Influencer Marketing in 2023 (#Engagement #BrandLoyalty 🙏)
Influencer marketing isn’t exactly the new kid on the digital marketing block.
It’s simply a new take on the old technique of celebrity endorsements to adapt to today’s consumers.
Modern consumers are well over celebrities selling their souls to endorse Pepsi, a new make-up line, or weight loss programs.
They’re looking for a voice they can trust — and relate to.
In fact, 92% of consumers find social influencers more trustworthy than celebrities.
What makes influencer marketing successful, is the reach of niche audiences that influencers have access to.
By collaborating with virtual influencers, content marketers can tap into those audiences and, in turn, boost brand awareness.
Let’s look at how to stay top-of-mind in the social media universe in 2023.
What Is Influencer Marketing?
Let’s start at the beginning. What’s a social media influencer?
Influencers are content creators with a loyal following. They have worked hard to build an online reputation for their expertise in a specific niche.
They use content marketing to share content on social media that inspires, entertains, informs, and connects them with their followers.
Brands love influencers. They start social conversations, drive engagement, and create trends. And this puts them in the perfect position to work with brands on sponsored content.
What is an example of influencer marketing?
Let’s say you find a popular Instagram account and send the account owner your product.
Then, the Instagram influencer posts a picture with your product and shares a discount code to use at checkout on your website.
The influencer’s followers see your product with a glowing review and use the code to buy it.
And that is influencer marketing.
What does influencer marketing do for your business?
✓ Reach new and larger audiences,
✓ Build brand awareness and trust,
✓ Grow your social media following,
✓ Increase website traffic,
✓ Facilitate lead generation,
✓ Boost sales, and
✓ Help your Search Engine Optimization via backlinks.
Now, let’s dive into some stats.
Some Eye-Opening Influencer Marketing Statistics
Influencer marketing is a top-tier social media marketing tool, and for good reason:
- The influencer marketing industry is expected to smash the $15 billion mark in 2023.
- 49% of consumers turn to influencers for product recommendations.
- 93% of marketers incorporate influencer marketing in their inbound marketing campaigns.
- 75% of businesses have a dedicated budget for influencer marketing.
- For every $1 brands spend on influencer marketing, they receive an average ROI of $18.
- Of all the generations, Gen Zers trust influencers the most.
Influencer Marketing Trends for 2023.
1. The rise of the micro-influencer.
You may think that micro-influencers are minor-league players in the influencer marketing game.
But despite a modest following, they pack the biggest punch.
In fact, Instagram micro-influencers receive around two-to-five times more engagement per post than influencers with over 100,000 followers!
But surely more followers means more customer engagement, right?
Micro-influencers appear more relatable than influencers with a huge following.
Which leads to higher user engagement.
Watch out for the micro-influencer.
They are set to dominate in 2023.
2. Instagram influencer marketing won’t be the only game in town.
Instagram is currently used by 93% of marketers. However, more brands are expanding to other channels to support their digital marketing efforts.
In 2020, only 16% of marketers used TikTok as their influencer marketing platform. But now that figure has jumped to 68%.
Facebook and YouTube round up the list of the top five influencer marketing platforms in 2023.
3. Your tribe will become your influencers.
Have you thought about how influential your customers could be as the voice of your brand?
Those who have bought your products make for an easy transition from customer advocacy to customer influence.
The same goes for your employees.
They’ve invested time and creativity into growing your business.
And make excellent natural advocates.
This factor alone gives your company’s rockstars genuine credibility.
4. In it for the long haul.
In the past, brands have typically hired influencers for one-time campaigns.
However, as we move through 2023, brands are focusing on building long-term influencer relationships.
Making an effort to build an honest, long-lasting influencer relationship has a two-fold effect.
Firstly, it saves marketers time, energy, and money.
Secondly, it allows the influencer to build trust with the brand to significantly impact the brand’s audience.
5. Influencers are going corporate.
Don’t have the know-how, the resources, or the patience to get into the whole influencer marketing thing?
Well, you’re here, so we know you do.
But if the concept is way over your head, we've got good news — the rise of the influencer marketing agency!
The number of agencies helping brands connect to the right influencer is on the up and up.
You can still take advantage of all the benefits of influencer marketing; you just don’t have to learn everything yourself.
Types of Influencers
Let’s take a look-see at the different types of influencer marketing by follower count.
Micro-influencers typically enjoy high digital engagement rates as they are more niche-oriented.
In a paid partnership, Dan Carter worked with fashion brand Fossil to promote their new line of watches.
The intrepid adventurer captures phenomenal landscapes and snaps of local people. His tribe of 33k eagerly follows his journeys across the globe.
Carter encapsulates the brand’s mission to create quality products for people living authentic lives.
Working with micro-influencers
When browsing for micro-influencers, focus on engagement rate rather than follower count.
Seek influencers that resonate with your audience and your brand.
Be aware of accounts with a massive follower count. Social media users have been known to buy fake followers.
Which means their "followers" aren't going to engage with the influencer campaign or buy your product.
Celebrity influencers are so widely recognized that having them use or promote your product or service is a powerful form of social proof.
Celebrity influencer example
Winnie Harlow struggled with bullying due to her appearance as a child. But it didn’t stop her from realizing her dream of becoming a supermodel.
In 2021, she collaborated with Fendi on Instagram.
Fendi’s mission is all about turning dreams into reality. So, Harlow’s determination and confidence perfectly align with the brand.
Working with celebrity influencers
You can find many ways to work with celebrities. For example, you can ask them to:
- Post a picture or video content promoting your products.
- Share the benefits of using your products.
- Offer coupons and discount codes to their audience.
So, where do you find famous people willing to collaborate with you?
If you’re looking for a big-name celebrity and have a big budget to match, you’ll need to reach out to their agent.
A blog influencer writes for their own established blog and has thousands — or millions — of subscribers and readers.
Their reach and influence set them apart from other bloggers.
Blog influencer example
Zoe Sugg is a UK blogger specializing in beauty, fashion, and lifestyle. She is one of the top lifestyle influencers with over 9m Instagram followers.
In a paid Instagram post with @FunctionOfBeauty, Sugg describes what she loves about the products and why her followers should try them. Plus, she includes a link to the product to receive a free gift.
Working with blog influencers
Most bloggers have a section on their site about collaborations. Send them an email and explain why you think they'd be a good fit for your brand!
Social media influencers
Social media influencers are well-recognized on Instagram, YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter. They’re typically followed by thousands or even millions.
Social media influencer example
Tabitha Brown is an actor and vegan influencer. Her vivacious personality gained her incredible TikTok and Instagram popularity.
Brown partnered with plant-based meal company, Orro on Twitter in 2021. Her Tweets direct the audience to the website, where they can learn more about the brand and discover its line of products.
Because Brown is such an icon in the plant-based, vegan community, she is a fantastic brand ambassador.
She has since become an equity partner of the company.
Working with social media influencers
Look for social media influencers with an image and following that complements your brand.
Visit their profile on their social media platform. For example, you may find a link to a website for collaborations. Or send them a Direct Message.
When it comes to the type of content, you could ask them to host a contest, a giveaway, or share coupon codes.
Key opinion leader influencers
Key opinion leaders (KOLs) are high-level experts on a specialized topic within a particular field. Such as makeup application, the Paleo lifestyle, Bikram yoga, etc.
Key opinion leader influencer example
Kandee Johnson is a KOL YouTube influencer in the makeup and cosmetic industry with over 3.7m YouTube subscribers and 1.9m Insta followers. She shares thousands of makeup tutorials, tips, tricks, and product reviews.
Johnson worked with BoxyCharm on Instagram to promote their new beauty products.
BoxyCharm’s target audience includes lovers of all things cosmetics. Which works perfectly with Kandee’s mammoth, cosmetic-loving follower base.
Working with key opinion leader influencers
As KOLs are present on many channels, your business has loads of options for how you decide to work with one.
You could ask them to:
- Review one of your products on YouTube,
- Write a blog post about your brand,
- Share an Instagram story about your product, or
- Pose with your product for a digital advertisement.
Setting Up Your Influencer Marketing Strategy
Let’s jump into what you need to do to create an epic influencer marketing strategy for your business.
1. Establish your influencer marketing goals
First, think about your objectives in terms of SMART goals — Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely.
When developing your SMART goals, keep three factors in mind — Reach, Relevance, and Resonance.
Reach refers to the number of people you could potentially connect with through the influencer’s follower base.
But don’t make the mistake of solely focusing on this publicly-available metric.
Follower count is easy to fake, and the number of followers won’t necessarily correlate to actual reach.
But it’s a great starting point.
A relevant influencer shares content that aligns with your brand and target audience.
For example, body-positive creator Remi Bader displays her haul of Victoria’s Secret’s PINK bikini range.
Bader showcases their inclusive swimsuit sizing to her 375k followers on Instagram in this Instagram post.
Resonance relates to the engagement level relevant influencers may create with an audience suitable to your brand.
Unfortunately, resonance can also be bought. So, pay attention to the quality of the comments and retweets, etc.:
✘Are the comments emoji-only?
✘ Do the comments have no meaning or context, e.g., “Wow!”, “Nice!”, “Amazing!”?
✘ Are all comments repeated by the same user?
A large follower count is meaningless if those followers have zero interest in your brand.
2. Determine your target audience
How sweet would it be to have Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson shout about your brand to his fans?
But unless you’re a fitness brand, what would be the point?
So, define your target audience and buyer persona.
Then, create a matching set of influencer personas to identify the qualities you’re looking for in your influencers.
3. Get familiar with the legalities
Before you get stuck in, you — and the influencer — need to understand the rules.
In the United States, the rule setters are the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). FTC rules state you must include disclosure guidelines in your agreements with influencers.
When you collaborate on a sponsored post, be clear and upfront, so viewers understand that it’s sponsored.
Here are some key points from the FTC:
- Videos must include written and verbal disclosure of influencer partnerships within the actual video.
- Sponsored Instagram posts must display the branded content tag in the post header to identify the influencer and the brand. E.g., “Paid partnership with Fendi”.
- Include #ad and #sponsored hashtags for disclosure. Ensure they’re obvious and not lost in a string of tags.
4. Find influencers
So, how do you begin influencer discovery?
Start with your customer database, email subscribers, and current followers.
Then, go to Google and enter “top [your niche] influencers.”
Next stop: Social media.
If you’re already following influencers in your niche, check out the “suggested for you” section to surface other influencers.
Or find them on social networks using hashtags.
But not just any ol’ hashtags.
Once again — don’t forget your rockstar employees! They may have a large following and could be potential social influencers.
5. Choose your influencer type based on your budget
By now, you should have some kind of idea of the type of influencer that will suit your brand, business goals, and target audience.
Now it’s time to set a budget.
Let’s say you’re a startup with a low budget. Then, you might choose to work with a micro-influencer.
A celebrity influencer or KOL may be a better fit if you're a mid-sized company with more resources.
Why not use an influencer marketing platform to connect with influencers? For example, you could start with Influencer Marketing Hub.
6. Pick your influencers
Once you’ve determined the type of influencer for you, it’s time to identify the human being that matches your brand.
Many influencers have worked hard to build their following and won’t accept a deal that clashes with their brand.
For example, Ed Sheeran is a massive fan of Heinz ketchup. Did you know he even has a tattoo of their bottle on his arm? 😳
So, of course, for Heinz, it was a no-brainer to collaborate with Sheeran:
So, compile a shortlist of influencers, look at their posts, and note how often they share sponsored content.
Look for plenty of views, likes, comments, and shares from the target audience you’re trying to reach.
Also, keep an eye out for organic, non-paid content that keeps followers engrossed, enthusiastic, and engaged.
7. Reach out to influencers
Naturally, in-demand influencers get tons of offers.
So, before you approach an influencer, you’ll need to dedicate time to learn what they do and what they’re about.
Then — and only then — do you reach out.
Nothing pisses off an influencer or content creator more than being approached by a brand that doesn’t get them.
Kick off influencer outreach communications by organically interacting with their posts.
Like and comment where appropriate.
Appreciate. Don’t sell.
Check out their profile. They may list contact information in their bio or link to a website that denotes brand partnerships.
Create a personalized pitch that shows them you’re serious about collaboration. And what you hope to accomplish with your campaign.
Emphasize how they will benefit from the campaign beyond the paycheck.
8. Work with your influencer on campaign messaging
Found “the one”?
Then, it's time to develop your campaign messaging and figure out how the influencer can remain on-brand with their content marketing strategy.
Share your brand guidelines, such as brand voice, tag lines, and language, to steer clear of.
Discuss whether they will create content for your campaign on their own or if you'll provide the content for them.
But keep in mind that influencers are awesome content creators — you’ll get the best value if you allow them to showcase their skills.
Also, ask them how they’ll help you boost traffic with their content and which target metrics you can expect per post or piece of content.
9. Crystalize your marketing expectations with your influencer
Your influencer has probably worked with other brands before, which means they may already have their own processes.
So, it’s vital to discuss your mutual expectations.
Then cement these expectations in an influencer contract. That way, you’ll avoid any issues, miscommunication, or discrepancies down the road.
As a best practice, include a provision for you to review and approve influencer content before it goes live.
10. Pay your influencer
How much do you pay influencers?
Well, they’re not gonna work for nothin’.
So, you’ll need to get on the same page about payment.
How you choose to pay your influencer will depend on your goal and the content that works best for their audience.
If you're a small company with a little-to-no influencer budget, you can offer:
- Swag (in the hope the influencer will give a shoutout)
- A paid product shoutout
- Recruiting into affiliate marketing or referral programs
- Discount codes and coupons
11. Track your campaign metrics
Lastly, measure the results of your social media influencer marketing campaign.
Refer to your SMART goals and influencer marketing metrics to determine whether you’ve achieved a successful influencer marketing campaign.
You can use marketing analytics tools such as BuzzStream or BuzzSumo to measure success and influencer ROI.
Google Analytics can track overall traffic directed to your website and the number of conversions.
Take Your Brand to the Next Level
Creating a kick-ass social media marketing strategy goes hand-in-hand with influencer marketing.
It works because brands of all sizes and budgets can authentically reach their target audiences through a trusted source.
So, get out there and leverage the power of influencer marketing to connect with new audiences and build brand loyalty.
And potentially make serious bank overnight.
No matter what tactics you use, there’s never been a better time than now.
You got this.
Kirsty Wilson is a certified content marketer and experienced margarita drinker. She specialises in Digital Marketing, Landing Page Copy, and adding a touch of Aussie humour to lifestyle and travel blogs. Currently creating a whirlwind of chaos in Mexico, she documents her solo travels to inspire other Gen-X women to have a go! View her other epic publications here.