Influencer marketing has become an integral part of social media strategy for many brands. The chart below demonstrates just how many brands in different industries are working with influencers on Instagram, according to a recent report from L2 Inc.
Developing a solid influencer marketing strategy involves finding and leveraging the influencers that best fit your brand. Here are seven steps to help you get started.
- Determine Your Goals
Brand influencers are an excellent source of social proof for brands, but before selecting top influencers, you should set goals. First, define your target audience – who are you trying to reach with your influencer campaign? Once your target audience is established, set a budget.
With the rise of social media influencer marketing, more and more influencers are being well compensated for brand partnership. After determining your budget, select which KPIs to measure. Some KPIs to consider are: audience reach, views, engagement, and increase in followers.
- Identify Influencers
Some of the most popular influencer marketing platforms are Instagram and Snapchat and influencers likely already exist in your brand’s pool of fans and followers. It is important to choose influencers whose values and style match your brand. Once you determine your target audience, you can begin to search for influencers within your existing audience for loyal fans that could be interested in becoming influencers. For smaller brands, micro-influencers may be a better option than a celebrity endorsement.
Micro-influencers have been proven to be more successful than traditional celebrity influencers due to their authenticity. Brands should select influencers that are relevant, have a large audience reach, and whose content resonates with your desired audience.
Brands also need to devote time to vetting potential influencers and perform due diligence before working with them. Dig into influencers’ backgrounds to see if any red flags appear and avoid influencers that can reflect negatively on your brand.
- Plan Effective Publishing Schedule
The influence of social media cannot be understated – peer recommendations have been shown to influence between 20 and 50% of all purchasing decisions. Once you have selected an influencer or influencers, your strategy needs to leverage the influencer network. Influencers can create consistent, on-brand content that is relevant to potential consumers and can be re-used across a variety of platforms.
Determine the best times for posting using KPIs and demographic trends to ensure that all influencers are posting regularly and at reasonable interviews. Influencer marketing should be integrated with the rest of the marketing strategy to create a cohesive campaign that can expand your brand reach and boost brand awareness.
- Give Influencers Creative Freedom
The best partnerships between influencers and brands are mutually beneficial. In a successful influencer partnership, the brand and influencer receive exposure and buzz. At the same time, each receives validation and social proof from joining forces. When choosing an influencer, brands should select someone that is a natural fit for the brand, which means their content should reflect the brand values prior to the partnership.
Part of why influencers are so successful is their authenticity and genuineness. With more and more brands turning to influencer marketing, it can be challenging to keep content unique. Brands should allow influencers to retain their creativity and personal style during partnerships. Influencers gain their audiences due to their original content, and content that is obviously branded takes away the influencer’s natural appeal to their audience.
- Review & Optimize Influencer Content
While influencers should retain their originality and natural style, brands still need to ensure that their content is high-quality and on-brand. When partnering with influencers for a marketing campaign, brands should also make certain their influencers are posting content aligned with the marketing values and goals.
To optimize the reach of content, brands should promote influencer posts and branded content and encourage their influencer(s) to do the same. Combining forces is has the best results. Exposure to a branded tweet on Twitter has a 2.7 lift in purchase intent, but when potential customers are exposed to a branded tweet and an influencer’s tweet, that lift is doubled to 5.2.
- Focus on Organic Posts and Content
Today’s consumers know when brands are marketing to them and after being inundated with traditional ads, many consumers are immune to it. With ad blockers on the rise, native advertising can be far more effective than branded advertising.
Influencer marketing ads appear to be native when done well. Rather than having influencers push a product or use obvious product placement, influencers should integrate the brand’s product into their natural setting. The pull of a successful influencer lies in their authenticity – too much “product placement” and overly branded content negates that.
- Measure Results
How do you know that your influencer marketing strategy is working? If your brand has been consistently measuring KPIs, the effectiveness of influencers will be easily measured. Other than meeting all goals set for KPIs, brands should know which posts perform best or worst from measuring engagement and views.
Leveraging your influencers and expanding your audience will also provide brands key insights into their targeted audience. This can help brands best target their audience and increase customer conversions.
Following best practices for sourcing influencers and partnering with them will help your brand develop an effective influencer marketing strategy. Setting goals ensures that the effectiveness of influencer marketing campaigns is easily measured.
When it comes to choosing influencers, the best relationships between brand and influencer are mutually beneficial. While brands need to ensure that influencers’ content aligns with their style, values, and marketing goals, successful influencers should have the freedom to create natural, organic content that is on brand.
Read more: The Essentials of Influencer Marketing