Influencer marketing can be a great way to present your brand (or service) in an authentic way - especially to groups of consumers who might be averse to digital advertising.
By using an online personality, with natural and real digital influence, brands can connect more deeply with their target audiences and see lasting brand equity being built - that is, of course, as long as your influencer marketing strategy features high-quality content and highly quantifiable data.
As a digital marketing agency offering influencer marketing services to our clients, we've interacted with hundreds of influencers and formed a wide range of partnerships. With that experience, we've also learned a few things.
Here are four tips to help you formulate a more impactful influencer marketing strategy.
1. No Data = No Dollars
Other the last few years, there's been a boom in people trying to become "digital influencers" in order to make money. Within this group, there are those who've generated actual digital influence, and those who are trying to fake it - and unfortunately, there seems to be more of the latter out there.
We highly recommend vetting influencers by browsing their content and checking out their engagement-to-follower ratios, reviewing the comments to see if there are real conversations (as opposed to bots) and using tools like SocialBlade and Twitter Counter to trend the growth of their communities.
If you see huge jumps in followers over short periods of time, chances are those influencers have bought their "influence". The below influencer, for example, obviously had some help with his/her following in December of 2017.
A simple rule to follow here is: “No data, no dollars.” Be wary of spending dollars with any influencer who's not transparent with their data - it’s easy for influencers to say that their content gets millions of impressions, however, if they can’t prove it, they could be fibbing.
2. Establish a Mutually Beneficial Relationship
Once you find an influencer with whom you're comfortable partnering, be sure to create a mutually beneficial relationship.
Yes, you're likely compensating this person to create content for your influencer marketing strategy, however making the terms of your relationship mutually beneficial will ensure opportunities for both parties later down the road.
Be sure to let the influencer know how you intend on using the content created, and that you'll give him/her tags and shout-outs in your own content.
You should also consider sponsoring influencer-created content to generate even more reach. Most influencers with whom we've interacted typically don’t put sponsored dollars behind their content, so the fact that your brand will promote their content can go a long way.
3. Give Specific Direction on the Content You Want
While you want to give your partner influencers some creative freedom, you also want to make sure you clearly define what you're expecting from the relationship - this means laying out the number of images, videos, GIFs and hashtags you want used.
The worst thing that can happen is that you partner with an influencer, and that influencer either:
- Creates content that's not reusable
- Creates content that isn’t on brand
- Creates a bunch of Snapchat or Instagram Stories that don’t get saved and are lost forever.
By being clear on what you expect from the content, you can be sure that both parties walk away from the relationship satisfied.
4. Demand Quantifiable Metrics
When you have everything lined up for your influencer marketing strategy, the last piece you need to worry about is how you're going to measure the effort.
Don’t let the influencer off easy by simply accepting the content and moving on. We recommend that you ask for specific metrics on how the content performed - i.e. data showing if the content drove traffic to your website and if that content influenced sales.
This can all be done by setting that expectation up front - you can reference the content yourself or ask for the influencer to report on the performance for you. Should you need to source the data on your own, you can look at the content that was created to get engagement data. The only metric you need the influencer to share with you is the amount of impressions that were created.
To see how much traffic was driven to your website, we highly recommend setting up UTM codes specific to each influencer, so you can determine which influencers are generating the most bottom-line business results. After all, you want to make sure that your partner influencers are actually influencing users to take action.
As noted, while influencer marketing can be hugely beneficial, you do need to be cautious about the influencers with whom you partner, the relationships you develop, the expectations you set and how you measure the impact.