Some brands think just because they have invented the best thing since sliced bread, then everyone and his dog will want to write, blog, Youtube and Insta about their product/service. Alas, getting the right influencer on side, particularly before any potential competitor does, is not simply a case of telling them about your product/service.
In most cases, there is a cost involved in getting the review/mention to raise awareness of your brand among their readers/followers.
An unpaid partnership, unless your product is truly amazing and you’re willing to give it out for free) will typically only appeal to micro-influencers, so the social media influencers who currently only have a small audience and are looking for content. While micro-influencers may be up for doing one post in exchange for the product/service to keep, the larger influencers most companies want to ‘recommend’ their product/service will require something in exchange for their time and efforts – be it financially, as a shout out by your company, a commission for any sales generated from their promotion or even by giving them a freebie to run as a competition prize on their website.
This is presuming that your product/service is B2C, but some of the same things apply to B2B relationships.
Why is that?
The rise of the influencer via social media has been nothing short of meteoric, particularly thanks to the growth of the social media accounts and apps that everyone now has access to via their mobile phones. So, along with checking emails on the train or bus into work, people passing the commute time are now also logging into Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube, Reddit, Google+ and any number of other social media channels to see exactly what’s being said that day.
The influencers who have played the game right and now have large followings of people interested in what they have to say are the ones most brands want to target as any promotion by them is something that their followers will trust. Essentially an influencer’s suggestion feels like a personal one to his or her followers, so it is far more likely to compel them into making a purchase or to visit the site of whichever product or service it is that they are recommending.
And if the followers like the product/service, their retweeting/sharing of the influencer’s promotional mention means that it goes out into an even wider circle, reaching their followers, etc, etc.
So, for a partnership with an influencer with 100,000 followers, there is the potential for your investment – whatever it may be – to be rewarded by your product/service mention going on to reach far more people than just those 100,000 followers.
This is something that influencers are very aware of and means they will likely need some sort of incentive to work with you. Affiliate schemes do not always work for influencers nowadays, as they may well already have a number of them in place with other brands, but payment or something that other brands are not offering them might. Alternatively, offer the influencer a complimentary product/service for them to keep, to try out for themselves and write about, film etc, and another for them to offer as a competition prize on their own website is a good example.
While most influencers would like to be paid, in some way, for their time and effort, it is a total myth that they are all being paid big bucks. In our experience, most influencers still charge a standard rate – mainly for their time – but the more followers they have, the higher that cost will be. Some mummy bloggers will charge as little as £35 for a write up.
You need to decide how large a following you want to reach via your influencer. The sector of influence that your chosen influencer has is another key consideration. For example, if you wanted an influencer to recommend your health and fitness-tracking watch then the right people to contact as potential influencers would be health, fitness and technology bloggers rather than lifestyle and beauty ones.
Once you’ve selected the influencers that would work best for your product/service promotion, set aside a specific portion of budget for them. You will be spending money on advertising, but to give you more bang for your buck, a subtle mix of paid advertising and influencer partnerships, alongside PR and marketing efforts, is a must.
What costs should I expect if partnering with an influencer?
Blogger and influencer outreach is an important part of promotional campaigns, alongside media relations, as it’s an effective way of getting the right people to speak about a brand or product, as well as earning links that help with SEO.
Marketers have become familiar with paying teams of photographers, creative directors, and producers to build out their digital campaigns plus allocated budget specifically for spending on advertising, so they should look at influencer marketing in the same light.
Simply, this is their business and main income generation, so would you expect to work for anyone for free? In the beginning they would take on promotional partnerships with brands in exchange for freebies, but now their social media accounts and sites are their main source of income.
If you have selected them as the right person that you want to shout about how ace your product/service is then you must appreciate that their time is valuable and know their worth.
If you are a start-up and the influencer likes what you have to offer, they may include you for free, but don’t expect that as the norm.
Just to give you an example of influencer costs, here are some that we recently received while sourcing the right people to work with to promote one of our clients, obviously without naming any names – we’ve put them in order of reach:
|Type of influencer||Social media followers||Time period||What we would get||Cost (excluding VAT)|
|Photography||847,200||4 – 6 weeks||· 4 social media posts, shared across all accounts||£5,000|
|Technology||686,404||4 – 6 weeks||· 1 social media post, shared across all accounts
· 1 YouTube video
|Photography||751,300||6 – 8 weeks||· 2 – 5 social media posts, shared across all accounts
· 2 blog posts
· Ad banner
|Technology||572,000||2 – 4 weeks||· 4 social media posts, shared across all accounts
· 1 blog post
|Lifestyle||104,774||4 – 6 weeks||· 3 social media posts, shared across all accounts
· 1 blog post
|Lifestyle||97,305||8 – 12 weeks||· 2 social media posts, shared across all accounts
· 2 blog posts
|Travel||96,149||8 weeks||· 8 social media posts, shared across all accounts
· 1 blog post
As you can see the number of social media followers has an impact on the costs, but there are still a few influencers that have a high follower rate and are not all that inexpensive for what they offer in return.
WARNING – knee-jerk social media reactions can snowball at spectacular speed
An excellent example of this is the perhaps now-infamous Charleville Lodge Hotel in Dublin’s owner Paul Stenson’s ‘feud’ with blogger Elle Darby. Elle had contacted the hotel to ask whether they might be able to offer her a free overnight stay in exchange for publicity via her YouTube channel, which at the time had 87,000 subscribers.
However, Paul did not only decline Elle’s request, he banned all bloggers from the hotel and its café, the White Mouse Café, causing an outcry within the world of social media and making audiences worldwide comment on the situation. Paul then went on to send Elle an invoice for over £4.5 million for “the provision of features in 114 articles across 20 countries with a potential reach of 450 million people.” But the joke is on him, as his café’s TripAdvisor rating fell to 1 star out of 5 while blogger Elle’s popularity grew to the point that she now has 133,000 subscribers on her YouTube channel – an increase of nearly 30% in the past 18 months.
It certainly proves that social media communities are loyal and anyone brave enough to be rude to their preferred bloggers need to beware. Don’t tell a blogger that you are only willing to pay a small amount for their time and efforts during a partnership, simply because they “only have so many followers”. More often than not, those same bloggers value the integrity of their social media platforms enough not to consider selling you a link for a small amount!
When agreeing to an influencer partnership, ensure that you measure the return on investment. This is done simply via metrics, metrics and even more metrics. Measure results and get stats from the influencer, including engagement rates, how their influence has changed/started people talking about you, and the number of people coming to your website after reading their blog. You’ll need to have an agreed landing page on your website that only the influencer uses in promotional copy, so you/they can track visitors following that particular link to your dedicated product/service page.
You should already have a fair idea of whether the influencer partnership was a success for your new product/service and brand, but the final proof is always in the pudding – namely sales, conversion rates and revenue during the partnership period.