What Is Influencer Marketing in 2021

Influencer_Marketing in 2021
Influencer Marketing in 2021

The concept of influencer marketing isn’t new. In fact, it has been around for a while.

Marketers, for example, have been leveraging the “influence” of celebrities for decades. Before that, marketing-savvy merchants in Roman times had gladiators use their products

Simply put, humans have always looked up to other people for guidance for their own purchase behaviors.

The rise of social media has enabled “regular” people to amass a large following and start influencing the opinions and choices of their audiences. Giving birth to a new generation of influencers.

This article will help you determine the steps you can take and the things to keep in mind when planning influencer campaigns.

What Is Influencer Marketing?

Influencer marketing is a branch of content marketing that uses popular content creators or influencers, who have amassed a trusting following. These influencers are paid to showcase the brand or product in a positive light to their loyal audience of viewers, readers, or followers.

While most brands don’t have strong legions of fans (with some exceptions, of course), there are plenty of people on the internet who do. Most importantly, people trust real people that they look up to more than they trust brands.

Thus, these influencers’ trustworthy voices make it easier for a brand to reach a specific customer demographic on a specific channel.

Brand Ambassador vs Brand Influencer

Lili Rose Depp_Chanel _ Brand Ambassador
Bumble X Lexie225_ Influencer Partnersnip _ Influencer Marketing in 2021

A brand ambassador is a paid spokesperson for a company, typically on a long-term contract. Lily-Rose Depp for Chanel and George Clooney for Nespresso are examples of brand ambassadors.

Fun fact: companies have used celebrities as brand ambassadors for centuries, dating as far back as the 1760s. the English royal family was used to advertise pottery and chinaware.

In contrast, a brand influencer typically has more of a niche audience. Their following can vary from a few hundred to over a million people, but their value lies in having a trusted opinion on a specific topic or niche. 

This can range from a makeup tutorial YouTuber to a lifestyle blogger, or a vegan foodie Instagrammer to celebrities with millions of followers, like the Kardashian-Jenner sisters.

Influencers often hold a short-term relationship with brands, being asked to showcase or speak about a product as part of their typical content on social media, blogs, or videos. 

Before we teach you how to incorporate influencers into your marketing strategy, let’s explore why they’ve taken off in such a big way.

2021 Influencer Marketing Statistics

According to a Statista report published in February 2021, the influencer marketing market has nearly doubled in two years. Today, it is worth 13.8 billion US dollars.

Influencer Marketing size 2016 -2021
Statista: Influencer marketing market size worldwide from 2016 to 2021

As of February 2021, there are at least 3.2 million influencers across Instagram, YouTube, and TikTok. And the key takeaways we need to know from these stats are that:

  • Influencer marketing is clearly on the rise.
  • Despite early skepticism, influencer marketing is here to stay.
  • Today, there is no shortage of influencers you can work with.

To determine if influencer marketing is good for your brand, let’s discuss some of the benefits and drawbacks of using influencers in your marketing strategy.

Influencer Marketing: Advantages & Disadvantages

9 Influencer Marketing Benefits

  1. Higher conversion rates & ROI89% of marketers say that influencer marketing has comparable or higher ROI than other marketing channels.
  2. More personal – The personal connection your influencers have with your target audience is more likely to drive brand awareness and sales.
  3. More trust – If the audience trusts your influencer, they’re more likely to take their recommendations at face value (vs. the skepticism of encountering an ad).
  4. More lifetime value – The positive brand association from an influencer carries more weight with your audience in the long term. For example, when LaCroix partnered with young micro-influencers, it became the drink of choice for young, healthy trendsetters.
  5. More authority – If industry experts are recommending your products, you’re better positioned to establish credibility out of the gate.
  6. Reach new audiences – By working with an influencer, you’re diversifying your marketing efforts and connecting with an audience that would not have found your brand otherwise.
  7. Save time – It’s much faster to execute an influencer campaign than a full-scale advertising campaign.
  8. Highly measurable – By tracking your influencers with a social media monitoring tool, you can measure the effectiveness of each influencer.
  9. No annoying ads – Let’s face it – unless they’re perfectly executed, ads only serve to annoy people.
LaCroix Micro Influencer Marketing
Luka Sabbat - Influencer Cons

4 Influencer Marketing Disadvantages

  1. Loss of control – By putting your brand in the hands of an influencer, they become the voice of your brand. Be sure you fully trust them to post great content, both short and long-term. For example, Luka Sabbat was paid $60K to promote Spectacles during NY Fashion week, but he only made one unapproved post from his hotel room.
  2. Influencer Management – Depending on the scale of your influencer campaign, it may be a full-time job to manage an army of influencers. An influencer marketing platform can help you save time when managing your influencers.
  3. Waiting – If your influencer campaign is more geared towards brand awareness, rather than sales-focused, it may take months to see the reach and influence of your brand grow.
  4. Risk – If you’ve never run an influencer campaign before, you could be assuming some financial risk in the event that it doesn’t work out. Vetting influencers is really important to assess for fake followers, poor sentiment, brand fit, or controversy.

What Are The Types of Influencers?

There are 4 influencer types. These are rather broad categories of influencers, categorized by where their audiences find them and why. 

Aside from listing them, we’ll go a step further and give you some examples, as well as the pros and cons of working with these influencers.

1. Celebrity Influencers

These are famous people with millions of followers. This includes movie and TV stars, athletes, musicians, models, and any other popular public figures. Soccer star, Cristiano Ronaldo, for example, is one of the highest-paid influencers in the world. 

Pros:

The main advantage of working with celebrity influencers is their massive audience. A social post from a celebrity will instantly connect with millions of people. 

And beyond the immediate reach on social media, working with a celebrity is also a quick way to earn major press coverage for your brand.

Cons:

The massive reach of celebrity influencers can also be the biggest negative working against you as a brand. 

Celebrities have such a wide-reaching audience that it’s challenging to target a specific demographic. And if a celebrity is caught up in an international scandal, it’s hard to disassociate them from your brand.

More often than not, sponsored posts from celebrities may come off as traditional ads rather than a subtle recommendation from a trusted influencer.

Lastly, working with a celebrity will come with a massive price tag. So it’s challenging to use them in your influencer campaigns if you’re not an international brand.

Celebrity Influencer Examples:

The most followed athletes on Instagram are soccer stars Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, who can often be found promoting anything from clothing lines to nutrition brands like Herbalife.

The most famous influencer family is the Kardashian-Jenner family. They share nearly half a billion followers between Kylie Jenner, Kendall Jenner, Kim Kardashian, Khloe Kardashian, Kourtney Kardashian, and mother Kris Jenner.

Actors, artists, and musicians are also considered celebrity influencers. Selena Gomez, for example, has 219 million followers on Instagram.

Emma Chamberlain Social Media Mega Influencer

2. Social Media Influencers

These are quasi-celebrities with hundreds of thousands or millions of followers on popular social media platforms, including Instagram, YouTube, TikTok, and/or Twitter.

Social media influencers are typically generalists who have a wide following simply for being interesting people. Some, however, might have a unique niche like fashion, travel or fitness. Often, these influencers post content pertaining to beauty regimens, workouts, fashion, meals, and whatever else is trending at the time.

Pros

These influencers have a wide audience, but typically a slightly less general audience than a huge celebrity. This allows marketers to reach a demographic that’s more tailored to their brands.

Having a social media influencer post a photo or video that mentions your brand and tagging your handle is a quick way to quickly gain visibility. And even moderate trust with hundreds or thousands of people.

Cons

Influencers with very large social media followings are in high demand, and can still carry a high price tag.

Social media influencers also tend to earn the majority of their income from endorsements. So, your brand may get lost among a sea of other endorsements from the same influencer if you don’t play your cards right.

Examples of Social Media Mega Influencers:

There are many mega influencers on each social media platform. Some have been able to amass millions of followers across platforms. For example, Emma Chamberlain and Cameron Dallas were famous YouTubers, who are also extremely popular on Instagram.

While they might not have one specific talent, their reliability, fashion sense, and stunning, relatable content have captivated their multi-million audiences. These young audiences, look at them for entertainment and inspiration, which makes their product recommendations incredibly powerful.

Other examples include Julie Sarinana and Olivia Palermo, whose audiences are mostly female millennials.

Influencer Types - Key Opinion Leaders

3. Key Opinion Leaders

These are experts in a particular topic, industry, or field, either online, offline, or both. Also, they’re often thought of as leaders in their industry.

Key opinion leaders usually lead trends and are highly in touch with what’s new or different. For example, makeup artists, writers, fitness specialists, business executives, and activists are key opinion leaders.

They tend to have a medium-to-large following. And, most importantly, their word carries a lot of value with their followers.

Pros:

The main benefit of working with a key opinion leader is their extremely niche following. By working with a thought leader, you can target individual professions, hobbies, or interest groups.

Because of their large presence within their industry, thought leader influencers are typically found on many different channels. They are even found on blogs, news articles, podcasts, and of course, most social platforms.

Thought leaders tend to be more cost-effective, especially if you choose an influencer that overlaps perfectly with your industry. That is, you’ll get your message across to the exact audience you want to, and it won’t cost you a fortune.

Cons:

 Key opinion leaders may be less open to influencer marketing, as their opinions and principles are their largest social currency.

Depending on their field, they may not spend as much time on social media, as they typically have extremely busy full-time jobs.

It can also be more challenging to find thought leaders that line up with your specific niche, and are already talking about topics related to your brand. Using social listening software makes it easier to find these influencers (something we’ll cover more later).

Key Opinion Leader Examples:

Key pinion leaders can be found in the platforms more suited to their area of expertise. For example, make-up artists, like James Charles, are very popular on YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok, where they can share their work. As is the case with fitness influencers, like Kayla Itsines and Simeon Panda.

Search engine optimization (SEO) and marketing specialist Rand Fishkin shares his articles and findings on Twitter, and LinkedIn. With over 400,000 Twitter followers, Rand is thought of as a go-to resource in the SEO world.

And LinkedIn is home to influential entrepreneurs like Arianna Huffington, Gary Vaynerchuk, and Bill Gates.

The Joe Rogan Experience Podcast Influencers - Influencer Marketing in 2021

4. Podcasters, Vloggers and Bloggers

To break it down:  bloggers either write in a publication with a large following or have their own popular blog. Vloggers make videos and have large YouTube followings. Finally, podcasters host a podcast with a large audience.

Bloggers, bloggers & podcast influencers can either focus on a particular niche or be generalists that cover any number of topics.

Some of the most popular niches include health, family, fitness, home decor, gaming, and travel. Often, these influencers create content on more than one channel.

Pros:

These types of influencers can be extremely effective for marketers. Audiences feel a personal relationship with their favorite podcasters, bloggers, and bloggers.  Meaning that they are likely to be more influenced by a recommendation. Also, having sponsor codes make it easy to track ROI

Famous podcaster Joe Rogan, for example, promotes a variety of lifestyle products to millions of his monthly listeners. Additionally, he gives his listeners a list of his products with a code, making it easy for him and brands to track his influencer ROI.

Many – albeit less famous – podcasters, bloggers and vloggers are seeking out sponsorships in order to fund their content creation. And so, it may not be as costly to find the right influencer.

They’re also more likely to have a niche audience with specific needs. For example, a vlogger who discusses travel photography would be a great fit for a brand that sells travel equipment insurance.

Cons:

These influencers are often highly opinionated and intentionally controversial, so you have to be careful about picking the right person for your brand.

For instance, Joe Rogan has a huge reach but he’s also given a platform to controversial guests like Jordan Peterson, a strong advocate against trans rights. If gender inclusivity is part of your brand values, then perhaps Joe Rogan would not be a good fit for your brand. 

Also, make sure you vet the influencer beforehand and make sure you are consistently tracking the influencers you are working with. Using an influencer tracking tool and social listening software will help you surface potential issues when working with influencers. 

Examples of Podcasters, Vloggers, and Bloggers:

Vlogger Nadine Sykora has over 490K subscribers on her YouTube channel Hey Nadine, which covers everything about travel. Both on her videos and on her website, Nadine promotes her own products and has created content for a variety of brands. She also has a shop channel on her website where her subscribers can easily find products she promotes.

Blogger, Joanna Goddard started her blog, A Cup of Jo as a “weekend hobby.” Today, the blog has a full team of writers and editors and about 5.5 million website visitors every week. Today she collaborates with beauty, decor, and fashion brands like L’Occitane.

Now that we know the types of influencers let’s discuss the various influencer tiers, which is based on follower size.

Pro Tip: Wondering what influencers there are in your industry? Use a social listening tool like Keyhole to track keywords or hashtags relevant to your industry. The tool will surface the most influential people that are using these keywords. Extra points if this influencer has already mentioned your brand in a positive way!

What Are The Influencer Tiers?

There are 4 celebrity tiers. Tiers are different levels used to categorize influencers by follower size. Below you’ll see a breakdown of the four, as well as the pros and cons of working with each tier.    
  • Celebrity or Mega Influencer (500K+ followers)
  • Mid-Tier Influencers (100K – 500K followers)
  • Micro Influencers (10K – 100K followers)
  • Nano-Influencers (1K – 10K followers)
 
Kylie Jenner Celebrity Influencers Influencer Marketing in 2021

1. Mega Influencers (500K+ Followers)

This group includes traditional celebrities, like movie stars and pro athletes, and the occasional professional influencer.

Working with mega influencers is the equivalent of placing an ad in the Super Bowl: big bucks for big visibility. 

Pros:

These influencers are ideal for larger brands with a sizable budget looking to maximize their reach and visibility. 

This also means that the influencers have access to reach markets across niches, borders, genders, etc., with a single post. If money is no objection, these collaborations can turn any brand into an international sensation.

Cons:

While the reach you get working with a mega influencer is incomparable, their engagement rate is probably less than 2%. Thus, more than 98% of your influencer’s followers are likely to scroll right by your sponsored post.

Also, mega-influencers do not have a niche or a strong bond with any specific audience. So they are less likely to help you create reach and influence your target audience.

Lastly, well-known celebrities and influencers have their lives scrutinized by the media. At times, their private mishaps can become very public and become a liability for endorsing brands.

Examples:

Real-life celebrities like Kylie Jenner and Dwayne Johnson boast followings upwards of 200 million. And they will promote brands to their followers at a hefty price tag of $500,000+.

Other mega influencers, like Charli D’Amelio, have amassed a similar size follower base creating content that people love. Brands from Dunkin’ to Prada have partnered with the TikTok influencer to be featured in her dance videos.

TikTok has become the go-to platform for Gen-Z influencers like Lele Pons, and Sofia Wylie. However, Instagram and YouTube continue to be the major sources of influencer content.

2. Mid-Tier Influencers (100K - 500K Followers)

Often referred to as macro-influencers, these influencers have hundreds of thousands of followers on at least one social platform. Also, they’re often popular for their personalities, passions, work, or interesting lifestyles. 

Pros:

Mid-tier influencers can reach a large, but still somewhat niche audience. Followers trust them more than they do mega-influencers, and their engagement rates are generally higher.

Also, these influencers are likely to live from endorsements, so they will be professional and experienced when it comes to their brand collaborations. For the most part, mid-tier influencers will be willing to work with you to make sure you are getting the results you want.

Cons:

Working with mid-tier influencers can get pretty costly as they have become high in demand.

As mentioned earlier, mid-tier influencers live from their endorsements, and while experience is an asset, there is also a downside. These influencers are very likely to work with a competitor (if they are in a niche industry), or even a brand that you might not want to be associated with.

Examples:

Mid-tier influencer, Meg Boggs, shares beautiful posts about body positivity, fitness, and motherhood with her 360k+ Instagram followers. 

Brands like Blue Apron and UnderArmour partner with her regularly, and she uses her authentically optimistic voice to promote the brands she works with. 

She has a Linktree page where she makes it easier for her followers to access discounts to her sponsor brands.

This makes it easy for brands to track how their partnership impacts their bottom line. Other metrics will be discussed later.

Micro Influencers - Brett Hoebel - Influencer marketing in 2021

3. Micro Influencers (10K - 100K Followers)

Micro-influencers are content creators on popular social media channels, blogs, podcasts, forums, video sites, and more. 

Often, these influencers are experts within a specific niche. For example, fitness, fashion, food, photography. etc.

What makes them different from previous influencer categories is that they have a tighter bond with their audience.

Typically, they’ve built their following by being highly personable and interacting with their followers.

Pros:

Because of the higher engagement rates, micro-influencers are extremely attractive to brands looking for a big return on their investment. 

Also, micro-influencers are more likely to respond to any questions their followers may have about your collaboration or products. Since authenticity is what makes them successful, they are likely to have a genuine motivation to promote your brand.

Lastly and very importantly, micro-influencers are more affordable because their audiences are smaller.

Cons:

The biggest challenge is finding these micro-influencers (although we’ll have plenty of advice on that later). 

Secondly, they may be newer to sponsorships and collaborations, so they may need more assistance in optimizing their posts and the contractual details.

Examples:

Bethany Aroutunian is an Instagram lifestyle influencer with a modest following of just over 17,000 followers. However, Bethany typifies the young demographic that brands want to target.

Her feed has plenty of examples of major brand endorsements, including Victoria’s Secret PINK, Lulus, and Bumble.

Brett Hoebel is a fitness professional, who shares fitness tips and inspiration with 22,500 followers. Aside from promoting his own products, he also promotes fitness-related brands like FitXR, and Rockn’ Protein.

Milly CrouchMicro Influencer - Influencer Marketing in 2021

Nano Influencers (1K - 10K Followers)

Nano-influencers are just like micro-influencers but with smaller followings. These users typically have an extremely close following and have the potential to grow their following rapidly.

Nano-influencers are less likely to live from their endorsements, and usually, it is their real-life work or passions that make them connect with their followers.

This close-knit relationship with their audience helps nano-influencers have very high engagement rates, and exert considerable influence on their followers. 

Pros:

Nano-influencers have a hyper-focused audience made up of people who share one or two niche interests. 

A recommendation from them is more likely seen as a recommendation from a friend or family member rather than from a business entity.

Of course, nano-influencers are the most affordable to work with, often agreeing to post sponsored content simply in exchange for free or discounted products.

Cons:

If your goal is to drastically improve your brand visibility, you will have to work with potentially hundreds of nano-influencers to make a large impact.

While the ROI is certainly there in terms of payment, a lot of time and effort can go into finding and managing such a large number of influencers.

However, using an influencer tracking tool can help simplify this process by giving you access to your influencers’ posts and analytics with no need for screenshots or manual reporting.

Examples:

UK-based beautician Milly Crouch has a knack for fashion, an eye for aesthetics, and a good sense of humor. She has just over 5,000 engaged Instagram followers with whom she shares where she gets her fashionable pieces.

Brands like Mejuri, Paul Valentine, as well as series of UK fashion brands work with Milly to reach her highly engaged UK-based following.

Canadian Lindsay Gallamore is another example of a nano-influencer that has amassed over 8,000 followers, with whom she shares advice on eco-parenting.

She has collaborated with brands like Lil Helper, and Polar Skis who are looking for a target market of eco-conscious mothers.

Pro Tip: Want more examples of influencer content? Just check out the hashtag #ad or #paid on Instagram for thousands of sponsored posts being posted every minute. If you use a hashtag tracking tool, you could create a boolean search with keywords related to your industry

For example: #paid + #ad + #furniture + #homedecor + #decoration

How to Find Influencers for Your Social Media Campaigns?

With millions of potential influencers out there, it can be hard to find those that align with your brand. Here are some great resources for finding the perfect influencers for your brand.

Influencer Marketing in 2021 - Social Media

1. Social Media

Okay, this is obvious, but you should start by looking for potential influencers on social media.

a) Start with your followers

If there are influencers who already engage with your brand and support your business – they should be your first choice. 

Go through the list of users who regularly like, comment, and share your content. Look for someone who has an engaged audience and online personality that fits your brand.

Note: Although this is a powerful exercise, it’s also time-consuming. And it might not make sense for brands that have a highly engaged community and many comments. In this case, use a brand monitoring tool that will surface these influencers for you automatically.

b) Listen to online conversations

Social listening is not just to stay on top of brand mentions and build a stronger community. It also helps find influencers you can work with.

Social listening tools can help you monitor mentions of your brand, as well as conversations about your industry. Once you get insights into ongoing conversations, you can easily pinpoint individuals whose opinions are valued online.

You can use a free tool like Google Alerts for basic monitoring, or you can look for a more advanced, paid tool that gives you access to more functionalities and analytics, like Keyhole.

c) Search for relevant hashtags

Another way to find conversations and content in a certain niche is to search for industry hashtags. This works well with Instagram, YouTube, and TikTok

Go through the results to find content that catches your eye. Then check whether the creator of the content (image/video) you’ve selected has a big enough following and targets the same audience you do.

#reformerpilates on tiktok - start with hashtags

2. Search Engines

Similar to searching on social platforms, you can also go straight to your favorite search engine.

It’s likely that websites or accounts that rank highly on Google for your chosen topic are making great content. And if the content is deserving of those top spots, it’s likely to be highly influential with their audience.

3. Referrals

Ask around!

If you know your business well, you likely have a large network of people connected to your industry, or friends and family who overlap with your target audience.

Ask people you trust for recommendations of influencers related to your field.

Do you already have a great relationship with your existing customers? Then ask them who they like.

Send out a survey to your customers or create an Instagram poll to ask them who are their favorite bloggers and social media influencers.  This will give you a sense of their most trusted online personalities.

Plus, if you have personal connections with the influencer, they’re more likely to work with you.

4. Influencer Marketing Tool

Trial and error will only get you so far. To find influencers that will have the biggest impact on your brand, it’s recommended that you use a tool.

Using an influencer marketing tool with keyword tracking capabilities, you can track topics, keywords, brands, or hashtags to see which users are most influential in those conversations.

These tools will identify influencers who are not only popular but also those who receive the most engagement.

This is a key step because highly engaging accounts will provide more value than accounts that simply have many followers. Especially, given that many accounts purchase fake followers simply to appear more influential.

Once you’ve identified key influencers, you can use an account tracking tool to measure the success of these influencers, and their impact they make on your campaigns.

Find new influencers
Compare influencers

Pro tip: If you are looking to add a tool to your MarTech stack, choose one with functions that can will make your workflow easier not harder. For example, instead of having multiple tools for data, pick a tool that can get you in-depth account analytics, real-time influencer tracking and analytics, social listening, and competitive analysis like Keyhole.

5. Talent Agencies

Unfortunately, you can’t simply slide into the DMs of a celebrity influencer and expect them to endorse your product.

If you are looking to hire celebrities or mega-influencers, you’ll need to contact their talent agency.

By contacting talent agencies directly, they may also be able to suggest more influencers that are a good fit for your brand.

We’ve covered the types of influencers and where to find them. All that’s left is to carry out an end-to-end influencer marketing strategy.

How to Build Your Influencer Marketing Campaign?

1. Set Your Goals

The key to any strong marketing plan is to have clear and measurable goals.

What will success look like for your influencer campaign? Here are some examples of metrics that you can choose to measure your success:

  • Social media follower count
  • Impressions, views, or clicks on your influencer’s sponsored content
  • Impressions, views, or clicks on your brand’s content
  • Engagements with your sponsored content
  • Unique website visitors
  • Sales through your IG or Facebook store
  • Sales through your online store
  • A higher conversion rate on your website
  • More visits to your event or storefront

Your goals will be relevant to your business, so only you can define them. But they must be specific, memorable, and realistic.

For example, don’t set a goal like “increase website visitors.” Set a goal like “increase web referral traffic by 20% in 3 months.”

2. Identify Your Audience

The goal of influencer marketing is to find someone who has already reached your target audience.

Therefore, you have to identify who that audience actually is. If you already know your business’s demographic, you’re already set.

But if you haven’t created buyer personas for your marketing campaigns, now is the time to do so.

If you use a profile analytics tool, learn about your current audience demographics.

Start by looking into your own followers and find common demographics, interests, and social media preferences. You can also look into your main competitors because their audience is the same as your audience.

Once you’ve determined who your audience is, figure out what type of content they enjoy. By using Keyhole’s keyword tracking or hashtag analytics tools, you can identify popular types of content on any social channel.

Follower Insights

3. Determine Your Budget

Before you go any further, get realistic. What’s your budget?

There’s an extremely wide range for compensation, so be sure to align your research and goals with your budget.

Celebrities and social media stars represented by agencies will command big dollars, while micro and nano influencers may accept free products in exchange for their endorsement.

Do your research on typical compensation for your industry and the level of influencer you’d like to use. Make sure you set a firm budget from the start.

This guide covers typical influencer rates in several different industries.

Here are the average rates on Instagram:

  • Nano Influencers (2,000-10,000 followers): $75 to $250 per post
  • Micro Influencers (10,000-100,000 followers: $250 to $1000 per post
  • Mid-Tier Influencers (100,000-500,000 followers): $1,000 to $3,000 per post
  • Celebrity/Social Influencers (500,000+ followers): $3,000+ per post

This guide should help you decide which level of influencers you’re comfortable with targeting.

Note: Just because you don’t have a large budget doesn’t mean you can’t target a high volume of people through nano or micro-influencers.

4. Choose Your Channel

To start, we recommend focusing only on one social network or content channel.

Confining your content to one channel will make better use of your budget. You are more likely to have more repeat influence within the same platform.

Narrowing your influencers to one channel also makes it easier to objectively compare influencers’ performances to one another.

And of course, be sure to choose a channel that’s popular with your audience.

5. Choose an Influencer Tracking & Managing Tool

An influencer marketing tool will help with every step of the influencer marketing process, so be sure to set one up before hiring your influencers.

With Keyhole, you can find new influencers that are relevant to your brand, ranked by most engaging or most followed.

And once you select influencers, you can track every one of them with the tool, allowing you to see who brings the most visibility to your brand, campaign, or event. Comparing them side by side will let you make smarter decisions on who is providing the best ROI.

Another benefit is the ability to provide insights that you can share with your influencers on how to make their posts more effective.

For example, influencer analytics will help you provide your influencers with data on when to post, how long their posts should be, and which media types are most effective.

Keyhole offers a free trial, so go ahead and set it up right now.

Influencer Marketing in 2021 - surface influencers

6. Identify & Choose Your Influencers

Now that you have the right tools to succeed, it’s finally time to identify and choose your influencers.

We recommend using Keyhole to search for your brand’s targeted keywords or hashtags, which will reveal the most influential users in that category.

But don’t stop at the numbers. Ask yourself:

  • Will this influencer resonate with my target audience?
  • Does this influencer’s image fit with my brand?
  • Does this influencer fit within my budget?
  • Will this influencer be able to help me achieve the goals I set for my campaign?
  • Do I want to be associated with the other brands promoted by this influencer?
  • Does this influencer ever post content that’s misaligned with my brand’s values?
  • Is it believable that this influencer would use/like my product?

There’s so much more to focus on than follower count.

Pro tip: Focus on engagement more than follower count. A user could have purchased fake followers to inflate their follower numbers. Engagements show the true impact of a user’s posts.

7. Reach Out to Your Influencers

Once you’ve built your list of the “chosen ones,” it’s time to reach out to influencers.

Influencers range on a wide scale of experience working with brands. Some may have never posted sponsored content before, while others may have a talent agency handle their sponsorships.

Do your research to find out the best way to contact each influencer. In many cases, their email address will be publicly available on their profile or website, but for micro and nano influencers, you may need to send them a direct message to start.

Once you’ve made contact, come to a mutual agreement on expectations. In most cases, it’s smart to write up a contract. 

Here are the types of things you may want to formalize:

  • How will you pay the influencer?
  • How many posts do you expect, and at what frequency?
  • What type of content/media are they expected to post?
  • Which of your competitors can they not endorse while under contract?
  • Which links should they be using to promote your brand?
  • What are their objective metrics in terms of reach, impressions, or clicks?
  • Will you or the influencer be responsible for creating the content?

Most importantly: make sure your influencers are set up for success.

Tell them what audience you are trying to reach, what content resonates with them, and why you chose them as an influencer.

Pro tip: If you’ve engaged with a user’s posts in the past, they’re more likely to accept your offer. If your timeline allows for it, spend a few days/weeks/months interacting with influential users you want to work with before reaching out.

8. Track & Evaluate Success

Don’t wait until your campaign is over to evaluate success. Get all of your influencers set up in your influencer marketing tool from the start.

This will help you track who’s keeping on top of your agreements, and who may need some gentle encouragement.

This will also allow you to provide on-the-fly advice to your influencers, and compare their success to each other as they go.

For example, you may notice Influencer #1 always posts carousels, whereas Influencer #2 has a single image per post. If Influencer #1 is receiving more engagements, you can advise Influencer #2 to try posting carousels for more engagement.

Help your influencers help you.

Bonus tip: Don’t just track your individual influencers. Use a social media campaign tracking tool to monitor your brand mentions, brand hashtags, and user sentiments.

9. Compensate Your Influencers Fairly

Your influencer cares about making money just as much as your business does. Be sure to pay them fairly and on time.

But there are many different possible compensation structures. Here are a few options:

  • Cash
  • Free or discounted products
  • Free branded gear
  • Coupon/referral codes where they are compensated for each purchase/download
  • Reciprocal promotion of their account in your marketing

Stick within your budget, agree on payment terms in advance, put it in a contract and pay what’s fair to both sides.

10. Measure & Evaluate Your Success

Once your campaign with each influencer is over, it’s time to evaluate your success against your initial goals.

Success can be measured at different levels, both at the individual influencer level or on your entire campaign as a whole.

If you’re working with a small number of influencers, you’re probably most interested in which individuals generated the most engagements and the greatest return on investment.

But in the case that you’ve hired 100 nano-influencers to use your branded hashtag, you’re probably most concerned with the overall increase in brand awareness by measuring reach and impressions.

You may also want to track increased follower counts, visits to your website, and hard sales numbers.

Most importantly: Don’t forget to get feedback from your influencers.

  • What do they think went well?
  • What would they suggest for more engagements (after all, they’re the engagement experts)?
  • Were they happy with the support you provided or what kind of support would they have liked?

Take what you’ve learned to evaluate what works best for your business. When you’re ready, head back to step 1 and start your next influencer campaign!

Now, let’s see how brands have put their influencer marketing strategies to good use with some inspiring examples.

Influencer Marketing Campaign Examples

These are some of the best executed influencer marketing campaigns that we can learn from:

Mejuri: Disrupt and Empower

Mejuri flipped the script on the jewelry industry by changing the traditional ways that jewelry was marketed and sold.

Traditionally, men were the original targets of jewelry marketing, assuming that jewelry was a gifting experience from men to women. Mejuri, instead, positioned women at the forefront of their strategy – empowering them to buy jewelry for their “damn selves”.

Also, challenging the traditional notion that fine jewelry is for special occasions, and thus seldom purchased. Instead, Mejuri encourages customers to “make luxury a habit.”

Mejuri was also disruptive in introducing a D2C sales model while offering limited-edition drops on a weekly basis. This has allowed Mejuri to keep their production and markup costs low and offer luxury jewelry at an affordable price. 

In true disruptive and trailblazing fashion, Mejuri was a pioneer in adopting influencer marketing to reach its target audience: millennial women. 

The brand not only partnered with these growing influencers but also worked on giving them more exposure. In a way, both Mejuri and its influencers helped each other grow.

Mejuri - Influencer Marketing Examples

Empowering through Influencer Marketing: Why it works?

Mejuri created a community of some of the first influencers. Mejuri continues to celebrate and nurture these partnerships.

On occasion, Mejuri has collaborated with celebrity influencers to appeal to different audiences. For example, the brand partnered with 13 Reasons Why actress Alisha Boe to reach a younger demographic of women.

Despite Mejuri becoming a global brand, it has maintained that commitment to its influencer relationships. That is, the brand continues to feature and help its influencers grow.

With the odd celebrity exception, Mejuri’s “Fine Crew” – as they call their influencer partners is primarily made of nano and micro-influencers. These influencers seem to be avid fans of the brand and its products. 

Other brands that have adopted a disruptive business model and succeeded in empowering influencer communities are Glossier and Bumble.

2. Knix X Sarah Nicole Landry (@thebirdspapaya): A match made in social media heaven

Speaking of brands that have challenged traditional norms, Knix is a brand that has redefined intimates for women. Creating undergarments for comfort and function, built to be worn by every body, which is a far stretch from traditional underwear marketing. like Victoria’s Secret.

In a similar nature to Mejuri, Knix has worked with a number of micro and macro influencers that embrace Knix’s mission: “To empower everyone to live unapologetically free. Free of judgment. Free from self-doubt. And free to be yourself.”

Knix invites their regular customers to model their Knix items and features them on their social platforms. One look at their IG feed and you can tell that this brand is all about diversity, empowerment, and femininity in all its forms. 

Knix Feed - Influencer Marketing Examples 2021

One of their long-time collaborators is Sara Nicole Landry, a blogger, podcaster, and app creator who runs @thebirdspapaya. She uses her platform of 1.8 million followers to promote self-worth, acceptance and challenge imposed constructs about female bodies.

To further leverage this match made in heaven, Knix and Landry collaborated in creating the Papaya Box. The box contained limited edition Knix products, along with items from other women-owned and body-positive brands for $150.

The box was announced on both Knix’s and Landry’s channels, which requested that people sign up via email to receive a heads up when the box dropped. The box sold out in 29 minutes, and Knix had 300,000+ new subscribers to their blog post. 

Finding your influencer soulmate: Why it works?

In Sarah, Knix found not only a promising influencer that was speaking to their audience, but a true fan of their brand. She was not only a fan of the product before she was asked to collaborate, but her brand and passion embody Knix’s mission.

Despite her mega-influencer status and working with international brands, Landry has something that cannot be bought: a fierce commitment to her brand and her message. Her authenticity and down-to-earth approach to motherhood and femininity is the reason why she has such a large engaged audience.

Between the amount of sponsored posts out there and influencer fatigue, the impact that influencers have on us is limited. This is why authenticity is so important and that is how influencer promotions really cut through the noise.

Today, Landry is an outspoken advocate of why this particular brand is important to her in her journey to self-acceptance. And we have social listening to thank for that!

Knix X Sarah Nicole Landry - Influencer Marketing in 2021 Examples

Through social media listening, Knix’s founder, Joanna Griffiths discovered a post of Landry wearing her product. She sent her a DM asking her to collaborate and the rest is social media history.

For other examples of influencer-brand soulmates, look no other than Biossance X Jonathan Van Ness, and Toyota and canine influencer Loki.

4. Marriott Hotels: Repositioning with Influencers

The Marriott hotel needed to change the way that people perceived their brand: boring and outdated. So, they underwent a physical transformation followed by an online transformation. 

In order to promote their newly renovated hotels and their new brand to a younger and affluent audience, they recruited the help of influential tastemakers. These influencers ranged from niches in travel, music, and design, and were asked to create content for Marriott in their own way.

Marriott Hotels X Karamo Brown - Influencer Marketing in 2021

The Marriott also recruited Karamo Brown, Queer Eye’s “Cultural Expert”, to create social media videos that embodied the new brand message. 

These influencers traveled to different hotels and created content inspired by and featuring each hotel. They delivered 150 eclectic posts and 300 brand assets for various social channels.

And most importantly, the posts created 300 million impressions and 59 million engagements, which resulted in four times more website traffic and better brand health.

In fact, Marriott Hotels has made influencer marketing a part of their marketing playbook. For example, it recently partnered with adventure traveler content creator Mark Harrison to promote the Marriott in Vail.

Influencer Repositioning Strategy: Why it Works?

Unfortunately, the “build it and they’ll come” idea is nice but unrealistic. Especially in a fiercely competitive market like hospitality. 

And having a strong brand that resonates with consumers is an important part of it. In these cases, brands have to reposition to stay relevant.

The Marriott used influencers who could really give audiences a taste of what their new brand and product are all about. 

The influencers were given the freedom to share their own stories and tell them in their unique way, which is a lot more impactful than a brand telling you their benefits directly. 

The Marriott Hotels - Influencer Marketing in 2021

And the comments alone show that Marriott achieved their goal. 

Other examples of how brands can use influencers to boost their brand repositioning include LaCroix, and Subaru.

Revolve: Creating a not-so-exclusive tribe

You simply cannot have an influencer marketing guide without mentioning Revolve, a pioneer in modern influencer marketing.

Seeing the popularity and influencers of fashion bloggers in the early 2000’s the brand started sending free clothes to key influencers for promotions. 

As Instagram grew to become a fashion inspiration platform, Revolve began to partner with beautiful fashionistas that were starting to amass a following. Starting with sending free clothes to these rising stars to grow awareness of the brand. 

Afterward, Revolve began to create influencer physical activations. That is hosting fabulous and exclusive events. Influencers would be invited and given clothes to do what they did best: post jaw-dropping content that created a two-tiered demand.

First, a demand of influencers wanting to work with Revolve. Secondly, a demand of customers wanting to shop at Revolve to fit in with its tribe.

This helped the influencers grow their followers and at the same time brought sales to Revolve.

Influencer Marketing Example - Revolve

Many influencers, like Rocky Barnes and Aimee Song. grew with the brand and it became their “tribe”.

As Revolve grew in popularity and obtained that “it” factor, they were able to recruit both celebrities and mega influencers like the Kardashian/Jenner sisters and Emily Ratajowski.

Building an "It-Girl" tribe: Why it works?

While we have already discussed the importance of community in influencer marketing, Revolve takes it a step further in creating a community that others aspire to be part of. 

We discuss how Mejuri and Knix aim to empower and embrace their followers as peers, like your good friend giving you underwear advice. Revolve, on the other hand, is more like the “popular group” in high school who you wish you could be like.

Influencer Marketing in 2021

Whether it’s high school girls, celebrities, royals, or gladiators, humans always aspire to resemble those they admire. And that’s how influencer marketing has existed through time.

Using an already aspirational platform on Instagram, Revolve has created an exclusive community of beautiful, glamorous “it” girls. However, their employment of celebrities and nano-influencers alike communicates to followers that they too can have this status.

And so, they have no shortage of influencers who want to work with them, and of audiences who buy their products to feel more like them.

You can observe the same similar strategy with brands like Lululemon and Nike.

Influencer Marketing Tools

Like all great social media marketing strategies, influencer marketing can be a lot of work to plan, track, manage and measure. 

Luckily there are some pretty fantastic tools out there to take care of the manual work so that you can focus on meeting your goals.

These are some of the best influencer marketing tools out there:

1. Keyhole

Keyhole’s influencer marketing capabilities help marketers optimize and report on their Instagram campaigns.

With Keyhole, marketers can track influencers, real-time analytics on both their influencers and campaigns and automated optimization insights.

Influencer Marketing Tools in 2021: Keyhole

Designed to give marketers more control over their influencer marketing by getting full access to the influencer’s performance analytics, followers, and posts in real-time.

That’s right, no more screenshots!

Aggregating influencers’ performance metrics along with your campaign metrics gives marketers an accurate picture of their influencer’s impact.

Also, reporting is made easily and automatically, saving marketers over 5 hours of manual work a week.

Price: Starting at $79 / month

Ready to start making your influencer marketing more influential?

2. Upfluence

Looking for an A-Z influencer solution? Upfluence is an influencer relations management tool that has a pretty impressive influencer database.

Influencer Marketing Tools 2021 - Upfluence

The tool identifies influencers from your own social followers as well as based on your searches, which can get pretty specific. Your results will show not only the influencers and their post analytics but also additional information about their audiences (age, gender, etc.)

After finding your influencer, Upfluence takes care of the management process, from reach-out email sequence templates to payment processing. Also, you can monitor your campaigns and get ROI tracking.

Although not all features are available with every platform, Upfluence works with TikTok, Instagram, YourTube, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Twitch.

Price: Unavailable 

3. Tagger

An end-to-end influencer tool, Tagger has been referred to as an influencer “marketplace.” It does have a large database and great filter options to help you find an influence that suits your needs, but there’s more to it.

Influencer Marketing Tools in 2021 - Tagger

Tagger also functions as a relationship-building platform, allowing you to track communications with your influencers within your platform. Also, you can review influencers, send over contracts, track content and submit payments through the platforms.

The tool also boasts some third-party analytics and social listening capabilities that help you track your brand, influencers, and competitor accounts. 

Mostly aimed at enterprise clients with an international audience, Tagger is offered in 9 languages.

Price: Tagger does not disclose pricing

4. Tapinfluence

As you probably have gathered at this point, there are a lot of moving parts when you run an influencer marketing campaign. Tapinfluence aims to make the process more cohesive.

Influencer Marketing in 2021 Tools - TapInfluence

Influencers can create a profile for free with Tapinfluence and become part of its influencer database.

For brands, Tapinfluence makes it easier to find influencers with its influencer database. Also, marketers can create and manage their campaigns through the platform with features such as tracking deliverables, scheduling, communications and payment system, and legal contract templates.

All in all, Tapinfluence is a very complete tool to manage your influencer relationship. The only drawback is that the analytics you get lack some depth, and ince it tailors to large enterprises only, the price is significantly above other tools.

Price: Not provided.

Final Thoughts

In case you still had some questions about Influencer Marketing in 2021, we got you. Check out the Influencer FAQ section below to learn more:

Q1: What are Influencers?

A1: Influencers can be people (but also pets, groups, or digital personas), whose opinions and recommendations can affect the purchase behavior of others. In social media, influencers usually have a loyal following of people that look to them for expertise.

Q2: Why does Influencer Marketing matter?

A2: Influencer marketing can be very effective in reaching the desired target market and creating demand. As of 2021, Influencer Marketing is a US$13.8 billion industry.

Q3: How to find influencers for your brand?

A3: Start with your followers and your competitors to find the most engaging, influential accounts that fit your target market. Use a social listening tool to track conversations relevant to your brand or products and surface influencers in your niche.

Q4: How to track the ROI of Influencer Marketing campaigns?

A4: (Net Return / Total Investment X 100) The total investment includes all the costs associated with working with the influencer (fees, transportation, merchandise, etc.) and the net return can be simple if, for example, your campaign included a referral code it would be easy to have a dollar value for the return. If the goal was impressions or engagement, t is necessary to convert these metrics into a dollar value (e.g. 100,000 impressions bring in an average of $500).

Q5: What are the best Influencer Marketing tools?

A5: 1. Keyhole, 2. Upfluence, 3. Tagger, and 4. TapInfluence

Keyhole helps marketers make data-driven decisions while streamlining their social media management efforts. On top of campaign tracking, influencer marketing, and social listening, you can also schedule and publish your social media posts, all in one platform.

Our customers report that Keyhole saves them 5 hours a week on gathering and reporting data, which translates into over $7,000 saved every year. 

Start your free trial today and work smarter, not harder.

Life is short and the internet is vast.