Influencer marketing has been around for quite a while: Back in 1905, baseball slugger Honus Wagner signed a deal with the Hillerich & Bradsby company to include his signature on a special line of bats called Louisville Sluggers.
Since then, we’ve all seen athletes, celebrities, and politicians appear in endorsements of various types.
But in the social media era – when almost anyone can build a significant audience with enough work – influencer marketing has become much more accessible for everyone.
However, the process of influencer marketing isn’t as simple as finding the most-followed profiles on social media and paying them to promote your product; If you want your influencer marketing efforts to be a success, follow the steps below while planning and executing your campaign.
Go beyond follower count
Follower count is the social media metric that gets the most attention, especially among brands that are considering paying people to increase the exposure of their product or service.
But judging the potential value of influencer partnerships based on follower count alone is a misguided approach to this kind of marketing.
First, now that everyone knows companies will pay serious money to social media users with a lot of followers, buying followers has become a common practice. Many unscrupulous aspiring influencers will shell out money for followers they didn’t earn to make themselves more attractive to prospective clients.
Needless to say, these purchased followers are not the ideal audience for an influencer marketing campaign. You’ve also got to take into account the type of followers that a potential influencer partner may have.
For example, if you offer a cloud-based accounting software targeted at CFOs, it might be effective to target a startup entrepreneur with 500,000 followers. On the other hand, an influencer focused specifically on corporate accounting or CFOs with only 40,000 followers could actually be a more effective influencer partner for you because they likely have more potential customers in their audience – even though their total reach is smaller.
This simple example illustrates why it’s so important to dig deeper than the numbers.
Speaking of numbers…
Ask for some audience data
You don’t need to be a social media master to understand follower counts – but as we mentioned above, followers don’t tell the whole story.
A few other important metrics to consider include:
- Engagement. This broad metric category includes likes, shares, comments and reposts. As the name implies, engagement is a way to determine how active a social media account’s followers are. A smaller audience with higher engagement can be much more valuable than an account with a larger audience that doesn’t pay close attention to their posts.
- Follower growth. How often does a social media account gain or lose followers? Growth or “churn” rate indicates the frequency at which people start or stop following the account. Ideally, you want to have a steady growth rate that shows the account getting an increased amount of attention over time.
- Impressions. This tells you the specific number of times an account’s post gets viewed by other users. Unlike engagement – which is when a viewer takes action on a post by sharing or liking it – impressions simply tell you when a post appears on someone’s feed or timeline.
The specific kinds of metrics you ask about will vary depending on the nature of your campaign and its goals. In fact, just the process of asking for additional information from a potential influencer partner can give you a lot of information about them.
If they are reticent to go into detail about their social media audience, or talk to you about numbers besides their follower count, it’s a sign that they might not be a good partner.
Add value outside of your promotion
Once you’ve done your research and identified a good influencer partner, the next step is to plan your campaign. While your natural instinct will be to focus on your own product or service, it’s important to go beyond simple promotion and provide something worth consuming for the new audience.
After years of pop-ups and spammy emails, most social media users are weary of overly salesy digital marketing campaigns. If all you talk about is your own business or product without relating it back to the user, people will scroll right past the posts or messages in your campaign.
Instead, once you’ve decided on an influencer to partner with, spend some time researching their audience.
Think about the average person in that audience: What are they worried about? What’s preventing them from achieving the kind of success they want, personally or professionally? What kind of goals are they looking to meet?
It may even help to put together a buyer persona – an in-depth profile of your ideal customer.
Ideally, the influencer you’re working with will be able to provide plenty of guidance on what works and what doesn’t work for their audience. After all, they have a vested interest in the success of your campaign, as it can give them future business, too!
Create evergreen content from your campaign
Many marketing campaigns are associated with one-off events like a conference, awards ceremony, or product release. Then, after the event takes place, the value of the campaign’s assets dwindles significantly.
Influencer marketing can be similar, but it doesn’t have to be.
For example, let’s say you’ve engaged a popular influencer in your field for a social media takeover – a common type of campaign that most experienced social media users have seen. Of course you’ll want to promote the specific day of the takeover so that you can get people paying attention to the campaign.
But you can actually still use it in your marketing efforts even after the takeover event is complete. For example, if part of the takeover was a “Q&A” with your influencer’s audience, you might decide to edit that segment into smaller clips of your team answering specific questions about your product or service.
You can then post those clips at any time, even long after the takeover event. This maximizes your sources of content and helps you make marketing content in the future.
Ultimately, the more content you can get out of each campaign, the less you have to spend on marketing!
Use influencer marketing to do something different
Many companies (especially those that have been doing digital marketing for a long time) are familiar with the feeling of being stuck in a rut. In these situations, it can feel like you’re making the same old posts all the time, limiting your audience and making your digital marketing efforts feel stagnant.
A successful influencer marketing campaign is an opportunity to break out of the box.
It’s likely the influencer that you work with has a slightly different audience, with different goals and expectations than yours. Switching things up can get you a better response. You may even find a new type of post or promotion that becomes part of your regular repertoire going forward!
Now that you have a foundation for how to engage in influencer marketing, you can add your own spin on these tips and use them to optimize your campaigns and reach a bigger, better audience.
Remember these key principles:
- Understand metrics besides followers
- Add value to the new audience
- Don’t be afraid to experiment
With these steps in mind, you’ll be able to successfully get your service or product in front of a brand new audience while minimizing your investment of time and money.