90% of consumers prefer peer recommendations to other forms of advertising and over 70% of brands currently work with influencers and use influencer marketing as a part of their digital marketing strategy to create buzz around their products and increase sales.
An influencer can be someone with a large following on their blog or social media channels or someone with a smaller following of people who regularly engage with their content.
The latter are often called ‘micro influencers’, but don’t let the terminology put you off: millennials and generations Z-ers, in particular, see social media influencers as trustworthy and authentic — no matter how niche.
This article will help you select and work with influencers on a successful influencer marketing campaign as part of your overall social strategy.
Finding influencers is easy enough; they’re all over social media, and there are plenty of third parties who hold lists of the top influencers in a given niche. But how do you pick who you want to work with?
Start with how many people read their blog, or follow them on social media. These figures should be readily at hand; smaller influencers are likely to have a media kit to send out upon request, and larger influencers often work through an agent who will have access to these.
If a post is seen by a million people but only receives a small number of click-through or comments, then that’s not money well spent.
Conversely, a micro influencer may have a smaller following, but you’d be unwise to discount them on this basis; a survey by Tapinfluence showed that engagement rates actually fell for those with over 25,000 followers.
A successful campaign needs to be relevant. When using influencer marketing, you need to ensure that you are working with influencers whose values and interests align with your brand. Check out their previous content to see what issues and causes they care about.
Do research. Follow them on social media. Look at the content that they produce: is it sponsored post after sponsored post? A good influencer will have a good ratio of their own posts and will be able to weave in sponsored content, producing paid content in the same unique tone as unpaid.
Sadly, as PR companies often go straight to the influencers with higher followers, it’s not unknown for unscrupulous “influencers” to fraudulently buy followers or likes. This practice is particularly widespread on Instagram, but fortunately, just ten minutes spent looking at the comments that content receives can help convince you of genuine engagement, and there are several platforms such as Followerwonk for Twitter which will give you insights into social followers.
You’ve selected influencers to work with… what next?
Contact details should be available on their website or bio section of social media. If not, a DM should be fine.
But what should you keep in mind when writing that first contact?
Do your homework
Read their ‘about me’ section and take a look at their posts. Personalize the email, but never ever pretend you’ve read something, or you’re a big fan if you haven’t got the goods to back it up!
If you’re a pet food brand, find out the name of their dog. If you are trying to appeal to parents, look up the names and ages of their children so you can communicate to them exactly how your brand is relevant. If you can mention a recent campaign that you admired, it will show them that you’re serious about working together.
Know what you want
Are you after reviews? Product placement? Blog posts? Images? Social shares? Affiliate sales? Be clear about what it is you are looking for before the initial approach.
Don’t be coy about figures
There is no one size fits all when it comes to compensation. Although smaller influencers may accept products or affiliate income only in exchange for reviews or social media coverage, you should be clear of your offer from the first email.
Many influencers, particularly those with a large following, will expect to be paid and rightly so; this is a business transaction and there needs to be value in it for both parties, so have a budget in mind.
Outlining a campaign with the number and types of posts required and asking for a cost will start you off on the right foot.
Know the rules
Disclosure is a legal requirement, and bloggers and influencers should be well aware of the guidance regarding the disclosure of sponsored and affiliate content.
Ensure that you also know the rules and aren’t expecting influencers to break them.
The content is live… what now?
This content has been produced for you… so share it on your own channels to amplify it! You may find that your own brand engagement increases through the association. Note that “share” doesn’t mean using images without credit — unless this has been cleared with the influencer first.
Measuring ROI is notoriously challenging when it comes to influencer marketing.
Measuring reach, impressions/views, engagement (likes/comments/shares), increase in your own following, tracked clicks and affiliate sales are all good places to start. If you are looking for direct sales, make sure you configure your online store dashboard correctly so that you can track influencer-specific sales through a tracking code.
However, it’s not all about the quick wins; don’t forget that the content will be online, accessible and linked with your brand indefinitely. If people search your brand name and see good quality endorsements from people they trust, then it could have an effect years from now.
This is something that can’t be said of many marketing campaigns and a huge tick in the ‘pro’ column for influencer marketing.
Transparency and clarity
Three rules to help you with your next influencer marketing campaign:
- Be clear about the brief, and make sure they know what you expect and when.
- Bear in mind that the more creative control you hand over to the influencer, the easier it will be for them to produce content in their own style and the more authentic it will be. Guidelines are good; dictating the ins and outs is not.
- If you chose to work with an influencer because of their content, let them work their magic to create something their audience will love. Don’t try to micromanage the whole campaign.
Influencer marketing is an easy way to increase sales and improve your brand image online. Don’t forget to always be open and transparent about your intentions so you don’t get caught out.
Patrick Foster is currently writing at E-commerce Tips — an e-commerce website dedicated to sharing business and marketing insights from the sector. Check out the latest news on Twitter @myecommercetips.