Is Influencer Marketing Right For You? 4 Questions to Help You Decide

Guest Author, Alexa Drake, of G2, shares her insights on how to decide if an influencer partnership will benefit your brand goals.

Alexa Drake
May 08, 2020

For the last ten years, influencer marketing has been on the rise. And there’s a reason.

Companies are realizing how impactful influencer marketing can be to not only their follower count but their bottom line. According to research, the influencer marketing industry will reach between $5 and $10 billion by 2022 and 93% of marketers already use social media influencers. It’s clear that more and more corporate leaders are beginning to understand how influencers can help them hit their OKRs.

What is influencer marketing?

Influencer marketing is a subsection of social media marketing that includes influencers accepting brand deals and endorsements to promote a product or include product placement in one or a number of posts. These influencers usually have a substantial following on social platforms such as Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook and will accept influencer marketing deals to help brands increase sales or exposure through social media.

Influencers have the power to boost your brand awareness, drive traffic to key pages, and increase overall social engagement. If you’re ready to decide whether influencer marketing is right for you, keep reading.

The impact of working with influencers

It’s rewarding to crush your goals, but every now and then a little help is nice. You’ll only be able to reach a certain number of potential customers or clients and oftentimes, leadership gets stumped when brainstorming how to widen their audience. This is where influencers come in. 

When working with influencers, you can expect to see a return on investment in the form of new followers, new customers, and increased sales. When an influencer promotes a product, they have the power to literally “influence” their followers to try it out. People follow people they like, trust, and look up to. If they see one of their favorite influencers suggesting a new skincare product, a pair of headphones, or a subscription service, they’re more likely to bite the bullet than the audience you reach. 

According to Rakuten, 65% of people discover a new brand or product through an influencer at least once a week, and 87% of shoppers were inspired by an influencer to make a purchase. 

It’s no secret that influencer marketing (particularly Instagram influencer marketing) is valuable and can work for many companies willing to try it out. Working with an influencer can be beneficial to not only large companies but small and medium-sized businesses as well. The question is, how do you decide if it’s right for your company? Ask yourself the following four questions before you take the leap.

1. Do you have a social media presence?

Before you can plan on working with influencers, you have to ask yourself if it even makes sense. Social media is the bread and butter of influencer marketing, so if your Instagram is in serious need of a makeover, you may want to hold off until you’ve spruced it up. 

On top of this, an influencer may not want to work with you if your presence on the platform is seriously lacking. Your industry may not even lend itself to needing a huge Instagram following. Many small businesses rely on word of mouth marketing to get the word out about their product or service. Some businesses still use guerilla marketing tactics like hanging flyers and dropping coupons off at heavily trafficked retailers. 

If this isn’t the case for you, you may still want to work with influencers on social media. Boosting your presence on platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and even YouTube will give you a leg up on the competition. Say you own a skincare brand. It might be a good idea to shoot tutorials to post on YouTube so your customers get to see the product in action. Every product will require a different approach, so think outside of the box and start building your social presence before you reach out to influencers.

2. Does your industry have influencers?

Your audience is everything. Tracking how they interact with you online can give you great insight into where you need to be promoting your product. Plus, this will help you discover if there are influencers out there that can promote your product in an authentic way. 

If someone saw their favorite beauty influencer promoting a protein shake, they’d probably be confused. Not only this, but they may question whether that influencer is genuinely interested in that product or just in it for the brand deal. While influencers’ jobs are to make money from brand deals, there’s a right way to do it and a disingenuous way to do it. You never want to be associated with the latter.

If you decide to work with an influencer, you should be familiar with the products they’ve promoted in the past, what their audience is interested in, and how good their engagement rate is. This includes likes, comments, and shares across all social media platforms. If your business is in the tech industry, you don’t want to collaborate with a beauty or fitness influencer. Choosing the right influencer is the first hurdle you’ll face when you decide to invest in influencer marketing. Make sure your audience and theirs are a good match. There should be some overlap for it to be a great collaboration.

3. Are your competitors using influencers?

Another way to determine if using influencer marketing is right for you is to see if your competitors are utilizing influencers in their marketing strategy. If you see a competitor using an influencer to promote their product or service or even in their social media advertising, take a couple of weeks and monitor their social metrics. Keep track of their follower count, how fast they’re gaining followers, and if the influencer campaign is making a difference for them. 

You can track all of this with a social media suite. This software is used by social media, marketing, and communications teams to identify trends, track competitors, and understand customer sentiment. When you use a monitoring tool to track your competition, you’ll be able to understand if influencer marketing is having a positive effect on their business and if it boosted their social presence (something that is invaluable to every company). 

4. Does your product have mass appeal?

Ask yourself one question. Does your product have mass appeal? Are enough people in the market you’re advertising to? Before you work with an influencer, you’ll want to make sure your product/service can be sold to the masses.

If you answered yes to the above question, continue to test yourself. How big is the competition? Is your product-market mainstream enough to get people interested? Are people in need of what you’re selling? Can people of all ages use it? Asking yourself all of these questions is crucial when considering influencer marketing. You want to work with an influencer that can not only get people to buy but can widen your audience at the same time.

If your product is super niche, it can be harder to find the right influencer and sell the product at all. But when a product is enticing to a large demographic, it’ll be easier to get it onto the shelves of big retailers. A product that caters to more people will not only be more interesting, but easier for the influencer to promote. It’s a win-win for both parties.

Note: This isn’t to say niche products are hopeless. A product with mass appeal will just sell better with the help of influencer marketing. Small businesses with niche products can partner with micro-influencers that may have an audience with a more targeted interest.

The choice is yours

If you were able to come up with solid answers to the questions discussed above, influencer marketing might be right for you! Every business will build a unique marketing strategy, some utilizing influencers as a bigger part of their affiliate marketing strategy, some not. If you’re still on the fence, you can always take time to do your own research and scout influencers that make sense for your brand. Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide if you’re willing to allocate some marketing spend into this strategy. The choice is in your hands.