influencer marketing

Our mind is like a sponge. We take in bits from every conversation, online and offline, to help form opinions and guide our purchasing decisions.

Some people hold a higher place of influence so when we are faced with a purchasing decision, we turn to these influencers to guide us. And brands are beginning to pick up on this as a marketing avenue.

If executed properly, an influencer marketing campaign can have a positive and powerful affect on a brand. But in order for all the pieces of the campaign to fall in place, it needs to be executed properly, and the first step is setting it up for success.

Influencer Marketing Cycle

The more time put into the preparation process, the better the result. Let’s take a look at the beginning stages of launching a new campaign:

  1. Research & Discovery
  2. Strategy & Plan

Research and Discovery

Research & Discovery

Just like any other marketing campaign, you need to take a step back and evaluate your current situation. Ask yourself the following questions to help form a base for your strategy and content:

What is your brand mission?

Take a look at what experience you offer your customers. Find the purpose of your product and match your messaging with the quality that it promises. It could be how many years your snow tire lasts, or the quality of sound your new speaker provides. Knowing the benefits of your own product will improve your success of relaying the intended message.

What is your brand’s current perception?

Social listening is a tactic that can be used to interact with your consumers and find the buzz. Whether you find good or bad comments, all this information will help you down the road. Listening to these users provides you with insight on how to adjust your messaging and create an approach for your influencer marketing campaign.

What do you know about your target audience?

One of the biggest things to remember when running an influencer marketing campaign is that you need to take an audience-centric approach. Focus on the audience before thinking about the type of influencer you want to partner with.

Start by clearly defining your audience and identify what and who makes them tick. Ask yourself some of these questions:

  • What do they care about?
  • Where do they hang out online? Vine? Reddit? Snapchat?
  • Who do they listen to?
  • What is their buying journey (how do they discover, evaluate, decide and purchase?)

Focusing on the makeup of your audience will help you create a search strategy when it comes to finding the ideal influencer.

Strategy and Planning

Take your findings from the discovery stage and start to think how it applies to this specific influencer marketing campaign. In this stage, you want to nail down what you are trying to achieve and the steps you are going to take.

Step 1: What is your goal for the influencer campaign?

It is so important to stress the stage of goal setting before launching an influencer marketing campaign – it is the key to staying on track. Start by setting a broad goal – is it to drive more leads? Downloads? Website visits?

Once you have a high level objective, work at making it S.M.A.R.T. This is by far one of the more popular approaches to goal setting because it helps you set parameters to reference throughout the campaign and measure on at the end.

Step 2: What is your budget?

Now that you have your goals set, it’s time to start thinking about your budget. These constraints will help you in Step 3 when you put together a realistic content strategy. Budgeting is a tricky task, but it sets ground rules for where you’re going to spend your efforts and creative direction.

Two major components of your campaign that your budget will affect are:

  1. Content creation – what type and scale of campaign can you afford to do?
  2. Influencer selection – who can you afford to partner with?

I’ll get more into content creation in Step 3 where your budget parameters can dictate what type of content your influencers engage with but for right now, I want to dig into influencer selection and budget.

There are many different factors that go into an influencer’s asking price, but it mainly comes down to their potential reach and engagement, and hours required for the campaign. So when you are preparing your budget, ask yourself: what do you plan to offer your influencers?

And before answering that question, keep in mind that your relationship with influencers is a two-way street – both parties need to give something in order to reap the benefits. Every situation is different whether this is compensation or not. But one of the biggest mistakes you could make is to think that they owe you – you aren’t doing them any favors and the campaign should be built off of an equal give and take relationship.

Step 3: What type of campaign do you want to run?

This is where your creative juices can get flowing. Reflect on who you are trying to target and what you are trying to achieve – what is the best way to resonate with them at the different stages of their purchasing decision? What type of content are they the most likely to engage with? Maybe you want influencers to attend an event, or share a video. Or, maybe you released a new product and want an influencer to review it.

This step is a bit tricky because it’s a scenario of what comes first, the chicken or the egg? Do you settle on a content strategy before picking an influencer? Or do you pick the influencer and co-create a content strategy?

If your budget and timeline permits, co-creation can have a powerful impact on the effectiveness of a campaign. An influencer knows what makes his or her audience tick. Having this insight can help shape your content strategy and achieve your goals. It also helps build a long-term relationship with the influencer as it provides both parties with a win.

Step 4: What keywords should you use to optimize your influencer marketing campaign?

It is a common mistake for brands and agencies to overlook this crucial step. When putting together your content strategy, don’t forget to optimize the content for your influencers with the right keywords to improve SEO.

Step 5: Write a campaign brief

In order for your campaign to stay on track, you need specific guidelines to follow, and to direct your influencers. A campaign brief takes any assumptions off the table. If you need more convincing as to why you should spend the time upfront, take a look through our blog post, How Important is Your Influencer Marketing Campaign’s Project Brief?

A campaign brief should provide details regarding the target audience, content and goals so all parties involved are on the same page.

Here are some of the points to reflect on when creating your campaign brief:

  • What is your objective?
  • Who is the target audience for this campaign?
  • What type of content should the influencer share?
  • What call to action should the influencers’ audience take?
  • How will the campaign success be measured?

The best influencer marketing campaigns are the ones that are built upon a solid foundation. Spend the time upfront delving into a discovery and carefully developing a strategy, and the rest of the steps will seemingly fall in its place.

Done the heavy lifting? Stay tuned for Part 2: Identifying and Engaging Influencers.