Influencer marketing, which includes businesses collaborating with influencers, is a powerful strategy for brands to broaden their social media reach. It's growing in popularity– over three-quarters of US marketers will employ influencer marketing in 2022. Influencer marketing initiatives are not one-size-fits-all. Much depends on your specialty, goals, and the pool of influencers in your audience. With the right strategy and approach, influencers can help any business reach its marketing objectives.
What exactly is influencer marketing?
Influencer marketing is a social media marketing strategy in which companies collaborate with influencers (also called content creators) to promote a product, service, or brand. The influencer creates and distributes material about the brand or product, and the business compensates them with cash, free items, or both. Typically, businesses will supply the influencer with whatever product they will be featuring on their platform. To guarantee the influencer will post about your product, you’ll have to pay according to their sponsorship rate sheet. Reach, traffic, engagement, and conversions are the most common influencer marketing KPIs.
The first type of influencer marketing was celebrity endorsements. Social media content creators with highly engaged specialized audiences may now provide more value to marketers than superstars with large but generic followings. This is because social followers find social content producers relevant, trust their suggestions, and are committed to exhibiting their support.
How to plan an influencer marketing campaign
Here are the stages to launching a successful influencer program for your company.
Establish your objective
Like any effective marketing plan, the first step is to define your objectives. Defining your goals for influencer marketing can help you develop a practical approach throughout your campaign. It will also assist you in understanding the metrics you should follow to determine the effectiveness of your campaign.
Below are some good influencer marketing objectives to consider:
- Boosting brand recognition
- Increasing your fan base
- Raising engagement and generating leads
- Increasing your sales and conversions
- Boosting brand loyalty
- Link building for SEO
Understand who you're attempting to reach
A successful influencer marketing strategy requires reaching the right people with the appropriate tools and influencers at the right time. Create audience personas to better understand who you're attempting to target with your campaign. Outline specifics regarding your target audience, such as:
- Chronological age
- Optimal spending habits or comfort level (if you want to drive sales with your campaign)
- Their pursuits
- Geographic location
- Where they spend their time online.
You have to know your target audience to know which influencers they engage with. The influencer must be relevant to your target audience– otherwise, you’re throwing money down the drain.
Recognize the guidelines
Before implementing an influencer marketing plan, you must first grasp the guidelines. The Federal Trade Commission establishes those rules in the United States. Transparency is key here. Influencers must also be aware of sponsored content requirements, and they frequently fail to do so. Or the influencer may make the revelation of their sponsorship delicate and partly buried. The restrictions for advertising vary widely by nation, so verify them. The sponsorship must be disclosed to the audience with clarity. Social media platforms like Instagram and YouTube are simplifying this by adding features that identify a sponsored post as such.
Consider the three Rs of power
These three factors determine influence:
The appropriate influencer for your campaign shares content about your industry and company, and their target audience must be similar to yours.
Reach is the number of individuals who could see your material through the influencer's audience base.
The influencer's potential degree of engagement with an audience that resonates with your brand is referred to as resonance.
Influencers to be considered
The key to a successful collaboration with influencers is trust. Whoever you collaborate with must have your audience's confidence and respect. Without authentic content, your influencer marketing campaign is unlikely to achieve the desired marketing objectives.
The best approach to tell if a prospective influencer is trustworthy is to look at their engagement and the feedback they already receive from their followers in the form of comments, direct messages, likes, and shares. Socialblade is a great tool for doing a closer analysis of each influencer with which you are considering collaboration.
Conduct your research
Your study does not end with creating a shortlist. Before signing any contracts, there are a few more steps to solidify the success of your campaign. Determine how frequently your potential influencer uploads paid material. If they share a lot of sponsored posts, their engagement rate may be lower than what you would like. 5% engagement is generally considered healthy, so keep that in mind as a general rule of thumb.
Keep the influencer's posting schedule in mind when considering the content you'll want the influencer to share. Any influencer strategic about their approach is very cautious about what promote and when. So if you ask them to share too many pieces of promotional content in a short period, the influencer will reject your offer (or their compensation expectations will increase dramatically).
Reach out privately
Invading a potential influencer's DMs and asking for collaboration right off the bat may not be the best method to start a relationship. It can sometimes be perceived as too forward and even a bit tacky, so do your best to navigate the start of the connection with care and professionalism. Don't get me wrong: it may be effective to reach out cold, but there are other communication methods for planting seeds that lead to longer-lasting partnerships. Influencers accustomed to working with brands often list an email in their bio for this purpose. Start by engaging with the influencer’s content...Enter their direct messages after establishing an authentic interest in them as an individual and an interest in supporting their content.
Create great content in collaboration with your influencer
A social media influencer who has worked hard to build their brand would refuse any offer that jeopardizes their integrity. So it's better to offer some rules/guidelines on what you want but leave the actual content creation process to them. Content creators know what their audiences resonate with. They can also spot what will be an immediate turnoff. Best practices are to offer talking points and guidelines that the influencer can work into their native content however they see fit.
Analyze your outcomes
When you begin your influencer marketing campaign, the number of likes and comments on your branded content may overwhelm you, especially if your influencer has a significant following. These are vanity metrics that don't accomplish anything for your brand. You must calculate your actual return on investment (ROI) to determine the value of your campaign.
Even though users who engage with the sponsored content might not purchase right away, they are now aware of your brand and have started their journey to becoming a customer. Getting them to follow you or visit your website opens that door.
And even if they don't follow your account, your product will come to mind when a need arises. They can revisit the influencer's post to find the link and make a purchase. That's the power of influencer marketing-- an influencer's audience trusts their recommendations. If a follower needs something, they use the influencer's recommendations to make their purchasing decisions.
After running a successful sponsorship, consider pulling the influencer's content and posting it to your own account as a paid ad. This maximizes the value and ROI of the partnership and allows you to reach segments of your target audience that are not already following the influencer, but that would still benefit from the influencer's content.