There is no shortage of ways to market your business online but one that continues to grow in importance is the use of influencer marketing.  Visit any social media feed and there’s a good chance you will see it in action in fashion, health or beauty products between updates from friends and family.  But what is it and how can you use it in your business?

What is influencer marketing?

Influencer marketing is the partnership with content creators or influencers in order to get engagement and conversations around a brand’s products or services.  While it sounds simple, it can be quite complex and there are lots of examples of where it doesn’t work.

There are also plenty of examples of where it does.  For example, watch brand Daniel Wellington saw the most mentions by influencers on Instagram last year and saw over 20,000 mentions by over 7,000 influencers.  This comes from a brand that solely uses Instagram for influencer marketing – and uses it well.

How does it work?

Using the Daniel Wellington brand as an example, the company was founded in 2011 with just £15,000 so there was no big budget for marketing.  Instead, the founder Filip Tysander turned to influencers to spread the word of his brand.  He sent free watches or discount codes to influencers with audiences between 2,000 and 10,000.  Then he reposted the content that they created and used his own custom hashtag #DanielWellington to have a stream of user-generated content each day.  That hashtag now has over 2 million posts associated with it.

This example shows the shift away from big-name celebrities and TV advertising towards a much smaller scale.  By working with influencers who have a smaller audience but are more engaged with them, brands can see a bigger return on investment.  Not only that but the younger audiences ignore TV advertising but see influencers are more authentic than an actor, musician or athlete paid to advertise something.

How to use it for your business

The key to using influencer marketing for your business is finding the right influencers to work with.  There are big influencers out there with audiences in their millions, but the costs involved with working with them is likewise large and out of the budget for many companies.

However, many other influencers or micro-influencers are a more realistic prospect.  They have smaller but equally dedicated audiences on Instagram, Facebook, on their blog and even on places like Twitter or Pinterest.  And by building a relationship with that influencer, they could be regularly posting about your products or services to their engaged and interested audience.

Then create a clear strategy.  What products or services do you want them to promote that is a good fit for their audience?  How will you measure the success of the campaign?  By having a clear picture of what you want to gain from it, you can then approach the influencers with clearer expectations and make it easier for them to see if they can deliver.