Influencer marketing – the practice of partnering with influencers to amplify your brand – may very well be the marketing strategy of the year. Whether you’re targeting consumers or the enterprise, have deep pockets or are bootstrapping, partnering with influencers can deliver instant, quantifiable results and build long-term brand equity with your target customer.

However, the space is still nascent and best practices have yet to be established. With NeoReach, I have run nearly 100 campaigns for 32 customers with 2,000 influencers and these are the questions regularly I get asked:

  • How do I get started in influencer marketing?
  • How do I select the right influencers?
  • What kind of posts yield the best results?
  • How can I best manage my campaigns?

With these questions in mind, I’ve compiled what I’ve found to be the 4 elements of a successful influencer marketing campaign.

1. Set Goals

Many marketers splurge on influencer campaigns without understanding what success looks like. Instead, start by defining what you are aiming for.

A) Start With The End Goal

Your end goal should be crystal clear; the goal may be:

  • Increase brand awareness
  • Publish influencer-created brand stories
  • Amplify a hashtag campaign

B) Measure With Metrics

Define one to two metrics to measure your success in achieving your goal. For instance, if you are aiming to increase brand awareness, your metric can be impressions.

C) Create A Performance Forecast

Set your budget, then use your metrics to determine the expected results from a home-run, success, and failure. For instance, if you are investing $50,000 to drive brand awareness through YouTube mommy vloggers, your forecast can look like this:

neoreach influencer campaign

The percentage of your marketing budget that you invest into influencer campaigns will depend on your goals and industry. If you are a large consumer brand, it could be up to 50% of your social media spend. If you are an e-commerce startup, you may want to learn the tricks of the trade before making a significant investment.

2. Pick The Right Influencers

The influencers you hire make or break your campaign. When picking influencers, I weigh them across to two metrics: relevance and influence.

A) Relevance

A common mistake made by marketers is to contact any influencer they lay their hands on. They are foolish to believe that a DIY fashion blogger will promote a luxury eyewear line, or that a gourmet food Instagrammer will post about a fast-food restaurant.

Good influencers are picky about the things they promote and good marketers should be picky about the influencers that promote them. Here are the three variables I use to measure an influencer’s relevance:

  • What topics do they talk about? Browse through their content to get a feel.
  • What is the age, gender, and location of their followers?
  • Does their personal brand match your corporate brand?

B) Influence

If relevance tells you how an influencer fits your brand, influence tells you the social impact said influencer will have. This boils down to the influencer’s performance metrics.

Many marketers stop at follower counts. Follower count is an easy metric to gauge, but it is not very accurate to calculate influence. Instead, here are the variables I look at:

  • Engagement rate: what is their average number of likes, shares, and comments?
  • Engagement rate growth: how fast is their engagement growing?
  • Comments: Are their comments real or spam (e.g. “#follow4follow”)? Are they positive or negative?

3. Produce Organic Brand Integrations

Perhaps the hardest thing about running a successful influencer campaign is to reach the perfect balance between producing organic and promotional content.

In traditional media, marketers have full control over their ad copy. In contrast, influencer marketing derives its power from the collaboration between influencers and marketers. If done correctly, this can produce exceptional pieces of content that excite followers while communicating your brand message. Take for instance the following brand integration we created for Try The World with Missy Lanning.

Here are a few tips to achieve this:

  • Choose influencers that match your brand values.
  • Agree on clear creative guidelines and performance goals.
  • Give the influencers creative freedom.

4. Leverage A Bulletproof Process

Surprise! Now the real hard part begins.

Running influencer campaigns takes time, blood, sweat, and tears. Things inevitably go wrong. Influencers can drop out, their content cannot follow your guidelines, and they can post at the wrong time, etc.

Here are some of my best tips to keep everything under control:

  • Structure flawless spreadsheets, lease management software, or hire a team to manage everything for you.
  • Sign agreements with your influencers outlining exactly what is required from them.
  • Have them send you a written synopsis for approval before they create the real post.
  • Track and screenshot everything.