With influencer-brand relationships becoming increasingly important in digital marketing strategy, I wanted to get a better feel for how the influencers themselves view influencer marketing. To do this, I surveyed over 400 influencers and got their take on the current state of the industry.
Brands have some legitimate concerns when it comes to influencer marketing - primarily, that the space is quickly becoming saturated. Influencer marketing is becoming more commonly used, and with the right strategy in place, it is still just as effective as ever. But in order to implement a viable strategy, it’s critical to uncover effective ways to work with influencers, so that their recommendations of your brand don’t get lost in the mix.
So, to help brands run a successful influencer program, who better to go to for insights than the source - the influencers themselves.
You can download our full report for free here, but in this post, I’ll go through a few things I learned by taking on this valuable project.
Budgeting for Influencer Marketing
One of the most common questions I get asked about influencer marketing is how much it costs. For this survey, my focus was on the “mid-level” influencer who has 10,000-100,00 followers. I like the mid-level influencers because their audience size enables them to stay engaged, and they can promote brands with much smaller placement fees than “A-list” influencers.
The survey uncovered that the majority of mid-level influencers charge between $250-$400 per blog post, with full social shares including Instagram. I was specific with this type of partnership, because it’s by far the strongest influencer-brand partnership that I've seen in my 8 years of implementing influencer marketing strategies. Blog posts show up in Google results for years to come, while social posts create a quick spark about a brand. Combine blog and social together and you’ve got strong a brand awareness strategy via influencers.
Another common budgeting theme that often comes up is whether a brand can send product for posts in lieu of monetary compensation. Almost 100% of the influencers in the survey said that they prefer to be paid by monetary compensation, not just product. This aligns with my experience conducting influencer marketing initiatives for brands - most influencers these days won’t post for product unless it's at a very high price point.
On the same note, influencers don’t like to be paid by commission either. The pay-per-post model will get you the most, and the best, influencers.
Many brands worry that posts labeled as “ad” or “sponsored” impact the credibility, and thus, the success of that earned post. However, the FTC mandates that if an influencer receives product and/or monetary compensation from a brand, they need to disclose the brand relationship in their post. Not complying can lead to a lot of messy legal issues for your brand.
Stemming from the concern that posts labeled as sponsored impact credibility, one of the questions I asked in the survey was whether influencers think posts labeled as "sponsored" limit the effectiveness of the brand recommendation.
95% of the influencers in the survey reported that they think their audience still trusts their brand recommendation, even when in a post marked as sponsored. That should put your mind at ease.
My theory behind this is that consumers understand that an influencer needs a way to make a living in order to keep posting the awesome content that they love. Most consumers trust that the influencers they follow only talk about products that they genuinely like, as opposed to talking up whatever company that pays them.
The whole reason that influencer marketing works in the first place revolves around trust in said influencer. Brands need to trust influencers to create content that resonates with their followers, and followers trust influencers to only promote brands they sincerely stand behind.
Who Reaches Out to Who?
Identifying the type of influencers you want to work with is just the beginning - but many brands struggle with where to find influencers for their program. I was curious to see if brands reach out to influencers, or whether influencers more often reach out to brands. I was surprised that about half of the influencers in the survey field reported that they actively reach out to brands as part of their strategy to find partnerships.
Does your brand make it easy for influencers to contact you about partnering?
A key takeaway here is that brands should make sure they’re “influencer friendly” and have a way for influencers to easily contact them if they want to form a partnership. You can do this by having a link in your menu on your homepage just for influencers which can take them to a landing page to learn more about how your brand works with influencers.
Another potential strategy to find influencers is to work with an influencer network. Influencer networks seem to be gaining in popularity each year, so I also wanted to find out what percentage of influencers are part of an influencer network. Around 75% of the influencers surveyed reported that they are a member of an influencer network.
You can see, with a quick Google search, that there are networks specializing in almost any vertical a brand aligns with so there's certainly one out there that will work for your brand.
Keep in mind how valuable influencers are, and how they can effectively create authentic brand recommendations to the ad blind consumers that your brand wants to reach. Be sure to budget accordingly, and perhaps re-direct some of your budget from paid social or banner ads to this form of marketing. Businesses should plan on spending $200-$400 per post, as well as plan to send product to each influencer.
With more and more brands adopting influencer marketing, the competition works out in the influencer’s favor, and they're now charging a monetary amount per post and not just accepting product for brand placements (unless the price point of the product is really high).
Vet your earned media, and ensure that all of your influencers disclose their relationship with your brand in their posts. Keep in mind that brands can get in trouble with the FTC if the influencer’s post isn’t properly labeled - and don''t worry, a post marked as “sponsored” can still be just as effective and trusted by the influencers’ audience.
Lastly, make sure that you make it easy for influencers to reach out to your brand directly. Being influencer-friendly can go a long way and uncover great new brand partnerships.
For more insights, you can download the full report here.