Building a brand from scratch is a journey in which you learn as you go. One of the lessons I learned, and am still learning, is finding people who are passionate about your brand to bring you more exposure.
When doing research on the best ways to market an apparel brand, one method kept rising to the top, influencer marketing. The idea was simple, find an influencer on social media (I primarily used Instagram), offer them something of value, they'll promote your brand, and you get more exposure. There are a few obstacles to get around when using this method, the first is finding an actual influencer. Unfortunately in today's world it's pretty easy to fabricate an account that appears to be influential. Followers and Likes can be purchased and with a little cash someone can create an account that 10's of thousands of 'people' follow. In my opinion, this is poisoning Instagram and makes it very difficult to find legitimate influencers.
Here's a couple tips to help determine if an account has real people and not bots just boosting the numbers.
- Check comments:
Let's say you find an account with 20k followers and 5k likes on all their posts, sounds pretty good right? Check out the comments, if there aren't any or only a few, chances are all those big numbers were bought, not earned. If they do have comments, make sure they are actually engaging with the content and not just an emoji or the generic 'Great post!', chances are that's also the work of a bot.
- Check engagement:
A quick way to check the engagement of an account is with an online calculator like the one from Phlanx. This will give you a percentage that correlates with the audiences engagement for that account. There are varying reports on what a good percentage is but typically anything less than 5% may not be worth while.
Try to find influencers in your niche, don't waste time promoting content to an audience who isn't interested in your content or products. You're more likely to see a positive return on a promotion on an account with 500 followers in your niche than one with 35k in something unrelated. Target your audience, not the numbers. There will also be a lot of people reaching out to you looking for some free gear, sometimes that's all they want, so make sure they're passionate about your brand and can bring you useful exposure in return.
Add value to the influencer but don't take value away from yourself. Sometimes all it takes is a simple shoutout. You may need to hand out some free product, but never assume that. Start a conversation and see how you can both benefit, you don't want to cheapen your brand by giving away free products all the time. Navigating influencer marketing can be a difficult task, but like all things, it takes practice. Keep reaching out to people who you would like to work with, no matter how big, just because you're smaller, doesn't mean you can't offer them value.