influencer engagement strategy

Influencer marketing has never before been so powerful or effective. In the past five years, it has grown from a supplemental marketing tactic into a $10 billion industry. With influencer engagement beating out both organic search and email marketing, 65% of marketers have increased their 2019 budgets in this area.

Following are some key reasons why influencers can be your brand’s best advocates.

User-Generated Content = A Content-Rich Brand

Creating content can be time consuming. A key benefit of working with influencers is the fresh, authentic content they provide. In addition, influencers know what kind of content their followers want to see.

It’s essential to allow your influencers the freedom to create content that doesn’t seem like advertising. They need to be able to speak in the voice that their audience trusts, and that keeps them engaged. If you choose your influencers wisely, you’ll have partners who understand your brand and who will create content that is both thoughtful and engaging.

Higher Engagement Rates

Word-of-mouth is one of the most potent forms of marketing, and influencer engagement puts it to work for your brand. Audiences believe in the authenticity of recommendations made by their influencers more than they believe the messages put forth by the brand itself. Excellent reviews from respected influencers go a long way toward building credibility for your brand.

In the past, celebrity endorsements were the focus. Even now, some brands prefer the “celebrity glow” over everyday influencers. But the reality is that while celebrity endorsements may bring greater exposure, 82% of consumers say they trust brand recommendations made by micro-influencers.

Huge ROI

The average return on investment for influencer marketing is $6.50 for every dollar spent. What other marketing initiatives can promise such a high rate of return?

To make the most of your influencer investment, avoid all of the common mistakes by focusing on the things below:

  1. Thoroughly understand your buyers.

If you don’t clearly understand who your buyers are, you can’t choose the right influencers to market your products or services.

Who are they? Where do they live online? How do they prefer to communicate? What are the problems they face in their day-to-day lives, and how can you help solve them?

  1. Set goals for your influencer campaign.

Without defining goals, you can’t possibly know if your influencer campaign is successful or not. What are your business objectives? Are you looking to improve your brand reach? Boost sales? Drive traffic to your website? Increase social media followers? Identify a couple of crucial goals but be cautious; too many goals will result in your campaign under-performing.

If your goal is brand awareness, focus on product reviews, contests, and other content that encourages sharing are smart strategies.

If your goal is to increase social media followers and engagement, consider letting a group of influencers take over your Instagram account each week for a period of time.

If your goal is to build sales, create exclusive offers, special promotions, and discounts that the influencer can share.

Once you know what the desired outcome is, you can narrow down which metrics you will use to measure your campaign’s success.

  1. Vet your influencers for fake followers.

Partnering with the right influencers is critical to the success of any influencer engagement. If you choose the wrong influencers, you may end up with representatives who are not true advocates for your brand. Your goal is to identify influencers whose audience aligns with the types of consumers you’re trying to reach.

Vetting an influencer involves more than merely checking follower counts. Social media users have numerous ways of inflating numbers, including buying fake followers to make themselves look more impressive. But with fake followers, there is no real audience for your brand. To identify those who may be engaging in this type of fraudulent activity, use a free tool like IG Audit or a paid tool like Social Audit Pro or Klear.

If you suspect a potential influencer might have fake followers, investigate their previous posts, comments, and engagement rates. A quality influencer will have engagement (likes and comments) of about 1.5-3% of their followers. Anything less than 1% should make you stop and pause. Also, note the follower/following ratio – most authentic influencers have more followers than they are following. Other red flags that indicate an influencer may be buying followers include:

  • Follower comments that only contain emojis
  • Generic comments by followers (e.g., “Great article,” “Thanks,” etc.)
  • Default profile pictures (the Twitter egg, or gray Facebook silhouette image)
  • Followers whose accounts are private, or who have relatively few followers of their own

Some upfront legwork will help ensure that you work with influencers you can trust to support your brand with compelling content.

  1. Follow FTC guidelines.

Disclosing the partnership between influencer and brand is a requirement so that consumers are not misled about what they’re reading – whether it’s a paid ad or organic post. Be upfront with your influencers about the importance of following the FTC guidelines.

  1. Create clear and effective campaign briefs.

A well-written campaign brief lays out the specific objectives, goals, and overall expectations for the campaign.

It also provides guidelines to help influencers create the best possible content for your brand, including:

  • An overview of the brand with key messages
  • Hashtags/calls-to-action, tracking links and discount codes to be used
  • Brand logos and assets
  • The type and quantity of content to be created, as well as due dates and social channels to be used.

Provide the influencers enough information that they understand your product and brand, and then leave the creativity to them.

Measurable Results

The beauty of an influencer campaign is that regardless of your goals and business objectives, results can be measured – there is no guessing involved. Some of the data you need may be private – visible just to the influencer. Having access to that data is part of a good working relationship with compensated influencers.

If your focus is on brand awareness, then impressions (the number of times your brand message gets in front of your target audience) will be an essential metric. If engagement is important, then the number of shares, likes, comments, etc. will be a measure of success.

The use of personalized URLs and promo codes help determine the number of clicks and revenue generated from each influencer’s campaign.

If you’d like to know how your audience feels about your brand or what they’re saying, then the sentiment is an important metric.

If website traffic is the goal, Google Analytics can track new users, sessions, page views, time on your site, and referral partners. A UTM code is the easiest way to track campaign performance and ROI.