What is influencer marketing: How to develop your strategy
A decade ago, the influencer marketing arena was limited only to celebrities and a few dedicated bloggers. Now, it seems like we’ve seen social media influencers rise, saturate the market and even get caught up in fraud.
If you’ve started researched on influencer marketing before, you may have found conflicting information, with recommendations that range from you should absolutely be using social influencers or that they’re not necessary for growth.
Influencer marketing strategies are more difficult to navigate than ever as a brand, but we’re here with a guide to making sense of it all.
What is influencer marketing?
At a fundamental level, influencer marketing is a type of social media marketing that uses endorsements and product mentions from influencers–individuals who have a dedicated social following and are viewed as experts within their niche. Influencer marketing works because of the high amount of trust that social influencers have built up with their following, and recommendations from them serve as a form of social proof to your brand’s potential customers.
The current state of the influencer marketing landscape
Standing out in 2014 on Instagram was easier than today. If you were lucky enough to be featured on Instagram’s featured page or your look was just distinctive enough, then your chances of being tapped as an influencer were high. After enough brand partnerships, some have turned social media influencer marketing into a full-time career.
The value of influencer marketing
While Instagram influencer marketing is a well-known strategy, there are many other networks that are growing for influencers. According to Adweek, the industry is set to reach $10 billion in worth by 2020. Other networks like Snapchat, YouTube and TikTok have their own set of influencers with different demographics.
How to create an influencer marketing strategy
Like any marketing tactic, an influencer program takes deliberate targeting and planning. You won’t find strategic success just by sending free things out to everyone who asks or to your existing friends and acquaintances
How to find influencers and what to pay them
Much like any strategy, research is the first step. Choose the platform you want to focus on first. You can always expand to other platforms later but if you’re just starting out, stick with one. Ideally, your brand should already have a presence on this network or be looking to expand into it.
If you’re unsure of where to begin, social listening can help you identify where people are talking about your industry and brand—and it can help you find the most influential voices in your industry on each platform.
Set a budget and management strategy
Now that you have some idea of what to pay influencers, you need to create your budget. Be sure to also factor in time for planning, executing and reviewing your influencer program. Running a successful influencer marketing campaign is not a set-it-and-go type of strategy. It’ll involve careful monitoring and follow up.
Unlike a more automated ad strategy, influencers are human and frequently balancing multiple partnerships, so some may fall behind in their commitments to post on time or make errors in your requested tags or calls to action.
Decide on goals and message
The two most common reasons for using influencer marketing are to elevate brand awareness and increase sales. However, instead of setting these broad targets as your two goals, it will be more effective to kick off on your strategy by honing in on what your brand’s needs are. Perhaps you want to increase your customer base in a younger demographic. Or you want to expand into a new user group with a new product. Or you want to skip trends and utilize influencers to talk about your brand values.
Influencer outreach: How to contact influencers
Does the influencer already post about similar things to your service? For example, if you’re a restaurant and you want to promote a new menu, you should be looking for influencers who regularly post about dining out and the food they eat.
Are they legit? This means scrolling through their feed and clicking through on posts. A poor engagement ratio to follower count and spam-like comments are signs of a fraudulent account.
Have they worked with similar brands before? Depending on what type of influencer you’re looking for, a seasoned one will be able to show you a press kit that contains a portfolio of their work. The more you invest in an influencer, the more you’ll want to vet them.
Review and refine your strategy
Even if your influencer marketing campaign is ongoing, you should still have pre-determined dates where you’ll measure its progress. The next part of this guide will go into how to track your results. Not all campaigns are successful but hopefully, you’ll learn with each one you create.