Back in the late 90s/early 2000s, blogging was a niche hobby that only early-adopting teenagers — and what some viewed as Zuckerberg-esque ‘geeks’ — indulged in. It was a sort of secretive, unexplored part of the web that allowed introverted people to express their personalities and forge new relationships with likeminded people across the globe on platforms such as Livejournal and Blogger.
Fast-forward a few years, and the blogosphere was becoming a Thing: a more widely-used, socially acceptable way of expressing (among other things) personal style and creativity. Fashion blogs, and then Youtube channels, gave people a platform to become ‘influencers’ in their own right, removing the omnipresent layer of brand partnerships and advertising that consumers were so used to in fashion magazines.
People would follow girls just like them to find out what they were wearing, where they were buying it, and how they were styling it; safe in the knowledge that they were engaging in a completely authentic, two-way relationship.
It wasn’t long before brands started realising the potential of these ‘influencers’, and the landscape started shifting. We began to see more and more gifted products appearing in videos or blog posts, as brands and beauty companies raced to reach these audiences who were so invested in what bloggers were saying.
It’s not an influencer marketing strategy to identify a popular blogger, and send her freebies in the hope that you’ll be featured on her blog.
Keep in mind the following five keys for improving your influencer marketing campaigns, and watch your brand not just meet but exceed your influencer marketing goals.
1. Define your goals & target audience
An influencer marketing campaign without clearly defined goals and a specified target audience is almost certainly set to fail. You need to have a clear idea of your goals and who you will target in order to plan your campaign effectively.
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There are numerous goals that can be achieved through an influencer marketing campaign, including increasing brand awareness, reach and engagement or generating revenue and leads. The goals you set will enable you to plan and measure your campaign successfully, by understanding the key metrics you’ll use to assess your performance.
If your goal is to increase brand awareness, reach or engagement you should measure the impressions, likes, comments and shares to give you an idea of the number of people who have seen and engaged with your content.
If your goal is lead generation, influencers can be asked to share the link to your brand, product or service. Based on the number of leads generated from their link, you can find out the cost per lead and calculate your ROI.
Similarly, if your goal is to generate revenue, you can create custom affiliate links for each influencer, enabling you to easily keep track of purchases made through each link. From this, you’ll be able to calculate the cost per acquisition and determine the ROI of your campaign. Using custom affiliate links also enables you to see the value generated from each influencer.
Define a Target Audience
Along with setting goals for your campaign, you should determine your target audience. Although this may seem like a basic step in planning a campaign, it is often overlooked yet is vital to creating a successful influencer strategy.
Strategising your campaign will be much easier once you have a clear idea of who you’re targeting, so it’s important to take lots of factors into consideration when developing your target audience.
You should think about their age, demographics, interests, locations, and more, to help you make sure that your campaign reaches the right people. It will also make your job of finding the right influencer for your brand easier as you can search for influencers whose followers have similar interests to your target audience.
2. Thoroughly research your influencers
Before working with any influencers you should research them thoroughly. The increase in popularity of influencer marketing has led to a rise in the number of influencers in the market, and with that has come to a spike in influencer fraud.
Fake influencers buy followers, likes and comments to inflate their follower count and engagement, in order to attract brands who will pay them for ineffective sponsored content. Partnering with such influencers can result in a loss for your brand because there’s no ‘real’ audience to engage with.
Be sure to carry out thorough background research on influencers and their social media profiles before working with them, in order to minimise your losses. You can easily check their average engagements per post and use this to calculate their engagement rate. It’s also worth checking to see if they’ve worked with any recognised or reputable brands in the past, an engagement rate of more than 2.7% is good.
3. Choose quality over quantity
Choose influencers with a ‘high quality’ engaged audience, that match your target audience interests, rather than going for an influencer with the largest follower count.
You should choose to partner with influencers who can truly have an impact on the audience you’re targeting. When selecting influencers to work with, it shouldn’t be about ‘who has the largest following’ — go for influencers with highly engaged audiences as these are the influencers who really have an impact on their followers.
Choosing quality over quantity also goes for how many influencers you want to engage with and promote your brand. You’re much better off working with a few influencers with highly engaged audiences whose interests are aligned with your brand, than 10 or 20 influencers who have little affinity to your brand and whose audiences are not highly engaged.
4. Don’t be afraid to give up some control
Unlike traditional marketing where brands have total control over creative and how it is distributed, influencer marketing relies on the authenticity of influencers. Each influencer you work with may take a different approach to showcase your brand or product, therefore you should be comfortable in handing over some control to influencers.
Brands should recognise that the influencers they work with will have a better understanding of what resonates well with their followers, and so allowing them to exercise creativity in how they approach the brief is key to their content being authentic.
Brands should, of course, maintain oversight of influencer campaigns to ensure all applicable regulations are followed but should avoid micromanaging influencers and encourage them to work creatively.
5. Build long-term influencer relationships
Whilst one-off sponsored posts may be what immediately comes to mind when you think of influencer marketing, you should focus on building longer-term relationships with influencers.
Long-term influencer relationships are beneficial to both parties. As a brand, it means that the influencer is more invested in you and can be trusted to produce high-quality and authentic content. For influencers, long-term brand relationships show that the brand they are collaborating with trusts them completely, and opens up new collaboration opportunities.
Try to think about how you could work with an influencer in the long-term and how they could help explore new avenues such as account takeovers, brand ambassadorships or product collaborations. By aligning your brand with select influencers for the long-term, you’re more likely to tap into their influencing power.
Hopefully, our influencer marketing tips have helped you learn how to plan and execute a successful influencer marketing campaign. Remember, it’s important to select the right influencers for your brand and audience and collaborate with them in a mutually beneficial way.
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