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What Is Influencer Marketing and How Does It Work?

Mariana Krasteva

August 8, 2022

Did you know that in the past, the only people who could earn the label “influencer” were celebrities and stars everyone knew? Moreover, an influencer promoted brands, products, and services across various industries and target audiences without specializing in a particular niche. 

The word “influencer” refers to a person who has the power to persuade others effectively. They first gained prominence in 2009 when YouTube became popular as a platform for creating videos that could be shared with friends and family members. In 2013, social media platforms like Pinterest, Instagram, and Snapchat expanded influencer reach and empowered them with additional channels to share images and videos with their followers and friends. 

Today, influencer marketing is at its peak of popularity, and people don’t need to be superstars to become successful influencers. Unlike before, they focus on one industry or niche, and companies are more likely to partner with those whose followers are closest to their target audience. This article will explain everything you need to know about influencer marketing so you can fully benefit. We’ll discuss how an AI-enabled tool can make your brand journey easier and smoother.

Let’s first dive into some highly convincing statistics that may amaze you even if you’ve already taken your first steps in influencer marketing.

Rise of Influencer Marketing with Key Influencer Marketing Stats

Influencer marketing has become a vital part of marketing strategies, and its advancement doesn’t show any signs of slowing down. The rise of influencer marketing has been primarily driven by social media's growing popularity and accessibility. Here are the key influencer marketing figures you may find truly astounding.

The Influencer Marketing Market Size is Ever-Increasing

It reached almost $14 billion in 2021, a huge rise considering that the market was worth only $1.7 billion in 2016. The rapid growth of influencer marketing in 2020 and 2021 is explained by the Coronavirus outbreak, which made social media our natural habitat. Moreover, the influencer marketing market size worldwide is estimated to reach $16.4 billion by the end of 2022

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The main reason why influencer marketing is so effective is that it targets potential customers at the right time and place in the purchasing funnel. This makes influencers a very effective ally for brands in reaching their target audience.

Influencer Marketing Is Here to Stay 

The global influencer marketing market is expected to increase to $24.1 billion by 2025. Another study indicates that the U.S. influencer marketing platform market will increase by almost 30% by 2030.

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This creates a huge opportunity for brands to reach their target audience effectively and establish their brand. It’s also an excellent way to boost sales, increase brand awareness, and get more people talking about your business.

The Popularity of Influencer Marketing Is Growing Across Industries and Niches

The State of Influencer Marketing 2022: Benchmark Report by Influencer Marketing Hub points at a nearly 40% share of the industries different from those typically using influencer marketing. 

Thus, these niches mark a 10% increase in their influencer marketing presence, indicating its rising popularity beyond the traditionally presented industries like Fashion & Beauty, Health & Fitness, Travel & Lifestyle, Gaming, Family, Parenting & Home, and Sports. You can get a more precise idea of the influencer marketing users in the chart below.

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The takeaway? You don’t have to run a fashion brand to benefit from influencers. You still may be wondering if it’s worth giving it a try. Just look at the next figures.

Influencer Marketing Offers Huge Potential for Building Trust and Converting Leads 

Reportedly, 61% of consumers trust an influencer’s recommendations on social platforms and only 38% trust what a brand says. This naturally boosts sales and conversions, generating more revenue. Some companies earn $18 from every dollar invested in influencer marketing. You can easily do the calculations and decide if such an investment is also worthy for your business. 

Influencer Marketing Is No Longer Reserved for B2C Companies

According to the above-mentioned Benchmark Report, the B2B sector accounts for 38% of influencer marketing users, 8% up from the last year’s figures. 

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This means that no matter what industry you’re operating in and your target audiences (businesses or consumers), collaborating with an influencer can greatly enhance brand awareness and attract potential customers. The big question is how to find the right influencer for your field. Luckily, there’s a huge pool you can choose from.

50+ Million People Consider Themselves Influencers

Influencers are everywhere, and they are no longer just Hollywood celebrities. More than 50 million people consider themselves creators. That’s a lot of people who are creating content every day.

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More Than Half of the Companies That Collaborate with Influencers Operate eCommerce Stores

It is clear that the eCommerce industry tends to expand its collaboration with influencers. Approximately 54% of the firms that collaborate with influencers operate eCommerce stores. 

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Influencers have blogs where they share their experiences about using certain products and services. This is one of the main reasons why it is important for businesses to work with influencers. It will help them reach out to more people than they could on their own.

So, what exactly is influencer marketing and how can you use it to promote your brand? Let’s look at a working definition of the concept. 

What Is Influencer Marketing? 

Influencer marketing is the process of collaborating with influencers to promote and endorse your products on social media. These influencers recommend your product or service to their followers, helping you reach and engage more customers. 

So, rather than spending money on traditional advertising, brands and companies pay influencers who have a following close to their ideal buying persona. Here's an example of how this works:

Let’s say you're launching a new app to help people lose weight. You reach out to an Instagram fitness blogger with more than 100,000 followers and ask them if they'd be willing to post about your app on Instagram. 

They agree and post a picture of themselves using the app while working out in the gym. The caption says, "I'm using this new app called [name of your app] every day! During my workouts, it helps me stay motivated." The caption links back to your website, where people can download it for themselves.

When done right, influencer marketing can help you build brand awareness and increase sales. Now that you know WHAT, the next thing to discuss is WHERE.

Which Are the Best Social Media Platforms to Focus Your Influencer Marketing Efforts?

There are five platforms that obligatorily come to mind when thinking of influencer marketing. Let’s take a closer look at each option.

Instagram

As an image and video-focused platform, Instagram offers a great opportunity to run your influencer marketing campaigns. It’s particularly effective for B2C companies.

Seven out of ten brands use social media for influencer marketing. Instagram Live, Stories, Reels, Polls, and other handy features can be used by your influencers to get your brand message across to a wider audience and increase your visibility. 

Twitter

Twitter is another viable option for using influencer marketing to promote your brand and products. According to a Twitter survey, 40% of users follow their favorite brands on the platform. Also, almost half of users heavily rely on product recommendations from influencers. 

Moreover, Twitter is among the most cost-effective options, partly due to the concise format of the posts. As of 2016, 96% of Twitter influencers charged up to $100 for a branded tweet.

YouTube

YouTube is the world's largest video site. It allows influencers to create their own channels where they can upload videos, interact with subscribers and even sell products. The video enables influencers to present more brand and product information than any social media post. Therefore, YouTube influencers have the chance to boost brand awareness and increase sales. 

And the best news - YouTube videos achieve a more long-term effect than any social media as the videos remain available on the platform for years after they’re released. YouTubers can build a long-term residual income and a continuously growing audience because the videos are searchable on YouTube and featured in major search engines.

Facebook

With 2.93 billion monthly active users, Facebook is the most popular social media and the second most preferred platform for influencer marketing, following Instagram. 

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So, influencers can reach large audiences on Facebook. In addition, the platform offers more targeting options through its advertising algorithms. Facebook audiences have different options to interact with the content - they can like, comment, and share posts, which increases visibility.

TikTok

TikTok is a platform with over 1 billion active users and a great place to reach influencers. By 2025, about 66% of marketers will use the app for influencer campaigns, and almost 55% will take advantage of TikTok influencers for marketing purposes. 

Each option has advantages and offers opportunities to run different campaigns while partnering with an influencer.

Types of Influencer Marketing Campaigns

Influencer marketing campaigns are a great way to drive traffic and sales directly to your website. There are different types of campaigns; each is focused on a specific goal and has its own objectives.

Here are the most common types of influencer marketing campaigns.

Affiliate Links and Coupon Codes

Affiliate links and coupon codes are two of the most popular forms of influencer marketing. Both can be used to generate revenue. However, they require different strategies and approaches.

Affiliate Links

An affiliate link is a special URL that allows people who promote your products to earn money when someone clicks it and makes a purchase. Affiliate links don’t have to be on an actual product page or category page. 

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They can be placed within another piece of content, for example, an article or Instagram post, that directs traffic to your website. This makes them highly versatile and allows influences to craft unique and compelling content. 

Coupon Codes

Coupon codes are an effective way to encourage customers to purchase from your store. Coupon codes are a type of discount used to buy products from a company. They usually have an expiration date and are often specific to the purchased product. 

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And here’s another example of promoting promo codes in a video from a TikTok influencer:

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Influencers will promote coupon codes on their social media channels using images or videos of themselves using the products. The coupon codes can be entered at checkout to receive a discount on the current order.

Sponsored Content

Sponsored content is a form of native advertising that involves working with an influencer to create custom content for your brand. This can be a blog post, video, or photo series. 

Regardless of the content format, the goal is always to promote your product in a way that fits naturally into their existing audience and style of writing, filming, or photography.

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This type of advertising is becoming more popular due to its effectiveness. It allows brands to reach their target audience directly without paying for expensive ads. They can target specific demographics effectively and increase brand awareness.

Running Contests and Giveaways

Setting up contests and giveaways aims to get as many people as possible to participate. It’s a marketing activity where you offer something of value to your audience in exchange for asking them to tag a friend or answer a question about your product.

Contests are a popular marketing strategy for brands of all types, especially eCommerce businesses.

For example, let's say you want to give five pairs of sneakers to five lucky winners. You could ask people to follow you on social media and tag three friends in your post's comments section, and the winners will be selected randomly. 

Running contests and giveaways is a great way to get your brand in front of new audiences. Giving away free products or services can help you build buzz and increase engagement.

Contests and giveaways are easy to run and can be done in various ways. They can be as simple as giving away a gift card or as complex as a multi-contest strategy that includes several prizes.

You can run a contest or a giveaway on your website or on any social network platform like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, and YouTube. Need some more detail about running a giveaway on Facebook? Simply visit our dedicated blog post and follow the easy step-by-step guide to setting up a successful giveaway campaign. 

Giveaways are similar to contests. However, they require users to follow your account, like, comment, and share your post, or submit their email address or phone number in exchange for the prize. This helps you build a larger following, which is also beneficial for your future campaigns.

Influencer contests and giveaways follow the same principles as a standard giveaway. Only the brand running the giveaway collaborates with an influencer. You can co-host the event or let the influencer take over the giveaway marketing using their social media channels.

In the example below, the digital creator Sam Souder co-hosts a LUXCYCLEDco giveaway. This is a win-win as to enter the giveaway, users need to follow both Sam Souder and LUXCYCLEDco, thus increasing the influencer’s following and attracting potential customers.

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This is an excellent way for brands to gain exposure and grow their audience without spending much money on advertising. Moreover, influencers share the contest with their followers, effectively getting more people involved.

Contests and giveaways have been used by brands for years as a way to provoke interest in their products or services. It’s still one of the most effective strategies to build an engaged audience and increase brand awareness. When done well, these campaigns can reach thousands of people, generating likes, comments, and shares across multiple platforms. They also allow you to collect valuable data from participants, such as email addresses, which can be used later in other marketing campaigns

Publishing Influencer Content on Your Owned Channels

There are two ways to approach this influencer marketing campaign:

  1. Reuse influencer-generated content directly on your owned channels. This is the easiest way and requires the least effort on your side. You can simply repost the content as it is, with a simple introduction and link back to the original article.

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  1. Publish influencer-generated content on your owned channels with slight changes. If you have the time and resources available, you can take this opportunity to repurpose influencer content in a way that makes sense for your brand. You might craft the post's captions with something more relevant to your business. 

Take a look at the example above. Foreo reused the content from an influencer with their own captions. Their copy begins with a product's benefit, continues with credits, and ends with a call-to-action. What’s more, Foreo added hashtags for greater reach. It’s pretty effective, don’t you think? 

Brand Ambassador Programs

A brand ambassador program is when you hire an individual or group to represent your brand. These ambassadors can be employees, contractors, or customers who support and promote your business for free. In return, you give them some kind of reward or compensation (a percentage of sales, discounted products, etc.).

Notion provides a great example of how a brand ambassador program works. Its established multinational team of ambassadors is passionate about sharing and teaching Notion. Ambassadors build Notion’s community by managing groups online and globally and organizing training workshops, webinars, and courses. They are also responsible for content creation and sharing, including videos, resources, and apps in other languages.

In the example below, William Nutt, one of the Notion’s ambassadors, tweets about updating database lessons promoting the interactive ongoing course “Learn Notion A-to-Z.”

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And in the YouTube video below, another Notion ambassador, Monica Lim, presents her review on a masterly Notion course while encouraging her audience to take the course. She also promotes her affiliate link providing an example of combining an ambassador with an affiliate program.

So, implementing a brand ambassador program can be your game-changer that will help promote your brand and establish valuable relationships of trust and loyalty with your prospects.

Influencer Marketing Benefits for Your Brand

Influencer marketing is a powerful way to reach your audience and create positive brand awareness. Here are some of the benefits influencer marketing can bring to your brand.

Convincing and Converting Social Proof

Having satisfied customers share their positive experiences with your brand is one of the most effective ways to convert your prospects. What’s more, the more influential these happy customers are, the greater impact their words have. 

This means that partnering with influencers who have gained popularity among your target audience is a sure-fire weapon in your marketing arsenal. This can be the game-changing social proof that will help your prospects ensure you can deliver the outstanding products and services they need.

Reduced Marketing Costs

Influencer marketing is a way to reach a broad audience quickly, inexpensively, and most importantly, more effectively than traditional marketing tactics. It’s a low-cost, high-value method to promote your products and services. Instead of paying thousands of dollars on a full-time employee or agency to create your ads, hire an influencer.

They often have large followings, so you can reach more people than traditional advertising methods do. Furthermore, they have built trust with their communities and are more likely to turn a casual visitor into a customer than an advertisement would.

A study by Convince and Convert indicates an impressive eleven times higher ROI of influencer marketing than banner ads. And the 2020 Influencer Marketing Hub Benchmark Report points to an average of $5.78 earned for each dollar invested.

Effortless and Faster Results

As a business owner and manager, time is your most valuable asset that cannot be recovered. It’s easy to find yourself spending hours creating an ad for your products or services. 

With influencer marketing, you let the influencer do the heavy lifting for you. They do all the crafting of the images and videos, copy creation, and scheduling the content across channels. This is part of their daily job, and they know exactly how to market themselves and your product.

In addition, they already have an existing audience interested in what they talk about. Influencers don't need to waste time building an audience from scratch, which means they can get results faster than traditional advertisers.

Increased Brand Awareness and Reach

Influencer marketing has become a popular tactic for marketers and brands looking to connect with consumers in a more authentic way. It’s an effective strategy to gain visibility and inspire a consumer to purchase.

So, the power of influencers lies in their ability to connect with their audience on a personal level, building trust and credibility. Influencers have loyal followers who trust their recommendations and reviews. 

By collaborating with influencers, you can gain exposure among their followers. This will make your brand, products, and services known to potential customers and help them connect with you more easily.

Support for Your Own Content Marketing Strategy

Creating a content strategy is a critical part of running your business. It shows how you communicate with your prospects and customers, build their trust, and keep them coming back for more content.

However, creating content isn't easy. And your time is precious, especially if you have other responsibilities, like managing employees and growing your business.

That's why many companies turn to influencer marketing. Influencers provide great content for your brand with no hassle. Typically, they create content in their unique style and own voice, making the audience see your brand in a fresh light.

Increased Sales

Influencer marketing is a great way to promote your brand or product and is one of the most effective ways to increase sales. A study reveals that 87% of consumers are likely to make a purchase after being inspired by an influencer. 

If you partner with an influencer with a large following, your business can drive more customers through their recommendations. 

Universally Efficient Strategy That Works for Every Type of Business

Whether you're looking for a celebrity influencer or a micro-influencer, there's a perfect fit for every brand. Influencer marketing can help you achieve your goals irrespective of the field in which you operate and the size of your company.

For instance, if you have just started selling products online, you may want to work with an influencer who already has an established following on social media and can help spread the word about your product or service through their own channels.

If your budget is tight, you can hire a micro-influencer. These are everyday people with smaller followings who can still get their fans excited about products through their content strategy on Instagram, TikTok, Twitter, or YouTube videos. 

If you want to go big, however, many celebrity influencers with millions of followers may charge you $1+ million per post.

How to Run a Successful Influencer Marketing Campaign for Your Business?

If you’re new to influencer marketing, it can be hard to know where to begin. The key to success lies in choosing the right influencers for your campaigns. However, before you begin working with an influencer, you should consider some things.

To help you get started on the right foot, we’ve collected some tips to run a successful influencer marketing campaign for your business.

Define Your Influencer Marketing Goals

Before you start searching for influencers, it’s important to define measurable goals for the campaign. This will help you evaluate the campaign's success and improve over time. While there are many different types of influencer marketing goals, they generally fall into one of the following categories:

  • Brand awareness: It’s one of the most important goals for any business. It helps people recognize your brand and associate it with a particular product or service. Influencer marketing helps brands to reach new audiences and create awareness for their products and services. This is an essential part of any marketer's strategy.
  • Increase website traffic: If you have a product or service that you want to sell and are looking for a way to get more people to visit your site, influencer marketing can be an effective tool. Influential people share your content through social media to reach more people than if you just posted it on one platform.
  • Sales/conversions: The most obvious goal of any marketing campaign is increased sales and conversions. Influencers who promote products on social media often include links in their posts that send readers directly to the product pages on websites where they can make purchases. Most brands are looking for this from their marketing efforts, so it makes sense to choose it as an influencer marketing goal.

Choose your goal carefully, as it will help you narrow down the influencers to those who would be best suited for your business. 

Define Your Audience

A target audience is a group of people who share common interests, needs, or wants. Defining your audience is the first step to creating a successful influencer marketing campaign.

There are two ways to approach this:

  • Segmentation: Segmenting your audience based on demographics and psychographics (e.g. age, gender, income level), will help you identify the right influencers for each segment. For example, it doesn't make sense to partner with an Instagram influencer with millions of followers if you sell luxury watches. Still, none of them have a high disposable income. Instead, focus on finding an Instagrammer with a large following of high-income potential customers.
  • Categorization: Categorizing your audience based on common interests or hobbies can help narrow down the field of potential candidates. For example, suppose you are selling online courses about how to run a successful business. In that case, it makes sense for your target audience to be other entrepreneurs or small business owners looking for advice on growing their business and improving their bottom line.

To succeed with influencer marketing, you must understand your target audience and how they interact with the selected influencers. So, if you’re selling sports shoes, the best approach might be to work with a fitness influencer with a large following of female runners in their 30s and 40s who would be interested in purchasing running shoes from your store.

Create Campaign Brief

Once you know what your goals are and who your audience is, create a brief for your influencer marketing campaign. This should include information about your budget, or how much money you have available for this project. Note that influencers may ask for a fee upfront depending on their level of engagement with their followers/subscribers. 

Other information in your campaign brief includes: 

  • What type of content you are looking for
  • What kind of tone and style should be used (e.g., humorous, serious, etc.)
  • How many words/pictures/videos you need per post
  • What hashtags to use in each post (if applicable)

Write a brief that clearly states what you want from your influencers so they can submit content that aligns with your brand. You can also include other relevant information such as deadlines. However, ensure not to overload them with too much data at once as it may be ignored.

Pick Your Influencers

Put together a comprehensive list of potential influencers who can authentically represent your brand. You can research social media channels like Instagram, TikTok, Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook.

Pick influencers that are relevant and compatible with your brand. Research their follower demographics and engagement rates before reaching out to them. This is important because it will ensure that your campaign will be successful and will also help you get a better ROI from the campaign.

Support Content Creation

Think about what type of content works best for your brand and audience. A video might be more effective than a blog post or photo because it allows an influencer’s personality to shine through while conveying key information clearly and concisely.

Make sure to create great content and encourage the influencer to repost it. This task becomes much easier if you have a reliable ally by your side - a full-fledged AI writing tool like Copy.ai can be your lifesaver and help you craft your social media captions, posts, and hashtags. It can also generate social media content ideas that can be invaluable for diversifying your topics. Simply visit our free AI tool list and see how they take the burden off your shoulders.

What’s more, Copy.ai offers brainstorming tools and a full set of social media tools, which makes it easy to develop your content and marketing strategy.

In addition, reposting the content from your influencer about your business is a great way to maximize your influencer marketing efforts.

Launch Campaigns

Once you have found the right influencers and figured out the best content for your brand, reaching out and pitching influencers to collaborate with you is time. You can ask them if they are willing to post on social media or create a blog post or video review of your product or service and share it with their followers.

If they agree, ensure you provide clear guidelines for what kind of content would benefit both parties. Send samples of your product and information about your service, so the influencers can learn it or use it themselves. This will ensure that you're all on the same page. 

Discuss your strategy, budget, and expectations with the influencer, so they understand exactly what they’ll be doing for you. Give specific deadlines by which the content should be published. Note that even though deadlines seem far away when you're planning, influencers may have other projects in hand, which may take some time. 

Once the contract is signed, you should constantly communicate with the influencer. This will allow you to ensure that everything is going according to plan and that there are no misunderstandings.

Track Campaigns

After launching your influencer marketing campaign, the next step is to measure the results. This will help you determine whether your campaign was successful and whether or not you should repeat it. 

Here are two ways to track your influencer marketing campaigns: 

Track Link or Discount Code Use

If you're using a tracking link or discount code, you can see how many people used it and where they came from. This data may help improve your targeting and outreach efforts in the future. For example, if most of your conversions came from one social channel, then consider focusing more effort there.

Analytics Numbers

You can also use analytics numbers to see which influencers did well and who were less popular. For example, if some of the influencers had a high engagement rate but low conversions, perhaps there was something wrong with the offer or it simply wasn't appealing enough to the target audience. 

On the other hand, if an influencer has a high conversion rate but a low engagement rate, perhaps their content just doesn't resonate well with the followers. This could be useful information about what kind of content works best for your brand.

Closing Remarks

Nowadays, influencer marketing is a valuable part of your marketing strategy. When done right, it can be a win-win-win situation for all parties involved. Your business gets more exposure and potential customers, the influencer gets paid for their time, and your target audience gets valuable content.

All you need to do is set your influencer marketing goal, identify your target audience, and find the right influencer for your brand. With our guide, you can make influencer marketing work for you. Follow these best practices, and you’ll start your journey on the right foot. And if you need some more tips on producing social media content and ideas, check out the Copy.ai YouTube channel.

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