Using Influencer Marketing to Sell T-Shirts
What Is Influencer Marketing?
Over the past decade, social media has created a new category of celebrities called "influencers". Basically, an influencer is someone who has a large, engaged following on social media and leverages that engagement to promote products. "Influencer marketing" is when you hire an influencer to wear, review, and/or share your product with their audience.
Should you bother with influencer marketing? If so, how can you even get started? Today we'll look at three different kinds of influencers and talk about how to get in touch with them so you can promote your t-shirt store.
Three Types of Influencers
There are literally thousands of influencers out there. Some have millions of followers. Some have several hundred followers, and they are very engaged. Remember, the key to influencer marketing is Engagement. Engagement means someone is clicking/tapping, commenting, buying, etc. They aren't just scrolling past the post in their feed.
Most A-List celebrities have an Instagram, Facebook , Twitter, or Pinterest account. They've got millions of followers, and they don't spend hours each day reading direct messages from fans and comments on their posts. If you can get Leonardo DiCaprio to rock your tee, then that's awesome! But from a return-on-investment standpoint, it probably isn't worth your time and effort to pursue influencer marketing with celebrities.
The majority of influencers fall into a wide-ranging category we'll call "lifestyle". Great examples of this are travel influencers (The Sweet Wanderlust) and food bloggers (Mr. Foodtastic). These are people who do something that we all wish we could do, like traveling the world and eating the largest ice creams I have ever seen or making absolutely incredible food.
Influencers like Brittany Kulick and Chef J. Jackson have built up a large following based on something they do that people think is exciting. If you decide to try influencer marketing, you should definitely consider working with lifestyle influencers.
Have you ever heard of a micro influencer? It's a term that gets thrown around incorrectly a lot, so don't be fooled! Some people like to say they are micro influencers when they really just have a small following. A true micro influencer is someone who has a small but highly engaged following. They are usually part of a small but tight-knit community, like a niche sport or hobby. When they speak, people in the community listen, so they are influential on a small scale.
Remember, the key to influencer marketing (and any marketing, really) is engagement! Even if someone has a small audience, if they engage with the content, then they are more likely to buy!
How to Contact Influencers
There's no need to overcomplicate this, so I'll just say there are two main rules for contacting influencers:
Rule #1: Treat influencers as people!
Rule #2: Don't expect them to work for free.
Treat Influencers As People
Turns out, influencers are people too. I know - surprise! But really, you'd be surprised how many over-zealous t-shirt sellers forget that they are dealing with other human beings when they contact influencers for an influencer marketing campaign.
Make sure you take some time to follow the influencer you want to work with. Like their content and engage with it. If they post something on Facebook that you like, repost it on your own business Page. Once you have joined the following a bit and have likely been noticed, then go ahead and send a direct message (DM) to briefly introduce yourself and your product. If you have an email address for them, make sure to also send them an email to give a bit more detail about your proposal.
If they respond to the DM or to the email, then you're off to the races! It's always a good idea to ask about their rates and for information about previous campaigns they have been a part of. Have they helped drive real sales results? You definitely want to know that before you hire them to advertise your t-shirts!
Don't Expect Influencers To Work For Free
This is a simple principle, but I want to spell it out because it isn't widely known. Influencers charge for their services. That's why they want to be influencers! It can take years to develop the kind of trust and relationship many of them have with their audience, and monetizing that audience is a way of getting a return on their investment.
Some influencers accept "in-kind" compensation or a mixture of in-kind and paid compensation. An in-kind payment just means you send them an item to use, and they get to keep it. Your influencer campaigns will likely include an in-kind payment. For example, if you're working with an influencer in the football niche, you'll probably want to send them a copy of a football t-shirt for them to wear and post pictures of.
There is no hard and fast rule about contracts and payments with influencers. Some will want a contract, and others will be fine with a Venmo payment. When you're just starting out, you'll mostly be dealing in small amounts of money, so you probably won't need to worry about complicated contracts.
You Can Do This!
Influencer marketing can be intimidating when you are just starting out, but you can totally do it! If you treat your influencer contacts as real people and are willing to compensate them for their time, then you'll be set up for success from the get-go.
Of course, if you feel stuck, make sure to use your Premium Graphic Tee Coach membership to ask us all your questions!