First, the facts - Influencer marketing is estimated to already have become a $1.5 billion industry, and 84% of brands have reported that they plan to increase their influencer marketing spend in 2019.
Marketers used to ask themselves “what is influencer marketing?” or “should I implement an influencer marketing program?”. By now, though, it’s been established that influencer marketing can work incredibly well. The question then is: “How can I optimize my influencer marketing campaigns?”
As the marketing industry has evolved, influencer marketing has changed dramatically, and there's now a range of tools available to help brands identify and vet influencers, and track the success of ongoing campaigns.
At the end of the day, if you’re going to utilize influencer marketing, it needs to be skillfully planned on a solid foundation. Having been in the industry for seven years, I can say from experience that most of the mistakes made in influencer marketing strategies occur when brands don’t have their assets in line before reaching out to and activating influencers.
Before executing any influencer marketing program, marketers need to ensure that they have the following five key factors in place:
1. Determine Your Goals
Do you want to increase brand awareness, launch a new product? Do you want to boost your sales?
The goals you establish for your campaign will dictate how it’s run - for example, if I was a clothing brand with the goal of partnering with influencers to increase sales, I would set the influencers up with a unique discount code that they can offer their readers for 15% off when they buy online. That way I could attribute direct sales to the overall campaign as well as to each individual involved.
2. Create Influencer Personas
Take your buyer personas a step further and create influencer personas to ensure that the people you choose to work with are actually going to help you reach your target consumers.
What types of influencers do your consumers follow? What pain points can influencers solve in your consumers' everyday life? What topics do your consumers seek out that could lead them to your brand?
The more detail you can lock down, the better, helping to ensure you maximize your time and effort.
3. Analyze Digital Footprints
It's also important to decide which social channels your brand performs best on, and to partner with influencers based on their strength on those channels.
As a basic guide, I always recommend partnering with influencers for a blog post and a social post. The blog posts guarantee evergreen content that can be discovered for years to come, while social media updates can generate a quick spark for your brand.
Knowing which channels your influencers are strongest on will also dictate the direction you give them, as well as the brand assets that you seed them with.
4. Choose a Thematic Element
I always recommend choosing a campaign theme. If you’re a food brand, you might challenge your influencers to create some yummy new recipes for fall. If you’re a home décor company, you could ask your influencers to spruce up a room in their house, and maybe even make it a contest.
The point her is that themes offer an organizational structure, and help to give your influencers direction. The key lies in making sure that your theme isn’t too intrusive - you want to maintain a balance of seeding the influencers with direction and brand assets, but still allowing them to have creative freedom. After all, the influencers know their audience better than you do - you want to give them plenty of leeway to appeal to their audience (aka your potential consumers).
5. Resolve Your Ask Versus Your Give
Always keep in mind that influencers have worked very hard, often for years, to create their content and keep their audience engaged. This audience is now a potential consumer base for your brand, so take a moment to appreciate the influencer’s hard work.
With that said, free products don’t pay the bills, so make sure that you're willing to compensate your influencers on a level that matches what they’ll be giving your brand.
Before reaching out to an influencer, consider the price point of the product you want them to feature, and ask the influencers what their rates would be on top of the product you’ll be sending. Or, if you have a specific budget in mind, let the influencer know your budget and ask them what they can do for that price.
With the growth of social platforms, influencer marketing is only set to grow in 2019. Hopefully these tips will help you plan your own influencer marketing strategy, and maximize your process in the year ahead.