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A Quick “How To” on Ecommerce Influencers

A Quick “How To” on Ecommerce Influencers

Last Updated:  
March 18, 2024

With influencers at every turn on the internet, you start to wonder about the “why”  behind brands spending money on people to merely talk about their brand. 92% of consumers trust word-of-mouth recommendations and in the era of Tik Tok + short-video content, influencers really have a hold on their followers. 

Influencer marketing started off as celebrity endorsements and bloggers and now has exploded to all different types of niches, people, and platforms. It used to be that bloggers who wrote long-form content were the only ones “influencing” but now with platforms like Tik Tok, anyone that wants to become an influencer has the opportunity to. 

Think of influencers as an extension of your brand. They speak on behalf of you to their follower-base, who trust their opinion, and do the heavy lifting for your brand in their tone of voice that is effective and ultimately influences others.

There is no one-way to do influencers and it really still is a gray area in the industry, but I will give you my perspective on what has worked for the brands I have worked on and some things to keep in mind when thinking about influencer marketing.

The fundamentals of e-commerce influencer marketing

Influencer marketing is a type of social media marketing that uses endorsements and product mentions from individuals who have a dedicated social following and are viewed as experts within their niche (sprout social 2020,

Influencers are broken down by the amount of followers they have:

- Nano-influencers: 1,000–10,000 followers
- Micro-influencers: 10,000–50,000 followers
- Mid-tier influencers: 50,000–500,000 followers
- Macro-influencers: 500,000–1,000,000 followers
- Mega-influencers: 1,000,000+ followers

Next, you want to figure out if influencers are where you want to invest and why. Here are some questions you should answer before you start:

What is your objective? 

This could be a slew of things like awareness, building brand identity, audience + community building, engagement, lead gen, loyalty, etc. 

It could be one objective or a mix of both. For Auntie Anne’s, we focus on brand awareness and expanding our audience by tapping into other communities via influencers.

What is the campaign? What are they influencing their community to do/buy?

This could be to buy something, to sign up for an app, to educate about your service, etc.

For Auntie Anne’s, we usually work with influencers around LTOs like a new drink flavor, pretzel flavor, or occasions like football or college basketball.

If you don’t have a specific campaign, you can also do something more “evergreen” and have influencers be brand ambassadors and have them talk generally about your brand/product.

This now leads into what is your message? 

This is based on what you’re trying to have your influencers say on your behalf. But the best thing you can do is create a brief that outlines all of the things you want the influencer to message:

First, start with an about section. It’s important the influencers know who you are as a brand. Then follow up with an overview of the campaign you are working on. Then you can include:

  • Key products
  • Influencer requirements + deliverables
  • The concept
  • Expectations from brand
  • Content guidelines
  • Audio + copy
  • Things to avoid
  • A timeline

Now that you know what you want to message and how, let’s talk about audience. Similarly to your content strategy, you should have a general idea on who you are talking to. This will help guide what type of influencers you will work with.

There are lots of blurred lines when it comes to influencer’s niches so it's very important you know who you're talking to and what type of content your audience resonates with. For example, “lifestyle” influencers can talk about a bunch of different things like shopping, food, makeup, etc versus more specific influencers like mommy influencers who can speak to specific things that relate back to being a mom.

In our most recent campaign, we used influencers to show how our new Dragonfruit Mango Frost Lemonade drink refreshed their day. We chose lifestyle influencers that posted “day in the life” videos as part of their content. We chose influencers who were all fans of our brand, briefed them with the “day in the life” idea, then they recorded and posted! Examples here and here.

One thing that I think is really important is to really trust your influencers to create content that works for them….not you. They know their audience the best and you have enlisted them to be an extension of your brand, so let them create content that they know will work.

Let’s talk Content

Users are super aware about what they watch online so when they see “Ads” they usually swipe away. The point of working with influencers is to have them talk about your brand so genuinely that their followers don’t even realize it’s an ad. That’s the point. That’s the ultimate end goal, making an “ad” that doesn't come off as an ad.

Now getting into the content. There are a bunch of different campaigns that influencers can be part of:

  • Gifting: giving influencers your product on your behalf
  • Sponsored content: the typical “ads” you see online. 
  • Co-creating content: letting your influencer create content for your brand to post
  • Contests + giveaways: partnering with them to give away your product to their followers
  • Influencer takeovers: having them take over your brand page for a day
  • White listing: using the content they created and putting ad-spend behind it
  • Discount codes: giving influencers specific codes for them to promote to their followers. This is a great way to track their success.
  • Affiliate - giving the influencer product to promote in exchange for making commission for sales
  • Brand ambassadors: creators who post multiple times for your brand in a more evergreen way

When you’re choosing your approach, it should ultimately ladder up to your larger brand goals!

Choosing Influencers

Now that you have a better idea on your objectives, message and content, let’s talk about choosing the right influencers for you to work with.

There are different platforms that you can use to help identify influencers that fit all of your needs and there’s the old school way of doing some social stalking yourself. I personally like to do it  the old school way and choose influencers that are either super trendy at the moment (and seem like a fit for our brand) or have a very engaged community. 

Everyone is different on how they judge influencers, but here is what I look at:

  • Engaged community: are people commenting on the content? Are they asking questions? Are the comments positive and genuine?
  • Amount of engagements to follower count: you can instantly tell if influencers bought  followers if they have 100K followers and 0 engagement
  • Personalty: this is a big one for me. I want authenticity and personality. I want to feel connected to the content creator and feel like they are being genuine and not doing it for a check.

Last year we did a holiday campaign with Freeform and Auntie Anne’s. We used influencers to help promote our holiday LTO and partnership and the best performing content were the videos  that felt genuine to the page. We trusted the  influencers to create content that they knew would work on their page…and in turn…they did! Here and here.

Ahh…the budget

Finally, you can’t forget the budget! This is where it can get..tricky. Each influencer has their own worth for their content. Some are worth it and some are not. That is why doing your research on their engagement is key. We usually pay $5K - $7K for Nano/Micro influencer content (includes 1 post on Tik Tok + IG stories). There is no one-size-fits-all budget, so when you get influencer rates, it becomes one big jenga puzzle. Who is worth it for you? What content do you think will perform for your brand? That is where you spend your money.

I think my biggest piece of advice and what I’m seeing in the industry is that brands need to let influencers be themselves. We need to let the creators create content that they know will perform on their page. They know their audience best and to have influencers be an extension of your brand, you want the content to let them perform!

Like I said, there is no one-way to do influencers! Keep it authentic, genuine, and have fun!

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