It used to be that if you wanted an endorsement for your product or service, you had to spend big money to net a celebrity spokesperson.
Think of Michael Jordan with Nike, William Shatner with Priceline, Samuel L. Jackson with Capital One, James Earl Jones with CNN, and so forth.
Enter the age of social media.
Now, we have a new kind of endorsement, one that is affordable and within reach for businesses of all sizes.
They’re called influencers.
An influencer is a social media user with a following. These influencers can market your products or services to their followers. Usually, this comes at little to no cost and gets you a ton of eyes on your business.
A Background of Instagram Influencers
Now, there are three kinds of Instagram influencers.
- Nano influencers, which come with a small, highly-targeted audience.
- Micro-influencers, who typically have an audience somewhere between 10,000 and 100,000.
- Macro-influencers, who are the big fish with over 100,000 followers.
This article will focus on the nano and micro influencers, as they’re more attainable for ecommerce startups and SMBs.
Micro-influencers may have more extensive influence, but nano influencers should not be ignored. Nano influencers tend to have a higher than average engagement rate of 7.2% with their smaller audiences.
How can you bring the might of influencer marketing to bear for your company? How can influencers push your products? What benefits could you hope to see?
In this article, we will cover several ways your ecommerce business can use influencer marketing to boost sales and increase brand awareness:
- Product reviews
- Brand ambassadorship
- Discount promotions
- Special offers
- User-Generated Content
Let’s get started.
The first and most apparent way that Instagram influencers can help out your ecommerce business is through product reviews.
Reviews Build Trust
Reviews are a great way to build trust with your audience. Your corporate messaging can only take you so far. Customers have a built-in distrust of corporate messaging because it is in the best interest of a business to accentuate their positives while hiding their negatives.
People trust the influencers that they follow and typically have something in common with them. Whether that’s a specific fandom or interest, it should be something related to your product.
For example, if you’re a company that designs cosplay and renaissance fair costumes, consider sending some products to a famous Instagram influencer who is an accomplished cosplayer.
By providing an honest review of your product, an influencer will not only build trust with your audience, but they will also help with your brand awareness.
Brand awareness is vital to ongoing success, and most of the marketing world knows about it.
That’s why brand awareness is the top priority for 37% of marketers.
By pushing your brand and logo out along their channels, your influencer’s reviews will make people more aware of who you are and what you do.
How Do You Set Up Influencer Product Reviews?
To get product reviews from Instagram influencers, you first have to reach out to them and set something up.
Here are the steps you’ll need to take:
- Contact the influencer and see if they would be willing to review your product.
- Send those products to the Instagram influencers.
- Provide them with the product for free in exchange for an honest review. They should give a disclaimer at the beginning of their report that this arrangement was made.
By providing them with a product they can use, you’re giving value to the influencer. That means you won’t have to pay them for the review.
Here’s an example from fashion influencer @saniaclaudemina:
Reviews should be a cost-effective opportunity. There are other avenues wherein you could pay an influencer for a service, but we will get to those later.
Product Review Benefits
The first and most significant benefit of a review on Instagram is that it can generate buzz around your products and services.
Typically, when an influencer makes a post, that’s not the end of the conversation. Followers can comment back to ask questions, make observations, and even provide their mini-review.
The review starts the conversation between the influencer and their audience. You can benefit from this with a little customer case study.
Monitor what the followers are saying about you. Take those reviews to heart. Perhaps there is something that you’ve overlooked that users are unhappy with. This is your chance to find out and institute changes.
Instagram influencers can quickly become brand ambassadors. A brand ambassador is someone who is paid to market a product or service. Celebrity endorsements are a form of brand ambassadorship, and Instagram influencers can also fill this role nicely.
Avoid Social Media Algorithms
Perhaps the most beneficial aspect of using an Instagram influencer as a brand ambassador is the ability to skirt around specific social media algorithms that make organic post reach nearly impossible.
Facebook owns Instagram. Facebook makes its money by selling targeted ads. If you have a product you want to promote on Facebook or Instagram, you can make posts about it, but they’re not going to be seen by many people.
That’s because of a specialized algorithm that promotes paid premium advertising content over organic posts from businesses.
In other words, if you want people to see your posts, the best way to do it is by paying for an ad.
But, when you’re working through an Instagram influencer, their personal accounts can push product information in a way that a business account is unable to do.
How do Instagram Brand Ambassadors Work?
An Instagram brand ambassador is someone with a following who will use your product and promote it going forward.
They could use the product in their popular posts, like a smaller scale celebrity endorsement. Whether you work this out on a barter system, wherein the influencer promotes the product for free products, or you pay them to do it is something you’ll have to work out with the influencer themselves.
Many of the smaller influencers will likely accept a barter, especially if it’s a good product that they will use. However, if you want to get an endorsement from some of the more significant influencers on the platform, you’ll have to fork over some money to do it.
One way that brand influencers can help you is by adding a link to your company in their Instagram bio. Instagram does not allow links in posts, but if the influencer says, “see the link in my bio,” their followers will quickly get the idea.
Some influencer posts could be the ambassador in photos wearing your products, using the products, or just showing them off.
If your product is some kind of apparel, a picture of the influencer wearing it and modeling it would be appropriate.
If you’re selling something like art supplies, the influencer could create some kind of artwork with it, post the finished piece, and talk about your products in the caption.
You can also share this content on your business profile as well for crossover appeal. The influencer is getting you noticed while you can also get the influencer more followers. It’s a win-win situation.
Top Instagram Influencer Tip:
Video content is always more effective than regular images. People love video content and engage more substantially with video than with photos:
Discount Codes and Special Offers
If you have a specific discount or special offer you want to push, an Instagram influencer can help you move more product.
Here’s how it can work:
- Set up a unique discount code that is specific to that particular Instagrammer.
- Provide the influencer with said discount code.
- Have them push it to their followers.
- Give the people who click on the influencer’s bio links a discount on your products.
This is one of the safest ways to work with an influencer and can be an excellent option for someone who is unproven or doesn’t have as many followers.
The best aspect of this option is that it is trackable, and you won’t be taking any risks.
Why does tracking matter?
You ideally want all of your marketing ventures to be trackable because you want to be able to measure your campaign’s return-on-investment (ROI) accurately.
The concept is relatively simple. By examining the results of a marketing venture, looking at the money it brought in, and focusing on how much was spent on it initially, you can see how cost-effective it is.
Results are the backbone of marketing. If an influencer has a discount code and it returns little to no results, perhaps that particular influencer is not right for your brand.
The best part about providing influencers with a discount code is that it can come at no cost and no risk to your business.
A lot of discount code marketing involves turning over a small percentage of the profits made through said code to the influencer. So, they’re only making a small commission off of products that they move.
There are no upfront costs associated with this strategy, other than providing the influencer with the products themselves and shipping to get those products to the influencer.
This is a fantastic way to attract first-time customers who may want to try your product out because:
- The product and price looks great to them and appeals to their interests, and
- By supporting you, they are also supporting the influencer through a commission. If they are loyal fans of the influencer, they will want to show support.
Offer Prizes for Giveaways
You can sweeten the pot for an influencer’s audience by offering up a giveaway with prizes. This can be a great way to increase your brand awareness while moving some merchandise.
How Does it Work?
First, the influencer runs a contest on their profile. It could be something simple, like loving a photo and making a post.
Their followers then compete for prizes provided by you.
You’ll give out a few free items, and hopefully, the people who don’t win will still want the product and make a purchase.
When running a contest, every post for the giveaway is advertising for you. The influencer also gets more attention on their profile while you are getting more exposure for your products.
This can be helpful for influencers who might not have a large budget for prizes but want to run giveaways to increase their followers and their brand exposure.
It has been proven that user-generated content is nearly 10x more impactful than branded content.
User-generated content can be reviews, posts, videos, and everything else that we’ve discussed above. This content provides social proof to potential customers.
They can see your products being used by someone they follow and respect.
The influencers generate the content for you, and many of their fans might want to emulate what they see.
When having influencers generate content for you, it’s best to create a hashtag for them to push out.
There are thousands of Instagram influencers out there.
By working alongside these popular individuals, you could see a substantial boost in your brand awareness, gain your own followers, and, most importantly, sell more products.
Whether you’re using an influencer to conduct product reviews, bringing them on as a brand ambassador, providing them with a discount code, using them to give out prizes, or creating user-generated content, Instagram influencers remain one of the most effective ways to promote your products.