How to Use Influencer Marketing

In Part 1, we covered the basics behind influencer marketing: what it is, how it works, and how it lends to your overall marketing strategy.

In the next part of our series, we’ll lay out the groundwork for how to build your own influencer marketing campaign.

It starts with knowing what your influencer looks like.

Part 1: Identify Target Influencers

Identifying an influencer that is targeted in your niche is the first step of executing an influencer marketing campaign.

A good way to do this is to give yourself a clear understanding of who your customer is and what your target market consists of:

Step 1: Identify Your Audience

  • Age: What’s the age range of your target customer? If you need help, look at your Facebook page insights. You can grab demographic info from insights to provide some basis for your assumptions.
  • Gender: What’s the gender of your audience? And remember, the purchaser of a product isn’t always the one who uses the product. Who purchases your product, and who uses it?
  • Location: Where’s the influencer based? This may have an affect on where their audience is based. No use working with an Australian social influencer if their audience isn’t in the right place.
  • Platform(s) of Choice: Understanding your customer’s platform goes a long way in deciding the right influencer. An older audience may be more tuned into established bloggers, whereas younger audiences may be more attracted to something like Snapchat.
  • Interests: Outside of the niche of your product, build a list of interests that define your audience.

Step 2: Reverse Engineer Your Influencer

Using the information from the above, build a profile of your target influencer. How old are they? Where do they live? What are their interests?

In doing this, you should be considering:

  • Reach: Reach is a measure of eyeballs. It’s the 20M followers on Instagram. The 350,000 subscribers on Youtube. Reach is critical to measure and track overtime, as you’ll need to both 1) set a minimum standard and 2) get better at determining how much “reach” is enough to generate sales to justify an ad spend or marketing campaign.
  • Niche Compatibility: Look back at the interests of your target customer, and the niche your product serves. Your decision to work with social influencers should directly involve a process of determining how niche-compatible your brand is with the social influencer’s. Remember, this is the “context” we talked about in Part 1.
  • Cultural Compatibility: Here, it’s about evaluating an influencer to ensure they’re an appropriate cultural fit. While they may share context with your brand, an influencer may not be a good fit if there are other aspects of their persona that contrast or clash with your own. It’s about choosing the age “appropriate” influencer. Do you want the influencer who travels around the world to discover new bars, or the influencer who travels around the world to take nature photos? Both lean toward a travel niche, but one may be a better fit for your brand than the other.
  • Community Compatibility: Just like the above, you need to add another layer of qualification to you influencer. This time, it’s in regards to their community, what it looks like, and what types of people actually engage with the content. When researching an influencer, read their comments, follow threads about them online, and give yourself a window into how their followers act and think. This helps you do two things: first, it helps you better understand if your influencer has the right audience, and second, it will help you work with the influencer to create better, more targeted promotions. The goal should be to help the influencer serve their audience with the right content.

With these considerations in front of you, create a picture of your influencer. Give her/him a name, a standard/average reach, and attributes that make them a good product market fit for your business.

Part 2: Locating & Reaching Out to Your Influencers

With your target influencer in mind, the next step is to get in touch and coordinate reviews.

There are two ways to go about doing this: 1) the approach that uses platforms, agencies and social media coordinators, and 2) the scrappy, DIY approach.

Approach #1: The Paid Approach

These solutions offer more automated ways to connect with content creators and influencers. The catch? They cost.

  • Platforms/Agencies:
    • Revfluence: Connects creators to brands and agencies who want to leverage content creation on social media.
    • Captiv8: A platform to connect brands and influencers in a single marketplace. Also provides a tracking platform where you can get insights on your own audience.
    • TapInfluence: Both a platform and agency. Prices start at $2000/year.
    • Influence & Co: Helps brands become influencers themselves. They connect brands to media outlets and have brands develop and serve unique and value-driven content, positioning themselves to be influencers. Arguably more for a B2B space.
  • Organizers: Organizers are people who may be running something like the DIY approach below, but have built a small business around it. They go by many names, including Blogger Coordinators, Social Media Managers, or Influencer Networkers.

Approach #2: The DIY Approach

The DIY approach, albeit scrappy, can be equally effective as a paid approach.

Keep in mind: You may still pay when you do it yourself. The money savings here is realized in you identifying and coordinating with influencers vs. someone else doing that footwork for you.

Step #1: Create a CRM or Spreadsheet to keep track of leads

As you work through this process, you may gather 100s of leads. The first step is to make sure you stay organized! You can use a CRM like Solve360, Hubspot, or Salesforce, or you can opt for a more manual, but affordable solutions, like a Google doc or Excel spreadsheet.

Tips:

  • Download our Influencer Spreadsheet template
  • Follow the outline to keep track of influencers you identify. Consider using separate sheets for different platforms, like Instagram, Youtube, and Twitter.

Step #2: Seek out your target influencers

You can find targeted influencers a number of ways:

  • Online articles: Searching for “top [niche] bloggers” or “top [niche] instagrams” can provide hundreds of curated lists by bloggers. Here are some examples:
    • Top 50 Beauty Blogs
    • Top 100 Natural Food Blogs
    • The 22 Best Fashion Blogs
  • Hashtags: The best hashtags to use to find your influencers with will quickly become clear to you in your searching during Part 1. How so? Look at the hashtags they use!
    • Identify 4-6 key hashtags
    • Using a tool like Hootsuite, you can save searches and organize them by hashtag
    • Instagram includes a popular section, as well as related hashtags and recent posts. Use this to target the most popular users who use your hashtag:

Paleo Hashtag Search

  • Google Alerts: Consider setting up google alerts for keywords associated with your niche. When an alert is sent to your inbox, look at the source and determine if they’re an influencer who would work with your brand.

Google Alerts

  • Similar brands: Know of some similar brands to your own? You can also crawl their pages and mentions about them to identify influencers who you know have direct experience working with brands in your niche. You can also consider reaching out to those brands to ask how the experience went.
  • Blogger Targeting: Bloggers are a great type of influencer – not only do they exert influence, but they also produce written content around your brand (arguably more beneficial than just an IG or Twitter mention). Find them, though, can take time. Luckily, there are a handful of tools you can use to find the right bloggers for you:

Step #3: Reach out!

Now that you’ve found your influencers, you need to engage with them. When you do this, tailor each pitch and partnership to that influencer’s community. The best campaigns will be those that encourage authentic content creation that resonates with the influencer’s audience.

Starter prompt:

Hi [Name],

My name is [Your name] and I work with [company], a [niche] in a box. We are huge fans of your [channel type] and we would love to send you a box in exchange for a shout out on your social media. Let me know if you’d be interested in chatting more about this!

Keep some things in mind when using this prompt:

  • It’s bare bones. Customize it as much as needed.
  • Be specific about what you’re sending in exchange for their work, and be specific about what they need to get back to you.
  • Incentivize them with other perks, like giveaways or special discounts for their audience
  • Make sure you agree on how you can use the content. Ask if you’re able to repost, reuse, and remarket any content they create for you.
  • Consider just sending a free product and NOT asking for anything in return – sometimes this works just as well, or better, than initially soliciting them for a review
  • Consider how you can share promotions with them – maybe it’s a guest post, a shoutout in your newsletter, or something else

Step #4: Pay up

Working from the most financially cost-effective to the more dollar-driven forms of compensation…

  • Shoutouts/Reposts: The most cost effective way to compensate a partner is to repost and promote their content. Give them photo credit by tagging them and linking to their posts about your product if it’s on a blog:

Prospurly Example

  • Free Box: Another easy way to compensate reviewers is to give them the product for free. This might be part of your initial pitch, but if you haven’t considered it, it’s a great way to show appreciation of the blogger reviewing your product.
  • Cash Comp: Paying a cash compensation to influencers is probably the most appealing option (for them). Rates will vary widely.
    • Determine if a rate is required before you send a product for review
    • Consider reach. Most people with below 50k on Instagram, for example, work with product trades vs being paid. If you’re getting an expensive quote from someone small, proceed with caution or consider ways to test how well their audience would respond to the idea.
  • Referral Dollars: Referral dollars deal with cash payouts as well. In this paradigm, the influencer gets a bounty on each person who signs up.
    • Affiliate dollars usually start around $5/customer
    • Combine Cash/Referral Dollars for a complete package. You can deposit a dollar amount down against a bounty. For example, if you provide a $200 deposit then $10/commission, that influencer must get at least 20 customers before they get paid anything after $200.

Step #5: Keep the Relationship Warm

After the content has been shared, be sure to maintain connection with your influencers:

  • Stay Engaged: Make a point to revisit their profiles, like photos, and leave comments!
  • Repost Occasionally: You can continuously repost their content over time and tag them to keep you at the top of their mind
  • Re-partner every few months (if #6 in this list checks out!)

Side Note: It’s critical to engage with the people who like or comment on your influencers posts. Make a point to follow them, reply to comments and engage with people who engage with the influencer’s content.

Step #6: Review and Tailor your Strategy/Contacts

Crucially, you need to track and monitor each campaign to really under the cash value it provides.

Fortunately, there’s a super easy way to do this: custom tracking URLs from Google Analytics, which you can see directly in your Google Analytics Dashboard.

  1. Create a custom UTM for each campaign
  2. Monitor in Google Analytics, under Acquisitions > Campaigns. They will appear on this list with the name you chose when you created

    Google Analytics

  3. Make sure you set up Goals in Google Analytics, so you can track how much revenue each campaign is contributing in sales.

Working with Social Influencers to Grow Your Business

With tools and tips in hand, take some time to build out your own influencer marketing campaign – whether it’s a paid campaign or DIY campaign.

What has worked for you with influencer marketing? Tell us in the comments below.