Influencers: How to Leverage the Relationship
You need influencers, but they need you, too
A new phenomenon has come about with the digital age: the rise of “influencers.” What used to be a space for celebrities (whose inspiring lifestyles were seen in magazines or film) has become the domain of everyday “it girls” thanks to social media.
The idea is that on social media (in particular, image-driven Instagram) an influencer’s channels amass thousands of followers. Their Instagram feed displays an enviable life (whether realistic or not) that inspires those thousands of followers to visit the same places, stay at the same resorts, wear the same clothing, eat at the same restaurants and use the same products. Influencers are selling their lifestyle and their reach can be far. For a business, that type of exposure can be a huge boon to sales.
From a business owner’s standpoint, influencers can be an extremely effective, efficient and affordable way to gain brand awareness. The result is direct business-to-consumer sales. Typically, they want perks like hotel stays, travel, services, meals and product (or whatever it is your business sells) in exchange for a certain number of posts. The posts can be a combination of blog entries and posts on social media outlets depending on what the influencer and business owner agree upon.
If you’re a business owner, you should recognize that influencers are looked to by their followers as trusted advisors. They’ve already built relationships with your target customer. Like it or not, an influencers reach is powerful and can be hugely beneficial for you and your business. Via the influencer, your audience comes built in. Business owners now have the opportunity to leverage the influencer’s relationships (digitally) to access their target audience in real time.
I have seen firsthand the benefits of having "celebrities" use my services and the immediate response it can yield. For instance, if a cute guy from The Bachelor comes in for a treatment at Hydrate IV Bar, our phone is ringing off the hook from girls who are hoping to schedule their first or next appointment to be there at the same time as a celeb.
How's that for ROI?
Collaborations between a business and an influencer can also backfire. Case in point: A fitness model with 250,000 followers contacted Hydrate IV Bar for a free service while she was in town visiting. It seemed like a no-brainier with that kind of reach.
But it went like this: She was late for her appointment, rude to our staff and inconsiderate to our paying clients. She demanded that her photographer receive a free treatment, too. As a business owner, the entire experience was an unexpected and unneeded headache. Though Hydrate IV Bar may have received something “public relations-like" for the effort, the experience was not worth the complaints from paying members and staff.
As a business owner, I should have done my due diligence to research the influencer. After further digging into this her profile, it was clear that very few of her followers lived in Colorado (therefore her audience was not built of potential clients) and this influencer's engagements were so low that one could only assume that a large segment of her audience was made up of bots or paid followers. These are red flags that I should have scouted out prior to making the agreement with this person's online persona.
I have learned that it is okay to be selective and okay to say no. This is a business agreement that must be right for both parties. You are ultimately giving someone else the control of your businesses brand and image (remember, what is posted on the internet is for all to see), and if this is not a natural, authentic fit, then don't do it. Draft a written contract outlining the specifics of what services you’ll offer in exchange for a certain number of posts and on which social media channels.
To be successful with an influencer agreement or co-marketing effort, be very clear about who your audience is. Ask yourself: Does this person align with my brand? Are they easy to work with? Am I willing to do trade or give free product? You also must consider the pros and cons of any contract and/or payment structure they may propose. Be sure it fits within your marketing budget.
You will soon learn that there are websites and agencies who are focused on helping you find the right influencer for your needs, which will save you time and take the guesswork out of who you’re collaborating with. Before you go this route, have a realistic plan and make it as specific as possible.
For instance: By running this campaign (creating this partnership) I want to gain five new clients within the month. I’m willing to give one free month of training away to a local influencer that has access to my exact demographic (female, age 35 to 50, within a 10-mile radius, with income of $100,000 or more). It’s important to have a process in place to track these results. As is with any marketing plan, consistency is key. If it works, I'll offer a six-month membership in exchange for regular posts.
For my business, I want to find influencers who are passionate about the service we provide, who align well with our culture and who are authentic. This organic relationship will become powerful over time because both parties are passionate about the time and money they are giving to the other. Influencers have a unique ability to truly motivate others' purchase decisions and to do it in a way that is personal.
Content on these platforms can educate, dig deep and truly unravel layers that traditional means of marketing simply cannot do. With the right influencers, referrals, word of mouth and reviews are all tied into one. With the right strategy, your business can reap the benefits of this unique way to reach customers.
About Katie Wafer: Katie Wafer is a fifth generation Colorado native. Deeply involved in the Denver community, Katie founded Hydrate IV Bar at age 26. Since 2016, Hydrate IV Bar has offered vitamin-infused IV therapy treatments with three locations in the Denver metro area, and services a client base that ranges from professional athletes, celebrities and traveling musicians to business professionals and every day health-conscious adults.