How to Develop your Strategy with Influencer Marketing?



A decade ago, the influencer marketing arena was limited only to celebrities and a few dedicated bloggers. Now, it seems like we’ve seen social media influencers rise, saturate the market, and even get caught up in fraud.

If you’ve started research on influencer marketing before, you may have found conflicting information, with recommendations that range from whether you should absolutely be using social influencers or that they’re not necessary for growth.

Influencer marketing strategies are more difficult to navigate than ever as a brand, but we’re here with a guide to making sense of it all.

Read on for our tips to determine if influencer marketing is for you.


What is influencer marketing?

At a fundamental level, influencer marketing is a type of social media marketing that uses endorsements and product mentions from influencers–individuals who have a dedicated social following and are viewed as experts within their niche. Influencer marketing works because of the high amount of trust that social influencers have built up with their following, and recommendations from them serve as a form of social proof to your brand’s potential customers.


The current state of the influencer marketing landscape


Standing out in 2014 on Instagram was easier than today. If you were lucky enough to be featured on Instagram’s featured page or your look was just distinctive enough, then your chances of being tapped as an influencer were high. After enough brand partnerships, some have turned social media influencer marketing into a full-time career.


We’re influenced by what we see and aesthetics are no different. Bright images are more common now as well as carefully propped up food against interesting backgrounds. When the ‘typical look’ of influencer marketing no longer becomes unique, what comes next?


To be a fashion influencer among this younger demographic, you may no longer need to rely solely on perfectly shot photos. Instead, casual poses and limited editing are now becoming more welcome on the feed.


Keep in mind that the article covered only a subset of influencers: young, Instagram users. If anything, this shift over the last five years should show how influencer marketing’s only constant changes.


The value of influencer marketing

While Instagram influencer marketing is a well-known strategy, there are many other networks that are growing for influencers. According to Adweek, the industry is set to reach $10 billion in worth by 2020. Other networks like Snapchat, YouTube, and TikTok have their own set of influencers with different demographics.



How to create an influencer marketing strategy


Like any marketing tactic, an influencer program takes deliberate targeting and planning. You won’t find strategic success just by sending free things out to everyone who asks or to your existing friends and acquaintances.

1. How to find influencers and what to pay them

Much like any strategy, research is the first step. Choose the platform you want to focus on first. You can always expand to other platforms later but if you’re just starting out, stick with one. Ideally, your brand should already have a presence on this network or be looking to expand into it.


If you’re unsure of where to begin, social listening can help you identify where people are talking about your industry and brand—and it can help you find the most influential voices in your industry on each platform.


The industry you’re in also matters when you’re planning to implement an influencer marketing strategy. Beauty and fashion brands shine on Instagram and YouTube. The video game industry dominates on Twitch.


During your research phase, look into the type of influencers you’re interested in. Are you going for celebrities with massive followings? Or micro-influencers with less than 2000 followers? Perhaps something in between in the 5–10k follower range is more your preference. Whatever you decide to focus on will determine your budget.


The compensation varies wildly, too, so be sure to look at common rates for those influencer types. Micro-Influencers tend to be focused on a few topics and accept products. Some micro-influencers work independently while others may be represented by an agency or network. Whereas, larger accounts and celebrities will need compensation and might even go through a talent agency.


You’ll need to think about the expected ROI of your social influencer marketing campaign: how will you gauge the contributions of influencer posts to your overall marketing goals? One approach might be to compare your expectations for influencers to other firms – look at how you might gauge the budget for a video production firm’s work in creating an ad for you versus an influencer creating a video. It may initially seem like judging the value of influencers is unpredictable, but this type of approach will give you a familiar point of comparison and contrast.


2. Set a budget and management strategy

Now that you have some idea of what to pay influencers, you need to create your budget. Be sure to also factor in time for planning, executing, and reviewing your influencer program. Running a successful influencer marketing campaign is not a set-it-and-go type of strategy. It’ll involve careful monitoring and follow-up.

Unlike a more automated ad strategy, influencers are human and frequently balancing multiple partnerships, so some may fall behind in their commitments to post on time or make errors in your requested tags or calls to action. You’ll need to have the time to be more hands-on with these relationships to cultivate them and refine your approach through experience about what works and what doesn’t in your niche.


If you have the time and money, consider setting up a formal ambassador program. Fujifilm utilizes its ambassadors in new product launches and in supplementing their content. With a variety of photographers and videographers at their disposal, the company’s ability to diversify their feed to showcase what their equipment can do.

For brands that need a wider pool of influencers, hiring an influencer marketing agency who will do the research and coordination for you is a good bet.


3. Decide on goals and message

The two most common reasons for using influencer marketing are to elevate brand awareness and increase sales. However, instead of setting these broad targets as your two goals, it will be more effective to kick off your strategy by honing in on what your brand’s needs are. Perhaps you want to increase your customer base in a younger demographic. Or you want to expand into a new user group with a new product. Or you want to skip trends and utilize influencers to talk about your brand values.

Influencers have the ability to reach very specific audiences. Instead of relying on thousands of followers, influencers will help you ensure a very targeted audience who is likely to be interested in your product reads and engages with your content.

Your message is just as important as your goal. While you don’t want to stifle an influencer’s creativity and uniqueness, you also don’t want them to post about something unrelated to your campaign. Determine how you want to structure your influencer marketing campaign and message so you can stick to it later on.


4. Influencer outreach: How to contact influencers

Back to step one: research. With a plan set around your network, goals, and what types of influencers you want to target, we go back to researching to actually find the right influencers to work with.

During this research, keep in mind the below:

  • Does the influencer already post about similar things to your service? For example, if you’re a restaurant and you want to promote a new menu, you should be looking for influencers who regularly post about dining out and the food they eat.

  • Are they legit? This means scrolling through their feed and clicking through on posts. A poor engagement ratio to follower count and spam-like comments are signs of a fraudulent account.

  • Have they worked with similar brands before? Depending on what type of influencer you’re looking for, a seasoned one will be able to show you a press kit that contains a portfolio of their work. The more you invest in an influencer, the more you’ll want to vet them.

Next, determine how you’ll be reaching out to them. For micro-influencers, you could reach out directly in a private message on the same platform. For more established ones, click around their profile and they may list contact information for business inquiries in their bio. They may also link a website that denotes brand partnerships.


5. Review and refine your strategy

Even if your influencer marketing campaign is ongoing, you should still have pre-determined dates where you’ll measure its progress. The next part of this guide will go into how to track your results. Not all campaigns are successful but hopefully, you’ll learn with each one you create.

Conclusion

Influencers are here to stay but how the world of influencer marketing looks and operates has changed a great deal in a short time, and in five years may be drastically different from today. This guide will help you get started with building your strategy, but like any social strategy, it’s important to be ready for change.


Still, while there are some unique considerations to working with influencers, setting up a campaign is the same as most marketing campaigns: research, set a budget, determine goals, find your influencers, and review and revise.


Once you’ve got the rhythm down, you might find yourself creating additional types of influencer marketing campaigns. Success varies between brands so don’t give up if your first one is a failure. You might find that incorporating influencers into your marketing strategy is wildly beneficial to everyone.

What strategies have worked for your niche when it comes to working with influencers? Let us know in the comments below!