Influencer marketing 101: The what, why and how it can boost your handmade brand

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With Etsy, Shopify and other online storefront options popping up on the market, making your handmade business known isn’t easy. Aside from traditional marketing, posting on your social media and generating online ads, you could attempt to get involved in influencer marketing to boost your business.

To give you a rundown of what that means, we’re going to explore:

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  • What is an influencer?
  • How do you send a gift to an influencer?
  • Making your handmade items instagrammable

Let’s jump on the social influencer bandwagon and give your brand a boost…

What is an influencer?

In the world of social media, it’s all about those likes, retweets and follows. The more you have, the more people you’re engaging and sharing your thoughts with.

Did you know Instagram had over 1 billion active users in 2018? That’s a lot of opportunity for an influencer. Source

As these social media platforms grow, so does the audience and engagement opportunities. And some users have learnt to capitalise on that growth by creating curated content that their followers enjoy and ask for.

They’re trendsetters that cultivate relationships by having exchanges – they’re the popular kids of social media, AKA the Influencers.

The Influencer Marketing Hub says: Influencers in social media are people who have built a reputation for their knowledge and expertise on a specific topic. They make regular posts about that topic on their preferred social media channels and generate large followings of enthusiastic, engaged people who pay close attention to their views.”  

In a nutshell, these are highly followed and liked users of a social media platform, and they often generate paid content for brands as a marketing opportunity (although they legally have to specify this).

But it’s not easy to become one. Joe Lycett recently explored how some influencer agencies are taking advantage of wannabe-influencers in his show ‘Got Your Back’. And trust in the influencers is falling too. But that doesn’t mean it’s not a worthwhile venture – one study found that 49% of respondents had made a purchase based on an influencer’s recommendation.

Why not set up some influencer strategies whereby you collaborate on a post, or employ them to do a review of one of your products instead? The main issue people seem to have with influencers these days is that they unethically promote products that they don’t personally use. So, being honest is key.

How do you send a gift to an influencer?

Gifting products to influencers is one way to get your brand known to them, but it doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll feature your product in a post.

Do your research and find the right kind of influencer for your brand and contact them directly. Alternatively, you could use an influencer platform like Upfluence to search for the right people or use other tools like HARO to find people who are looking for experts.

Here are a few tips on approaching an influencer and gifting them products:

  • Make it appropriate

Don’t send a beauty blogger irrelevant books or tools they won’t use – research the influencer market and social media accounts to find those who are most likely to use your product – micro-influencers may be better if you’re a small niche.

  • Share the benefits

Time is money in most cases, but posts are money for influencers, so when you’re proposing a collaboration, be clear on why it’s a good idea for them and their audience. Remember, it’s not about you, it’s about how the product can help them as a resource.

  • Be upfront

Make your email subject lines clear – if you’re submitting a review request for Handmade Gifts, say so. Eg. Handmade jewellery for under £20 review request: Crafted in Cornwall using local materials by expert jewellers.

  • Give them everything they need

Share the benefits, the tools, the history – everything you’d like them to mention. Give them samples to keep too as an incentive.

  • Chase, but don’t bother

If you don’t get a response, reword the pitch and include a message just saying you’re following up on your previous pitch. If you still don’t get a response to that one, don’t keep pestering them. Try again some other time with a different pitch.

Making your handmade items instagrammable

The 2019 Influencer Marketing Survey says Instagram is the most important influencer social media platform. And Instagram is all about the look, so making your product pretty is a must.

Before you go off an send your freebies out, do as we suggested and find the right kind of influencers. Start by searching for similar products to yours. Then find out what crafts are trending now and what your influencers are posting. If all they do is sponsored posts, then it may be worth steering clear.

Once you’ve got your influencers and you’ve negotiated a deal, you need to get your product ready to go.

  1. Choose your best piece – Pick the one you’re most confident will get a good review based on what you know about the influencer. Honesty is key, but you can use what you know to encourage a positive outcome.
  2. Make the packaging pretty – Choosing complementary packaging products can tell an influencer (and their audience) all about your company, so choose carefully. Go with good quality card and maybe use a customised embossing tool on the label, or personalised wax seal to enclose the package in a way which reinforces the handmade aspect of your brand.
  3. Be prompt – Influencers are busy people, so make sure you send everything off on time and give them everything they need to create the content.

Your brand and business can only grow through exposure and marketing, and making use of influencers could help with that. So, take a look at influencer marketing and see if that could benefit your handmade gift business.

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