What is Influencer Marketing? Here’s Why You Should Care

Posted on December 31st, 2020 to Branding

What is Influencer Marketing?

At it’s core, influencer marketing is when brands partner with well-known individuals for advertising purposes in return for some form of compensation. There are many different ways that brands utilize influencer marketing. Influencers can range drastically in both expertise and following, which provides brands with opportunities to tailor individual messages to specific audiences.

Some brands may choose to partner with social icons or established athletes (think Michael Jordan, Snoop Dogg, LeBron James, etc.) to establish credibility, whereas other brands might target local and niche influencers to spread awareness in a certain demographic or customer segment. These endorsements are trusted more than other types of advertising because of the authority that comes with the influencer’s expertise & experience. This is why influencer marketing is so powerful for new brands.

First, let’s define an Influencer

An influencer is an individual who has a large and loyal following and is trusted within their specific niche or industry. Social media influencers are often judged by their follower counts, engagements, and niche/industry expertise; and typically define themselves by the relationship they have with their followers. Some ways influencers connect with their fans or followers is by engaging with them, sharing similar viewpoints, and otherwise empowering them with their consistent social media presence. This unique relationship establishes a level of trust between influencers and their following. 

Think like Mike

Here’s an influencer you may know, and perhaps one of the first true brand influencers: Michael Jordan. Back in the early 1980’s, Nike signed MJ as the face of their sneakers. MJ’s endorsement didn’t come easy, as he was reluctant to partner with Nike at first. At the time, their main competitor, Adidas, was at the top of the athletic branding pyramid. It was Michael’s father who told him not to shy away from the opportunity, and as a result, MJ signed the deal. Jordan’s endorsement took the Nike brand from just another “collection of fabrics and rubbers” to a global commodity. Great work, Nike.

What is Social Media Influencer Marketing?

Social media has completely changed the way brands utilize influencer marketing. With the emergence of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and now Tik Tok, it’s easier than ever to gain a following and engage with your fans or “influencees”. Yes, influencees. With social media influencer marketing, certain barriers to entry have been eliminated and costs have come down for brands to get in touch with influencers and their followers. Nowadays you don’t have to be as much of a global icon (think MJ) to get an influencer deal or a brand sponsorship – you just need to have a loyal & engaged social media following that trusts your opinion.

How does it work?

Brands reach out to influencers requesting to be featured on their pages. These features can take the form of endorsed posts, stories, campaigns, giveaways, reviews, unboxings, and so on. On social media, there is an ever-expanding number of influencers; leaving brands with plenty of reputable options.

Cannabis’ Social Media dilemma

According to this study, 71% of all adults are active on social media – that’s more than a 30% increase over the last decade. It’s no secret that social media platforms are immensely important for cannabis brands when it comes to interacting with customers. Unfortunately, cannabis brands face significant advertising restrictions from social media platforms including Facebook, Instagram and YouTube. This makes it very difficult to leverage the same advertising strategies that are so critical to the growth of other industries. 

Building an organic following is key

As a result of the intense advertising restrictions, growing your social media presence organically should be your number one priority. Using social media-based influencer marketing is a great way to side-step advertising restrictions in order to reach larger audiences. As long as influencers follow each platform’s terms of agreement, their posts won’t be flagged. So as long as your influencers are following terms & conditions, leveraging influencer marketing is a great option for your canna-brand.

Choosing a Social Media Influencer

Review your needs. Do you want more brand recognition? More direct consumer engagement? Are you looking for a long-term voice for your brand or a single promoted post? Your needs determine the type of influencers that will work best for achieving your goals. Here are some considerations:

  • How many followers does the influencer have?
    • Local influencers with low follower counts can be successful in facilitating brand engagement, while bigger influencers will provide broader recognition.
  • Are their followers engaged?
    • Be cautious of influencers who have many followers without accompanying likes and comments.
  • What is the demographic (age, sex, location, etc.) of their followers?
    • Aligning influencer campaigns with demographics is the most effective way to use influencer marketing.
  • Does the influencer’s content align with your brand image?
    • Make sure to choose a trustworthy influencer who won’t represent your brand negatively.

Here’s an example:

@MyCannaBrand is looking to promote a line of THC-infused soda in a new dispensary located in Boston, MA.

  • Their goal is to get people to visit the dispensary and try the new product.
  • When choosing an influencer, this brand could partner with an individual that has demonstrated industry knowledge and a high concentration of engaged followers local to Boston, MA.
  • Choosing the right type of influencer is essential to maximize advertisement ROI.

Another example:

@YourCannaBrand is promoting a line of CBD oils exported nationwide.

  • Their goal is to get people to talk about their brand more online.
  • When choosing an influencer, they could partner with individuals positioned in the cannabis industry with massive follower counts.
  • Here, the followers’ location matters less as the main goal is to spread general awareness.

Compensating influencers

Compensating influencers can be a difficult process because there is little precedence and their rates often vary depending on reach. Talk to influencers about the goals of your influencer campaign and be transparent with your budgets. After you review your goals, you can decide on these commonly used compensation factors:

  • Cost per engagement
  • Cost per click
  • Cost per like
  • Pay per post
  • Cost per conversion or action

Since social media influencer marketing is somewhat new and largely unregulated, the types of relationships your brand forms with influencers can vary. Some brands may choose to use an influencer one time, where others may want a long term partnership. Always do as much research on your influencers as possible, as their reputation can impact yours – whether negative or positive. If you have any other questions about how your canna-brand can leverage influencer marketing, CannaPlanners is here to help.

SEO Specialist

This post was written by Zach Kerr, SEO Specialist at CannaPlanners.

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