How to create an influencer marketing strategy
1. Determine your goals
The number-one goal for brands using influencer marketing is to reach new target customers. This makes sense, since an influencer campaign extends your reach to that person’s followers.
Notice that the goal is simply to reach new customers, not necessarily to make a sale right off the top. Driving sales is actually the third most common goal of influencer campaigns
Think about how your influencer marketing campaign will fit into your broader social media marketing strategy and create measurable goals you can report on and track.
2. Know who you’re trying to influence
An effective influencer marketing strategy requires you to speak to the right people using the right tools—and the right influencers.
The first step is to define who your audience will be for this specific campaign.
Developing audience personas is a great way to make sure you understand who you’re trying to reach. Maybe you’re trying to reach more of your current audience—or an entirely new audience.
3. Understand the rules
Before you dive into influencer marketing, it’s important to understand the rules. Influencers must identify sponsored posts. However, they do not always do so. Or they might do so in such a subtle way that the disclosure is effectively hidden or incomprehensible.
The specific rules vary slightly by country, so be sure to check the most current requirements in your jurisdiction. For the most part, you just need to be clear and upfront so viewers understand when a post is sponsored in any way.
4. Consider the three R's of influence
Influence is made up of three components:
Reach is the number of people you could potentially reach through the influencer’s follower base. Remember: a small audience can be effective, but you need to make sure there’s enough of a following to align with your goals.
This is the potential level of engagement the influencer can create with an audience relevant to your brand.
Not to belabor the point, but bigger isn’t always better. As we said above, a huge follower count is meaningless if those followers aren’t interested in your offer. Niche influencers, on the other hand, can have very dedicated and engaged followers.
5. Compile a short list of influencers
When thinking about who you want to work with, the key is trust. Your audience must trust and respect the opinions of the influencers you partner with. Without the trust component, any results will be superficial. You’ll struggle to see a tangible business impact from your efforts.
How do you tell if your potential influencer is trusted? Engagement. You want to see plenty of views, likes, comments, and shares. Specifically, you want to see these from the precise follower segments you’re trying to reach.
A good engagement rate also means a loyal following, rather than an inflated follower count bolstered by Bots and Fraud accounts. You need to find someone who’s producing content with a look and feel that complements your own.
6. Do your research
Take a look at what your potential influencers are posting. How often are they sharing sponsored content?
If they’re already hitting followers with tons of paid posts, their engagement rate may not last. Look for plenty of organic, non-paid content to keep followers interested, enthusiastic, and engaged.
Keep this in mind when thinking about what you’ll ask the influencer to post, as well. Asking for too many posts in a short timeframe will make your offer hard for the influencer to accept, even if it comes with a large paycheck.
In-demand influencers get lots of offers. When you first approach an influencer, you’ll need to show that you’ve put in the time to learn what they do.
7. Reach out privately, and personally
Start your communication with a new potential partner slowly by interacting organically with their posts. Like their content. Comment when appropriate. Be appreciative, not salesly.
When you’re ready to suggest a partnership, a direct message is a great place to start. If you can find an email address, try that too. But don’t send a mass email or generic DM.
It may take a little longer to write a personal message to each influencer. But, it will show you’re serious about the potential partnership. This will in turn increase your chances of striking a deal.
Provide as much information as you can about your brand. Tell them what you hope to accomplish with your Instagram campaign. Make it clear how the influencer will benefit, beyond the paycheck.
One key thing to keep in mind during this process: You may not actually want to use the word “influencer” when reaching out to potential partners. Content creators prefer to be called just that—creators—and may view “influencer” as a bit of an insult that belittles their work
8. Collaborate with your influencer to develop effective content
A social media influencer who has worked hard to build a following will not accept a deal that makes their own personal brand seem inconsistent.
After all, influencers are content creation experts. This is why they prefer to be called creators. You’ll get the best value from their work by allowing them to showcase those skills.
It’s a good idea to provide some guidelines about what you’re looking for, of course. But don’t expect to stage-manage the entire campaign.
9. Measure your results
When you launch your influencer campaign, it can be tempting to focus on vanity metrics like likes and comments. If your influencer has a much larger following than you do, you might feel a little dazzled by the sheer number of likes that can rack up.
But to measure the effectiveness of a campaign, you have to understand its value in terms of return on investment.
UTM parameters are one way to track the visitors an influencer sends to your website. They can also help measure how much engagement the campaign receives.
When you assign each influencer their own unique links with UTM codes, you’ll get a clear picture of the results. That allows you to calculate the impact on your bottom line.
The “coupon” link referred to in the above influencer’s post likely had a UTM attached to it so that Royale could track how many sales came from it.
Giving influencers their own discount code is another easy way to track the sales they send your way.
If you use the branded content tools on Facebook and Instagram for your influencer campaigns, you’ll get access to insights for both feed and Stories posts. You can access these through Facebook Business Manager.
You could also request that the influencer send you detailed reports on the reach and engagement levels of their posts.
Influencer marketing tools
Now that you’re ready to get started with influencer marketing, here are some tools to make it easier.
Hootsuite search streams can help you discover influencers by monitoring conversations relevant to your industry across multiple channels.
Once you have an initial set of influencers in mind, add them to a stream to track what they share and who they engage with. This will help you understand their relevance to your audience while highlighting other potential influencers to work with.
Right Relevance Pro
This app can search out top content shared by influencers based on topic and location. Use it to identify thought leaders and discover potential influencer partnerships based on the quality of the content they share.
Fourstarzz Influencer Recommendation Engine
This app provides custom influencer recommendations. It helps predict estimated reach, engagements, and other campaign results and guides you in creating influencer campaign proposals.
Insense connects brands with a network of 35,000 content creators to produce custom branded content. You can then promote the content through ads on Facebook and Instagram, optimize content for Instagram Stories, and use the AI video editor to break up content into multiple videos.
Trufan helps brands connect with nano- and micro-influencers, as well as identifying your top fans on social to identify them as potential brand ambassadors.
Facebook Brand Collabs Manager
This free tool from Facebook allows brands to connect with pre-screened content creators on Facebook and Instagram.
Influencer marketing platforms
Want to use an influencer marketing platform to connect directly with influencers? Some of the best include:
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