Influencer marketing is a collaboration between a brand and a popular social media personality. In essence, the brand offers payment or other benefits to an influencer in exchange for promotion of a product, service, or the brand in general.
Various studies have found that between 60% and 70% of consumers make purchase decisions based on social media recommendations, so it’s easy to see why influencer marketing can be an extremely profitable element of a wider PR or marketing strategy. And influencers are experts at content creation, after all, so often they are able to come up with innovative and creative ways of marketing your brand.
As useful as it can be, however, establishing a successful influencer marketing relationship can be a challenging task, especially to those unfamiliar with the world of social media celebrities. To make the process easier and more effective, here are five top tips for getting the most out of influencer marketing.
1. Define your goals, needs, and expectations
Perhaps the most important part of developing a successful influencer marketing strategy takes place before you even start pitching to influencers. Before you reach out to anyone, you need to have a thorough understanding of what the goals of the campaign are, how the influencer can potentially contribute, and what you expect to get out of this deal.
The key element is figuring out who you need to reach with the product, service, or brand in order to achieve your goals. By defining your target audience for the campaign, you’ll be able to significantly narrow down the number of influencers who could potentially be the right fit for you.
2. Niche and style relevance
When choosing an influencer to approach, the main focus should lie in how relevant their brand is to yours. Make sure that their message, style, and niche are in line with yours, and that their follower or subscriber base matches your target audience for the campaign. Bear in mind that the influencer’s primary platform will influence what kind of content they will create – for instance, Instagram (home to the majority of today’s influencers) involves a focus on visual content, while Twitter consists mostly of text posts.
Not every influencer is open to creating branded content, so it’s best to shortlist several names rather than focusing on just one person. Once you’ve narrowed your search down to 5-10 influencers, check out their past sponsored marketing activity for more indicators as to whether they’ll be a good match for your brand.
This will take a significant amount of research, as there are thousands of active influencers out there. If you don’t know where to start, an expert PR agency will be able to put you in touch with the most relevant people.
3. The follower count isn’t everything
When shortlisting influencers for your campaign, it can be tempting to focus on how many followers they have as a determining factor. As a matter of fact, the number of people they can reach is nowhere near as important as relevance, as described in the previous point.
Research on the topic suggests that micro-influencers with up to 10k followers are likely to have the biggest influence on their audience, and thus a collaboration with them tends to provide a better ROI. Put simply, a smaller ‘fan base’ tends to be more loyal and pay more attention to the influencer’s activity.
4. Prepare a fair agreement
Unlike with hiring a contractor or outsourcing some aspect of a business, influencer marketing is not governed by any particular laws. This leaves influencers vulnerable to being exploited and may, understandably, cause many to be unwilling to engage in branded deals.
If you want your campaign to be effective, it’s crucial to build trust between your brand and the influencer. They should be certain that you will fulfil your end of the deal, and you shouldn’t worry about whether they’ll do their job as expected.
The best way to do this is to negotiate with the influencer, ensure both sides are clear about what’s expected of them, and prepare a binding contract that outlines all of the above. Although signing a contract is not mandatory – influencer marketing is not externally regulated – it helps to build trust and protects both your brand and the influencer from being treated unfairly.
5. Give the influencer some creative freedom
The point of partnering with an influencer – so, essentially an expert social media content creator – is to take advantage of their skills as well as their reach. While it’s tempting to try to control how they interact with and promote your brand, at the end of the day, they know best what works with their audience.
Within reason, try to support the influencer in finding their own ways of fulfilling their end of the deal. If you’ve chosen the right person, been treating them fairly, and began building a positive, supportive business relationship, they’ll have no reason to do anything that might damage your brand.