Influencers come with their own audience, immediately boosting your brand’s visibility. The right influencer can help you tap into new market segments while also encouraging your current audience to trust and believe in your brand.
Influencers take word-of-mouth marketing and scale it into exponential growth. 49% of consumers say they depend on influencer recommendations when making buying decisions.
What is “Influencer Marketing”?
Influencer marketing is an accelerated version of word-of-mouth marketing. A persuasive entity (usually a person, but there are some important pets out there!) encourages awareness and consideration of a pet brand. Because influencers are real people (or pets), their recommendations are perceived more as a tip from a friend than an advertisement.
What can the right influencer do for your brand?
An influencer can be a strategic partner that will help boost your brand’s exposure and grow your audience. The right influencer collaboration will help your brand stand out in a crowded market. Influencers can help level the playing field between smaller brands and megalith companies. Collaborating with an impactful influencer can gain exposure and increase brand awareness at a level that would be unaffordable with classic marketing tactics.
Influencers also bring authenticity and trust to a brand. Your company can leverage the effort the influencer has put into growing their dedicated audience. Trust is key. 41% of consumers believe a brand’s “trustworthiness” is their most important attribute and customers trust the influencers they follow.
The right influencer can be a partner in your marketing efforts. Use their expertise to craft a message that will resonate with their followers. They have put work into building and honing their audience; they know what will work and what won’t.
How do influencers work?
When people decide where to spend their money, they will seek “social proof,” including seeing what brands the people they trust are promoting.
One of the key benefits of working with an influencer is the depth of audience you can reach. Influencer audiences tend to be well-defined and focused around the entity’s area of expertise, so these audiences are behaviour-based, not demographic-based.
Why an influencer?
Your audience is on social media. The great part of social media is how you can have a genuine connection with your audience. The challenging part of social media is that every other brand is seeking to connect with your audience, too. In an over-crowded digital marketplace, an influencer can help position your brand in front of the right potential customers as they scroll through their feeds. For brands who are still building their digital presence, an influencer can help accelerate the growth of their audience and following.
Social media allows you to meet your target audience in a variety of different locations with different touchpoints. Your brand needs to build value across all platforms to engage your audience. An influencer collaboration can add value to your digital presence.
Before the collaboration
It can be tempting to choose an influencer who is in your market and has a big following. You might see a trainer with a big audience and think it’s a natural fit for your treat brand. Before you reach out, spend some time outlining what your brand needs in an influencer.
Don’t be swayed solely by the audience size. Yes, you need an influencer with a significant following to be able to grow your business, but only if your brand is aligned with the influencer’s ideology. Anyone who represents your brand needs to be philosophically aligned with your company. If your core market includes a strong belief in rescue animals and the influencer advocates for responsible breeders, this may not be a good fit.
You need to dig deeper than “they work with pets, we make pet products”. There are a lot of hot-button issues in the pet world – ensure you and any future influencer are on the same side or risk alienating your current customers.
Start by clearly defining your brand’s core principles. Familiarize yourself with contentious issues. Have internal conversations about where your brand stands on rescue vs. breeder, on cropping and docking, on the CVMA’s statement about avoiding brachycephalic pets in advertising. These issues matter to your audience AND your future influencer partner.
As your audience grows, you will inevitably face some of these moral and ethical issues. Knowing where your brand stands and having clear, concise answers will help your team navigate and will help you choose the right influencer.
Finding the right fit
Treat connecting with influencers like you would any job interview. Both you and the potential influencer partner need to discover if you can work together. Influencers need to genuinely believe in your products, and your company needs to agree with the influencer’s approach.
Take the time to go through their feed in detail. Have they taken a stand or made a statement that could alienate your audience? Have they had previous collaborations that could leave your partnership looking disingenuous? For example, have they made 20 posts about how Brand X is the BEST pet food, but now will be talking about your brand? Are they working with other products that are competitors of yours? It doesn’t have to be a direct competitor, but if you make a digestive supplement and they are also collaborating with a company that makes a probiotic, it will weaken their recommendation.
You spent the time with your team to develop your core principles and determine where you stand on hot button issues, now ask your influencer these same tough questions. Better to find out today that this isn’t the right fit than be blindsided by a post that goes against a core belief.
Crafting the deal
Some influencers, particularly those who have more moderate followings, will work for product. As their presence grows, most influencers will be looking for a monetary engagement; 61% prefer monetary compensation over any other type of arrangement.
Although you can work with influencers wherever your brand has a presence, Instagram is the strongest platform for collaborations, with more than 75% of influencers ranking it as their favourite platform.
Be clear about your expectations. Do you want your influencer to post weekly? More frequently? Do you want live events? Do you have expectations that your influencer will be involved in marketing campaigns? Ensuring both sides are aware of expectations helps to prevent future misunderstandings.
What is at risk?
An influencer campaign can go off the rails in a heartbeat when your influencer strays from your philosophy and approach. 40% of consumers say they have left a brand over an association with irresponsible behaviour.
An influencer can boost your business or ruin your reputation. Due diligence before you collaborate will help ensure a long and successful partnership.
The team at StreetDog can help you identify opportunities for influencer marketing and collaboration and help guide you to the right partners. Talk to us today about how to accelerate your brand and your digital presence.