How can a business effectively leverage social media influencers?

In recent years, influencer marketing has undergone intense inflation, as progressively more brands leverage influencers as a tool to promote products/services and encourage word-of-mouth communication. Influencers’ can be recognised as “a third party who significantly influences consumers purchasing decisions” (Brown and Hayes, 2008), or more recently, as “individuals with a sizeable and engaged audience on social media.” (Rahim, 2017).

Mircroblogging platforms (e.g. Instagram/Twitter) have provided businesses’ with a new opportunity to communicate and engage their customers. Social media influencers (SMI’s) use these platforms to share posts about their lives and the product/services they recommend to their followers. SMI’s have similarities to the popular marketing tactic celebrity endorsement, but it can be argued that influencers have more credibility and authenticity. A report by Mediakix (2016) disclosed that consumers trust influencers more than celebrities, as 30% of respondents agreed that they were more likely to purchase a product/service that had been recommended by a non-celebrity influencer (Forbes, 2017). Additionally, a study by Djafarova and Rushworth (2017) found that although celebrity endorsement is still an effective marketing tool, influencers have more credibility as their posts resemble something the individuals aspire to, making them easier to relate to.

It is widely accepted that leveraging an influencer as part of your business’ marketing strategy can result in many positive outcomes, such as; building brand awareness, increasing social media following and, usewebsite traffic, user acquisition, purchase intent, downloads or direct sales (Forbes, 2017). However, as the popularity of influencer marketing continues to grow, questions have been raised regarding the effectiveness of this strategy, credibility, perceived believability to the consumer and the metrics used to define success.

Below are the answers to influencer marketings most frequently asked questions:

Influencer marketing FAQ

1.How do I find the right influencer?

Finding an influencer suitable for your business is the key to achieving effective results and a successful campaign. Metrics such as; number of followers, likes/shares on posts are a good starting point, but more importantly, understanding the influencers’ audience, what kind of content they create, and how your brand fits into the creators feed, is key to finding the correct influencer (Adweek, 2018). Using a social media or influencer management tool (such as Traakr or Brand Watch) can assist in the selection process, as they provide in-depth insights to influencers’ audiences, and analysis of influencer’s performance based on a variety of metrics such as; brand mentions, potential reach, engagements and engagement rate.

2. What type of influencer generates the best results?

Generally speaking, there are two main types of influencer – micro and macro. Macro influencers typically have tens of thousands to millions of followers, whilst macro influencers have much smaller audiences. Whilst macro influencers can achieve a much greater reach than micro influencers, it has been argued that micro influencers are better for achieving better engagement rates (Mediakix, 2017).

To further investigate micro vs macro Mediakix (2017) analyzed over 700 sponsored posts from 16 widely recognised brands that work concurrently with macro and micro influencers. The pros and cons are summarised in the infographic below:

Pros and Cons: Micro vs Macro influencers

3. How can I measure return on investment? 

1.Set clear goals and measurements

Make S.M.A.R.T – specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time based goals using the metrics you are aiming to achieve, such as; website views, referral visitors, social media reach or direct sales (Forbes, 2017).

For example; “increase following on Instagram by 20% in the next year”

2. Coupon codes

A great way of measuring return on investment of an influencer campaign is to give each influencer a specific coupon code, offering discount or promotional offers. Businesses’ can track how many have been submitted from each influencer and offer a percentage of each sale commission.

Example below:

3. Affiliate links

Affiliate Marketing is soley performance-based, allowing businesses’ to directly compensate their influencers for each sale or lead generated. This is usually practiced by using individual links for each influencer, which are shared via their online platform (e.g. YouTube). The link shared leads the user directly to the e-commerce site or product page.

Example below:




Adweek (2018). How Can Brands Effectively Use Influencers? This Marketing Company Explains Its Strategy. [online] Available at: [Accessed 20 Feb. 2018].

Brown, D. and Hayes, N. (2008). Influencer marketing. 1st ed. Amsterdam: Elsevier/Butterworth-Heinemann.

Djafarova, E., & Rushworth, C. (2017). Exploring the credibility of online celebrities’ Instagram profiles in influencing the purchase decisions of young female users. Computers in Human Behaviour, 68, 1-7 (2017). Forbes Welcome. [online] Available at: [Accessed 25 Feb. 2018].

Freberg, K., Graham, K., McGaughey, K., & Freberg L. (2011). Who are the social media influencers? A study of public perceptions of personality. Public Relations Review, 37, 90-92.

Gillin, P. (2007). The new influencers. 1st ed. Sanger, CA: Quill Driver Books/Word Dancer Press.

Instagram. (2018). Jessica Rose on Instagram: “Loved this shoot with @boohooMANofficial and Dom 😘 Get 50% off with JESSSHEARS50”. [online] Available at: [Accessed 20 Feb. 2018].

Mediakix | Influencer Marketing Agency. (2017). Micro Influencers vs Macro Influencers: Who Wins? Case Study. [online] Available at: [Accessed 20 Feb. 2018].

Mediakix (2016). 10 Biggest Influencer Marketing Statistics 2016 [Infographic]. [online] Mediakix | Influencer Marketing Agency. Available at: [Accessed 20 Feb. 2018].

Rahim, H. (2017). How to use influencers in your next marketing campaign [online] The Telegraph. Available at: [Accessed 22 Jan. 2018].

YouTube. (2018). L’Oreal Steampod 2.0 Review & Tutorial | Fashion Mumblr. [online] Available at: [Accessed 20 Feb. 2018].

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