Five tips for using social media influencers as a marketing strategy

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By Andrew Witkin, founder and president, StickerYou

Picture courtesy of Jakob Owens

In the digital age, your business should not only have a social media presence, but also a strategy built around the use of social media. However, your company might not have the kind of scale to reach a lot of consumers on social media. That’s where social media influencers can come in handy, and become a key force in promoting your company.

What are social media influencers? In short, these are people who have built up a large, active following on social media, usually in a specific niche like fitness, travel, fashion, lifestyle or food, for example. They cultivate their own brand, and when they endorse a product or service, their followers tend to listen. Using social media influencers as part of a holistic marketing strategy can be a huge benefit to your business: first, for creating high-quality infographic or video content that you can use as brand collateral, and second, for directly promoting your business to their audience.

How can you break into using social media influencers as a marketing strategy?

Do careful research

With thousands of influencers across the different platforms, it can be tempting to start by approaching all of them with the same sales pitch. However, spend your research time wisely. You want influencers who have high levels of engagement, who already post within your company’s particular niche, and whose messaging and branding aligns with your own. In other words, there needs to be a good fit. At StickerYou, we produce custom stickers, labels and decals, which are highly visual, and are often used in very creative ways. Collaborating with influencers who focus on art, design and small business development would dovetail nicely with our product without being a hard sell.

Before you even reach out, take the time to dive into prospective influencers’ social media feeds. Is the content high-quality? Is it engaging? Would you feel proud to reshare the influencer’s images or infographics on your own social media or website? Do they create unique content that your own marketing department isn’t capable of? Would this person be likely to post a genuine, positive testimonial?

Think about micro-influencers

Micro-influencers have smaller social media followings, typically between 5,000 to 100,000. However, they tend to have higher engagement levels than do bigger influencers. In other words, their audiences more actively like, comment or repost content than do the followers of mainstream influencers and celebrities. Micro-influencers will most likely charge less per post than big influencers, which is a great opportunity for businesses with smaller marketing budgets. Better yet, they tend to be more niche and often have more time and energy to focus on their brand partnerships. This means that the right micro-influencers will do more than just churn out sponsored content for you – they could actually become a vocal advocate of your brand.

Scale up thoughtfully

If and when you do partner with larger influencers, try to retain the same level of energy, passion and high-quality content. These influencers will naturally have lower engagement levels than do micro-influencers, so a one-to-one comparison will not be useful. Instead, focus on the numbers: Large influencers should have higher raw numbers of likes and comments, and generate an equivalent or higher return on investment (ROI).

Track your data closely

You can measure engagement with your influencers’ content yourself, but a good influencer will provide the numbers to you. Use engagement levels to track what kind of content is performing well with audiences and adjust accordingly. Be sure to track all the same metrics you would for your own social media content, such as type of post, time of day posted and hashtags or keywords used. If a particular campaign or influencer is not creating a high enough ROI to meet your benchmarks, it may be time to end that relationship.

Keep things fresh

Be sure to partner with influencers who are creating something new, different or unique for your brand. Once the relationships are in place, don’t be afraid to experiment with different kinds of content to draw in your audience. Influencers can provide lots of value to you beyond just taking photos and videos of your products. For instance, you can partner with influencers on giveaways, write guest blogs for their sites, have them do a product review or unboxing video or set them up as an affiliate so they can earn a commission for selling your products. This keeps both your influencers and their audience continually engaged and curious to see what comes next.

There is no shortage of ways that influencers can benefit from your business. By allocating your time and money wisely, you can form lasting partnerships with people who love your company, and who can help generate more buzz for your business than traditional marketing alone.

Andrew Witkin

As the founder and president of StickerYou, Andrew Witkin believes in the enormous power of customization. With over a decade of StickerYou success, he is one of Canada’s leading experts in e-commerce, customization, startups, marketing and the tech economy. He is a graduate of Dalhousie University and holds an MBA from the Schulich School of Business, York University. Witkin has previously served as VP North American Licensing for Nelvana/Corus Entertainment and Director of Marketing for MegaBrands/Mattel.