What is influencer marketing (and how does it work?)


People (especially Millennials and Gen Z) are becoming immune to traditional advertising.

Still advertising on TV? No one’s watching.

Still buying ads in magazines? No one’s reading them.

Still creating banner ads and pop-ups online? No one’s clicking on them (or even seeing them thanks to ad blockers).

So how can your business talk to customers? How can you tell people the benefits of what you’ve created when they’re working so hard to, essentially, ignore you?

The solution lies in using social media, and specifically “influencer marketing”, which is a social media marketing technique. The goal of influencer marketing is to get your product or brand in front of people who want to buy from you. If you want to reach those under the age of 35, aka the most valuable demographic, then you’ll need to play by their rules.

Here’s how it’s done.

Who are influencers?

Influencers have been around for decades. Traditionally actors, athletes, models, and musicians have been featured in ads in order to equate their image with that of the brand they were promoting.

Think David Beckham and Armani. Britney Spears and Pepsi.

While most traditional celebrities are certainly still considered influencers, social media has created new channels for people seeking fame. Nowadays everyone has a chance at creating followings of thousands of people online.

Once a person has amassed a dedicated group of followers that regularly interact with them online, they can be considered an influencer.

How does influencer marketing work?

Influencer marketing really grew out of online reviews. If someone online says that a product is good or terrible, that will certainly influence the people that read that review.

On social media, if someone’s trusted and followed by thousands of people, they can hold a lot of influence. If that influencer then says that your product is fantastic, that can result in higher brand awareness and sales.

By aligning your brand with an influencer whose personal brand aligns with yours, it brings a more personal element to your advertising efforts. Instead of shoving an ad in someone’s face, you are simply showing that your product is part of a certain lifestyle.

How to find the right influencer

When searching for an influencer to work with, you can either choose to seek one out on your own or there are many companies, such as Legendary Social Media Vancouver, that will do the matchmaking for you.

To find the right influencer for your brand, keep these things in mind:

  • Ensure that the influencer 100% aligns with your brand’s core values.
  • Do their followers fall in your brand’s target market?
  • You’ll want to find someone with 1,000+ followers that regularly like and comment on their posts. There’s no point in working with someone who gets low engagement, no matter how many followers they have.
  • Find an influencer that matches your brand’s aesthetic. Both YouTube and Instagram are such visual platforms, and if your products don’t fit in seamlessly with the influencers’ look, the end result will come across as disjointed, sloppy, and forced.
  • Do they post on a regular basis?
  • Watch out for Instagram pods. This is a false type of engagement, used by instagrammers to grow and nurture their account, but the people commenting aren’t buyers – they’re virtual friends of the influencer. This practice can be tricky to spot, but if you notice that the same people are always the ONLY ones commenting on an instagrammers post, then they may be using a pod. Look for a wide variety of commenters on each post.

To actually search for influencers, start by looking through your brand’s existing social media followers. It’ll always be easier to come to an arrangement with someone who already likes what your brand has to offer. Beyond that, you can use google to find local bloggers that fall within your target market or search Instagram hashtags that are relevant to your brand.

When you find an influencer that you want to work with, you’ll want to offer something in the way of compensation, be it free products, promo codes, or a flat fee per post. Keep in mind, that the bigger the influencer’s audience is, the more they’ll likely charge.

What are the rules for using influencer marketing?

Influencer marketing has been a hot topic this year. From the disaster of Fyre Festival to the report that was released stating that 93% of sponsored posts on Instagram did not clearly disclose that they were, in fact, advertisements. To keep your brand out of hot water, it’s good to note some of the rules and changing attitudes associated with this practice.

In order to properly disclose that a post is, in fact, being sponsored by your brand, ensure that the hashtag #ad is part of the caption and that it’s easy to spot. Simply tagging your brand in the post is not enough.

Back in June Instagram released a blog post about the coming changes to how influencer marketing will soon work on the platform, which includes adding a clear “paid partnership” tag at the top of posts and enhanced analytics for influencers and brands that use this tag.

As things change we’ll keep this blog up-to-date, but keep in mind that these rules apply more for the Kylie Jenner set than for local brands and micro-influencers (those with a following of around one to five thousand people).

Looking for an influencer in Vancouver?

Remember that no matter how big your business is, influencer marketing can help drive brand awareness and sales when done properly and strategically. If you’re looking to connect with a social media influencer, contact Legendary Social Media Vancouver, we’ll help you find the perfect match for your brand.

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