It’s no coincidence that D2C giants like HiSmile Teeth and SugarBearHair have both built multi-million dollar empires on the backs of influencer marketing. With 62% of consumers saying that they are more likely to buy a product if they can see real customer photos and videos first, it’s absolutely crucial that you implement social proof into your D2C marketing strategy and what better way to do this than to use social media influencers.
Social proof is the concept that people tend to follow the actions of the masses. As trust in traditional advertising channels drops, companies have learned to leverage social proof to make sales and build brand awareness. Let’s dive into how you can leverage influencers to build social proof for your brand.
Set Expectations First
Before contacting influencers you must first set expectations and goals for your campaign.How much are you willing to spend on this campaign? What is the ideal outcome of this influencer campaign? What do you need these influencers for?
There are many ways you can utilize influencers to build social proof for your brand, the last thing you want to do is go into a campaign blind. Instead, you should understand all the different ways you can work with influencers and pick the ones that align with your end goal the best.
Here are some common services you will see influencers provide to brands:
- Product promotions
- Original content creation for ads on platforms like Snapchat, Instagram, or TikTok
- Video/Photo testimonials for your website
When you understand your campaign goals, you’ll know what to ask of content creators when you approach them.
For example, if you’re a new brand looking to build a larger following on Instagram, running a giveaway with an influencer would be a great idea, one of the giveaway requirements could be for people to follow your brand account.
It’s important to understand that different campaign goals require different execution.
Now that you’ve laid out the campaign objectives, it’s time to find some influencers that can bring this campaign to life.
Choose a Platform
Before we start our search for suitable influencers, you should have an idea of what social media platform you would like to target. Different platforms are suitable for different types of products or objectives. For example, if your product is catered towards the Gen-Z crowd, then TikTok influencers might be your best bet.
If you’re not sure about which platform to target, it’s okay to experiment with the different social media platforms until you find one that works best for you. Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube are currently the most popular platforms for brands that are using influencers.
How to Search For Influencers
There are a few ways to go about finding the right influencers for your campaign, some of which are more time consuming than others. We’ll go over these methods, starting with the old-fashioned way of finding influencers.
The manual way of finding influencers is by using the social platforms themselves as a place to research and parse through influencer profiles until you find someone who is a good fit.
Whether you’re looking for influencers on TikTok, Instagram, or YouTube, the search bar is going to be your best friend. This is what you will use to find relevant influencers that will be interested in working with you.
Let’s say you’re a D2C skincare brand looking for influencers who have a strong interest in skincare. When you’re logged into your desired social platform you’re going to want to enter keywords into the search bar so that you are presented with relevant influencers. As a skincare brand, I might enter things like the following into the search bar:
- Skincare routine
- Skincare haul
- Skincare products
- Skincare tips
This will show me the profiles of content creators who have used these keywords or hashtags in one or more pieces of content. You’ll most likely be presented with hundreds of thousands of results, so this should be a good starting point.
From here you can scroll through the various profiles presented to you and keep track of contact details for anyone that looks like they’d be a good fit in a spreadsheet. Ideally, you want to collect the emails of the influencers as they have a much better response rate than direct messages. In the beginning, you will most likely be working with microinfluencers, this means that most of them will be relatively easy to contact.
Influencer Search Tools
Manually searching for influencers can get very tedious if you’re trying to run a campaign with multiple influencers. If this is the case, you might want to look into software tools that make your life easier when it comes to finding and reaching out to these influencers.
One such influencer search tool is Collabstr, an open marketplace for TikTok, Instagram, and YouTube influencers. Using websites like Collabstr you can filter through thousands of content creators according to their platform, niche, following size, location, and more.
Software tools can save you a lot of time when it comes to searching and reaching out to these influencers.
Once you’ve narrowed down a list of influencers, you’re going to want to reach out to them with the details of the campaign. It’s important to be very descriptive when doing this as it will ultimately result in a better collaboration for everyone. If there is a product that needs to be shipped, you’ll most likely need to provide the influencer with a free product as well.
Repurposing Influencer Content
At this point you’ve done the hard part of sourcing the influencers and coordinating the collaboration with them. When you receive the content from the influencer, you’ll want to reuse it and repurpose it for your social channels.
If an influencer posts a photo or video posing with your product, be sure to repost it to your company's social media channels as well (with credit). Also, ask them if you’re able to feature the photo on your website or in an advertisement.
By repurposing the content created for your brand, you’re able to build social proof much more efficiently. This shows potential customers that real people are using your product and enjoying it. After all, 93% of consumers say that online reviews influenced their purchase decisions.
What once started off as a quirky growth hack for direct-to-consumer businesses has now become a multi-billion dollar industry. Direct-to-consumer companies are leveraging influencer marketing to build social proof and generate content at levels we’ve never seen before.
With the right plan in place, and the right influencer marketing tools at your disposal, you’ll be able to scale your influencer marketing operations to new levels.