Influencer marketing, the lovechild of social media and marketing, is no longer even considered a new avenue to explore.
Several years ago, the word “influencer” itself would have drawn some curious looks. Since then, the synergy between social media influencers and brands from various industries has revamped the way we are being sold to.
Often considered the most organic way to advertise a product or service, social media influencer marketing has slowly grown into its own over the past half a decade. Agencies representing influencers have been established. Different countries have adopted different ad and PR disclosure policies. We are no longer surprised when our favorite YouTuber whips out a product mid-video.
Ultimately, the ones to benefit the most from social media influencer marketing are the end users – the customers. The line between marketing and social media browsing has been blurred, and finding interesting new products has never been easier.
Let’s explore how you can grow your business with the help of influencer marketing, at the same time serving your target audience what it wants to see.
1. Define Clear Goals
First, you will need to determine what it is you want to achieve with your influencer marketing campaign.
Some of the more popular (and useful) goals you can focus on include:
- Raising brand awareness
- Capturing leads
- Promoting a specific product/service/offer
- Growing your own social media presence
Depending on the goal you have set, you will approach your campaign differently.
For example, if you want to sell more of product A, you won’t want your social media handles made the most prominent part of the post. You will want to focus on Stories where viewers can Swipe Up to shop, as opposed to IGTV videos where converting requires more steps.
You should also attach a specific figure to each goal. If you have run similar campaigns in the past, you can work from them. If not, you can look at industry benchmarks and start with a lower figure, one you can later try to surpass.
2. Know How to Track Your Goals
Defining your goals is, of course, just half of the job. You also need to know how you can track them.
First, there will be the figures you yourself can see. Your Google Analytics (and the analytics of your social media platforms, online store, or any other outlet you are using for the campaign) will be your best friend here.
To make it easier to track click-throughs, assign a specific landing page to your campaign. Use a trackable URL too. Make sure to note the figures for each relevant metric before you launch the campaign, so you can compare cold hard numbers afterward.
Also note that you will see spikes where you were not expecting them. Your subscriber count may increase even when you are running a sales-oriented influencer marketing campaign.
The influencer will have some valuable data to share too, so ask them for their end of the information. How do their views, reach, engagement rate, and conversions compare to other campaigns they may have run? What have they concluded? What would they suggest you do better?
Be sure to also share your data with the influencer. Most brands fail to do this, so your partner is left in the dark after your collaboration is concluded. Remedy this and be open about your success rates – it will help them improve their own marketing approach too.
3. Choose the Right Platform
You also want to ensure you have chosen the best possible social media platform for the campaign.
Make your choice based on your audience, not the influencer’s. Determine where your ideal customer is most likely to be swept off their feet and see your message. Once you’ve done that, you can select influencers accordingly.
Instagram and YouTube seem like the obvious choice, and this is where most influencers choose to do their work. However, there is no saying you can’t run a successful campaign on Twitter, if this is where it will make the most impact.
Let’s take the example of a brand like Finli. They are a software brand targeting small business owners, and the natural home for their influencer campaign is LinkedIn. However, they can also work with YouTubers who cater to their niche. Even Instagram may be a viable option, but instead of spreading themselves too thin, they are best advised to stick to one platform.
4. Look Past the Numbers
Some brands make the mistake of selecting the influencers they work with based on follower counts alone. Sometimes they take engagement into consideration too, yet there is something intangible that is much more important.
Lydia Millen and Ali Gordon, both successful influencers in their own right, speak about this openly. They highlight the fact that it’s always better to work with someone who has 500.000 followers, of which 250.000 are engaged and ready to listen to a recommendation, than someone with 2 million followers with 150.000 engaged subscribers.
Their own follower counts testify to the importance of selecting influencers you click with and whose followers trust their opinions. Millen has nearly hit 1 million followers on both Instagram and Youtube, while Gordon’s numbers are much lower. Yet, they both manage to work with some of the biggest names in the world of fashion, beauty, and luxury.
5. Consider Who Your Audience Would Listen to
What matters more than numbers is who your followers are likely to take a recommendation from. You might believe that a celebrity has a better chance of swaying someone’s purchasing decision. In reality, most shoppers prefer the recommendations given them by influencers who are just like them.
Whether the influencer works within a specific price range, promotes certain values, or shares certain lifestyle traits, their audience likely follows them because they not only like what they see but want to try a bit of the same.
A good example to take into account is Fantasy Jocks. Their brand is much better aligned with other fantasy gamers than huge names from a certain sport. After all, what do you care about what a jock has to recommend? You want to know what a fellow fantasy fanatic has to say.
6. Look for Influencers Who Already Like You
Once you’ve settled on your goals and the social media platform you want to target, your best first step is to look for people who already like your product.
We often associate the term “influencer” with someone who is followed by hundreds of thousands of people. However, an influencer is actually anyone who can influence a purchasing decision.
Take a look at your mentions. Is there someone who constantly likes your products and shares them online? Have they done reviews already? If they have a following that is a bit wider than their immediate family and friends, why not make their day and send them some PR?
The influencer marketing campaigns that always work best are the ones where the influencer genuinely loves the brand and has perhaps been using them for years. Their zest for the product or service will thus shine through, and they are much more likely to inspire someone else to give it a whirl.
7. Work with Micro-Influencers
In fact, micro-influencers are the next trend in influencer marketing, as a lot of brands have cottoned on to the fact that honesty and integrity matter more than follower counts.
And the connection doesn’t have to work in the “big brand = popular influencer, small brand = micro-influencer” direction either. Incredibly popular brands are working with small influencers as we speak, underlining their personal ethics: we care about the customer.
The most obvious example that comes to mind is Glossier. They have partnerships with YouTubers who’ve been in the business for a decade, as well as new channels that are yet to make a name for themselves.
Here’s Austen Tosone’s video – she has less than 5000 subscribers, yet she’s a part of the #workingwithglossier campaign that has united small channels around their love of the brand.
8. Align Your Values
When choosing the influencers you want to work with, try to cast a wider net than is strictly obvious. If you are a beauty brand, you don’t have to work with beauty and lifestyle influencers exclusively. Perhaps there are mom bloggers out there whose audience would love your product just as much?
Always ask yourself the same question: who was this product or service made for? Who can benefit from using it the most? And then, ask the obvious: who are these people and what kinds of people are they most likely to be following on socials?
You want to align the values behind your brand and your product with those of the influencer. If they are vegan, your vegan and cruelty-free products might appeal to them.
For example, a brand like Gourmesso, which plants a tree after every order they receive, would appeal to influencers and audiences who care about sustainability and the eco-friendly lifestyle. They don’t necessarily need only to appeal to coffee aficionados and enthusiasts. After all, a lot of the general population drinks coffee, and they don’t necessarily watch coffee-related videos or Stories.
9. Collaborate, Don’t Delegate
You also want to ensure that you don’t view the influencers you work with as nothing more than hired help. They run their own businesses, and you are essentially partnering with another entrepreneur on promoting something.
They’ve also likely already done similar campaigns. Perhaps they’ve even worked with a brand in your own industry.
Instead of merely handing over the main talking points, coming up with your own list of demands, and asking them to read from a pre-written script, sound out their ideas for the best way to promote your brand. If you’ve chosen your influencers wisely, they will have plenty of ideas to share.
The kind of influencer you actually want to work with is someone who worked hard on establishing a relationship with their audience and who cares more about that than earning money. And an influencer like that will flat-out refuse to work from a script.
Influencers, bloggers, vloggers, and successful social media entrepreneurs Anna Newton and Lily Pebbles speak about this point very eloquently. They stress the importance of brands listening to the influencer’s opinion, as they are, after all, the ones who know their audience best and understand what will work.
10. Learn from the Experience
Finally, make sure you are also learning from each and every influencer marketing campaign you run.
Whether you perfect your choice of influencer, learn how to better track the metrics you have selected as your KPIs, or set better goals, always strive to do something better than the last time around.
As we keep saying, do your very best to also learn from the influencer. After all, they are the ones on the ground, changing the landscape of social media and advertising. They are sure to have tools you have never heard of and understand the platform’s algorithms way better than you do.
Sit down and go over your data after every campaign, determine what has worked well, and define your goals and objectives for the next round.
Final Thoughts on Social Media Influencer Marketing
Social media influencer marketing is not just popular – it has redefined the relationships end users have with brands big and small.
With the help of our ten insightful pieces of advice, you can craft a campaign that brings results, as opposed to establishing another marketing avenue that does nothing but bleed money.
As with every other marketing tactic, the key is in research and prepping for the campaign well. Make sure you understand what can be achieved and what the collaboration will be like. Learn from the experience as much as you can.
Lastly, don’t forget that your own social media presence during the campaign needs to be amped up. You can’t expect the influencer to do all the work for you.