If you use social media, chances are you’ve seen many examples of influencer marketing campaigns.
Some campaigns are obvious, like posts by Instagram influencers that contain a header that says “paid partnership.” And some campaigns are more subtle, like YouTube influencers who unbox or review products in their videos. But whether we recognize these campaigns or not, influencer marketing is all around us.
But, are these campaigns actually successful?
Well data don’t lie. A total of 91% of marketers surveyed by Influencer Marketing Hub believe that influencer marketing is effective. With that type of response, influencer marketing is at least worth a shot.
Like most things in life, influencer marketing doesn’t pay off unless you dedicate some careful planning and thoughtful analysis to your campaign. So keep reading if you’re thinking of trying out your first influencer campaign, or if you just want some helpful hints about the campaign process.
Understand your objectives and recognize your limits
Every marketing campaign must start with a crucial question: What do I want to achieve? Decide on your goals and plan a roadmap of how you can get there. These early decisions will shape all the other aspects of your campaign.
Some common goals in influencer marketing campaigns are:
- to boost brand awareness
- drive new traffic to your website
- or increase sales.
Whatever goal you choose, it should be something you can track using analytics tools. Also keep in mind there will be limits. For example, it may not make sense for a small, local business to work with an influencer with millions of followers.
Know your target audience
In tandem with your goals, you have to establish your target audience.
Think about who buys your products or uses your services. Are they mostly men or women, young or old? Consider demographics like gender, age, location, language, and interests.
Once you’ve defined your target audience, find out where they spend their time online. Not all social media is the same, and different demographics prefer different networks. So it’s important that you choose the channel where your campaign will take place carefully.
Instagram, for instance, is most popular with people ages 25-34. In the US, a third of TikTok users are between 10-19. Consider location demographics too. In some countries, specific social networks are banned or don’t enjoy the same popularity as they do in others.
Use an influencer marketing platform
When you start the influencer search process, you’ll want to find influencers who match your own customers or clients. You can find some of this information directly on social media platforms, like follower count and some will need to come directly from the influencers themselves, such as audience demographics.
You can collect this yourself or you can use an influencer marketing platform, which lets you search for influencers which match your criteria. These platforms can provide figures on engagement rate, audience demographics and authenticity.
An influencer marketing platform also lets you organize your influencer search results in lists. This is especially useful if you’re working with many influencers or are running multiple campaigns at once.
Check out nano and micro influencers
Nano and micro influencers are the first two tiers on the influencer ladder. Nano influencers have 1-5K followers and usually extremely high engagement. Their audience trusts their authenticity. Their content typically isn’t overly glossy and they come across as relatable, with many having other day jobs.
Nano influencers are also budget-friendly options for brands. You can often close a collaboration with a nano influencer for a product alone. This low price tag combined with their ability to connect with their audiences make nano influencers an attractive option for influencer campaigns.
The only caveat is that you need to be patient with them, as they haven’t handled frequent collaborations with brands.
Micro influencers, who have 5-50K followers, are a step up from nano influencers. They’re more used to collaborations and understand a bit better how the industry works. Yet they’re still good bang for their buck.
Micro influencers have considerable followings who consider them experts in their niche fields.
Because of this, micro influencers usually also have high engagement rates. They’re particularly useful for penetrating niche or local markets. You can also hire most micro influencers for a collaboration in exchange for product alone. Those with higher follower counts may ask for a fee in addition to the product, but it’s likely to be lower than fees for influencers in the higher tiers.
Make sure the influencer’s audience hits your target
When choosing influencers for your campaign, make sure to check that their audience matches yours.
For example, your campaign goal might be to increase sales of a new product in Spain. So you choose a Madrid-based influencer to help promote your brand. But you don’t get the sales you expected. Why? Well, you find out that a majority of that influencer’s audience is based in Latin America, where your product still isn’t available. Be on the lookout for fake influencers.
Social media, like nearly all parts of life, is subject to fraud. Influencers have a variety of ways to boost their profile stats through dishonest means. Therefore, recognizing influencer fraud if important when hiring someone to work with you brand. And luckily there are some patterns in the data that can help you spot fake influencers.
First, if engagement is extremely high, it may be a sign that the influencer purchased fake likes or comments. Very low engagement may show that the influencer bought fake followers, which boost their follower count but do not contribute to their engagement rate.
Growth rate over time can reveal falsifications to the profile. If there are sudden spikes in follower count, it could be a sign of a few things. The influencer may have recently hosted a giveaway, which generally draws a lot of new followers fast. Or, they may have gone viral for some reason, leading to a mass of new followers. If neither of those is present, spiky growth rate may show that the influencer bought fake followers.
Finally, if you’re using an influencer marketing platform, take a look at the audience authenticity metric. Influencer software can analyze an influencer’s audience to scan for the unnatural behavior that is generally found in bots. The analytics report will then show you what percentage of the influencer’s audience may be suspicious.
Take advantage of creative content opportunities
Platforms such as Instagram offer a wealth of opportunities for creative content with Reels, Guides, Lives and IGTV that go far beyond a simple photo and caption. Engaging content could include:
- an unboxing
- a give-away
- a takeover of your channel
- video review or tutorial
- live-stream where followers can ask questions
Give influencers artistic license
When you set up a collaboration, it’s important to share any publication guidelines you want influencers to follow. Clearly communicate your brand’s message, what you want to highlight, and any aesthetic requirements you have. For example, if you want photos shot in a certain setting, let the influencers know.
That being said, you don’t want to stifle the influencer’s authentic voice, which is what connects them to their followers. Retaining that authenticity is an important part of how they will communicate your brand’s message to their followers.
Follow influencer disclosure guidelines
Many countries have guidelines covering how influencers need to disclose brand collaborations. Two of the most well-known agencies involved in managing this are the Federal Trade Commission in the United States, and the Competition and Markets Authority in the United Kingdom.
Both agencies require that influencers clearly state when they are working with a brand. The guidelines apply to influencers working in that country and influencers whose content may reach consumers in that country.
So, for example, if you’re an influencer in France whose content appears on the screens of American users, you may be subject to the FTC’s guidelines.
There are many ways to disclose a collaboration, from tagging the post as a paid partnership to saying in a video that you were gifted the products that appear. Just make sure to check out the guidelines that apply to you and see what they say about the network where your campaign will appear.
While the influencers are usually the ones who physically publish the disclaimer, it’s important that brands take an active role in staying on top of compliance. Some agencies are starting to hold brands, and even the social networks, more accountable.
Use data to monitor your campaign
There are a number of ways you can measure the results of your influencer campaign. A good start is Google Analytics, which can be set up to track where visitors came from and the resulting sales. Tracking links using UTM parameters can be useful, as can link shorteners such as bit.ly or rebrand.ly which have built-in analytics.
A common tracking method for influencer sales campaigns is for each influencer to have a discount code. For tracking influence, branded hashtags or tagging your account can be a useful metric.
With the right planning and tracking, influencer marketing offers something for everyone. You can start out with a smaller influencer, measure your successes and analyse how your campaign could improve, making sure that every campaign builds on the ones before. You’ll be one of the clever ones learning and building your brand with influencers.