When you’re looking at ways to market your business, one term you may have heard at one point or another is influencer marketing. If you don’t know what influencer marketing is, you could be missing out on a powerful way to reach far more of your target audience. More importantly, you’ll be reaching that target audience more effectively than you would be with a traditional marketing campaign.

But what exactly is influencer marketing, and how can it help you? We’ve got you covered with a detailed breakdown of everything you need to how.

What is Influencer Marketing

Influencer marketing is actually fairly easy to understand. You find influencers who are popular with your target audience, and they spread the word about your products or services, for a fee.

There’s usually either a social media element or a content marketing element when it comes to influencer marketing, or sometimes even both. One of the most common ways for influencers to market your business is through their own social media accounts. As far as content marketing is concerned, an influencer may create content to spread the word about your business, or you may create that content for them.

Here’s an example of how influencer marketing often works over social media. A brand will find a celebrity to endorse their products. Then, the brand pays that celebrity, who in turn goes on their social media and mentions the product. Instagram is one social media network that features quite a bit of influencer marketing. Kylie Jenner is one celebrity who posts pictures of herself wearing Fashion Nova jeans, and mentions the brand in her caption for the photos. Since Jenner has a large fan base consisting of Fashion Nova’s target market, this partnership is beneficial to the brand. Influencers don’t need to be real-world celebrities, as many of them are primarily popular online. Brands may choose anyone who has a large social media following.

Advocate and Influencer Marketing

One common misconception is that influencer marketing is the same thing as advocate marketing. However, the two are actually quite different.

Advocate marketing involves finding existing customers to spread the word about your business. The customer testimonials that you see in infomercials are one type of advocate marketing, while another example would be product reviews. Advocates don’t receive any form of payment.

With influencer marketing, you look for influencers who may or may not already use your business. In this case, you’re simply looking for someone with a sizable influence on your target market. You then provide an incentive for them to market your product or service. That’s most often a financial incentive, but it could also be free products.

Benefits of Influencer Marketing

Influencer marketing works because it’s targeted to your brand’s specific audience and it’s a subtler form of marketing. Because it’s the influencer who is recommending your brand, the audience doesn’t feel like you’re selling to them. In a way, influencer marketing serves as a blend between the testimonial and product placement. It’s more direct than product placement, but not as overt as a testimonial. That’s because although your brand is the focus, it’s not the only element of the marketing.

Traditional marketing methods are becoming less and less effective, which is why it’s crucial that your brand embraces new options, including influencer marketing. Consider the return you can get on influencer marketing as opposed to paid advertising. Many people simply don’t pay attention to traditional ads anymore. For television ads, viewers will pull out their phones and check their social networks – social networks with potential influencers that you could be hiring. If it’s an online ad, people may not even see it. When it comes to online consumers, 47 percent install ad blockers so they don’t even need to look at ads.

Consumers don’t want businesses to talk at them or try to sell them something. They value connections, and with influencer marketing, you’re leveraging the connections an influencer has already made to grow your brand.

The Time Is Now to Use Influencer Marketing

Influencer marketing is growing rapidly, but it’s still underutilized. Many brands haven’t caught on to the power of influencers yet, which means that you have a large number of potential influencers available for a bargain.

Think about what happened with Facebook advertising. When it first came out, brands that purchased Facebook ads were getting an incredible return on their investments, because those ads were available at a low price and reached a huge number of users. Then, as more brands started realizing this, both prices and the number of ads on Facebook went up dramatically. That means brands were paying more, and Facebook users were seeing more ads, making those ads less effective.

Influencer marketing is still at the stage where you can obtain an incredible return on your investment because of how few brands are taking advantage. For the best results, consider some of the newer forms of social media, such as Snapchat and Periscope. There haven’t been many brands marketing on these services yet, so you can get great deals.

Getting Started with Influencer Marketing

You can launch your first influencer marketing campaign by following a few simple steps.

The first thing you’ll need to do is figure out your target market, if you haven’t already. If you have a fitness product, perhaps your target market is health-conscious men and women between the ages of 18 and 35. It’s important that you determine not just your target market, but also how that target market makes their purchasing decisions.

Once you have defined your target market and you know where they hang out, it’s time to look for influencers on that platform. You can do this yourself, but there are also many influencer marketing services available that can help you find influencers.

Finding the right influencers is the most important part of influencer marketing. You must find influencers who don’t just have a large number of followers, but have a strong connection with those followers. Anyone can accumulate a large following on social media with time or even just the money to pay for followers. But if the majority of those followers are spam or don’t really care what the person has to say, then you won’t benefit from hiring them as an influencer. Look at their engagements to see how many people are actually liking and commenting on a potential influencer’s posts. The more interactions, the better.

When you’ve found one or more influencers that you want to work with, get in touch with them about marketing your brand. Many influencers include an email address for marketing opportunities in their bios, so check there first. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about how the influencer can market your brand and what kind of results you can expect. Communication is key for the most successful influencer marketing campaign.

Influencer marketing is one of the best ways that you can build your brand. If you find the right influencer, your brand can experience huge growth through an affordable campaign.