The following is a comprehensive guide to influencer marketing.
What is Influencer Marketing?
Influencer marketing is when a brand partners with and pays a person of influence to share a message with their audience.
The intent is to deliver a message about a brand, its product or service, through a trusted voice to the desired target audience.
This clip shows what influencer marketing was like back in 1987. Disney paid the Super Bowl Champion Quarterback $75,000, (the equivalent of nearly $164,000 today) to deliver a message about its brand to tons of family households who tuned in for the game.
With Super Bowl champ quarterbacks carrying on the tradition every year, except 2005, we’d guess it’s been pretty effective.
The practice of influencer marketing has been around a long time, being a calculated 'word-of-mouth' strategy; it's the medium and voices through which brand messages are now being delivered, however, that has changed a lot.
Brands still use celebrities for endorsements, but social media stars, who are closely followed by a large online audience, have the advantage of seeming more relatable to the general population and are the newest kind of influencer brands are rushing to partner with.
What is a Social Media Influencer? (The kind the that you pay money for brand deals)
Historically, influencers used to be public figures, celebrities and athletes only as seen in the example above. This made sense because until recently, they were the only ones who had access to channels that reached a mass audience.
But the widespread adoption of social media and accessibility to broadcast technology has changed all of this.
Now people around the globe can quickly and easily grow a mass audience, which has led us to the rise of social media influencers as we know them today.
So, how can you identify a social media influencer?
- They probably have at least 2,000 followers; however, 10,000 followers is usually the threshold to be considered a micro-influencer. (did you know micro influencers typically produce a lot more engagement than influencers with larger followings?).
- Look for the #ad hashtag or a disclaimer; “This content was sponsored by..” to see if they have partnered with brands before.
- You can use platforms like Reelio that have search functions for influencers and let influencers pitch you.
Reelio works with influencers in nearly every vertical and on every social media platform.
Here’s a chart of the typical verticals or categories we find brands wanting influencers in, but keep in mind that for every vertical there are even more nuanced topics.
- Outdoors and Travel
- Beauty and fashion
- Lifestyle & vloggers
- Fitness & health
- Food & cooking
- How-to & DIY
What Does Influencer Marketing Look Like?
Influencer content can look a variety of ways. Different content types drive different kinds of action.
Product reviews, short films, live event coverage, comedy-based content, video “lookbooks,” tutorials and how-to videos are just some of the various formats that influencer videos take.
Get a glimpse of the kind of campaigns we help bring to life.
Here’s a list of the various types of content you could expect from each platform.
YouTube (Video type / Example)
- Haul / Timaloveslemons & Nasty Gal
- Story / Corridor Digital & Anki
- Product Reviews / Tech Source & Here One Earbuds
- Performance-based / Chachi & Jamba Juice
- Tutorial / Jordan Hanz & Mehron
- How-to / Patrick Starrr & Clinique
- Vog / Cullen & Kate & Ring
- Lifestyle photos / Claudia Sulewski & Revolve
- Product photos / Josh Levya & Alcatel
- Branding photos / Chachi Gonzales & M&Ms
- Live event coverage / Big Daws, Twan Kuyper & Verizon
- Behind-the-scenes looks / Superwoman & 20th Century Fox Theatrical
This list is always evolving; there is room for more creative approaches on every platform. And no matter what original format an influencer campaign takes, it all comes down to a positive association with a brand through content that engages an audience.
What Are the Benefits of Influencer Marketing?
When done right, brands, creators and their audience all benefit from influencer marketing. Here's a quick video that touches on just some of the benefits from Reelio's co-founder and VP of Sales and Marketing, Mark Borum.
For every single dollar spent, brands are seeing $6 returned in earned media with influencer marketing.
Side note… [and humble brag]... Reelio’s brand partners are seeing 9x the engagement of what brands are seeing on their own created content.
When you invest in an influencer marketing campaign, you're investing in a meaningful endorsement to your target audience, taking control of the narrative that's happening about your brand online, getting "baked-in" distribution with your content, and have quality content to reuse and recycle. On top of all of this, you're continuing to build views and engagement over time.
Get An Authentic Endorsement to an Accurately Targeted Audience
One of the biggest benefits to brands about influencer marketing is that it allows brands to get in front of their audience, in a welcomed way, through someone they trust, in contrast to interruptive brand messages.
Social media influencers have built up a devoted audience over years of generating content, and this audience is much more willing to take action on the recommendations of the YouTuber they’ve been watching every week for the last three years than their favorite celebrity.
"6 in 10 YouTube subscribers would follow advice from their favorite creator over their favorite tv personality." - Think With Google
These viewers are not watching “celebrities," and they themselves are not “fans." The relationship is much more personal. People, just like us, have become famous, and they're sharing their lives, openly and inviting us in, which makes their recommendation so personal. Social media influencer endorsements are so powerful because we can relate to them so much more than celebrities.
To ensure the influencer is reaching the right audience you can either work with an MCN, an influencer's talent manager or an influencer marketing platform. You can also work with influencers directly. Here are three data sources you should check no matter how you're working with influencers to learn about their audience.
Take Control of the Narrative That’s Already Happening About Your Brand Online
Influencer marketing allows you to proactively take control of the conversation that’s already happening about your brand online. Influencers can be authentic in reviewing your product, while still communicating key messages about it, like in the example below with Ovation Cell Hair Therapy.
Ovation Cell Hair Therapy took control of the conversation happening about them online by working with multiple influencers (learn about the benefits of working with a lot of micro-influencers). The company behind the hair strengthening shampoo put influencers' videos on their website, helping build trust with their audience through authentic reviews and the consistent message they wanted to get across about their products.
Get “Baked-In” Distribution for Your Content
Influencer marketing enables content creation and distribution to happen all at once, which means brands start seeing results for their dollars faster than they would had they created content in-house and then had to factor in distribution afterward.
Most social media platforms today also offer the option for influencers to send notifications to subscribers when they’ve uploaded new content. Thus, whenever an influencer uploads content, it’s landing right in the email or the smartphone home screen of the influencer’s most dedicated followers.
Have Quality Content to Recycle and Redistribute
Brands are competing for audiences’ attention in a content-saturated market. YouTube users alone are uploading more than 400 hours of video every minute.
Without a production and content creation crew, it can be near impossible for a brand to generate regularly scheduled, compelling content, but influencers do this for a living. Partnering with an influencer can result in much more relevant content your brand can use on other platforms, at a much faster rate.
Influencer content is great to redistribute on PPC ads, Facebook ads, in social media, email campaigns and even your own website.
Who Should Use Influencer Marketing?
Influencers can feature all kinds of products and services. While it's common to find beauty, retail, travel, CPG, food/beverage brands, entertainment, eCommerce, and technology products integrated in influencer content, less-obviously services like insurance companies, finance companies and education companies also see tremendous benefits from influencer marketing.
All that said, we wouldn’t recommend influencer marketing in the capacity that we do it for a locally-based product. Because influencers reach so many people, your product needs to be able to be shipped far and wide to satisfy most audiences.
If you are not a locally-based brand and you answer yes to any of the statements below; we would recommend looking into influencer marketing.
- Are launching a user-tested product?
- Would you like your brand to be more well-known?
- Do you need to improve your brand’s image?
- Are you trying to reach a millennial, gen-y or gen-x audience?
- Do you have great products that need good product reviews?
- You want branded content.
To learn more about the success brands have had with influencer marketing, check out our case studies.
Why Do Creators Want to Do Sponsorships?
Brand-sponsored content offers a number of benefits to creators, and helping creators thrive was why Reelio was founded.
Creators Get Paid to Do What They Love
It's not uncommon to hear about creators juggling jobs while maintaining a filming schedule. Brand payment helps creators pay the bills a little more easily.
Brand Sponsorships Can Push Content to Get More Creative
Brand Sponsorships Can Also Lead to More Exposure
Brands can also help put influencer’s work in a bigger spotlight. For example, Samsung introduced Casey Neistat to a nation-wide cable audience this year at the Oscars with the commercial they aired, and 20th Century Fox Theatrical brought Lilly Singh to the red carpet premiere of Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates.
What Does the Process Look Like?
Alright, you’ve established that you’re ready to start an influencer marketing campaign. What’s the first step?Identify your brand’s goals. What marketing metrics do you need to move the needle on?
- Find the right influencer. Just because you think an influencer’s style and aesthetic could be good for your brand, it doesn't necessarily mean they are speaking to your target audience. Before you sign on with an influencer, look at these three data sources to make sure their audience matches your target audience. If you're thinking about using a platform, learn how Reelio's platform can help you find influencers.
- Outline agreements. If you’re not working with a third-party agency or platform, we recommend that agreements for an editing process are put in place. Here’s a checklist to ensure a brand-safe influencer campaign.
- The creator makes content. This can take a week or two depending on the kind of content; video, photo.
- Review content. Submit edits to the creator if needed.
- Creator publishes content. Distribution, shares, engagement starts happening.
- ROI tracking starts. Learn how the content is performing. (Here's how Reelio's platform helps you track ROI)
The process will vary slightly depending on how you want to go about executing campaigns. To see which process makes the most sense for you, we’ve made a pros and cons list for all of the most common methods going about an influencer marketing campaign.
|While less common today, working with influencers directly is still done and works great for some brands, especially big-name brands, or brands that fit perfectly for the influencer. Full pros/cons list.|
|MCNs, or Multi-channel networks, represent talent (influencers) and connect them with opportunities from brands and advertisers. Full pros/cons list.|
|Different than MCNs, talent managers often manage a smaller group of talent, and thus know their talent incredibly well, saving brand point-of-contacts’ time and energy. Full pros/cons list.|
|Different than MCNs, most influencer marketing platforms are network agnostic, which means you have a much bigger selection of influencers to choose from. Full pros/cons list.|
What Does Influencer Marketing Cost?
Just like rates for television commercials, this market will continue to price itself based on trends in the industry. At Reelio, we use data to price each brand contract and take into account influencer performance data; this keeps the brand from paying an inflated price.
Here are some factors can impact the cost of a campaign:
The vertical - Some verticals are more expensive than others. For example, a beauty tutorial can be more expensive than other verticals because the production costs to make the video are higher on average.
The depth of brand integration - Influencers charge more for content that is entirely focused on a brand’s product. Fully-dedicated videos work naturally in some cases, like product reviews, but much of the time the endorsement is more natural when influencers incorporate your product and key messaging amongst the rest of the content in their video.
Fast turnaround times - If you would like influencer content in a rushed period, be prepared to pay more. To avoid the upcharge for a last-minute campaign, start the process a few months in advance. If you were interested in doing a holiday campaign, it's best to start lining up influencers in October. This also ensures that the best influencers for your brand don’t get booked ahead of time.
An Influencer’s production capabilities - Requesting higher-production quality, can also increase the cost.
The desire to work with their brand - If an influencer loves your product and wants to work with your brand, you can generally work with them for a lower price, sometimes in exchange for free product.
For information on how Reelio prices, see our pricing page.