At last check, Katy Perry had some 91.3 million followers on Twitter, and 53.4 million followers on Instagram.


Before social media, we’d have called her one of the “it kids” at school. Now, we just call her an influencer.


As an influencer, she’s exactly the type of person brands want on their side to promote their products. If Katy shares a picture of herself on Instagram wearing a bikini one day, the next day that same bikini will be sold out across the country.


That’s the power of influencer marketing. And while few brands can tap into the ecosphere of the Katy Perry’s of the world, there are plenty of influential people you’ve likely never heard of (Michelle Phan, anyone?) who make their living by promoting products to their scores of devoted followers.


In other words, while influencer marketer has been around for years, all indications show that it’s not going anywhere anytime soon.


Seems like a good time to brush up on your influencer-marketing know-how. So, let’s begin.


No longer hearing it from the grapevine


When influencer marketing first became prevalent a few years back, the go-to platform for these influencers was Vine, but that’s no longer the case. Now that video is the norm throughout all social platforms, the novelty of Vine has worn off.


“I don’t think there’s one specific reason why, but the content is way too short,” says Sarah Ware, founder and CEO of Markerly. “If Vine were to be released now, it probably wouldn’t be that popular because there are so many video platforms.”


So, which platform has taken over where Vine dropped off?


Well, it’s not Snapchat, at least not yet.


Snapchat is by far the most exciting new social app on the market. The fact that marketers and brands still can’t figure it out makes it even that more alluring to its users, who tend to be younger folks (teens to 34).


But Gen X’ers and older audiences aren’t too keen on Snapchat, meaning the app still has some work to do to reach the next stratosphere.


And it’s not Facebook, because where Snapchat attracts younger folks, Facebook is only relevant to an older crowd. Nobody wants to invest heavily in an audience that’s aging.


And then there’s Instagram (sorry Twitter, as usual, you’re left off the list).


Instagram is the Goldilocks of social media. Folks from every age group know how to use it. Heck, brands know how to use it. In fact, Instagram is a favorite among Millennial moms, which is very attractive to brands.


“It’s the place to be for product placement,” Ware told Clickz. “If I sell couches and give one to an influencer, every time she posts a picture of her kid on the couch, she’s going to tag my brand.”


influencer marketing 101

Influencer Marketing Tip: Don’t always turn to the biggest fish


Whenever we take on a new client, we’re bound to be asked how long it’ll take before a “big influencer” starts promoting the client’s products or services.


Listen, I’m right there with you – I’d love Katy Perry, PewDiePie and Miley Cyrus (okay, maybe not Miley) to promote our clients.


But I like delivering rock-solid ROI way more. Here’s what I mean:


The amount of time, effort and dollars you’d have to invest to even get a slight chance of having a major influencer promote you is unworldly. You’ll have a hard time recouping your losses because, to be frank, it’s likely these big name celebs won’t end up marketing on your behalf.


Don’t get me wrong – I always urge my clients to think big. But I also want them to think smart.


When deciding whom to target as influencers in your field, don’t always go toward the biggest fish. People with a few thousand followers are likely to be far more receptive to a marketing partnership and will also give you a far better return on your investment.


In fact, why not consider turning to your existing fans and followers and converting them into influencers?


What do I mean? Well …


Let’s say that you make sports gear and apparel. One of your marketing strategies for a new pair of shoes is to target big-name athletes to promote the product.


We can’t blame you. If they agree, then those endorsements are huge.


But while you’re going after those big fish, why not hand the reigns over to your target audience: your customers.


Develop a campaign that encourages your followers to show off their feats with their feet. Using Instagram, Facebook and other platforms, your users can promote the cool things they’ve accomplished while wearing your new shoes (make sure they tag you and use the hashtag #FeatsWithMyFeet).


The campaign will encourage your followers to one-up each other, all while you’re sitting there gathering this user-generated content for future use.


Turning everyday folks into influencers not only connects you closer to your audience, but it also helps you avoid what’s becoming a very expensive form of marketing.


The cost of working with influencers


A few years ago, influencer Logan Paul was paid a paltry $1,000 to promote a video game on Vine.


Today, he’d easily make six figures for that same type of work.


Influencer marketing has become a billion-dollar business, which is unfortunate, because that makes it harder for small and mid-sized companies to compete.


So, if you’re in the market to target influencers – and you have a finite budget ­– you can do one of two things:


  • You can work with one or two really huge influencers
  • Or you can work with a few smaller ones


You might obviously go right to the big, pricey influencers, but I’d warn you to not act so quickly. When you work with big influencers, chances are you’re not going to be able to afford to push out content on a regular basis.


Consistency is key in connecting with your audiences. If you want to craft your brand’s story by pushing out content on a regular basis, I’d invest in a few smaller influencers. Chances are you’ll be even happier with your return on investment.