers have worked hard to create the types of content their audience loves.
Similarly, your business building trust with its audience may not occur overnight, but with patience, these partnerships will pay off as you expand your reach.
Traditional advertisements are not gaining as much attention as they once did.
People are spending more time on their phones and on social media to get their news and entertainment.
Influencer marketing activity can help businesses bridge the gap and give a new voice to their product or service.
Every product or service an influencer promotes is a reflection of them, too.
Your success is in their best interest because if they promote a service that isn’t very good, or it’s not something they agree with or would use themselves, it will break the precious trust they have built with their audience.
Additionally, if a promotion performs well, they’re more likely to want to partner with you again.
There are thousands of influencers across channels, so there’s no shortage of voices you can tap into or audiences you can try to reach.
If you target specific niche audiences with an affordable rate per post, it can be a cost-effective way to attempt to build a new audience.
Influencer marketing campaigns also are fairly simple to measure with all the tools available to creators, so you can make quick decisions on whether a campaign was a success or a bust.
Influencer rates can vary significantly based on the following:
- Social media platform
- Influencer rates, follower count, and engagement
- Return on investment
- Type of content
- Amount of work required from influencer
- Agency fees (if the influencer works with an agency)
- Usage rights (if you want rights to the content)
If you partner with a nano-influencer who is just getting started, they may be willing to promote your business for as little as $10 to $100 per post.
The good news is that a mega-influencer like Khaby Lame earning hundreds of thousands of dollars per post is not the norm. He is the most followed person on TikTok, after all.
Some statistics estimate that other mega-influencers on TikTok will accept as low as $2,500 per post, while Instagram mega-influencers may charge upwards of $10,000 per post.
Due to TikTok’s algorithm, it’s considered easier to “go viral” and earn an influencer status because it is less about your follower count and more about your content.
Common rates tossed around the web include $10 for every 1,000 followers on Instagram and $25 for every 1,000 followers on Facebook, but don’t pay too much attention to these rates.
It’s more important to determine what you can afford, and understand that in general influencers with more followers and high engagement rates on the most popular platforms will be more expensive.
Businesses must take all these factors into consideration when choosing their influencer marketing partnerships.
Now that you know what influencer marketing is and why it works, it’s time to create your own influencer marketing strategy tailored to your unique business needs.
Take a look at these six steps to creating your marketing strategy, plus FTC rules to know and understand.
This likely isn’t your first marketing campaign, so you know the drill: Start by determining who your target audience is for your influencer campaigns.
Depending on your industry, it’s unlikely your target audience will be your entire audience, but particular groups of people.
If you don’t already have defined buyer or client personas for all your client types, now might be a good time to get started.
Influencer marketing isn’t right for every type of client, and if you’re thinking of using influencer ads on different social media channels each of these types of content would be different, too.
Audience personas are detailed, and include the following:
- Descriptive title
- Demographic information
- Pain points
- Buying behavior
- Social media channels they use
- How they get information
- How they use your website
The more information, the better!
Your detailed marketing personas will help you understand the exact people you are targeting, so you can find the right influencer to share your message.
What are you hoping to accomplish with an influencer marketing campaign?
The obvious answer is more conversions, but with influencer marketing, it may take some patience and persistence to get there.
Other campaign goals might include:
- Increasing your number of qualified leads
- Increasing awareness of your brand or services
- Boosting traffic to your blog or website
- Boosting engagement on your social media channels
Your goals should be unique to your business and will set the trajectory of every other piece of the campaign.
Be open to the idea that you may need to adjust your goals at first depending on the campaign’s performance.
Perform some preliminary research on influencers once you have set your goals and determined your audience.
Based on what you know so far, what type of influencer are you looking for? Who might fit into your budget, depending on the follower count? What type of content do you envision?
There are online tools you can use to find influencers and view their estimated rates and engagement, which we will explore in detail in the next section.
Otherwise, researching the right influencer often involves the following organic approach:
- Performing Google searches, such as “lawyers on TikTok”
- Searching keywords you use to find influencers who also use them
- Searching your social media channels for people or hashtags that match your audience and goals
- Take a look at your competition: Who are other people in the industry working with?
The research phase is essential. Don’t forget to also get insights from the rest of the company on the influencers they follow in the industry.
Once you have determined the type of content and influencer you are hoping to connect with, you’ll have to set your budget.
Remember that the cost varies widely by factors such as social media platforms and influencer follower count.
You’ll need to consider which platforms you want to use based on your audience personas, how many influencers you intend to work with, and what your goals are for each campaign.
Don’t reach out to an influencer until you understand what you can comfortably afford, or you’ll risk spending more than you intended on a single campaign.
Reaching out to the influencers may seem like the most intimidating part of the process. Will they want to work with you? Will their rates fit into your budget?
Make sure that you have a list of influencers you are interested in so you can begin building relationships as soon as possible.
Marketing experts recommend starting relationships with influencers slowly, including following them on their channels and interacting with their content naturally.
Don’t come on too strong or too “salesy,” but instead be encouraging and thoughtful about their content.
Explore their pages to learn how they prefer to be contacted. Many influencers include a Linktree link in their biography section that may contain an email address or other way to reach out to them.
If they don’t offer any contact information, a direct message is the best option.
Consider including these points in your message to the influencer:
- Your name
- Your business
- What you like about them and their content
- Why you think they would be a good match for your brand
- What you hope to accomplish with a partnership
- How they will benefit
- How to reach out or move forward if they’re interested
It can take time to craft a personalized message for each influencer, but a generic message most likely won’t cut it.
The content creator will want to see that you have a genuine interest in their content and that you’ve been paying attention.
One of the most essential parts of any marketing strategy is tracking its performance, and an influencer campaign is no exception.
Remember that likes, comments, and shares are great, but they don’t mean that your campaign is a success. Instead, you’ll need to determine whether the campaign is meeting your established goals.
Each social media platform has its own tracking tools, but there are numerous ways to track a campaign.
Consider the following tools:
- Assigning specific links to track traffic
- Assigning specific hashtags
- Using personalized discount codes
- Ask the influencer if they can share their data on each post’s reach and engagement
The data will help you determine what’s working and what could use some tweaking in the future.
The Federal Trade Commission has specific rules for social media influencers.
The rules are meant to protect consumers from being misled by an influencer’s partnerships.
This includes clearly disclosing to the audience that a post was sponsored by a particular business or disclosing when a product featured in a post was offered for free or at a discount to the influencer.
The FTC details how to place a disclosure on posts so it’s clear to the audience, including in videos, pictures, and live streams.
FTC rules also explain how an influencer cannot lie and say a product was great when it wasn’t, and they can’t make up claims about the product.
Be sure to thoroughly read the FTC document on social media influencers so you understand the expectations and ensure they are followed.
At this point, we’ve shown you how to do your research on influencers and compile your list of prospects.
But let’s dig further into how you find the right influencer to work with.
Take a look at the following considerations to help you narrow down exactly what you need to be looking for.
It’s important to look for creators who meet the following criteria:
- They are using your keywords
- They have a quality audience
Earlier, I briefly mentioned searching for influencers who use the same keywords that you do. Let’s take a deeper dive into this idea.
Shared keywords are a key indicator that you’re on the same page. This means your content is likely to be of interest to the influencer, and their audience will be relevant to your marketing objectives.
Keywords still seem to be the best signals for content and customer alignment. It also shows you that these influencers care about your topics right now, not historically.
Then, evaluate the quality of their audience. Do their followers leave thoughtful comments, or is it mostly spam? Do followers engage in their giveaways and other sponsored content?
You can’t have one without the other: Influencer content might include your keywords, but the comments are riddled with bots.
Remember those two key indicators—shared keywords and a quality audience—and you’re much more likely to connect with the right people.
In your preliminary research, you’ve identified influencers talking about your topic and confirmed that they have audiences that are relevant to your marketing goals.
Now, you have to figure out specifically what makes them care and share.
Often, this comes with simply observing what they post and learning their story.
An influencer’s personal brand is important to them, and they have worked hard to build their loyal following.
Respect the work they have done and make sure to understand who they are before you reach out. You need to be able to connect with them effectively.
Once you’ve found influencers you connect with, check out how they rank.
Use online tools to help you find influencers, look at their number of followers, and estimate their engagement levels and rates.
The following links are actually full influencer marketing platforms, but they each offer tools to help you find influencers:
HypeAuditor, for example, has a free tool on their homepage called “Check Influencer,” where you can type in any influencer’s name and see their follower count, engagement rate, ranking in the U.S. and globally, audience interests, and more.
Influencer marketing tools help you narrow down your prospects so you can find the people that have the highest level of engagement on their pages.
Remember, it’s always less about follower count and more about how engaged the followers are.
Before you’re ready to reach out to an influencer, you have to feel confident in your existing processes.
Kaleidico is a lead generation agency with over 15 years of experience generating leads for mortgage lenders, law firms, and other types of businesses.
We can help you sharpen your SEO, social media, content, email, lead generation, and other strategies so you’re fully prepared for the traffic that comes from a successful influencer partnership.