Social influencer marketing campaigns can be very profitable, provided they’re done right. When your brand teams up with an influencer, you can rapidly increase your visibility and skyrocket your conversions. Effective influencer relationships can yield an ROI of $18 for every $1.00 in media spend. And the average for companies that leverage influencer marketings is around $5.78 per $1.00 of media spend. 

Sixty-three percent of customers trust influencers over businesses, according to reports. Millennials and Gen Z don’t respond well to corporate, branded marketing. Instead, they watch Tiktok and YouTube; they prefer to trust what they see there from people they can relate to rather than listen to a brand.  The knee-jerk reaction by many businesses is to simply throw money at influencers for a product mention. But this FOMO reaction to influencer marketing misses deeper opportunities. This post will help your brand better understand social influencer marketing and how to get more out of it for your business. 

What Do Your Customers Need?

At the end of the day, your customers have very simple needs. They want their lives to be easier, and they’re willing to pay what they think is reasonable to make that happen. Whether you’re selling a gym membership, a new iPhone, or a project management solution, the goal is always the same. Your product should make your prospects’ lives easier for a reasonable price.

But there’s a problem. People don’t trust brands. Prospects would rather trust someone like themselves more than a logo trying to sell them a product. The benefit of Influencers is that they can break down your prospects’ initial objections. And that makes it easier for them to say “YES!” to your product or service. 

The short answer is that social influencer marketing works. But, should you run out right now and hire as many as you can to represent your business? Well, not so fast. You need to be careful. While social media influencers can be great for your business, they can also backfire if you’re not careful. And when that happens, it can do more harm than good. 

When to Use Social Influencer Marketing

Social influencer marketing can work for branded marketing or for direct-response as long as the intersection between the influencer and the product is appropriate. For example, if you can merchandise the product physically or you can demonstrate the product (think: pair of jeans, mobile phone, makeup, etc.) then you’ve got a great shot, regardless of the influencer. The key here is that the audience likes the influencer first and then trusts them. 

However, if the product is neither one of these or if it’s intangible (think: financial services), then the influencer needs to be trusted first and then liked. They also need to convey that they’ve experienced the problem that the product solves.  Mismatch or miss these elements and you’re more likely to burn through your marketing budget with influencers without moving the needle. 

Evaluating Influencers as a Direct Response Marketers

As a business owner, you know the value in direct response marketing and you know how to evaluate your digital campaigns. If you want to have a profitable relationship with your influencer, then you need to follow this trick. Rather than look at social media influencers as something to outsource, evaluate their performance as you would a direct response marketer. 

The Key to Success with Social Influencer Marketing 

What makes any advertising effort qualify as a direct response? It must inspire action from its target audience. Whether that’s to sign up for an email list or buy a product, a direct response marketer must move the prospect to say, “YES!” And to be effective, they must do these two things: Sell the dream and attribute nearly all their resources back to sales. 

And that’s exactly what an effective influencer will do for your brand. To be successful, products sold by your influencers should be:

  • Relatively “simple” products that build or leverage a database of customers
  • Continuity based – represent an ongoing revenue stream with good margins
  • Something with year-round (non-seasonal) usage
  • Something that inspires people to “pay for the magic”

As long as your product or service meets these requirements and your influencer is helping you spread awareness and drive sales, you can evaluate them the same way you would an in-house direct response marketer. This approach helps takes the guesswork out of marketing with social media influencers and makes the entire process more approachable for brands of any size.

How to Optimize Your Social Influencer Marketing Campaigns

Marketing campaigns aren’t one-off endeavors. And while that seems intuitive at first, most marketers overlook that when working with influencers. What ends up happening is that the marketers are doing their job and the influencers are doing their job, but there’s no overlap. As a result, these campaigns often fall short, leaving companies with a bad taste in their mouths.

The most successful direct response marketers today are hybrid campaigns. In these campaigns, marketers leverage social media (and other brand-related channels) to spread awareness and engagement while using other channels to present an offer and close a sale.

Why Most Influencer Campaigns Fail

It’s easy to get distracted by the number of followers or the type of engagement an influencer has, but that doesn’t directly translate to profits. If you market your product to the wrong influencer, that’s no different than marketing your product to the wrong audience. At best, your engagement will be low. Worst case, they’re annoyed and it damages your brand’s reputation.

The other reason influencer campaigns fail is because businesses fail to recognize what it is: a relationship. You’re not hiring an employee to check off a few marketing “To-Dos” for you. You’re working with an expert to extend your brand’s reach. But that expert needs to match your brand’s values. Otherwise, it could backfire and damage your brand. 

Make sure you nurture that relationship and reflect on both its successes and failures. Defaulting to “it’s the influencer’s fault” is no more effective than blaming your IT department for the failure of your campaign. You have to be prepared to adapt and perfect your chosen influencer’s efforts to get the most out of your campaign.

Some may argue that influencers tend to “do their own thing.” The truth is, if you position your influencer campaign as a one-off event, you give up your leverage. Instead, push for long-term commitments and continued partnerships that ensure all parties do what’s necessary to make the campaign successful. These types of partnerships are often longer-lasting and more profitable. 

Should Your Business Pursue Social Influencer Marketing?

As a direct-response marketer, I can tell you that brand matters. Engagement is important and social media can do a lot to spread awareness. But at the end of the day, my goal as a marketer is to assign a direct ROI on every dollar spent and every resource allocated. Any direct marketer needs to be to prove that their advertising budget yields a positive return.

If you can find influencers who will enhance and expand your brand awareness within your marketing budget, then it’s worthwhile to pursue. But that’s not always easy. Still, it’s worth your time to evaluate whether or not there are influencers out there that would be a solid fit for your company. And work with them in a mutually beneficial partnership that benefits everyone.