In the past few years, the number of influencers on social media has exploded. Today, they are a vital marketing tool and 93% of marketers have used influencer-generated content (IGC). If you’re in the 7%, we’re guessing you know you’re missing out but don’t know where to start. Read on to discover how influencer-generated content can refresh your strategy.
What is influencer-generated content?
Let’s start with the basics. An influencer is a social media user with typically over a thousand followers on channels like YouTube, Instagram, TikTok and Twitter. They have an active and engaged audience who trust their advice on life, the universe and everything.
Oftentimes, influencers cater to a specific niche like reading, family life, beauty and even Microsoft Teams Voicehosted VoIP solutions. As a result, they are part of specific communities based on their likes and interests. Influencers also cater to specific professional niches, such as enterprise VoIP, making them an effective marketing tool for businesses in this industry. For instance, creators that post about reading on TikTok are known as ‘BookTokkers’.
Sometimes, these influencers will mention brands, such as 8×8 and their Microsoft Teams Direct Routing, and this is known as IGC. This might be organic or paid. Ideally, the influencer will mention your brand by chance.But either way, they are a trusted source of information for their thousands of followers, so any mention of your brand is a win.
Why should I use influencer-generated content?
If your brand is looking for a new marketing strategy to revitalize your sales, IGC is a great option. Aside from the fact that social media platforms prioritize content from influencers’ over paid ads, there are many reasons why IGC will increase your conversion rate.
Unlike a faceless brand, an influencer is a friendly face that followers know and trust. Research shows 61% of consumers trust influencer advice, while only 38% trust branded content. They also have authority on their specialty topic – whether that’s beauty or interior design, they are seen as experts in their area.
Therefore, if an influencer uses your brand in their content, their endorsement makes your brand seem trustworthy and credible. No matter your marketing budget, this genuine and trusted endorsement is hard to find elsewhere. Better still if the influencer endorses your brand multiple times. For instance, if a restaurant influencer announces you are their favorite place to eat, this creates a loyal audience for your brand. The influencer has shown they repeatedly and deliberately choose you.
Engagement is also key when it comes to IGC. Followers feel they ‘know’ the influencer because they respond to comments and like fan posts. You can capitalize on this by replying to influencer-generated posts for your brand and engaging with users in the comments to build trust, authenticity and loyalty.
Influencers often have a specific topic they focus on: fashion, football or cooking. Their followers will also be interested in that topic, giving you immediate access to a new segment of your target market. So, influencers provide a trusted, authoritative platform with a following likely interested in your target market. This will lead to increased conversions and more sales. The cherry on top? IGC is relatively low-cost.
In-house marketing campaigns can cost thousands of pounds, but IGC passes most of the heavy lifting to the influencer. As a result, campaigns cost less and generate better returns. According to one study, brands earn $5.20 for every dollar spent. This is in part because you can reuse influencer content across multiple platforms as many times as you like. If your brand is in dire need of a refresh, IGC could be a great low-risk, high-reward option.
How to Create Influencer-Generated Content
Identify your influencers
With 50 million people worldwide considering themselves influencers, how can you find the right influencer for your campaign?
Many marketers assume that you must go for macro-influencers like Molly Mae and the Kardashians to achieve good returns, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. In reality, micro or even nano-influencers could be a cost-effective and successful option for your next campaign.
Nano-influencers have fewer than 10,000 followers, so their numbers are nowhere near those of top influencers. However, they focus on niche topics for engaged, interested fans. So, what they lack in numbers, they make up for with an engaged and interested audience who will most likely want to hear about your brand.
If your marketing goals are direct sales and profits are your objectives, the high fees of a macro-influencer won’t make much sense. You’ll probably be one of many brand deals they are posting that week, and in all likelihood, you’ll be ignored. Better to be recognized by a nano-influencer with 2,000 followers than forgotten by millions.
Work with influencers that fit your audience
Further, it is beneficial to work with influencers who cater to your audience. One thing you will learn very quickly when searching for the perfect fit is that there are influencers for everything. Cybersecurity, coffee and even NFTs. So there’s sure to be someone out there who would fit your brand perfectly.
Once you have found a few good options, note their name, usernames and contact details to begin contacting them. Not everyone will get back to you, so make sure you have a few good choices. If your list is long, make sure you contact your potential collaborators in priority order.
Taking the next steps
Then, after you have received a few replies, it’s time to decide which influencer you would like to work with. Here are some things you should consider:
- Follower count: whilst followers aren’t everything, if you’re choosing between influencers, it could be beneficial to go for one with the higher follower count.
- Engagement: have a look at their posts – do their followers comment, like and share? If not, this influencer might not be the way to go.
- Do they post brand deals all the time? If so, you might be lost in a sea of ads.
If you feel you have found a good influencer, try to establish a strong, positive relationship with them. Perhaps set them up in your company phone system and give them VoIP phone numbers so they can contact you anytime. This will help you work together in the future. If an influencer posts about your brand multiple times, this will strengthen your brand’s authenticity. If an influencer loves your product, so will their fans.
You will want to update the contact information of anyone you work within your system. You can also update their details for mail merge documents with all of your other influencers, so you can keep them updated with key information but still keep the messages personalized.
Types of influencer-generated content
Now that you have your influencer, it’s time to decide what content you would like them to post. This all depends on what kind of campaign you want to run, your audience, and your brand. For example, if you’re a serious law firm, you probably aren’t going to post a meme, but you might hire a stellar LinkedIn influencer to share insightful industry news.
Depending on your available budget, you might want to consider hiring voice actors to narrate your video and audio content, immediately giving it a more professional feel.
It’s also useful to ask yourself what audiences want to see. According to eMarketer, the top ten styles of content audiences want to see more of are:
- ‘How to’ tutorials
- Short-form videos
- Lifestyle advice
- Long-form videos
Of course, there are other types of content available. You may choose to start a podcast relevant to your industry and have an influencer act as host, or even sponsor an existing podcast.’
Taking the next steps
So, have a brainstorming session about how you can fit your brand into these styles of content. Don’t forget to be creative and stay in communication with your influencer when deciding on an idea. A great way to do this is through a virtual phone system, so you can contact your team whenever.
It’s important to remember that if you are communicating with an influencer for the first time or giving them access to your tools, then you will have to be vigilant with your cybersecurity. Take additional security measures such as using 2-factor authentication to access your accounts. Also, don’t forget to consider where you will use the IGC. A smart marketer will reuse good content on many different platforms, such as their socials, blogs, and marketing materials.
For example, if you embed an influencer’s post about your brand in your website copy or a blog post, this will drive traffic to both of your sites and is a mutually beneficial way to reuse paid content. Try this with a ‘How to’ video in your knowledge base or a product review in your customer feedback section.
When you’ve decided, it’s time to write some content guidelines. This is a document that sets out what you expect from the collaboration. Brands sometimes make the mistake of providing restrictive content guidelines for influencers. Remember to allow for creative freedom. Influencers know their audience, so try to trust them to deliver your message effectively.
Still, there are key things you should cover in your influencer guidelines:
- specific objects or words to include
- things not to include (e.g., swearing)
- content examples or storyboards
Finally, don’t forget to prepare yourself for an influx of sales using inventory forecast models and clearing your social media team’s calendars.
Now for the boring bit: Influencer contracts
After you have found the perfect influencer for your campaign, it’s time to create a contract. This should include a detailed scope of the work, including brand guidelines and when, where, and how often the influencer will post. Also, make sure to include image usage rights in your agreement. This will allow you to repurpose the content on your various marketing channels and ensure you have stellar intellectual property management.
Finally, there are many legal aspects you must consider, including FTC clauses, copyright and grounds for cancellation. Check out NeoReach’s blog for more info.
Leveling up with likes
Remember, IGC is a great way to refresh your brand, but don’t hold back when it comes to creating great content. Be creative and flexible. Think of your influencer as a collaborator, not an employee, so that you can mix your brand knowledge and their audience’s expertise and creativity for the best possible outcome.
John Allen – Director, SEO, 8×8
John Allen is a driven marketing professional with over 14 years of experience and an extensive background in building and optimizing digital marketing programs across SEM, SEO, paid media, mobile, social, and email, with an eye to new customer acquisition and increasing revenue.