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How to get influencer marketing right

GRIN's Ali Fazal takes us through what it takes to come up with a great influencer marketing campaign, and how to get started.

Sophie Thompson
9th September 2021

The influencer marketing industry is set to be worth a whopping $13.8billion by the end of 2021, and most businesses are utilizing the power of paid recommendation in some way.

However, as the industry becomes more competitive and saturated, it can be difficult to get the most bang for your buck, particularly if you're new to it.

GRIN is an influencer marketing platform that helps connect brands and influencers. It makes the process of finding the right people and creating a seamless workflow easier. So, we guess you could say they're as expert as they come.

To give you some actionable tips on making the most of your influencer marketing, we hosted a workshop with GRIN's VP of Marketing, Ali Fazal. You can watch the full replay video below, or keeping scrolling for a summary of the session.

Getting started with influencer marketing

Influencer marketing is effectively a way of getting more eyes on your product or service through paid promotion.

Micro-influencers on Instagram boast an average engagement rate of 3.86%. This declines for every level of influencer before hitting 1.21% for mega-influencers - proving bigger doesn't always = better!

That being said, 61% of marketers are finding it hard to source the right influencers for their brand.

Ali puts it into perspective by making the point that people are no longer loyal to the likes of TV shows, or newspapers, they're loyal to the people who represent them!

Brands doing influencer marketing insanely well (according to Ali) include:

  • Warby Parker
  • Allbirds
  • Fashion Nova

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There are generally four key categories of influencer:

  • Mega-influencers – social superstars with more than a million followers. These are often celebrities and are the best for getting reach.

  • Macro-influencers – influencers with between 100,000 and 1 million followers. Due to the nature of their following, they're also most likely to get you the most eyes on your brand.

  • Micro-influencers - someone who has between 1,000 and 100,000 followers. While their following may be small(ish), their authenticity is high and will provide greater, genuine engagements. They'll also more likely have a relationship with their audience.

  • Nano-influencers – somebody with fewer than 1,000 followers who has immense influence, in an extremely niche subject area. When using multiple nano-influencers, you can still get a great deal of impact as their audience is more likely to trust what they are saying.

Something to remain constantly aware of with the influencer community is that their success can be short-lived. Today's influencer superstars could easily be tomorrow's has-beens - which is just the nature of their world. The landscape changes so quickly that it's essential to keep on top of who's up-and-coming and be willing to change your tactics.

If you're thinking that you're in an archaic industry that couldn't possibly benefit from influencer marketing - think again! Influencer marketing doesn't have to be a celebrity Instagram post, it can be having a paid speaker at an event, or a testimonial from a client with a particularly large following.

During the session, Ali shared this great zero to 100 guide created by GRIN, showing the scale-up process from using your first influencer, right the way through to having 100 under your belt.

How to avoid influencer marketing disasters...and keep it authentic

We've all seen an influencer marketing disaster that has made us cringe. Whether it's writing the copy on behalf of an influencer and seeing a "please post at 4pm" left in the caption, or a tone-deaf product promotion from someone who definitely doesn't use it...these disasters can break your reputation pretty quickly.


Ali says one of the biggest mistakes you can make with influencer marketing is to treat your influencers like a walking billboard. People buy from people, but if it doesn't sound authentic, you're quickly going to lose your audience's trust.

Particularly after a year spent sat on our phones every day (because what else was there to do?!) people well and truly have their 'BS' detectors switched on. Would a pregnant person really be drinking detox laxative tea? Does a billionaire really clean their own house using these specific products? No!

Once you've broken that trust, no matter how authentic your other content may be, people will be ready to scroll right past.

A great example of an influencer who seamlessly adapts sponsored posts into their organic content is Dave Gerhardt, a B2B marketer who posts naturally every day about life in marketing, to the point where his sponsored posts don't appear sponsored - they just seem like something he would say. You don't feel like you're being tricked! People trust influencers that aren't all about the money.

Ali's top tips for keeping your influencer posts authentic:

  • Find someone who aligns with your brand vision, don't use them just because they're popular
  • Using 10 micro-influencers can be more powerful than using one big one. Having a 'real' person promote your product makes it feel more genuine as they're more likely to have a strong relationship with their followers
  • Look at your influencer's audience as well as your own! Creators own their audience, but their audience demographics might be different from who they are

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How to get senior buy-in for influencer marketing

If you're in a more traditional industry, or have simply never done influencer marketing before as a brand, getting senior buy-in can be difficult!

Ali's key suggestion is reframing the conversation entirely. When we think of influencers, we think of Kim Kardashian-type people, whereas influencers are effectively just paid testimonials. You could even use your customers as influencers.

He adds that if you're going to buy a car, you get someone's recommendation first, if you're going to watch a TV show, it's usually been recommended to you. So why is it any different when it comes to a product?

By using influencers who are directly and authentically aligned with your brand, you're trusting them to help you drive sales...and it doesn't have to be superficial!

How to make your influencer marketing as diverse and inclusive as possible

There's increasing pressure to make sure that content is considered 'diverse' but actually, Ali suggests that if you're partnering with the right people who represent your brand in the right way, it should come naturally. Box ticking should not be part of your criteria!

Today's influencer marketing is a far cry from the photoshoots of the 90s where you were limited to slender, stereotypically attractive models to be in your campaigns. The internet is also such a vast place that you can literally have anyone you want to!

To keep your content diverse, Ali suggests:

  • Choose influencers who represent your audience and share the same everyday values and interests
  • Hold yourself accountable - if you're using influencers to check a box but those values aren't reflected in your company culture, you've lost your authenticity.

How to get your best ROI from influencer marketing

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Businesses are making $5.20 from every $1 spent on influencer marketing. There's proof that it works! However, you need to keep in mind that effective influencer marketing is a long-term process that generates results across your brand, not just in the metric you're measuring yourself against.

Ali suggests the best way to measure influencer success is holistically. You're likely to see small wins over a number of months as well as the instant engagement or sale spike you're looking for.

These can include:

  • New reviews on reputable sites
  • Word-of-mouth recommendations

Like with any strong marketing campaign, you need to give influencer marketing time!

Ali says that there's no set amount of budget you should be starting with either. You should just have enough to give yourself a fighting chance of making it work. Your first influencer campaign might not go right, but it'll give you learnings that allow you to adapt and improve. Once you find your sweet spot, you've got yourself a fantastic new marketing tool.

Download our free engagement rate calculator to help you get the best ROI from your influencer marketing.

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