When influencer relations first made headway in the marketing industry, in many ways it seemed like you were entering uncharted territory. There was certainly a lot of gray area about how to define who was considered an influencer, which industries or platforms the tactic was best suited for, and how to successfully navigate through a campaign from start to finish—identification, negotiation and implementation.
Over time, influencer marketing has become more clearly defined and has proven to be a powerful strategy to drive engagement on social media, boost awareness of your brand and reach new audiences. In today’s world of ever-present social media, influencers have become innovators and early adopters who have managed to attract an audience through their expertise and authentic, relatable voice. When they share personal insight, they’re taken as friendly, believable experts who lend third-party validation to your brand or products.
Before diving headfirst into the world of influencer marketing, there are a few tips to keep in mind to ensure you’re reaching the right influencers to elevate your brand and drive results for your business.
Before setting out on your quest to find the right influencers for a particular campaign, ask yourself:
- Who are you trying to reach with this message?
- What products, services or knowledge do you have to offer?
- What action do you want the audience to take as a result?
- What metrics are most important to measure and will drive value for your business? (e.g., leads, sales, donations, brand awareness, etc.)
Although it might seem basic, remember to apply SMART goals to ensure they’re specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound. Once you’ve determined your campaign goals, establish relevant key performance indicators (KPIs) that will help measure progress and success at the conclusion of your campaign. Establishing clear parameters that tie back to your business goals will help you stay focused on targeting the right audience and will help set clear expectations with the influencers you ultimately decide to partner with.
Invest time and effort up front in research across appropriate social media platforms to find influencers who will be relevant to your brand or campaign. When you find an influencer who seems like a good fit, sift through their past and recent content to gauge whether they’ll align with your goals and your target audience. Get a feel for which types of content they post, the frequency of when they post and which of their channels drives the most engagement. Explore whether they already have an affinity for your brand or competitors, and whether they currently serve as a brand ambassador for a business or organization.
Throughout the research process, establish whether micro influencers, macro influencers or a combination of both will best support your overall campaign goals and objectives. While micro influencers may have a more modest following on certain channels, their impact can be just as powerful, if not more so compared to influencers with millions of followers. If you decide to partner with a macro-level influencer, take the time to look at their followers-to-engagement ratio. If they have thousands or millions of followers but low averages for likes and comments, it may be a sign that some of their followers aren’t legitimate or their audience isn’t very engaged with their content.
Here are a few additional questions to help guide your research process:
- Are their followers your target audience?
- Do they follow any of your competitors?
- Who are your competitors following?
- Is their content natural and authentic?
- Is their content sponsored or organic?
Collaboration is a key part of a successful influencer marketing strategy. You are the expert on your brand, and they are the expert on the audience you’re trying to reach. If you strategize with your influencer, you can figure out how to best represent your brand or products to their followers. Developing strong relationships and partnerships with multiple like-minded influencers can generate awareness, expose your brand to many new audiences and drive successful results.
Some of our best campaigns have been with repeat influencers who we’ve established mutually beneficial relationships with over the years. The influencers have turned into brand ambassadors who then become repeat customers, users and clients well after the official partnership ends. There is nothing more rewarding then to see an influencer you’ve partnered with turn into a loyal fan of your clients’ brands, products and more. Once you create a trusted relationship with influencers, they’ll start coming to you with new opportunities and future partnerships.
Once you’ve identified a key influencer and you’re ready to discuss partnership details, it’s important to set expectations and make sure they’re in writing. While it’s imperative to allow influencers to share content in their own natural, authentic voice and to give them some creative freedom, it’s equally as important to make sure the influencers’ posts meet your expectations.
To ensure you avoid any potential issues, define some of your expectations, such as:
- What kind of content do you want the influencer to create, such as a blog post, a video posted on Twitter, an Instagram Story or even a Facebook post/review?
- Do you want them to use certain hashtags or key messages?
- Do you expect them to frame the message in a certain way?
- Will the posts be organic or sponsored? Organic posts will only show up in the news feed of the people who follow the influencer, while sponsored posts are paid and will show up in the news feeds of the audiences you choose to target.
- Discuss timing for when the influencer will share their content.
- Is the partnership paid or will you be offering free product, tickets, an experience, etc. in return for their content?
After the campaign has ended, it’s equally as important to measure the results. While we could spend hours discussing ways to measure campaign success through various social media platforms or services like Google Analytics, there are a few ways to measure the success of your program by tracking the KPIs established at the onset of the campaign. These include:
- Audience engagement (likes, reactions, shares, comments, votes, etc.)
- Follower/audience growth
- Referral traffic
- Number of user-generated posts (tracked through branded hashtags)
- Number of conversions (sales, subscribers, downloads, newsletter signups, etc.)
- Reach and impressions
- Number of new visitors
- Cost per click
- Click-through rate
By focusing on KPIs, you’ll get a snapshot of how successful the campaign was at achieving your goals and will help determine if you should partner with certain influencers again in the future.
Courtney O’Gorman is a public relations specialist at Dixon Schwabl, specializing in communicating effective stories for her clients across a range of industries through media and influencer relations. Contact her at email@example.com.
Julianna Monacelli is a director of public relations and a veteran publicist with vast experience pitching, landing and coordinating media interviews and influencer campaigns both regionally and nationally. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.