Photo by @miguel_photo on Unsplash

You’ve already heard about it: Influencer marketing is the hottest topic in the social media space right now, and it’s only going to get bigger and stronger with time. The increased use of ad blockers coupled with the rising distrust in advertisements means that marketers have to find new ways to reach their audience.

Influencer marketing also has the advantage of not being too “salesy”. It will help you place your product in front of a new audience in a more authentic way, and according to research, 86% of people prefer that over traditional ads.

So yes, it does look like influencer marketing is the way ahead. But before we dive into influencer marketing and how brands can effectively use it, it’d help to understand exactly what influencer marketing is in the first place.

What is influencer marketing?

The term “Influencer marketing” is pretty self-explanatory. It just means using influencers to market your product. But who is an “influencer” anyway?

An influencer is a person who has a sizable following in a particular niche and can use their position to market your brand’s products or services. They are able to do this because they either have some authority in their field, have expert knowledge in their niche, or maybe just a special relationship with their followers. So the goal of influencer marketing would be to get your products in front of their audience, either with the intention of gaining more brand awareness, getting more sign-ups, or boosting your sales.

This might seem like a particularly new concept, but it’s not. Celebrities have been endorsing products for years. But influencer marketing is quite different from a movie star or a sportsperson promoting a product that has nothing to do with them, or their profession.

Influencers have a direct link to the niche they operate in. They’ve established themselves as a reliable source, by creating content either written, or visual to their channels, and have built a following for themselves. They spend considerable time growing their audience, and so their followers will really trust them. If you offer a good quality product, influencers may be willing to work with you, and you can place your product in front of all their followers.

Five steps to the perfect influencer marketing campaign

Influencer marketing can be extremely useful for your brand. But as with any other campaign that you run, it is important to get it right. There are a lot of influencers out there, and it can be overwhelming at first to find the perfect one for your campaign. If you streamline your process, however, you will find it a lot easier to find the right influencer and manage your campaign effectively. We’ve broken it down into five simple steps.

Step 1: Define your strategy

The first step to an effective influencer marketing campaign is strategy development. There are a lot of factors that you’ll have to consider while developing your strategy, and if you do them right, the rest will flow like a piece of cake.

Firstly, define the goals of your campaign. Do you want to increase brand awareness? Do you want to boost your sales figures? Identify the goal, and then set a target. How many sales do you want to make on the back of this campaign? Doing this will allow you to measure your results, and you can use the data from this to prepare for any future campaigns that you may run. It

Next, you will need to decide the timeframe for your campaign. This is especially important if you want your campaign to align with a product launch, or if you’re offering seasonal promotions. Don’t stop with just setting a deadline for the campaign, try to set a timeline for all activities that you’ll need to perform in order to launch your campaign on time. This will help ensure that things are moving at the desired pace, and if not, you will be able to adjust your timelines accordingly.

Finally, it’s important that you decide your budget for the campaign. How much are you willing to pay your influencer, and how much can you put behind promoting the content they create for you? Will you be able to provide your influencer with sample products that they can use to create the campaign? Consider these factors, and then decide on a specific budget the campaign.

Once you have a budget and a timeframe in mind, you will need to decide the platform on which you want to run your campaign. Different networks work better for different industries, and choosing the ideal network is essential if you want to get your campaign right. This will also narrow down the list of potential influencers that you can work with considerably—you just need to choose one that’s active on your platform and produces content related to your industry.

Step 2: Finding potential influencers

Finding the right influencer is the cornerstone for your campaign’s success. This is especially important considering the vast majority of influencers that are out there. To make this simpler, we’ll split influencers into two different categories

Macro Influencers: Macro influencers are what I use to refer to the most popular influencers in any given niche. They are often recognized as experts in their field and have a massive following. Jeff Bullas, a content marketing influencer, has over 565K followers on Twitter and is regarded as an expert in his field. He would be considered as a macro influencer.

If you work with a macro-influencer, there is no doubt that your brand will receive a lot of attention through the campaign. While you could consider working with them as a guarantee for sure-shot success, there is a drawback. These are people that are widely regarded as thought leaders in their industry, and so, they probably already make enough money to reflect that. They will be prepared to work with you only if you’re either able to provide them with a massive incentive to do so, or if your product is one of the best in the market and they’re genuinely impressed by you.

However, you can still benefit from maintaining a healthy relationship with these influencers. They may sometimes share your posts if they like them, and that can still benefit your brand.

Micro Influencers: Micro influencers, simply, are everyone else. They may be considered experts in niche topics that are not really popular, and hence have a smaller following, or they could be experts in popular topics, but aren’t as well-known as the guys at the top.

This study defines micro influencers as people who have 30,000 or fewer followers, and found that they provide better engagement rates, are more cost-efficient, and have a lot more weekly conversations.

Apart from this, it could be easier to work with micro influencers for your brand. Since they have not made it to the top (yet), they’re probably not too busy to turn down offers for promotions.

Regardless of the type of influencer that you choose to work with, it is important that they are a good fit for your brand. There are many tools in the market that can help you find influencers. Some of them are:

Step 3: Choosing the right influencer for your brand

Now that you have a pool of potential influencers to choose from, you’ll need to ask yourself a few questions so that you end up picking the right one. Remember there is no such thing as just one right influencer for your brand, but it’s a good idea to pick someone who ticks all the following boxes

Do they share your voice? Not only should you choose people who post regularly on their feed, but also keep an eye on the voice they bring to the posts they make. If your voice on all other platforms has an edgy, urban theme, you’d be well-served to choose an influencer that carries the same voice as well. Choosing someone who doesn’t share your voice can be harmful because not only will it seem incongruent with the rest of your style, but also their followers may not necessarily be a fan of the voice that you use in your other material.

Are their followers your targets? Ensure that the influencer’s followers at least closely match with your target audience. For example, if you’re selling jewelry, you may choose a fashion influencer for your brand. But a fashion influencer may not be a good fit for you if you’re selling sports gear. Just take a quick look through their followers list, and then you can decide whether they are a right fit for your brand.

Do they get good engagement? This is extremely important. Ideally, you’d like to get the highest engagement rates possible. Some people might have an extremely large follower count, but their posts may not get as much engagement as those by others. This also will help you weed out people who use fake followers, since the bots will not engage with the posts at all. There is no standard percentage for a good engagement rate, but do take it into consideration choosing the influencer that is right for you. You could also check their profiles and see if they’ve worked with brands before.

Step 4: Collaborate

By now, you’ve hopefully identified the influencer that you want to work with and have contacted them for a potential opportunity. In case they express interest in working with you, it’s a good idea to discuss clearly the terms with them. Let them know what the goals are, and how the success of your campaign is going to be measured. Talk with them and try to establish responsibilities for each of you. Decide on the fee that you’ll be paying them, and be sure to communicate the deadlines you have in mind with them.

Apart from all of this, your influencer may ask for a free sample of your product in exchange for their services. Phone unboxing videos on YouTube are often done like this. You can also go an extra step and give your influencer multiple samples that they can give away to their followers. This is a great way to build excitement for your product, and can spike interest in a big way.

You can also offer to collaborate with your influencer on the content creation part. While you can (and should) give them a lot of freedom in the way they do things, you can always step in to make minor tweaks so that you can optimize the content. For example, you may want to use your brand’s hashtag, or you may have a specific hashtag for a product launch that you may want them to use. You can also ask them to use specific catchphrases that you have created while they make their posts.

Step 5: Measure your success

Measuring the success of your influencer campaign can be a little bit tricky. Go back to the goals that you set at the beginning of the campaign, and try to see if you’ve achieved them. For example, if you’d decided that you wanted to increase sales by 20%, all you’ll need to do is compare sales data from before the influencer campaign with the same data after.

You can also keep an eye on the increase in social media followers to your profiles. While these may not always result in sales, you can now consider them to be at the top-of-the-funnel, and you might be able to convert these followers into customers in the future.

So there you have it. Influencer marketing can seem a little overwhelming at first, but if done right, it can be extremely rewarding for your brand. With a little bit of planning, you will be able to find the ideal influencers for your brand, and that can go a long way in helping you achieve your marketing goals.

Have any questions or something to add? Leave a comment below, and we’ll be sure to get in touch with you!

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