Welcome to the wonderful world of influencer marketing! It’s a fast-growing and fascinating area, and should form an important part of any business wider social media strategy.
This article will give you a crash course in influencer marketing by explaining what it is, what the benefits are, and how to build an effective influencer marketing strategy. You can rely on our advice because it’s based on extensive research and with insights from marketing professionals.
Intrigued? Let’s jump right in!
A simple definition of influencers is someone in your industry who has influence over your target audience.
They often have large and loyal followings on their platforms, and may have expertise in certain areas. These areas can range from typical topics like fashion or sport, through to much more niche and unusual … more on this later.
Typical platforms used by influencers are:
- Plus anywhere else where someone may have a following!
If you’re thinking of working with influencers, you should understand the tier system which categorizes different types of influencer based upon their follower counts: micro, macro, nano, and mega influencers. This will also impact the fees they charge:
|Mega influencers||Macro influencers||Micro influencers||Nano influencers|
|1 million + followers||100k - 1 million followers||10k - 100k followers||1k - 10k followers|
|Considered to be famous as well as hugely influential.||Depending on their niche, likely to have a mixture of broad appeal and specific influence.|| Smaller followings but may have a more invested follower-influencer relationship. |
Read more specifically about TikTok micro influencers here
|A small but highly loyal following and close relationship with their followers.|
So, now you understand what we mean by influencers, but what about influencer marketing?
Effectively, this is where influencers use their influence in order to endorse products and services. It can be done in a variety of ways, either through a more obvious ad, or via techniques such as product placement.
There is a subtle difference between what’s known as “influencer advertising” and “influencer marketing.” The former is likely to be a one-off, more transactional arrangement, whereby an influencer is paid to talk about a product or service. The latter is usually more long-term and involves building an ongoing, mutually beneficial relationship between the influencer and the brand.
It’s interesting and important to note that influencer marketing is one of the fastest-growing marketing channels. In fact, industry experts estimate the sector to be worth an incredible $16.4 billion by the end of 2022.
Now you have a greater understanding of what influencer marketing is, what about the benefits? Here are four of the key reasons to explore this type of marketing:
- Build trust – the success of influencer marketing comes down to the authentic relationship between the influencer and audience, which means consumers perceive influencer marketing to be more trustworthy and reliable compared to more traditional “top down” marketing channels.
- Reach your target audience – it is notoriously difficult to build a social media following from the ground up, therefore influencer marketing allows you to reach a wider audience of your choosing.
- Make sales – research has shown that 82% of people trust social networks to guide purchasing decisions. Using clear calls to action and discount codes can help to boost your sales potential further.
- Generate brand awareness – by choosing the right types of influencers you can help introduce your brand to audiences in an authentic way.
Before you jump right into working with your first influencer, let’s take a step back and think strategically. It’s important to create a well-considered strategy as opposed to taking a scattergun approach. Here’s five of the key benefits of this:
- Focus on achieving marketing goals – setting objectives before you start will help ensure you make sensible decisions.
- Be more competitive in attracting influencers – many influencers will be interested to see how their work with you fits into a broader business plan and vision.
- Integration into wider marketing strategies and plans – this is incredibly important so your full marketing plan feels cohesive.
- Better ROI – influencer marketing has been shown to deliver 11 x better ROI compared to traditional marketing channels such as banner advertising.
- Ability to make a strong case for higher budgets – if you deliver a clear strategy which delivers brilliant ROI, you’ll be able to build a strong business case for bigger budgets!
#1. Start With Your Goals in Mind
The best influencer marketing strategies set out with a clear goal to drive decisions and measure success. Here is a checklist to help you set goals to guide your influencer marketing strategy:
- List your marketing goals – such as growing brand awareness, social media following or engagement, email sign ups, referrals or conversions
- Decide which ones influencers can help you achieve
- Create influencer marketing goals that will contribute to your larger marketing goals
- Decide how much budget you have to achieve your goals
- You may decide to set KPIs (key performance indicators) at this point, or you may do this later once you have shortlisted influencers. A KPI is an actual number attached to your marketing goals.
#2. Know Your Audience
Next up, take some time to consider your audience and how best to reach them. It often helps to create “pen portraits” which are short descriptions of your target customers. Some questions you might ask yourself are:
- Who do you need to reach to achieve your goals?
- Which social media platforms do they use?
- What types of content do they consume?
- Who do they follow and engage with?
- What are their key demographics?
#3. Profile Your Influencers
Based on your audience research, it’s a good idea to create influencer profiles to help you imagine your ideal influencer. You might need multiple profiles, especially if you have distinct audience groups. You will also want to define the influencer audience size you are seeking – this is likely to be determined by your budget.
To help find a perfect match you might want to consider:
- Content type
- Personality traits
- Which social platforms they are active on
- Who their audience is
#4. Develop a Management Strategy
This is an important step that considers all of the practical steps and considerations in finding and managing your influencer campaigns, for example:
- How will you find influencers?
- How will you reach out to influencers?
- Who will reach out to influencers?
- How will you brief them?
- How will you monitor influencer outputs?
- How will you collect, store and analyze data?
#5. Influencer Discovery
Your influencer strategy should contain details on exactly how you will find influencers. Organizations will often use influencer marketplaces or discovery tools to help them to do this. These are large directories whereby influencers list themselves, and you can search and filter by area of expertise, ratings, or cost. Some of the common influencer marketplaces include Tribe and Activate.
Another way to discover influencers is to explore hashtags and online communities. For example, if your target audience is yogis – take a look at the yoga hashtags on Instagram and TikTok, and see who has the most active followings.
A benefit of using directories is that you can view a large range of influencers in one place, consider their reviews, and even approach them directly.
However, finding influencers organically via hashtags and online communities might mean you find more relevant and authentic talent.
#6. Influencer Outreach
First impressions make all the difference, so make sure you carefully think through the best way to reach out to your chosen influencers.
Draft a friendly and concise message which includes an introduction to you and your brand, what your key messaging points are, and be upfront about your potential budget. The main way to contact influencers is via email or DM, so be sure to write an email subject line that’ll grab your influencers’ attention!
#7. Influencer Briefing
The best influencer brief will strike a perfect balance between not restricting the influencers creativity, while also minimizing potential risks to your brand. Here are three golden rules:
1. Make it clear – outline in easy-to-understand sections your objectives, key messaging points, and vision. Be super clear how the influencer should talk about the brand, for example if there are any product names that need to be read verbatim.
2. Make it goal-oriented – set out the big picture of what you want the partnership to drive, and what specifically the action the audience should take. For example you could say: “I want your audience to be the first to try my brand’s new haircare range, so I’m providing you with an exclusive 20% discount code.”
3. Make it inspiring! Think how you can make the brief interesting and exciting, and your influencer is far more likely to produce some fun and inspiring content. For example, could you talk it through in person rather than emailing over a document? Could you include a mood board or real products?
#8. Monitoring Results
Once the campaign is live, it’s all about measuring the impact. Earlier in your strategy you will have set out your KPIs – and now is the time to refer back to these.
You can either monitor your KPIs manually or with a range of marketing tools. Monitoring KPIs such as follower counts, engagement, clicks or sales manually is possible but it’s a more laborious process and difficult to gain insights.
For social media engagement, there is a different formula depending on the platform, so take this into account when monitoring performance.
If you choose to monitor results using tools, here are some examples:
- Hootsuite – a powerful social media management platform to help understand performance of campaigns.
- Traackr – specifically designed for monitoring influencer campaigns, this platform even has benchmarking so you can compare your results against other brands.
- Pulsar – is a data-driven social media listening platform which will enable you to literally listen to your audience and understand if your influencer posts have taken off.
- Grin – an all-in-one tool that allows you to discover influencers as well as monitor the effectiveness of multiple campaigns.
A downside for smaller organizations is that many of these tools require a subscription and charge a fee. However, they can generally offer a far greater level of insights and help you monitor performance at speed. This means you are more likely to understand the impact of activity and can test and learn for the future.
We hope you’ve enjoyed our crash course in influencer marketing, and that it’s persuaded you to experiment with this emerging marketing channel. Remember to start with a solid strategy that first considers your business goals, then your target audience, and how to choose and approach the right type of influencer. Finally, remember to carefully monitor your results, test and learn!