Megan McCourt, Account Supervisor at PPR Worldwide
Sending a free product to the hottest Hollywood star isn’t a new trick by any means—businesses and brands have long used celebrities and iconic figures to promote their wares. What is new however, is the growing amount of money being spent to have influencers endorse products via social media.
Collectively, major brands are spending more than $255 million a month for sponsored Instagram posts, with more than 200,000 posts appearing on the platform monthly according to Captiv8, an influencer analytics platform.
Major internet stars like Kim Kardashian—who boasts 86.8 million Instagram followers—can demand upward of $400,000 per post to display a chosen product, accompanying text, and the now-required #ad or #sponsored hashtag. Celebrities with more modest followings (between 3-7 million followers) can bring in about $75,000 per post.
Don’t have the budget to blow on a single snap? Fret not, there are a multitude of ways to engage with influencers to get them to promote your brand without breaking the bank. Here are a few general pointers to keep in mind when planning out your influencer engagement strategy:
- Large followings don’t equal engagement: Finding the right influencers for your brand is crucial. Don’t get distracted by the number of followers they have—it’s better to have a smaller group of highly engaged followers than hundreds of thousands of people who scroll right past their posts. Remember, social media followers can be easily bought.
- Make it a two-way street: You don’t always have to sign a check to bring on an influencer. Consider other ways you could entice them to boast your brand, such as supplying them with free products, giving them relevant speaking opportunities, providing them with valuable skills or training, or even furnishing them with a place to work—Dell recently gave a New York-based influencer Chris Schembra the chance to work full time out of Dell’s WeWork Tech Lab, saving him monthly rent for an office, and giving us a brand ambassador who’s always around to answer questions!
- Target the right level influencer: According to Jon Levy, a behavioral scientist who specializes in influencers and networking, there are four level of influencers:
- Global influencers, such as Richard Branson and Bill Gates. These people are generally too busy (and rich!) to be bothered to work with other brands.
- Industry influencers, like GE’s Beth Comstock or Gary Vaynerchuk. Depending on your objective, this is generally the level to target—they’re well-regarded in their communities, can command attention, and will probably at least listen to your pitch.
- Community influencers, including religious leaders, artists and academics. These can be impactful for smaller or community-based brands, but probably not the right fit for national or global companies.
- Personal influencers, like your mother and father. Important, but not key figures.
- Beyond these four categories, I’d argue there’s another critical level, wedged between industry and community influencers. These prominent figures include top gamers, influential mommy bloggers, industry analysts and people who are well regarded in their spheres, but might not be very well known outside of them.
- Empower your influencers: When you give the influencers you’re working with a chance to add their voice and values to the conversation, they will feel even more connected to and inspired by the brand. No one wants to be given a few key talking points to repeat ad nauseum—let them help craft the narrative, or even come up with specific campaigns! Dell’s Social Good Advocate Adrian Grenier paired his personal beliefs with Dell technology to create a VR experience called “Cry Out: The Lonely Whale Experience,” taking viewers around the world on an underwater trip to see how pollution and climate change are affecting sea life. The film has been played around the world—from Art Basel to CES to Sundance—and Adrian promoted it heavily outside of his contractual obligations since it was something he cares about deeply.