What is Influencer marketing and how can it help your Startup?

Do you know how content goes viral? 

The answer is simple and I’m just looking for one word: Shares.

People share content they really like and their friends share it to their network and so on is the “Secret” behind Virality. We’ll come back to this.

That one friend.

We all have friends whose posts get a lot of engagement. People are “Liking and Reacting” to their posts, they are engaging with this person in the comment section.

Now have you noticed that when they share content to their networks, they get more likes and shares to that post compared to the same content shared by another person in your list. They’ll also put a word out like “Hey! My friend has started a new cake shop, show her some love!”

Now this person in simple terms is an Influencer in your list.

So what is Influencer marketing?

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Social Media especially Facebook is like a huge party. You have to put cool content out there and hang out with the popular people. Influencers are these popular people, everybody, flock to. They have a massive following on social media, people listen to what they say and they hang on to their words religiously.

A perfect example of an Influencer is Lazar Angelov.

Lazar Angelov
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He’s an athlete and a fitness expert who has close to 12 million followers on Facebook. He may not come in TV channels or in your newspaper, but he is Facebook famous.

Now people who follow him take his tips very seriously and want to look like him. Lazar suggests products to his fans that help them with their bodybuilding.

Influencer Marketing
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Check out the image above. He says “Cooking my meal while I’m drinking Shredz Supplements”. Now “Shredz Supplements” is the product that Lazar users to keep his muscles intact. Now this post got 20,000 likes and over 110 shares.

For folks who are his fans and want to look like him, they also want to use products that he uses. Why?

He is an authority, he knows what he talks about and the results are clear to see.

The other reason is, we are humans and we have mirror neurons that copy other people’s behavior, this includes wanting other people’s products as well.

So they click on the link and purchase the product. Now Lazar has used his influence to make people purchase the product of that company. That for you is influencer marketing.

You choose mini-celebrities, get them to use your product or talk about your product in their normal social media posts, Youtube videos, blog posts etc.

How influencer marketing is better than Facebook advertising?

Now, remember I said Facebook is like a huge party. Everybody is having fun, watching great content and sharing jokes, memes and videos.

1. Intrusive:

Now in the middle of this party, you go and in and tell everybody “Hey look at my product that I am trying to sell you, pay for it now”. It just doesn’t seem to fit in.

The thing with Influencer marketing is, the pitch is inside the content that people already like and love. There isn’t any intrusion.

2. Creative:

However much you try to be creative with your advertising, it cannot compete with the Influencer’s style. This is because people who have chosen to follow the influencer like the way they talk, the jokes they crack, the way they describe the product. You cannot have this kind of connection with your audience through an advertisement on Facebook that people barely see for a few seconds.

3. Click Farms:

Truth be told, Facebook advertising has a lot of fake likes and spam. Facebook’s algorithm isn’t good enough to figure out fake users who a part of click farms. For your budget, Facebook targets these users who will ‘like’ your content, but the relationship stops there. Your marketing ROI takes a hit. Although Facebook suggests you have a lot of ‘Engagement’ on your posts, those aren’t valuable to your startup.

Read a little more about click farms here.

4. Quality People:

With Influencer marketing, the Influencers have spent money and time to build their quality audiences. You know for a fact that the people who are seeing your products through the ‘influencer’ are real people, and are your right target audience.

6. How content goes Viral:

I started off this article with this. And this is an important aspect of Influencer Marketing. Your advertising cannot go ‘Viral’. Posts can. A lot of companies collaborate really well with Influencers to make Viral videos. People barely share advertisement posts, but they do share posts with great content.

Other reasons

Don’t use Kim Kardashian to sell enterprise software.

One thing a lot of brands do wrong is, get a celebrity for the sake of it without considering the people they are trying to reach.

With Influencer marketing, you can choose the exactly right people you want. If you want to sell a product, which is a gadget, you could contact somebody like Marques Brownlee.

Marques Brownlee Technology Influencer
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He/she is an authority in his space and people take his/her word before they make a purchase.

How does it work?

Influencers charge a price for certain kind of posts. It depends on the level of engagement.

How to start with Influencer marketing?

The best way to start Influencer marketing is to reach out to your own community and get people to start talking about your brand. Reach out to your friends who do well on social media and ask them to do a post on your product. This will give you an idea of true organic reach in social media.

If your product or a service is something that your friends and their network will be interested in, do the following:

1. Create a template. That is a little bit of copy about the product and an Image along with. When friends share on their own timelines they tend to add their own text. For this reason, keep your copy to the minimum.

2. Incentivize your friends by giving them the product or a sample, or a free service that they can talk about. Ask them to post a picture along with a few lines.

3. Create FOF (Friends of Friends) discounts for people who come through your Influencer friend.  This is one of the growth hacking Dropbox did to become so successful.

4. Try creating networks in multiple cities and multiple countries. Identify potential influencer friends and reach out to them.

5. You can also create ambassador in various college or cities. One thing which made Firefox so popular & many other companies like Truecaller is doing actively these days. Here is one example from Inc42 which I spotted recently:

Brand Ambassador
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For a more professional approach to Influencer marketing and to reach bigger brand names, there are services like Fango, TapinfluenceTraackr.

I hope this article has given you a start on Influencer marketing. Try this for your own startup and let me know what you think! If you have tried Influencer marketing in the past, do share your experience & learning with us.

Here are a few recommended guides for you to read next:

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Authored By
A Blogger, Author and a speaker! Harsh Agrawal is recognized as a leader in digital marketing and FinTech space. Fountainhead of ShoutMeLoud, and a Speaker at ASW, Hero Mindmine, Inorbit, IBM, India blockchain summit. Also, an award-winning blogger.

20 thoughts on “What is Influencer marketing and how can it help your Startup?”

  1. Vinod

    Influencer marketing needs to have a creative edge to be successful. It surely works better than FB marketing.

  2. Tasmiateen

    Good day all, these are very good tips about “Influencer Marketing”. Thanks you Harish for the article, I am a novice here in Influencer Marketing. this will benefited us. I am waiting for your next article.

  3. Koti

    Hey harsh! Well said!! Sharing our posts is an important thing to get more traffic. Influence marketing is far better than facebook marketing. Yes cool idea! Nice post. Thanks buddy 🙂

  4. Faheem Hafeez

    Influencer Marketing is very much helpful nowadays, especially for business startups. To make our startup’s successful, we should use these techniques to grow out our brands. Another awesome article.
    thank you!


  5. Abhishek

    Hey Harsh,

    This was really an awesome article. You have explained and differentiated both Facebook & influencer marketing clearly.

    Agree to you that influencer works best now a days as people trust and buy stuffs.

  6. Raaja Anandhan

    Hi Harsh,
    This is really great to know about the new concept of “Influencer Marketing”. Lazar Angelov is not a familiar person by his bodybuilding on channels or media. By utilizing his fan base in facebook, he promoting the product of a company. This is really great. Facebook is creating a great impact while compare to other social medias. I got lot of ideas while reading this post. I appreciate you for this writing, keep coming up with the content like this. Thanks for share harsh.

  7. Kritika Mitra

    Yeah, I have been of the the though that an influencer could create value for my website, though it was a news driven portal. I contacted some biggies over the web who agreed to help. Though, alliance in its infancy, I think it will give better results soon.

  8. shajeer

    HI Harsh,

    Yet another mind blowing article from your side. This was one kind which cannot we get any information from the web world. Thanks for sharing and publishing on rare cases.

    Great Regards

  9. Benjamin Uhlmann

    Hey Harsh,
    nice article! The key to success of any influencer campaign is the right influencer. Like you said – the campaign has to be cautious, not intrusive.

  10. Pankaj Dhawan

    Hello Harsh,

    I think lot of this article makes sense. Someone who is authority has much more power than anyone else. Just like if I talk about blogging in India, few people including you would have lot of followers that others want to take advice of for any product or method. Thanks for sharing this very unique and different perspective.

  11. Sunil Kumar

    Good. I learn something about Influencer Marketing from your article. I really want work n it. Thanks.

  12. Phoebe

    I really do not like social media, but I know in order for me to do the things that are a huge part of marketing I will need to learn to accept it.
    I deleted my Facebook account years ago and my main Twitter account with over 5k active followers.
    I do not plan on being an authority on a topic and just create websites, so I will just need to figure something out. Maybe just make great fan pages.

  13. Shelly

    Nice article.

    From the article headline I thought this article was going to be about the iinfluencer boxes some people get in the mail. Theses boxes are full of products. When you get the box you have to share the contents of the box in social media. My oldest daughter has been getting influencer boxes in the mail for years.

  14. Gravyin

    Hi harsh, on 12th april, 2016 in F8 conference facebook is going to make available its ‘Instant articles’ feature to every small content publisher on the web. There is no doubt that it will be userfriendly but according to you will it benefit publishers from revenue perspective?
    Waiting for your valuble thoughts on it. Thanks in advance.

  15. Pranshu

    This is so helpful I can’t imagine. Connecting with popular personalities not only gives you a lot more exposure but it let’s you build your own huge community. YouTube and Twitter are great platforms for that, mostly. As always, amazing blog post.

  16. Sanjeev Meena

    Influence Marketing is really seems to work better than any ads.
    It can work superior for any startup brand or for anyone who is looking for quality people.
    I Hope! I could get someone who can make my blog viral too. ; P
    However I’m really excited to try this concept with my buddies. 😀
    Thank you @Harsh

  17. dhanush

    Hello Harsh
    A superb post and very informative
    You clearly differentiated Influencer Marketing and Facebook Advertisement
    Thanks for the post

  18. SY Abuzar

    Hello Sir,
    I Completely agree with having a list of your best Influencer is like a track of throwing any drug with the gun machine for targeting lost of lives.
    Incentivizing friends by giving them the product or a sample, or a free service that they can talk about is very helpful.

  19. Venny

    Yes, and he is from my country, Bulgaria. As I was clicking on this post to read it didn’t expect to see this guy in endorsement :D. I like how you explained it and it makes sense isn’t it? I might try this once I finish with all of the ground work and preparation around my startup blog. This is my first post here, but been following and reading your blog for ehh.. over a month now!? It helped me a lot so thank you for all of the hard work this community does. I might join the crowd of publishers here later on in support of the SML community. Well done.

  20. Nirmal

    Dear Harsh,
    Again Thank you for another wonderful article. I came to know about ShoutMeLoud not so long ago(3 Months ago) and from that day onwards, I’ve been a fan of ShoutDreams Network. You(Income Reports) inspire thousands of readers each month and I’m sure that many people might have benefitted from your blog. I would like to make a request to you to share success stories of your readers just like you share yours. The main reason why I keep scrolling your comment area is just to get inspired and to meet people who would have possibly benefitted from this blog.


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