In recent years, influencer marketing and social media have proliferated every corner of the internet. I’m sure many of you have personally experienced browsing social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook for only a few minutes before coming across an influencer posing with a product that they’re trying to sell you. The very fact that being an influencer is a plausible, legit, and high-paying job in today’s world just goes to show how far we’ve progressed into this digital era. However, like most things in life, there are positives and negatives to social media influencer marketing – and it may not be as straightforward as you think.

What is an Influencer?

According to Influencer Marketing Hub and the majority of us in the marketing world, an influencer is someone who has the power to affect the purchasing decisions of others because of their authority, knowledge, position, or relationship with their followers. They’re people who have built a prominent online reputation for their expertise within a specific realm––whether it be fashion, sports, health, beauty, cooking, or, any other domain! By regularly sharing creative content with their followers, influencers attract large audiences who somewhat idolize them. Why do brands like working with influencers? Companies love combining forces with social media influencers because they create overnight trends and encourage their followers to buy the products that they are promoting. Up to 49% of consumers depend on influencer recommendations, meaning it’s clear that social media influencer marketing is most likely here to stay.

Types of Influencers

There is a lot more to influencer marketing than initially meets the eye. Depending on the amount of followers that an influencer has, he or she is broken down into certain sub-categories indicating their cost and amount of influence. Here are the 4 main categories:

  • At the very top, you have Mega-Influencers. These are the people who have a vast number of followers on their social networks with more than 1 million followers on at least one platform. Mega-Influencers are often celebrities who have gained their fame offline––movie stars, sportspeople, musicians, and even reality TV stars. You can expect Mega-Influencers to charge anywhere up to $1 million per post with agents working on their behalf to score the most lucrative marketing deals. As a rule of thumb, only large brands could and should utilize the promoting power of these types of influencers.
  • Next, you have Macro-Influencers who have anywhere between 40,000 to 1 million followers. Influencers in this category are generally B-list celebrities or online users who are seen as an expert regarding a particular topic. Since there are more Macro-Influencers than Mega-Influencers, it should be easier for your brand to find one who is willing to work with you.
  • In third place, we have Micro-Influencers who are ordinary everyday people, just like you and I, who have become known for their knowledge about a specific niche category. They generally have anywhere from 1,000 to 40,000 followers and since they like to come across as authentic, they like to team up with brands that they genuinely believe in. Since they are not as heavily targeted as those with a larger following base, some Micro-Influencers even promote products for free.
  • Last, you have the newest form of influencer group, Nano-Influencers. These users have slightly less than 1,000 followers, but they tend to be experts in an obscure or highly specialized field. While many brands overlook Nano-Influencers, they can be extremely valuable to companies that make highly specialized niche products. However, larger brands will notice that they lack a sufficient number of followers to generate noteworthy results. A large brand would need to work with hundreds of Nano-Influencers to experience a promising ROI.

However, follower count is not the only thing you should take into consideration when determining the power of influence. You have to be especially wary about whether or not followers are even real. Nowadays, it has become increasingly easy for users to buy followers and likes, meaning the bulk of their online presence can be false. Make sure to look into the engagement that an influencer’s content generates. For example, if they have 100,000 followers but only receive about 1,000 likes on each post with even less comments, then their account is likely not your best bet.

With all these different types of social media influencers, you may be starting to see that it’s not as simple as it seems. Just because an influencer has a significantly large following, does not mean that they are the best choice for you and your brand. If you’re a smaller company or offering a niche product, then you may want to enlist the help of Micro-Influencers rather than Macro-Influencers who will likely utilize pretty much all of your budget. The art of picking which social media influencers best represent you and your brand is something that has to be carefully curated. It requires a significant amount of research and outreach so you may want to consider enlisting the assistance of a Marketing or PR agency to help guide you through the process.

Hiring Influencers

According to some of the top influencer agencies, there are a number of reasons why you should consider consulting an agency before trying to tackle influencer marketing on your own:

1. It will save you time and money.

Whether you’re a traditional marketing agency, an independent business, or a solo entrepreneur, you likely already have a lot on your plate. Hiring an agency that specializes in influencer marketing can save your brand both time and money. An agency also eliminates the need for companies to build their own influencer marketing teams or pay large sums of money for influencer marketing platforms.

2. It will prevent you from utilizing the wrong influencers.

Reduce the risk of becoming scammed by an influencer who is paying for the majority of their followers, or one who is not aligned with your personal company goals. Just because an influencer may look like they are a good fit, does not necessarily mean that they will successfully reach your target audience. This is where agencies can step in and provide you with a vetted influencer list.

3. You can leverage influencer relationships that the agency already has.

Agencies likely deal with influencers and their management team frequently, so they have likely honed strong relationships with these influencers that could be beneficial for your brand. And because these agencies have already worked with many influencers before, they likely have a strong understanding of their usual rates and ROI.

4. You can successfully measure the success of your influencer marketing campaigns through an agency.

Agencies likely already have a marketing metric system or platform in place that can organize influencer data such as the total number of influencer posts, overall engagement and reach, estimated conversions, and estimated monetary value. These reports make it easier for you to access the success of your entire campaign once it is over.

Here at Vonazon, we recently helped one of our clients with their influencer outreach campaign. A couple of months ago, Vacuum Cleaner Market enlisted our help with social media influencers that made the most sense for their brand. The company initially came to us because they were having trouble finding influencers who were interested in promoting vacuum cleaners. Our team dedicated long hours carefully curating several lists of influencers that not only had social media feeds that match the products they were trying to market, but also reached the people they were trying to target.

Even though influencer marketing is all the buzz nowadays, enlisting the help of social media influencers comes with its unique set of challenges. For example, if you’re a part of a large company and can afford targeting big-name Mega-Influencers, the attention you end up receiving may not always be the best for your brand. For example, A-list social media influencer Kim Kardashian received severe backlash last year when she partnered with Flat Tummy Co. and posted a sponsored ad showing herself holding an appetite suppressant lollipop. Both Kim Kardashian and Flat Tummy Co. received a lot of bad PR which led to many people boycotting the product, creating an adverse effect of what the brand had initially hoped for going into the sponsorship. It just goes to show, that there is so much more involved with influencer marketing than just teaming up with a well-known name.

However, even though there are downsides to influencer marketing when done correctly, it can be highly effective. With eMarketer reporting that up to 48% of marketers use influencer marketing and a Thomson survey discovering that influencer marketing campaigns earn $6.50 for every ad dollar spent, it seems like an efficient way to reach your desired target audience in a genuine and authentic way.

Whether you like seeing influencer-generated ads or not, one thing is for certain, they’re here to stay and they work!