Six years ago, the Oxford University Press included the word “influencer” in its A Dictionary of Social Media. (“A key individual with an extensive network of contacts, who plays an active role in shaping the opinions of others within some topic area, typically through their expertise, popularity, or reputation.”) Three years later, Merriam-Webster followed suit. (“One who exerts influence” a person who guides the actions of others.”)
And, yet, even with such fundamental cultural acceptance, small businesses continue to struggle to define what an influencer marketing strategy might look like for them.
Still, achieving some clarity is essential because this is one trend entrepreneurs ignore at their own peril:
“The ROI from influencer marketing is clear,” business coach Neal Schaffer writes in his comprehensive, illuminating new book Age of Influence. “In one survey, nearly 90 percent of all marketers found ROI from influencer marketing comparable to or better than other marketing channels. Another case study showed the ROI on influencer marketing to be as high as eleven times the return on traditional digital marketing options such as banner ads.”
Schaffer was kind enough to speak with Idea Financial about Age of Influence, how to affordably create highly effecting marketing synergy, and why everything you think you know about influencer marketing may be wrong in the best way possible. (Hint: It doesn’t require saving your pennies for a hundred years to secure a Kylie Jenner post…)
Often small businesses assume an influencer strategy is the purview of bigger, often more corporate enterprises. Why should they change their perspective on this?
Yes, a lot of businesses think that influencers are people with millions of followers and will cost a lot of money to engage with. However, in the financial industry, for instance, there is a concept called, “centers of influence.” These are people in your community that can influence the decision-making of their customers, such as CPAs, financial advisors, lawyers, bankers, etcetera. This is actually much closer to the way I would define who is and is not an influencer. So, if you think about all the different people that might influence the decision making of your ideal customer, you can begin to map out a strategy of how you are going to engage with those influencers to see how you might be able to collaborate. That is what is at the heart of how I define influencer marketing.
Age of Influence does a great job of defining the synergy between paid and organic social. How
can investing in an influencer strategy support both?
Investing in an influencer marketing strategy makes the most sense to augment your organic social media marketing. As you know, organic reach in social media continues to decline for brands, but influencers continue to be able to cut through the noise and yield engagement. One way to collaborate with influencers is in the co-creation of content. And that content is shown to outperform a business' own content when they utilize it for paid social media. I think that is the best way to find the potential synergies between paid and organic social when you leverage influencers as part of your marketing strategy.
The book also deftly outlines how perception of influencer marketing has not kept up with the reality
of how it has evolved beyond the stereotype of mega celebrity. What do you think the major misconceptions of current influencer marketing are—and why is reality more positive?
Whenever someone new comes seemingly out of nowhere yielding a lot of influence—and monetizing that influence in a short amount of time—there is bound to be bashing from a lot of people. However, since writing Age of Influence, what's really interesting is that we have this new term called the creator economy, which does not get as much backlash. As I note in Age of Influence, most influencers are content creators themselves, so perhaps reframing influencer marketing as creator marketing will give you a better feel for how positive influence marketing can be for your business. At the end of the day, influencers become more influential because they are great content creators that can better engage with social media users than most businesses can. And this is why the reality is more positive than what the blogosphere might suggest.
For a small business with a modest advertising budget, where would you suggest they begin re: influencer marketing?
It's hard to give a specific answer because every company in every industry is going to be very, very different. I think a real easy way to get started with influencer marketing is to begin to develop relationships with those people that you consider to be influencers, and maybe the easiest way to do that is to just set up a group dinner, networking event, or meet each one of these potential influencers individually over lunch. Get to know them and how you might be able to collaborate. Not every influencer you want to work with wants to work with you, so spending time getting to find the right people will ultimately help you get better results down the road.
How can you diversify a pool of influencers to maximize ROI?
The best way to get results working with influencers is obviously to work with as many as possible and to have as much data as possible. The more influencers you work with, like everything else in life, the 80-20 rule will apply, meaning that 20 percent of the influencers will ultimately generate 80 percent of whatever action you are looking for. With that t in mind, you always want to be working more with the over-performing influencers, while always trying to find new influencers that might become your future best performers.
To find out more about Neal Schaffer’s books and coaching, visit his official website.
Need a bit of a funding assist to get the working capital necessary to evolve your marketing game? A small business loan or business line of credit can help make your vision for tomorrow a reality today. Idea Financial, for example, offers up to $250,000 in working capital with a quick, hassle-free application and same day approval.
If you’d like to continue exploring our ever-expanding library of articles on small business hacks, tips, and optimization stop by our Business Resource Center main page.