Is Influencer Marketing Really So Easy?

Is Influencer Marketing easy?

Influencer Marketing is one of the most popular subjects of the last couple of years. Somehow though, it has morphed away from its original meaning.

This article by Bryan Kramer is one of several that explains what it actually is. The article goes into the selection and courting processes, then how to maintain and utilize the relationship. And there’s the story of how Bevel went about it’s influencer marketing. A recommended read.

In Laymen’s Terms, What is Influencer Marketing?

To summarize very quickly, it leverages the age-old concept of word-of-mouth. We’re all aware that this has overtaken traditional advertising in terms of importance to entire classes of consumers. We ask our friends and associates who have something we want, if they like it. Or we listen with interest when they speak enthusiastically (or in outright disgust) about their latest purchase or restaurant experience. We google for peer reviews.

The influencer part is akin to the modern day spokesperson. There are people who have earned respect for the information they impart for free in their blogs or on LinkedIn. Some have written landmark books, coined phrases many of us take for granted, or revolutionized the way we do business. Others are on the bleeding edge of new marketing apps. They appear on tweet and video chats. We trust them.

It is a modern interpretation of an advertising method with a less than auspicious beginning….

Influencer Marketing on TV

Do you trust an actor to tell you about a medicine, for example?

The following commercial became the butt of many jokes. The catchphrase “I’m not a doctor but I play one on TV” has survived in folklore to the extent that people who have heard it, may have no idea as to its origin. In advertising folklore, it is up there with Wendy’s “Where’s The Beef” campaign. Except it is ridiculous rather than funny.

This one obviously went further than all but the most gullible consumers were prepared to stretch. It didn’t stop TV advertisers though! Actually, they stepped up the disbelief into cartoon doormats happily receiving mail, to cartoon telephones giving people advice, and more. What can I say! Someone is buying this nonsense or we wouldn’t now be seeing drug commercials with hyperactive external body parts! (Click here if you’re interested in the psychology of cartoon body parts!)

Here’s one you may have seen:

Would you buy software, apps or services for your business from a cartoon spokesperson?

And so, back to the business Influencers!

Sophisticated consumers may trust not only their friends and certain publications; they are likely to also trust leaders in their niches. Certainly, this is the case in the world within a world of Content Marketing!

Spokespeople of choice are likely to be well known in their niches. They have the trust and respect of their peers. They write for prestigious publications and/or attract top writers to their blogs. People want to be them! They at least want some of the magic to rub off on them!

Here’s where I offer a word of caution though

Many of the articles on this subject offer a fairytale solution. You make a few blog comments. You say some nice things. Then you contact the person. And magically, Bob’s your uncle (cute British colloquialism!), you ride off into the sunset with them, buddies forever. Because of course, nobody else is seeking his or her authority. And they have so much time on their hands that they will instantly become your leading advocate.

Question: Does this scenario seem real to you? Me neither!

Don’t get me wrong! There are some lovely people out there. Many would love to help so many more people than they have the bandwidth to lend a hand to. But articles suggesting this is a simple process are misleading. OK. It actually is simple. It’s just not quick! And it’s certainly not guaranteed!

In all likelihood, people you will seek fall largely into two categories:

  1. Very busy people who are making a lot of money and have little discretionary time
  2. Very busy people who are investing time (and probably money) into being where group 1 are

So don’t contact people who can help you, expecting them to propel you into the stratosphere. At least not if there is not a reciprocal and real benefit to them! Think of what you have to offer to those whose help you are seeking.

Which brings us to the thing that few articles on the subject ever mention.

Influencer Marketing isn’t free!

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I’m lucky that in the week I wanted to write about Influencer Marketing, two excellent articles have been written on the subject. (Actually, no doubt more, but these are the two I’m aware of). Geno Prossakov wrote Compensating Influencers: 5 Ways to Pay for Influencer Marketing for Influencer Marketing Days.

Surprise, surprise folks! This is as unlikely to be free as anything else in life.

There are few ways to avoid actual payment:

  • You may have a very special, mutually beneficial relationship with your influencer
  • Perhaps you could be one of the lucky few who an influencer can take under their wing
  • If what you are offering is valuable enough, you could enter into an old fashioned barter. This, in different language — he said offer a free product or service — is point #2 in Geno’s article.

The other 4 ‘payment’ methods listed are:

  • Money! No surprise that 69.7% of influencers prefer this!
  • Some form of affiliate program to compensate for the leads sent your way
  • “Pay per engagement”. This is a modified version of PPC (Pay per click), whereby you pay the influencer rather than google.
  • Intangible Compensation. This is effectively, another form of barter. To quote:
  • Strengthen their status as opinion leaders and increase their reach
  • Improve content quality
  • Shape their own image

Can you offer any of the above?

The Best Influencer Marketing evolves organically!

Want some other advice? Just be nice to everyone! Some of your outreach or niceness towards others will turn into modern online friendships. Some may go beyond that.

I’ve witnessed Curatti founder and CEO Jan Gordon, create many solid relationships over a course of years. There has never been an ulterior motive. Could she leverage her goodwill by asking for people to promote either Curatti or another project? Undoubtedly! But she did it the old fashioned way. She thanked every new Twitter follower and every retweet. She responded to every comment. And while never openly seeking to ply her services, people have come to her.

The point? Unless you have a lot of money, invest time — and plenty of it. True Influencer Marketing is organic, not forced.

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