By now, you’ve more than likely heard the term “influencer” and are thinking, “Yeah, we should use one of those to build our brand!” But how? Where do you begin?
“Influencer marketing” has become a commonly used term among marketing teams, and the practice is continually proving itself to be a popular and effective piece of a brand’s marketing funnel. Mediakix found that 71 percent of marketers rate the quality of customers and traffic produced by influencer marketing as better than that of other marketing resources, and 89 percent of marketers say influencer marketing ROI is as good as or better than that of other marketing channels. That’s an overwhelming amount of positivity!
But there’s a bit of an art to developing an influencer marketing strategy, and it’s important that your brand’s ducks are in a row before you mail out hundreds of dollars worth of product to people from the internet who appear to be influential.
Here are a few ways we recommend your brand prepare for its next influencer campaign:
Identify your campaign goals and ideal target persona.
Just like any good campaign strategy, step one is to know what outcome you’d like to achieve with your marketing efforts — and I mean more than growing your number of followers on a specific channel. Do you want to increase brand awareness? Do you want to introduce a product to a new group of people? Do you want to build social proof to convert sales? Determining a primary goal and subsequent goals will make decisions easier when it comes down to choosing who would be the best influencer to work with for a specific campaign.
Similarly, once you’ve determined your primary goal, you’ll need to be extremely clear about who you want to reach with your message. Extremely. Give them a name, then discover their age, friend group, family setup, location, home description, hobbies, favorite restaurants — really hone in on the person you are talking to. This helps immensely in setting up the details of the campaign as well as finding appropriate influencers with audiences similar to those you’ve identified. The more you can convey how your product or service will help that ideal person, the more likely you are to begin to build strong, loyal relationships and convert.
Do the research.
Finding the most popular influencers on a platform used to be the way to go, but as social media and the influencer space have grown, it’s become far more effective to get specific and to talk to smaller, more intimate audiences. Finding those audiences is the tedious part.
Start by making a list of people you already have in mind that you would like to work with, if any. These can be people who are already brand advocates — pay attention to who is tagging you on social media already — or influencers you find through your network.
Another great way to discover influencers is to search on a specific channel. For example, search for your organization’s keywords on YouTube to find popular videos of people answering questions your audience also may ask. Do any of the channels have a significant (1,000+) audience size or highly engaged audience? Does the creator fit your brand values and communicate effectively in their videos? On Instagram, you can search by hashtag — for example, #traveladdict — and then browse the top content to find top-performing photos and videos.
It also helps to pay attention to what accounts your selected influencers are tagging in their content. Many times, one person’s audience members will also follow tagged friends if they’re providing similar content, so working with influencers who know each other and have similar audiences can broaden awareness to your ideal target audience while also providing strong social proof for the audience members that overlap.
Unfortunately, many people treat working with influencers as a purely transactional practice, and sometimes as a one-time occurrence. While there’s a time and place for this, it is much more beneficial to build strong relationships with the influencers you choose to work with. After all, they are considered trailblazers of alternative media.
This starts with actually following them from your brand’s page and interacting with their content. If you don’t know what they’re posting about consistently, how can you be sure that they’ll be a good fit for your brand? Similarly, a message asking for a post or campaign may feel more like a cold message with no authenticity behind it if you can’t relate your campaign pitch to their work or personality.
Furthermore, after the campaign is over, keep in touch and continue interacting! If your product or service really is a good fit, chances are the influencer may continue to post about it above and beyond your contracted work. By maintaining relationships, brands keep the door open to repeat or ongoing partnerships in the future. This is the most valuable part of working with influencers, because the more the influencer’s audience sees that person post about your brand, the more familiar they will become with your product or service, and the more likely they are to take action with your organization.
It’s all networking!
Influencer marketing at its very simplest is a team effort from PR and social media teams to network with consumers with an already established audience. While there are many layers of working with influencers, at the core it’s about finding influential people who are or would be your brand’s consumers organically and agreeing to a partnership that benefits both parties.
With an incredible opportunity for ROI as well as the residual effects of growing your social media audiences and steadily increasing brand awareness and social proof, influencer marketing is a part of digital marketing that’s here to stay. Some may say the market is already too saturated, but an abundance of influencers only means greater opportunity to find niche audiences and craft effective campaigns with creative people who are thoughtful and passionate about their content and the brands they share. There’s no downside to that.