Whether they realize it or not, all types of consumers take stock in what their favorite social media influencers say.
In fact, 49% of consumers depend on recommendations from influencers to help them make purchasing decisions. That’s just one reason that an influencer marketing strategy is key in social media marketing.
What Is Influencer Marketing?
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In order to understand influencer marketing, you’ll first need to know what an influencer is.
A social media influencer is a person with a heightened social media presence. They tend to have highly engaged followers (whether their follower count is high or low).
There are a few echelons of social media influencer:
- Nano: Less than 10,000 followers
- Micro: 10,000–100,000 followers
- Macro: 100,000–1 million followers
- Mega: 1 million + followers
There are also different types of social media influencers in how they interact with their followers. Examples include celebrities, thought leaders, industry experts, bloggers, and even non-competing brands.
With that in mind, an influencer strategy helps you access honed audiences through influencers by having the influencers themselves place ads on their accounts. This can be a cross-platform endeavor or you can stick solely to Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, or any other social media you may inhabit.
The Value of an Influencer Marketing Strategy
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According to the Digital Marketing Institute, businesses that know how to build an influencer marketing strategy may earn $6.50 in revenue for every dollar spent on influencer placements.
As a lead acquisition method, it’s highly lucrative. Social media prospects stemming from influencers tend to be more likely to convert.
There are a number of reasons why an influencer strategy is so effective. For one, there’s something intimate about a social media influencer (oftentimes, this is especially true with nano and micro-influencers who are more likely to engage with followers). As such, a recommendation from this person feels more like a personal referral than an ad.
Plus, ad blockers are a big hit with the modern-day internet user. In 2019, more than a quarter of all internet users were using an ad blocker on their desktop or mobile device (or both). An influencer marketing strategy is a way around this—and an effective one at that.
How to Build an Influencer Marketing Campaign
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There are a handful of steps involved when developing an influencer campaign.
- Foremost, you’re going to need to do your due diligence. Research is key in the process because you need to solidify which platform(s) you want to work on, what people want to hear, and what audience (or audiences) you want to target.
- Once you’ve done your research, you can target influencers who you want to work with. We’ll dive into how to go about this more in the next section!
- Compensation for influencers varies depending on their following, engagement, and whether or not they work through an agency. Set your ideal budget, but allow for flexibility.
- Once you home in on which influencer you want to work with, calculate a projected ROI so you can know if you reach your goals.
- Develop a management strategy, especially if you’re planning on working with numerous influencers. This might mean going gung-ho on an influencer program or simply setting up procedures for contracts, payment, and expectations.
- Choose your preferred type of influencer strategy. These may differ between influencers. Examples of specific strategies include guest posting, story takeovers, sponsored content, affiliate links, discount codes, brand ambassadors, and co-created content.
- Define your business goals and which messages you want to get across. Some common goals include building brand identity, building your audience, generating leads, generating sales, promoting customer loyalty and link building. Be sure to stick to these goals and messages while still allowing the influencer the freedom and creativity that got them where they are in the first place.
- Measure your influencer marketing strategy progress on a regular basis. Revisiting your campaigns at least quarterly is a smart move.
- Consider building shareable content ahead of time that your targeted influencers will want to use.
How to Find and Work with Social Media Influencers
Other than social listening—a way to tap into what your audience is experiencing as they scroll—there are specific ways to find influencers to work with.
Create a list of relevant hashtags and locate qualified influencers from the results. Adjust these hashtags periodically to give yourself an updated perspective on what your audiences are viewing.
Businesses have also tapped into the influencer industry, of course. Some platforms where you can find influencers looking for partnerships include:
Additionally, you can qualify your influencers to ensure they have an overlapping audience. One helpful tool for this is Alexa’s Audience Overlap Tool. You may also want to check to see if they have worked with competing brands in the past or have previous experience with sponsored campaigns.
After contacting influencers, you may need to follow up. Keep your pitch short and sweet.
How to Track the Success of an Influencer Marketing Strategy
Once you know how to build an influencer marketing strategy, you can go about tracking the success of your campaigns.
The specific metrics you measure will depend on your key performance indicators (KPIs) and business goals. Overall, you’ll want to consider:
- Engagement: This includes social shares, saves, comments and more. Ultimately, you’ll want to keep the cost per engagement (CPE) in mind as a key metric.
- Number of affiliate link redirects: By providing the influencer with an affiliate link to share with their audience rather than a generic URL, you’ll be able to track who’s coming from the influencer specifically.
- Number of promotional code uses: You can also provide influencers with unique promotional codes, so you know which conversions are attributable to the influencers.
- Revenue returned from your investment: This may mean measuring ROI or ROMI.
- Results of UTM links: Urchin Trackable Module (UTM) links help you track the route leading up to a conversion.
- Goals in Google Analytics: Using Google Analytics to your advantage is helpful here. Set specific goals and know exactly if you reached them, when you reached them and how much you reached them by.
Helpful Tools for Your Influencer Strategy
Pick an influencer marketing database tool such as Traackr to help find, vet, and manage influencers. Alternatives to Traackr include CreatorIQ, Grin, and Mention.
If an influencer requires payment for their services, it’s a good idea to create a contract that lays out what kind of content is needed, how many posts are required, and for how long the influencer is expected to post for their required compensation.
You can get a personal legal contract or use a template from Complianceology or a related legal paperwork business.
- Pick influencers that really fit with and/or relate to your brand. Authenticity is going to be a big key to your influencer marketing success.
- Although you can work together on creating content for social media platforms, allow the influencers to create their own content that is authentic to them. This will resonate better among their followers. Just make sure it represents your brand well.
- Make sure to choose the right social media channels for your brand. Really think about your goals and your target audience before you decide which platforms to create an influencer marketing campaign for. Each platform is different and can help you achieve different goals. If you’re new to influencer marketing, consider sticking with just one platform until you’re ready to expand your strategy.
- Don’t be fooled by large follower counts. Micro and nano influencers are more aligned with budgetary constraints. Plus, they tend to have higher engagement rates, which is good for ROI.
- Audit your influencer prospects to make sure their followers aren’t bought or fake. That’s the last thing any business needs.
How to Build an Influencer Marketing Strategy: Bottom Line
By now, you know that influencer marketing works and that it can help you boost brand awareness, engagement, and—ultimately—conversions. A full 89% of marketers find their influencer strategy to be effective, and that makes sense.
Especially when you work with micro and nano influencers that are directly tied to your primary audience, you’re bound to reach your business goals. Whether that goal includes generating a brand image, driving sales or reaching new audiences is totally up to you.