What Is a Social Media Influencer? (Types and Marketing Tips)

By Indeed Editorial Team

April 29, 2021

While celebrity endorsements were the original influencers of consumer purchasing decisions, new voices are emerging as influencers across social media. The popularity and rise of social media influencers have created a marketing funnel that connects social media content to a ready-made target audience. In this article, we define the different types of social media influencers along with tips for how to partner with a social media influencer.

What is a social media influencer?

A social media influencer is an individual who has gained popularity and trust among a growing audience of online followers by becoming an early adopter, innovator or niche expert in a specific area of interest such as fashion, health or technology. Influencers are personalities who share their opinions, expertise and recommendations on any social media channel.

The term “influencer” is often confused with “content creator.” While an individual can be both a content creator and an influencer, a content creator is someone who develops the descriptions, images or videos that an influencer uses or promotes about a product, service or topic of interest.

Read more: What Is an Influencer?

Types of social media influencers

Here are the different levels of influencers based on their volume of online followers and the scope of their social media content:

Nano-influencers

  • 1,000 or fewer followers

  • Content curation for a small audience seeking a highly specialized topic

  • Authentic partners for niche products or services

Micro-influencers

  • 1,000 to 50,000 followers

  • Compelling or buzzworthy content shared with a growing niche audience on a consistent basis

  • Most common type of social media talent

Macro-influencers

  • 50,000 to 1 million followers

  • Industry expertise reaching a very wide audience with a single post

  • Thought leaders, professionals, academic experts

Mega-influencers

  • Over 1 million followers

  • Celebrities, professional athletes

  • Endorsements from well-known public figures

Related: What Is Buzz Marketing?

Why is it important for brands to partner with social media influencers?

By partnering with social media influencers, brands can expand their marketing reach and gain the advantage of a ready-made target audience. The social media network can be an ideal channel for business-to-consumer (B2C) campaigns. A partnership between a social media influencer and a company can be a short-term agreement for a paid promotion. In exchange for free products, an affiliate marketing program or monetary compensation, an influencer can promote your brand, product or service to their followers.

Related: 7 Psychological Factors in Marketing That Influence Consumer Behavior

Tips for partnering with social media influencers

If you decide you want to use influencer marketing to drive conversions and grow your brand, be sure to develop a strategic plan to achieve specific goals for your investment. Here are some tips that can help you get the most out of this marketing tactic:

Find the best influencers in your niche

The first thing you'll want to do is locate the most popular social media influencers in your niche. Spend some time on each social media platform searching for popular accounts that are posting content related to your product or service. Make a record of their name along with how many followers they have on that platform. You may also want to note if they have promoted a product in the past, as this may be an indication that they are open to being an influencer for you.

Focus on micro-influencers

Working with micro-influencers can be a great way to target a very specific topic on a smaller budget. You can often spend the same amount of money on several micro-influencers rather than one macro-influencer and still engage the same number of people. Micro-influencers are the most common type of social media influencers, and they can offer a diverse range of followers and personalities to match your brand.

Investigate each influencer

Once you have a list of potential influencers, you should look into each one a little further. When you hire an influencer to promote your brand, they become a brand ambassador of your image. You don't want to hire someone to advertise your product only to discover later that they have made controversial remarks on their platform previously.

Pick out a few strong contenders from your initial list, then try to learn more about their background, their audience and the type of content they post. The more you can learn about potential partners, the more likely it is that you'll be able to match an influencer with your product or service and purpose.

Set a budget

As with any marketing campaign, it's important to set a budget beforehand. If this is your first influencer marketing campaign, consider starting with a small budget before working your way up. Then, as you're looking for influencers to work with, keep your budget in mind. You'll want to find nano-influencers or micro-influencers who will give you the best return on your investment. Take some time to learn more about influencer marketing and how best to spend your money, which will allow you to better allocate your budget.

Related: Creating a Successful Social Media Marketing Strategy

Decide who owns the content

Working with an influencer is like forming a partnership. Together you are creating a piece of content that the influencer will post with the intention of promoting your product. One thing you will have to decide is who ultimately owns the content. If you want to keep control of the content, it's important to establish a content syndication agreement or negotiate the terms before you partner with an influencer.

Share user-generated content

User-generated content is a great way to tap into your online presence. For example, let's say a customer posts an unsolicited, positive review of your product. When this happens, you not only get the benefit of free, word-of-mouth marketing on social media, but you can also use it to further promote the product in your other paid social ads. With the customer's permission, you can repost their review on your own brand's social media channels or a testimonial page on your website. Some companies launch a referral program to drive sales and create long-term relationships with loyal customers. Be sure to decide what type of incentives you might offer to influencers and repeat customers to show your appreciation.

Be specific about content requirements

An important tip is to be very specific about what it is you want from the influencer. If you leave your requirements open-ended, you may not be happy with what the influencer creates or posts. Let them know what kind of content you want them to create, what you want them to say in it, and when the content needs to be posted.

Get everything in writing

Make sure to be specific, and also get your agreement in writing to prevent any disputes or confusion. By having everything in writing before the work begins, you'll have a document that you can both turn back to for guidance. One effective way to do this is with a nondisclosure agreement(NDA) listing all the specifics of your arrangement. Then, send this to the influencer and ask them to respond that they have reviewed the document and agree to all points.

Work with several influencers

Once you've run a successful campaign with one influencer, you can consider expanding your influencer marketing. Working with multiple influencers allows you to reach a wider audience and reinforce your message with the audience that overlaps. For example, if someone follows the two influencers you use to promote your brand, that is someone who is now twice as likely to see your message. In addition, because they are in both influencers’ audiences, they are more likely to be your ideal target. No one has the exact same followers, so the more influencers you work with, the more people you can reach.

Try different platforms

Along the same lines of using different influencers is using different social media platforms. Each platform contains a wide range of people, but some are better at reaching one audience over another. Run a trial campaign on each platform to see what kind of results you get. Once you know which platforms work best for your brand, you can dedicate more of your resources there.

Track your results

The only way to improve your influencer marketing success is to calculate impressions and evaluate your results. With every campaign you run, you should have a system in place to track your results. For example, if you hire an influencer to promote one of your products, you'll want to know exactly how many people visited that page of your website due to that influencer. You'll then be able to compare the success of that influencer against others and make better decisions going forward.

Related: 10 Types of Social Media To Promote Your Brand

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