Influencer marketing can have a lasting impact on D2C brands ready to gain more followers, boost web traffic, and increase sales. It's one of the most effective ways to create awareness for your brand from people who may not currently know it exists. Because it can impact sales and conversion rates, boosting both by making your brand appear more authentic and credible, it's beneficial to work with influencers. In addition, you can leverage an influencer's community for your brand, expanding your reach even further than you thought possible.

Sézane is a luxury fashion brand collaborating with multiple influencers to extend its reach and get more people interested in buying. The brand has a following of 2.7M on Instagram alone, gaining many of its new followers from influencers who’ve worn clothing from the brand and tagged the company in their photos. Pura Vida, a popular jewelry brand with over 2M followers on Instagram alone, collaborated with mega influencer Charli D'Amelio to create a bracelet pack that quickly became a huge seller! These are just some examples of D2C brands currently using influencer marketing to their advantage.

What is influencer marketing?

  • 4 out of every 5 brands are utilizing influencer marketing on Instagram, with 79% of brands claiming the platform is the most important to them for marketing purposes.
  • The influencer marketing industry is expected to reach a value of $16.4 billion by the end of 2022.
  • 54% of influencers say they’re willing to work with a brand as long as they're treated respectfully.

Source: Influencer Marketing Hub

Influencer marketing is quickly becoming one of the best ways for brands to market themselves to targeted audiences. With this marketing method, brands collaborate with influencers, typically sending them free products in exchange for mentions and content created about their products. Influencers will usually show themselves opening the products, testing them out, and even applying them or wearing them to give their followers an idea of the quality and more.

Because consumers are heavily influenced by their favorite social media influencers and are more likely to take recommendations from them, influencer marketing is worth trying. So, what is the best way to succeed with this marketing method? Conducting research and taking a custom-tailored approach that helps your brand connect with the right people who can benefit from what you're offering. Not sure how to make influencer marketing work for you? If so, you're in the right place. Check out the steps you should take to make the most of this modern and exciting opportunity to expand your reach.

Types of social-media influencers

On your journey of working with influencers to receive and use influencer-generated content, you will notice that there are all kinds of them available. You have major influencers with millions of followers, like Addison Rae and Charli D'Amelio, but you also have people with smaller followings that still have super high engagement rates. You don't always have to work with the biggest or most popular influencers to spread the word about your brand to others. In fact, sometimes it's better for your brand to work with smaller influencers who are often more relatable and humble than major ones.

Micro

A micro-influencer will have anywhere between 10,000 and 100,00 followers on their platform of choice. These people may be new to content creation and are just getting their feet wet in the world of influencing, hence the lower follower count. However, micro-influencers can quickly become mega influencers in no time, so collaborating with them earlier on is a great way to gain their loyalty and trust. If they make it further and gain millions of followers, they may still refer to your brand as one they love, trust, and support, which is genuinely good for business.

  • LaCroix doesn’t mind working with micro-influencers. The company recommends people with fewer followers to post photos of themselves with their beverages to earn a collab opportunity. It doesn’t matter if someone has 10,000 or 100,000 followers to this popular carbonated beverage brand.

Nano

Nano influencers have a following of at least 1000 people and up to 10,000. They don't have the biggest platform but may have high engagement rates. Some nano influencers build super solid connections with their followers, meaning those who follow them are often willing to listen to their recommendations. While some brands don't see potential in this, it can work in your favor if you choose the right nano influencers.

  • Magic Spoon Cereal, the colorful low-carb cereal designed to bring nostalgia to the kitchen table without all the excess sugar in traditional cereals, made a name for itself in recent years using influencer marketing as its primary strategy. The company continues benefiting from posts created by all kinds of influencers, including nano influencers, such as Skinny Pig NYC.
  • Lindsay Gallimore, a passionate mom blogger, has 7.9K followers and often collaborates with companies creating products for parents and babies. Her followers trust her input because she keeps it real and focuses on using eco-friendly, sustainable products.
Screenshot of Lindsay Gallimore's Instagram profile

Macro

Macro influencers have a minimum of 100,000 followers, but usually more than that! Macro influencers have a relatively large following. Although it's not the same kind of following as mega influencers, these individuals may have better engagement rates.

  • Rocio Cervante is a beauty influencer with an Instagram following of 189K people! She partners with D2C brands like Nasty Gal, including content related to their brand in her stories!

Mega

A mega influencer has at least one million followers, but many have even more than that. Some have massive followings of over four million, even if they're not traditional celebrities. When most people think of mega influencers, they think of people like the Kardashians and Jenners, who've seemingly built an empire for themselves through social media. However, there are so many other mega influencers.

  • Cardi B has an incredible 144M followers and definitely earns the title of MEGA influencer. She partnered with Fashion Nova with a clothing line that sold out in seconds when first released.
  • Brand Papa's Pops, known for its skinless popcorn, collaborated with Hailey Peters, a TikToker with 1.1M followers, to help spread the word about its latest creations. She may not have a massive following like musician Cardi B., but she certainly has more than a million people following her.

Now that you know the difference between different types of influencers, you can start thinking about the people you'd like to collaborate with for your brand. You may make this decision based on a few factors, including your current budget and who you believe aligns best with the values of your business. After all, most brands want to avoid collaborating with someone with entirely different values or controversial content.

How to create an influencer marketing strategy

If you're ready to pair with influencers and extend your marketing efforts, connecting with new audiences and boosting engagement, now is the perfect time to do it. With influencer marketing on the rise, you can take this step-by-step approach to have the most success with this innovative marketing technique.

1. Consider the Goals You’d Like to Achieve

Before pairing with influencers, you must set realistic, attainable goals for your brand. One of the most important goals for anyone planning to use influencer marketing is to reach a new audience. You want to target people you haven't before, turning them into new customers who will likely end up loving your brand. They will become repeat customers if they love your brand and its products, which can also lead to user-generated content posted on social platforms such as Instagram and TikTok.

Have realistic expectations when reaching new consumers. It starts with connecting with them, which doesn't always lead to automatic sales. However, if more consumers follow your brand because they saw their favorite influencer talking about it, they're more likely to buy from you in the future. 

Although the goals you set for yourself may differ from that of other brands, raising awareness for your brand, reaching a new audience, and gaining new followers are some goals worth adding to your list.

2. Make a List of Your Targeted Audience 

While making a list of influencers you want to work with, it's equally important to consider who you're trying to target. What types of people do you want to reach with marketing content for your brand? Your brand's products may cater to people within certain demographics, such as a specific age range. It can help to consider these things to define your ideal audience for each campaign. In addition, your audience may change based on the influencer you're working with on a specific campaign. If you know who you need to target and why, you can start looking for influencers with an audience similar to the one you're interested in reaching.

3. Know What to Do and What Not to Do

You need to be transparent when working with influencers for marketing purposes. Now, it's one thing if you send a free product to an influencer, and they decide to make content on their own. But if you're paying someone to talk about your brand, you're obligated to abide by the advertising rules in your country. For example, if you own and operate a brand in the United States, you must follow the rules set by the Federal Trade Commission

One of the best ways to stay compliant is to follow the FTC's guidelines and create binding contracts with influencers that include these guidelines in detail. Make sure that when you're paying an influencer to create content, they're including one small detail about the post – it's sponsored. 

Even if you've started your brand elsewhere, such as in the UK, you will need to follow the advertising rules set forth by The Office of Fair Trading. Each country has its own guidelines to follow, so be sure to research the regulations in your area before you begin working with influencers. Although it may sound complicated, remaining fully transparent is the key to avoiding any issues. Influencers should let viewers know the content is sponsored and include hashtags, such as #ad or #sponsored, to offer even more transparency.

Does it sound like extra work? Yes. But is it worth it to avoid discrepancies with consumers? Absolutely.

4. Understand the Importance of Working with Relevant Influencers

When you're focusing on extending your reach, finding relevant influencers to work with is a must. Working with influencers with no similarities to your brand makes little sense. For example, if you sell beauty products, you would want to connect with influencers in the beauty niche instead of those within the tech niche. Pay attention to the types of content an influencer posts and their followers.

Before working with an influencer, ask yourself the following questions:

  • What relevance does this influencer have within my industry?
  • How many people could I potentially reach by choosing to work with this influencer?
  • How much engagement does the influencer have?

Sometimes, people think working with mega influencers is the only way to go. However, some of the smaller influencers have better engagement rates. Most are surprised to learn that their engagement rate is typically 60% higher than larger influencers, meaning working with a smaller influencer can help you increase awareness even further.

5. Make Your List of Influencers to Reach Out to for Marketing

Start making your list of influencers to reach out to for marketing purposes. Remember that it isn't just about the followers but also the engagement rates. You can visit influencers' pages on social platforms, such as Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube, to see what types of comments they're getting from the average consumer. Get a feel for how these influencers respond to those who leave comments or ask questions. 

You may look forward to someone who has built a genuine connection with their audience because their engagement rates will likely be much higher. By paying close attention to engagement between influencers and consumers, you can tell who has bots following them and who has built their following organically.

6. Take Your Research Seriously

Always make time for research. If you're thinking about working with an influencer, review their posts and see how many times they've worked with other brands. Get a feel for the content they put out there, which will help you decide if you want to work with them. When influencers constantly post sponsored content, their engagement rates may decline because their followers will feel like they're always advertising something. But if they only work with a few brands here and there, they likely still have decent engagement rates that will benefit your brand.

The research you conduct now will help you in the future. Although it requires extra effort on your behalf, it can lead to you working with influencers with high engagement rates. Use analysis tools to learn more about influencer audiences, such as HypeAuditor and Modash.

7. Connect with Influeners on a Deeper Level

Don't rush into things when you find influencers you're interested in working with because building a connection with them is far more important. An excellent way to work on facilitating and nurturing that connection is to follow these influencers, begin liking some of their content, and then write a personalized message to them. Don't use a copy-and-paste message because it comes off insincere and may be off-putting to some influencers. Instead, when reaching out, let them know what you like most about them and why you're interested in partnering with them.

Being sincere, showing interest in the influencers you're messaging, and engaging in meaningful conversations with them can work to your advantage. Influencers prefer authenticity and may be more willing to work with your brand if you reach out to them on a more personal level.

8. Consider Collaborations

Once you start working with influencers, give them the creative ability to make compelling content surrounding your brand. Of course, you should have a list of guidelines for the influencers to follow to ensure the content aligns with your brand's value. You can still have some say because it's your brand, but the key is to let the influencers, also known as content creators, work their magic. Because these individuals often have such innovative ideas, they may be able to create killer content for your brand that resonates with their followers, helping you get more followers!

9. Keep Track of Your Progress

Keep track of your progress to see how well each influencer campaign is doing. It's easy to get excited over likes, shares, and comments, but there's more to it than just that. For example, you can use UTM tracking to determine how well a campaign does. UTM tracking provides this detailed information based on engagement and the return on investment.

Tracking progress is vital to the overall success of your brand. If a campaign doesn't do well, you may decide it's not worth continuing the collaboration with a specific influencer. However, for campaigns that do exceptionally well, you may want to bolster your efforts and continue teaming up with those influencers to keep connecting with their audiences.