How to use influencers to grow your brand

Social media influencers help businesses to grow faster and more efficient than any other channel. Where is the proof and how do you use them?






Influencers are good for business: proof


Influencer marketing has been on the steady rise since 2012. The crazy thing — it is still one of the most efficient tools in the marketing mix. Here are just a few numbers for you.




— As you can see, Nordstrom — one or the largest US retailers report that most (4 out of 5 mobile visits and 40% of desktop visits) of its traffic come from influencers' posts.


— Gfk research shows that 80% of respondents have at least once followed a link posted by an influencer.


— Another valuable data from the same research — 74% of consumers spend up to $740 on purchases inspired by influencers.


— McKinsey estimates that within 5 years 99% of consumer purchasing decisions they make online as well as offline will be inspired by influencers.


And the best part — 45% of buying decisions are made before a customer contacts your business. Meaning, at least half of the money you spend on SEO, Google ads or social media ads are totally lost — no one is looking for you because the decision is not made yet. Who helps people to make a decision? The answer is obvious — influencers.


Why does it happen? Because people trust people not advertising. Because an influencer has established trust-based relationships with their followers. Or followers just copy everything an influencer does. Therefore, whatever an influencer recommends is sold like freshly baked pies.


How influencer helped to grow brand: 2021 example


Just a recent example — Carrd. An application that was growing steadily for 3 years, was turned into a venture-backed unicorn with a single post of Kim Kardashian (details here ) Carrd founder AJ admits that after Kim's post the growth for Carrd exceeded 100% per month .

Moreover, the effect of a campaign where the influencer takes part is much longer and stronger than the traditional ad campaign.



The impact of a traditional ad campaign vs influencers marketing
Adapted from The Age of Influence by Neal Schaffer, 2018


10 ways to use influencers to grow your brand


Now, as soon as we covered the "why" part (it's obvious that influencers can get your brand or social account, or newsletter, or product — whatever you want to grow — a giant boost), let's get to the How part. How do you use these respected persons? What can you offer them? Why would they agree to help you?

There are 10 most popular ways to cooperate with influencers right now. Not all of them are paid for. The free way to recruit influencers and my personal experience with it describe in this article How to find influencer to grow your brand.

Here are some more options.


1. Recruiting for a review


How?

— Send a product/a link and ask for a review if they like it.


How much?

— It will cost you nothing if it's a link to your website, and one sample of your product if it's a physical good.


Why would influencer agree?

— They would agree if they like your product and if it's relevant to their audience. They need original and exclusive content to deliver — access to your product will provide it.


Example:

There are several accounts on Twitter who would be excited to do it for you. For free. Here's one of those:



There are probably some on Facebook and Instagram. I saw a lot of those when running an e-comm project (influencers were happy to write a review in exchange for products). Give it a try and find someone who would be interested in your product.


2. Bringing them in your team as advisor or a cofounder


How?

— Find an influencer that has a high level of trust in your target audience and offer a partnership


How much?

— Part of your revenue (which one, depends on your stage and your negotiating power).


Why would an influencer agree?

— Because they will receive a portion of your revenue. But only if they see a potential


Example:

In August Tibo — a french developer who's build TweetHunter app sent a DM to JK MOLINA — an influencer among copywriters (44K followers). He offered JK a review in exchange for free access. The influencer took this opportunity. They were so impressed that they offered equity in exchange for promotion. The deal was sealed. It brought Tibo and his app x5 growth.





3. Giveaways


How?

— Offer an influencer a product to giveaway. An influencer can use it to grow the audience, and you get a promotion.


How much?

— Several samples of your product


Why would an influencer agree?

— Because they would use the giveaways to grow their own audience. Works great with micro- and medium size accounts.


Example:

Here's how it's done on Twitter by one of the medium-sized accounts (60K followers).





4. Affiliate marketing


How?

— Basically, an influencer gets a commission from every deal they get you. Depending on what your product is you can use different tools to track it (Gumroad for digital, SparkLoops for affiliate programs in newsletters).


How much?

— Depends on the product initial price. Usually, it's from 5% to 20% cut.


Why would an influencer agree?

— Because they get a fee. Again, works well if it's a right fit for your product and the influencer believes in its potential.


Example:

Here's how Daniel Vasallo (himself a medium account) does it on Twitter.





And this is a Hypefury offer to become an affiliate influencer.





5. Content amplification or paid distribution


How?

— Create content and recruit an influencer to curate it.


How much?

— Depends on the level of influencer. The basic price tag begins with 10% of the audience.


Why would an influencer agree?

— Because they get paid but also because they provide valuable content by using a guest post. Influencers don't agree to curate something that is irrelevant or not valuable to the audience.


Example:




6. Content curation


How?

— Find a suitable influencer and offer to publish your content in their blog.


How much?

— Depends on the level of influencer. With nano- and micro- influencers it is usually free.


Why would an influencer agree?

— Because they like you and because it's good for their SEO


Example



7. Swag


How?

— Send it and hope an influencer will use it and post about it.


How much?

— Just a set of swag.


Why would an influencer agree?

— Honestly, only works if you had a prior relationship with this person. No one would promote stuff of a total stranger


Example:




8. Discount codes for influencer’s followers

Very widely used in podcast sponsorships — probably because discount code is the only valid way to track who's audience is now attacking your website and demanding more and more of your product.


How?

— Offer a code that followers might use to be mentioned in the post or during a show


How much?

— The size of the discount. But sometimes you have to pay extra as a sponsor of the show or post.


Why would an influencer agree?

— Depends on the level and your agreement. If it's a small/medium account discounts are great for growing the audience (like giveaways). If it's a big one you will pay anyway:)


Example:

Tim Ferris Show





9. Invitation to an event

Again, widely used to grow podcast audiences. If an influencer comes to your podcast they will post about it, their audience will find out and hopefully become your followers too.


How much?

— The ticket price. Sometimes plus travel expenses


Why would an influencer agree?

— Depends on the level and your agreement. If it's a small/medium account its a great opportunity to travel or to just cover a relevant event. If it's a big one you will be expected to pay but usually the travel expenses get removed from the final price tag.



10. Product co-creation


How?

— Invite an influencer to create a part of your product or agree when they offer


How much?

— Nothing or if it's a form of partnership — a part of equity.


Why would an influencer agree?

— Because it's a great opportunity to take part in creating something meaningful.


Example:




Again, let me remind you the thought from my previous blog posts:

Influencers are people. Some of them might become your friends. Don't treat them as business machines only interested in printing money. Establish a human connection and respectful relationship before moving on to a business proposal — this is the best way to do it.


If you're interested in basics (who are the influencers and what types they belong to) as well as how to find influencer for your brand please read my other article. Also read this content marketing example on how it works in real life and what different forms cooperation with influencers might take.


If you need more information on this subject feel free to contact me on Twitter or LinkedIn (DMs are open) I'm also available on ProductHunt if you prefer this network.

Useful links and resources:

1) https://www.mckinsey.com/~/media/McKinsey/Industries/Retail/Our Insights/Future of retail operations Winning in a digital era/McK_Retail-Ops-2020_FullIssue-RGB-hyperlinks-011620.pdf
2) https://usefathom.com/blog/bootstrapped-to-venture-capital
3) https://www.indiehackers.com/post/how-kim-kardashian-turned-a-bootstrapped-business-into-a-venture-backed-company-fc6c0ad6fd
4) SparkToro — https://sparktoro.com
5) BuzzSumo — https://buzzsumo.com
6) The Age of Influence by Neal Schaffer, 2018 — https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07TH7X92R
7) Make sure you're using right keywords for audience research — https://sparktoro.com/blog/there-are-four-kinds-of-keyword-research-make-sure-youre-doing-the-right-ones/#marketresearch
8) How to find influencers on Instagram — https://neilpatel.com/blog/instagram-influencers/
9) How to find influencers for your niche: 19 tips — https://blog.alexa.com/how-to-find-influencers/