The lowdown on social media influencers for affiliate marketing

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Social media - can you remember life before Facebook and Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn? No longer just a place to meet your friends, social media is big business when it comes to advertising and marketing. Ten years ago, social media marketing did not exist; now it has become one of the largest marketing methods to both small and large businesses. As a form of media, it has many different marketing strings to its bow , and one of these is the use of influencers.

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Influencer marketing

Influencer marketing is on the up, as demonstrated by an online survey conducted by Influencermarketinghub.com. Statistics devised from the survey show that the search term “influencer marketing” has increased by 325% in 12 months, and a large proportion of businesses are seeing a return of roughly seven times their investment. In response, businesses are increasing the amount spent on influencer marketing.

 

What is a social media influencer?

Social media influencers have built up a reputation in certain topics and are known as experts in their fields. They have a large group of followers on their preferred platforms, who listen to their views and take on board what they say.

 

The effect of social media influencers

To tap into these audiences, brands are keen to become involved with social media influencers. This has become so in-demand that now, specialised companies that have seen the growth pattern help businesses link up with influencers in their industry. Brands that manage to get in front of influencers see their products promoted to an audience already attuned to what the influencers have to say. These warm markets are more likely to buy, without resorting to pressurised marketing techniques.

 

How social media influencers choose

Because of the success of social media influencers, they are highly sought after. Before choosing which products to promote, there are several factors they take into consideration before making that decision. Although influencers are rewarded for their efforts in these campaigns, either through a payment or free goods, they can be very particular about what products to promote.

Reputation

With their reputation at stake, an influencer worthy of their weight will only become involved with brands they like or trust. They can, and do, say no to becoming involved with campaigns, regardless of the remuneration, if promoting it could be detrimental to their reputation.

Credibility

This selectivity goes a long way to maintaining their credibility, one of the main methods of maintaining large audiences. This ties in with research completed by Juha Munnukka, who showed that credibility was related to expertise and trustworthiness. The more credible a source is, the better the relationship will be.

Relatability

Relatability is crucial within social media marketing. Most influencers are normal individuals who their following can relate to. It’s the old saying of; “If it’s good enough for them, it’s good enough for me”. Social media influencers are looking for products that they and their audience can relate to.

Juha Munnuka’s research also showed that the result a consumer has with a product affects their perceived view of the person endorsing it. Recommending poor quality products will eventually affect their status, regardless of the recompense received.

 

How to use social media influencers within affiliate marketing

There are two ways to incorporate this marketing technique into an affiliate business:

  1. Get in touch with social media influencers in your industry and ask them to promote your products via an affiliate programme or using affiliate links.
  2. Become a social media influencer and promote a range of different affiliate programmes  to your audience.

When you are looking to work with influencers there are a few things to do before sending out emails of introduction. This will go a long way to ensuring success in your recruitment process.

  1. Niche – know your niche, and look for influencers that sit comfortably within this niche, rather than in a more general niche.
  2. Quality, not quantity – it’s easy to focus on  large follower numbers, but although large audiences are important, they are not the only factor to consider. Sometimes influencers with less followers than the well-known names in the industry  have higher engagement figures, as their audience reacts to the more personal touch.
  3. Favoured platform – with many social media platforms available, look for influencers who work in a channel that is not only familiar to you, but also to your proposed market
  4. Depth of discussion – lots of comments on a post may look impressive but look deeper to see what the followers are saying. Find an influencer who engages properly with the audience who in turn respond through discussion. Ten comments that are meaningful and stimulate a conversation are more useful than 100 comments purely complimenting the post. Follow this concept through to the types of posts that get the most likes; are they relevant to your business, or are they all favouring posts with a lighter tone or images?
  5. A bigger presence – look to see if an influencer also owns a website, as this is beneficial for affiliate marketing. Linking to products works well in longer blog posts, rather than limiting promotion to social media posts
  6. Well crafted content  – a highly sought-after influencer should be adept at content writing but read back posts and blogs to make sure.
  7. The company they keep – if the influencer is regularly in conversation with other highly regarded industry personalities this demonstrates not only the depth of their reach, but how they are perceived in the industry by other thought leaders.

 

Transparency

Past issues with influencers sprang up when the public realised that the individuals they had been following and listening to closely had been paid to promote products. In the interest of transparency and objectivity, paid posts now have to be disclosed, as discussed in more depth in this article.

Influencers should state anywhere within posts that they are being paid to write about a product. This ties into credibility and trust that we discussed above. Long term followers still relate to promotional posts of this nature, but they need to maintain the trust through transparency.

The world of the social media influencer offers up a lot of opportunities to marketers. Before committing marketing budget to this, as you would before embarking on any new channel at a cost, it’s best to consider how influencer marketing fits in with your overall strategy and how it will help to achieve your business’s goals. Employing it as part of the marketing strategy can reap great rewards, and open your products up to a whole new audience. After all, if 94% of marketers who have used this technique believe it to be effective, it is worth a try.