If you’ve been hesitant to try influencer marketing, consider this your beginner influencer marketing quick-start guide. We’ll start with an explanation of how influencer marketing works. Then, we’ll jump into the benefits before giving you tips and advice to start your own influencer marketing campaign.

Have you heard of the diffusion of innovation theory? It’s a complicated-sounding name for what’s really a simple process. When a new idea or technology is introduced, there are a few people who jump in first. They’re known as innovators (the really early birds) and early adopters (they aren’t there first, but they jump in before the rest of the crowd).

As the technology or idea spreads, more and more people get on board until the majority of people are using the products or embracing the idea. The spread of smartphones is one example of the theory in action.

Influencer marketing is another example. Although it’s been around in some form or another, it’s really only hit majority use in the past few years. It’s now starting to trickle down to the “laggards.” These are the people who are slowest to catch on to a trend or idea.

Laggards are that way for several reasons. They might believe a trend will pass before they fully adopt it or they might be opposed to change in general. In some cases they might hesitate to try something because they don’t quite get it.

A Super Simple Explanation of Beginner Influencer Marketing

The easiest way to explain beginner influencer marketing is to say that it involves working with people who have some influence or sway over other people. Brands who partner with influencers hope  the influencers will get their message out to a distinct audience.

Who is an influencer? Influencers can be celebrities such as athletes, actors, and Kardashians. They can also be business owners and CEOs, journalists, bloggers and people who have managed to build followings and high engagement rates on social media.

What are engagement rates? They’re metrics that show how people interact with social media content, as Hootsuite puts it. Another way to look at it is the number of likes, comments and shares an influencer receives when he or she posts.

Usually, influencer marketing works best when there’s some sort of alignment between the brand and the influencer. A fashion blogger working with a clothing brand makes sense. A beauty blogger partnering with an automobile company makes less sense. Kim Kardashian promoting appetite-suppressing lollipops and tummy-flattening tea makes no sense at all.

During an influencer marketing campaign, a company typically asks an influencer to create content or a social media post that has something to do with the brand. A fashion blogger might style a few outfits with the brand’s clothing. A beauty blogger might review a cosmetic company’s products. A mommy blogger might try out a new lunchbox kit and let her followers know about it.

Influencer marketing for beginners pro tip: Since influencer-created content and posts are a form of advertising, they need to have some sort of disclosure or the Federal Trade Commission  isn’t going to be happy. The disclosure can be as simple as typing #ad at the start of the post.

A Rundown of Beginner Influencer Marketing Benefits

Influencer marketing might sound all well and good, but why should your brand bother with it over other types of marketing?

In a word: Trust. People are more likely to trust recommendations from friends and family and from people online than other forms of advertising, according to a study from Nielsen.

Of course, trust is easily broken, which is why it is essential that influencers and brands aim for authenticity with influencer marketing. A fashion blogger who’s known for putting together stylish outfits at affordable pieces is going to come across as authentic when he or she partners with a brand known for producing affordable clothing, for example.

Another benefit of using influencer marketing is it helps you connect with a specific audience. Influencers, particularly micro-influencers, who don’t have huge followings usually appeal to a particular demographic. Mommy bloggers appeal to moms, fashion bloggers appeal to wannabe fashionistas, and so on. When an influencer works with you, they are getting your message out to the exact audience you want to target.

Look at Some Examples of Beginner Influencer Marketing

You really don’t have to look that far to find examples of influencer marketing. Open your favorite social media platform and start scrolling. But to save you the hassle, here are a few well-known examples of influencer marketing.

Casper Mattresses

Dogs can be influencers, too. In honor of the launch of a line of dog beds, Casper Mattress invited some of the most popular #dogsofinstagram to a star-studded, canine-friendly steak dinner. The pets dined and shared their experiences, and a plug for Casper, on their Instagrams.

Marriott Hotels

AirBnB is making it more difficult for hotels to attract millennial customers. To counteract that, Marriott Hotels teamed up with several YouTubers, sending them off on a series of “experiences.” The YouTubers created videos about their trips, which were shared on their own channels and the channel for Marriott.

Audible

Audible, an audiobook company, teamed up with photographer Jesse Driftwood for a campaign. Although it might not seem like a natural fit, Driftwood was able to create a post for Audible talking about what he does to keep learning.

Influencer marketing for beginners pro tip: Check out Instagram for more examples of influencer marketing in action. It’s the most popular platform with influencers, according to eMarketer.

Beginner Influencer Marketing: Must-Do’s

You’re ready to get started with influencer marketing. What’s next? These must-do’s will help you get your campaign up and running.

Set your goals.

Ask yourself why your brand is going to use influencer marketing. It could be to increase awareness, boost sales, or connect with a new audience.

Find your influencers.

Influencers are everywhere, but how do you find the one? An influencer marketplace or platform can streamline the search and make it easier to connect with influencers.

Vet your influencers.

Sadly, there are some fakes out there when it comes to influencers. You want to make sure the people you want to work with are who they say they are and their followings and engagement rates are legit. One way to do that is through an influencer marketing platform.

Give your influencers space.

Influencers are creative people. If they want to work with your brand, trust they’ll come up with ideas for content that will be engaging and exciting. Don’t try to force them to put their names on content you’ve created. Do ask your influencers to share their posts or content with you before it goes live, though.

Disclose!

Influencers need to make it clear they’re working in partnership with your brand. Options include using the #ad hashtag or writing something like “a paid partnership with Brand X” at the top of a post.

Track your results.

How is influencer marketing working out for your brand? Tracking performance such as likes, shares, comments, and click-throughs will give you a good idea of whether or not an influencer is a good match for your company.

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