Influencer marketing is no longer just for big brands but an essential part of any marketing strategy. Your customers want to see authentic content from others like them – and that’s where influencers, whether their follower count is one hundred or one million, step in.
Influencer marketing has been a popular topic over the past few years and I’m sure you’ve heard of influencer marketing campaigns gone wrong too. How do you avoid anything similar happening to your brand? What are the key ingredients of a successful influencer marketing campaign?
Before you rush into emailing a bunch of influencers, you need to have a proper influencer marketing strategy in place. Here are 11 steps to guarantee your influencer marketing campaigns are a success:
- Define your goals
- Select influencer groups
- Determine your budget
- Select the social channels and tools
- Create guidelines for participants
- Launch your influencer marketing campaign
- Display influencer content on your website
- Promote and distribute
- Reward and engage
- Measure and analyze
- Leverage social data
1. Define your goals
The first thing when creating any marketing strategy is to define the purpose and target of your activities. The same goes for influencer marketing: ask yourself (and your team) how influencer marketing aligns with the buyer journey from awareness to action and what goals you are trying to achieve.
Your influencer marketing campaign should target at least one of these four goals:
- Build brand awareness and strengthen brand image.
- Increase social engagement and interactions.
- Improve conversions (e.g. newsletter subscribers, free trial sign ups, purchases, etc.).
- Gain customer insight and data.
When you’ve defined the goals of your influencer marketing campaign, make sure the metrics are clearly trackable. They can be, for example, target numbers related to social media engagement or visibility - or they can be more qualitative goals such as a shift in the way people talk online about your product/service. They can also be more conversions focused like the growth in sales or enquiries on your website.
The goals of any marketing activity are always context specific but make sure they are measurable, timely, achievable, and clear.
2. Select influencer groups
After you’ve listed your goals and know what you are looking to achieve with the influencer marketing campaign, it’s time to plan what type of influencers are best to help you to succeed.
Quite often, I hear companies talking about celebrities and how they are out of reach for their marketing budgets.
In fact, there are different groups of influencers and you can get started with a shoestring budget. For example, employees are one of the greatest overlooked assets of any influencer marketing strategy. For more inspiration, learn how our customers turn employees into their best brand advocates.
But the most successful influencer marketing campaigns are created together with micro-influencers. Instead of celebrities, it actually makes more sense to choose influencers with a smaller following.
Why is that?
Micro-influencers are more likely to respond to comments than celebrities - and their followers are more likely to engage with the content too. Also, the demographics of their followers are usually more coherent compared to followers of superstars who will attract a wide audience. If you have a clear target audience (most marketers have) it’s more beneficial to pick everyday influencers that are engaging with your potential customers naturally.
Typically, micro-influencers are your most loyal customers. They are people who love your product and are happy to work together with you in engaging others to get to know your brand too. For inspiration, learn more about the fundamental building blocks of a successful user-generated content campaign and how you can engage customers and micro-influencers in creating content.
3. Determine your budget
The available budget will guide all your decisions - right from the moment you’ve defined your goals and selected a group of influencers you are going to collaborate with.
Some of the key elements your influencer marketing budget should include:
- Content strategy and planning
- Content creation and distribution
- Influencer compensation and other rewards
- Social media advertising
- Other paid online media promotion
- Offline marketing
A campaign where celebrities are paid to mention the brand or use the product (say sneakers) one-off, and share an image on Instagram doesn’t often make a massive difference in the long-term. A successful influencer marketing strategy requires a monthly budget and resources that are aligned with your goals and revenue targets.
4. Select the social channels and tools
Next, it’s time to decide which social media channels you will be using for your influencer marketing campaigns. There are a number of channels out there: Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, Snapchat, TikTok, Pinterest, YouTube…
But don’t get overwhelmed – you don’t have to use every channel.
Pick the ones that are the most relevant to you. The most relevant often equals the channel where your current and potential customers are spending time - and where you and influencers post content that already sparks attention and engagement.
In addition to selecting social media channels, the right tools will make it easier to manage your influencer marketing campaign.
To find influencers outside your current audience I’d recommend taking a look at BuzzSumo, which helps you to find influential users sharing content within a specific topic. You can even dig deeper and check who’s sharing a particular piece of content related to your services.
I’m sure you already have a social media management platform to create and schedule posts to social media channels on a daily or weekly basis. We are happy customers of Buffer - but Hootsuite, Sprout, and Falcon are great options for marketing professionals too.
5. Create guidelines for influencers
Authenticity, authenticity, authenticity – it’s easy for social media natives to tell if the content isn’t aligned with an influencer's normal flow of content. So, make sure you aren’t trying to take too much control in content creation. However, some guidelines are needed; they can be short and straightforward but be sure to agree at least on:
- The goal of the activity and scope of work
- The brand’s/campaign’s tone-of-voice
- Post templates and examples
- A list of topics or information that can’t be shared in public
- A contact person for questions
You can include a general template for the guidelines in your influencer marketing strategy but be sure to modify it according to the campaign and influencer group. You can also include the guidelines as a part of a formal agreement if you are collaborating with a celebrity to amplify the reach of user-generated content.
6. Launch your influencer marketing campaign
When you have everything planned and all the tools in place, it’s time to launch your influencer marketing campaign. Try to think of something special for the launch day or week. The first few days are critical to set the tone of the campaign. With our clients, we’ve noticed that people tend to follow what others post at the beginning of the campaign - and the example set by the first few users genuinely makes a difference in the long term.
Consider running a Facebook competition to create some additional buzz and engagement. Or organise a launch party with the participants – remember to provide Instagrammable food, drinks, and venue to ensure you maximise your exposure and ROI!
When planning your launch, remember to take into account the content of the chosen influencer(s). Influencer Marketing Hub recommends creating a shared content calendar – so everyone is up-to-date.
7. Display influencer content on your website
When you’ve created the content together with influencers and customers, it’s time to let it shine on your website and other digital channels. By displaying an inspirational feed of influencer content, you’ll keep visitors engaged with your website longer and direct traffic to your social media channels too.
With social media aggregators like Flockler, you can store and display social media posts from different channels automatically - and display the posts in a wall, grid, or carousel format without technical expertise. This video shows how you can gather the content mentioning your branded hashtag on Instagram:
Even if you’d decide not to display social media feeds on your website for some reason (hard to imagine any reason...) it makes sense to gather the content for further analysis. Who are the most influential and engaged members of the audience? Who’s the most active? The data (and Flockler) will tell all.
8. Promote and distribute
When you have invested so much effort into your influencer marketing, don’t forget about promotion and distribution! Actually, about 20% of your time should be put into content creation and the remaining 80% into distribution. It’s a crucial part of your influencer marketing strategy, so put proper thought into it.
There are many ways to promote and distribute content, such as organic shares, paid ads on social media, email marketing – and many more.
9. Reward and engage
While promoting and distributing your content, it’s good to give back to your community and interact with them! Even a simple like or comment on their post will make your audience feel special and more connected to your brand. You can also repost some of the best content created by your followers!
As time goes by, Flockler will help you to measure and identify your most active and influential fans - reward them with perks and coupons, or even something more exclusive like an invite-only event just for your most loyal followers!
10. Measure and analyze
Remember the first step I mentioned?
After you have successfully launched your influencer marketing campaign, it’s time to revisit your goals and see how your campaign is doing. Social media channels, combined with tools like Buffer and Flockler, help you to analyse your metrics. For website analytics, use Google Analytics to find out where your traffic is coming from, what pages interest your audience, and if the traffic converts to sales and conversions over time. Remember to tell your influencers to use analytics tags for links so that you can easily track traffic sources!
If you are not reaching the goals you set in the beginning, take action! How can you change your approach or content? Are the goals and metrics set the right ones?
11. Leverage social data
When you engage your audience in creating content, your brand reach and engagement will skyrocket but you’ll also get insights into your customers. Leverage the learnings and data to personalise your content and target social media advertising based on how your followers have interacted with your content. In addition, you will get a ton of content ideas and even new product and service concepts based on customer insights. If marketers have ever been rich with smart customer data, it’s now.