Empowering users who already have a large and engaged following with your target audience to produce original branded content can amplify your digital marketing or social media campaign tenfold.
AdWeek described influencer marketing as ‘the next big thing’ back in 2015, and Forbes predicted in December that it would ‘explode’ in 2017. Forbes cited a 2015 survey which found that 84% of marketers planned on executing at least one influencer marketing campaign during the next 12 months.
If you’re a marketer looking to delve into this area, or a seasoned pro who likes to stay on top of best practices, here are our 5 expert tips on running influencer marketing campaigns.
1. Confirm your objectives, target channels and align some measurable KPIs
As with any campaign, be clear from the outset of what it is you are trying to achieve and how you’ll measure it.
For example, if you are looking to increase brand awareness, then you might look at number of increased mentions of your brand name or hashtag, number of people reached, and the number of times your content was engaged with.
You can also use more advanced tools like Brandwatch to determine content sentiment and share of voice.
You also might want to consider which channels your target audience uses. There’s little point in launching an influencer campaign on Twitter if your target audience predominately uses Instagram.
2. Define your target influencers
This process is similar to defining your target audience in that you need to consider the relevant demographics. Are they male/female? A mum with young active teenagers, or empty nesters who have a passion for walking?
With influencers, however, you’re looking for this type of person who also has a large and engaged social following.
Typically when we think of influencers we think of celebrities and industry leaders – known as macro influencers. These are users with 100k+ followers who may or may not have a particularly engaged audience, but the sheer volume of their following outweighs any concerns over engagement.
In the past, these high-profile figures (who also come with high price tags) were obvious targets for influencer campaigns. But there is also a much larger (and more affordable) mass market of micro-influencers, these being users with anywhere from 5k–100k followers. They may not have the epic numbers, but will usually have a far more engaged community to ensure your content does not fall on deaf ears.
3. Define your budget
When it comes to the topic of payment, this is a real grey area and remuneration is not necessarily a given.
Depending on their size, engagement and experience, some influencers will be glad to help out with little or no reward. It always helps if you have some free products, but the more enticing the offer – both for the influencer and their audience – the less important price becomes.
A good approach is to present an individualised, creative pitch that is bang on their subject matter and hard to turn down. If they come back asking for payment information, you can decide at that point what it’s worth to you. But it’s important to define a total influencer budget ahead of time (including product freebies) in order to reach your targets.
4. Build an influencer list and do your research
When looking to build your macro or micro influencer list, a good place to start is with potential targets who are already engaging or talking about your brand.
To find these users, you can use a simple but time-consuming process of searching for your brand name, hashtag or handle in the channel search function. Or you can use enlist help from free and relatively inexpensive tools, like good entry-level Kred and content and influencer analytics specialists BuzzSumo.
There are also more sophisticated tools that offer the whole package – a platform for connecting brands and influencers, like Takumi. Many offer free trials or demos so you can get a sense of which tool works best for you.
You can also use these tools to expand your search to influencers in your industry who may not yet have interacted with your brand.
Another crucial element to list building is the criteria you use to determine which influencers are the most appropriate for your subject matter. Beyond the usual (name, handle, URL, follower #s) some good categories to cover in your list could include:
- Engagement rate based on a percentage of followers, which will give you an indication of just how engaged their followers are. To calculate this, select a recent post and take the number of likes/comments divided by the number of followers.
- The range of topics they cover to determine whether your brand would be a logical connection. For example, if you’re managing campaigns for a beauty brand then you probably wouldn’t target an individual who focuses primarily on food.
- How their audience reacts to branded content. Are they receptive and thankful or are responses more negative? It’s best to work with influencers who have a good relationship with their followers and who also have a history of choosing brands that make sense for them and their audience.
5. Base your pitch on the individual and clearly list the essentials
When reaching out to influencers, it’s helpful if your pitch isn’t the first interaction they’ve ever had with you. It’s wise to regularly engage with influencers to build and maintain relationships, whilst also recording influencer data, so that when you’re ready with a content opportunity you’ll know exactly who to target and that they are primed to take part.
If your first approach is over a DM and your pitch would be better delivered over email, you may want to give just enough away to entice them to hand it over.
One size does not fit all with influencers, so try to tweak your pitch to correspond to the individual you’re targeting. Use their name, mention a past post you really liked and why you think this opportunity is perfect for them and their audience.
It’s important to ensure all details are clear from the outset. You don’t want an influencer to post too early, or not include the right facts. Therefore, key things to mention in your pitch include:
- Campaign hashtag and brand handle to include in post: This is essential for monitoring/measurement, but also great brand awareness.
- Campaign dates: When can they start posting, by when must they have posted.
- Key messages: What are the key facts about your product/service you want to get across?
- What you want the content to look like: Offering some choice here is important, as you don’t necessarily want all influencer content to look exactly the same.
- Payment: As mentioned above, unless you are approaching a macro-influencer we suggest holding off unless they ask specifically.
As you start confirming interested influencers, you can return to your influencer list to document the process: who has confirmed, their address (if needed), when the product/package is sent, receipt of package, when the post has gone out, and even the results.
Running an influencer marketing campaign can be a hugely successful part of any digital marketing campaign. The hardest part is finding the time to invest to find the right influencers for your campaign, ensure your offer is creative and bespoke, create and manage a comprehensive influencer list to ensure the campaign runs smoothly and, if you can, continue to engage with those influencers so that your brand continues to reap the benefits.
What do you think of our top tips? Do you have any of your own tips or questions to share? We’d love to hear them in the comment section below.