You’ve read about influencer campaigns and know they are effective for profitable, long-term value. Before you can leverage the power of digital influencers for your brand, you will have to answer a familiar question:
Where do I start?
Creating and managing influencer campaigns may seem overwhelming at first — but there’s no need to worry.
We’ve broken down the process into 6 simple steps with social media experts to help you start engaging and winning with your influencer campaigns.
Step 1: Define Your Influencer Campaign Strategy
What do you want to achieve with influencer marketing? Before searching for influencers, you need to have clearly defined objectives and the necessary KPIs to measure them.
Measuring the ROI of influencer programs was rated the biggest challenge by 76% of marketers, according to a study by Linqia. Smart marketers can circumvent this challenge with clear and careful planning.
“Setting expectations for any marketing campaign, especially influencer marketing, is key to success. Do some industry research to find relatable benchmarks based on your vertical. Set these expectations ahead of time to make sure success is clearly defined.”
-Sarah Sanchez, Manager, Performance Social at CPC Strategy
Influencer Campaign Objectives
Influencer marketing is unique in that it can be leveraged to achieve many different objectives. Each objective will have different KPIs and influencers to best meet that objective. Do you want to boost sales? Increase your follower count? Drive traffic to your webpage?
Every brand’s goals will depend on their priorities, but most objectives fit into four categories:
- Driving brand awareness
- Boosting sales
- Reaching a new target audience
- Creating authentic engagement
For those new to influencer marketing, it’s considered a best practice to set one objective as a focus point to structure the rest of your campaign.
All goals should include a specific time-frame and method of achieving those goals.
For example: increase follower count of our brand page by 1,000 by end of June with X posts from influencer Y.
KPIs for Measuring Your Influencer Objectives
You’ve decided upon your campaign’s objectives. Now you need to determine what metrics you’ll need to use to measure the success of your campaign.
For tracking visibility or reaching a new audience:
- Brand lift
You can track these metrics with most dashboards native to each social channel. You can also use Google Analytics to set KPIs and track goals. There’s also third-party software that offers more features and information.
Check out our extensive list of Social Media Marketing Tools to Make Your Life Easier.
Tracking sales lift:
Many brands will want to increase the sales of a particular product line. The good news is that tracking sales is pretty much the same across all social media channels.
- Promo codes: discount codes unique to each influencer allows you to track where sales are coming from
- Affiliate links: unique links that bring traffic to a landing page or product page can be used to measure conversions
Engagement is one of the most valuable returns for brands engaging in influencer marketing. Types of engagement may differ across different social media channels, but they all fall into similar categories.
Here are some of the most important types of engagement to track in a given influencer campaign:
Step 2: Find and Partner With Key Content Creators
With your influencer objectives and necessary KPIs in place, you can now focus on the fun part: the influencers.
You shouldn’t be looking for someone to simply hire for a single campaign.
You are investing in a relationship. Ideally, a long-lasting one that will benefit your brand, the influencer, and your shared audience.
Mae Karwowski, founder of influencer platform Obviously, says:
“On a macro level, authenticity is the most important quality an influencer must have. Does this influencer genuinely love your products and brand? Are they excited to promote you? You want to work with influencers that are excited at the opportunity to work longer term with you if content performs well.”
-Mae Karwowski, CEO and Founder, Obviously
Define your ideal influencer
Before you can start searching, you need to know who you are looking for. There are hundreds of thousands of influencers out there, and finding the right one is critical for achieving your objectives.
An ideal influencer is someone who:
- Actively creates authentic content that engages and delights your target audience
- Aligns with your brand’s core values and messaging
- Can share your brand’s message in an enthusiastic and genuine way
Is your influencer a comic? A vanguard for a social movement? A niche journalist? Every influencer has their own unique personality type. Find one that is already resonating well with your target audience and work from there.
Some additional factors to consider (TapInfluence):
- Influencer verticals: Consider the vertical your influencer operates in. If you are selling men’s pants, then you’ll want to look for an influencer who is already an authority on men’s fashion. Not someone who reviews niche camera equipment.
- Social media channels: Where does your target audience spend their time? Find out what social network that is (Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, blogs etc.) and invest in that channel.
- Pricing: Consider your marketing budget when searching for an influencer. Usually, the more popular the influencer, the higher their cost will be.
- Influencer type: What size of an audience do you need to target to accomplish your objective?
- Micro: 1,000 – 10,000 followers
- Power middle: 10,000 – 250,000 followers
- Macro: 250,000+ followers
- Engagement rate: the influencer’s average engagement rate per post
“Focus on influencers whose followers will actually engage with their content. Highly engaged followers are more likely to trust the advice of the influencer rather than feel like they’re being sold another product.”
Going big and wide for exposure may call for a macro influencer. Many brands want to hone in on a more narrow and specific niche audience that follows a micro influencer.
It all depends on your brand’s objectives and budget.
Mae says that your influencer should also align with your brand and target audience,
“Many brands choose stereotypical influencers. Don’t choose a twenty-something in Los Angeles when your target customer is actually a first-time parent living in the Midwest. Look at their content – is it aligned with your brand? If you are a makeup brand for heavy metal enthusiasts it’s going to look bizarre on social media if you are partnering with a preppy mom blogger.”
Reaching Out to Your Influencers
You can contact an influencer much like you would contact any other business partner. Many influencers list their contact email right in the bio section of their social media page.
Here are some basic guidelines for connecting with your target influencers (Salesforce):
- Become their fan (and part of their audience)
- Like their page, share or retweet their posts, and leave meaningful comments.
- Contribute to their content and put your brand’s name in their airspace
- Pitch a compelling outreach email
- Show interest and appreciation for the influencer’s work
- Make it clear that you have their audience’s best interests at heart
- Negotiate a deal they can’t refuse
- What can you offer them in return? (more on that below)
- What do you want from your influencer? How many posts? Rights to images and content?
“Reach out in a personalized way – make each influencer feel special and chosen. Be organized and disclose all details upfront. This makes the influencers’ lives so much easier as they are talking to countless brands, many of which are very disorganized. If you are friendly, organized and clear, you’ll stand out as a great brand partner.“
Need more help finding and contacting influencers? There are plenty of third-party platforms and marketplaces to make the matchmaking process easier.
Step 3: Build Your Brand-Influencer Relationship
Turning viewers into loyal customers will only work if the audience sees an authentic brand-influencer relationship.
You’ll now need to become a relationship manager.
“Building a relationship is important. Comment on their social posts, write a short email celebrating a success they posted about, meet in real life for coffee!”
Nurture an Organic Brand-Influencer Relationship
All successful influencer campaigns are built upon a healthy, organic relationship. Here are a few best practices to consider to foster a healthy brand-influencer relationship.
- Communication: Encourage feedback and open communication.
- Collaboration: Take time to talk through your collaborations. Establish your brand-influencer story and how you’ll work together to deliver that story.
- Creative space: Influencers are professionals. They know their audience better than you do. Give them the creative space to decide what best meets their audience’s interests and needs.
Nurturing a long-term, positive relationship can take time and will vary with each influencer.
Sarah affirms the importance of this authentic relationship,
“It must feel natural for both parties to be partnering together. The benefit of partnering with influencers is having a voice outside the brand advocating for their products. If their advocacy isn’t in-line with their organic content, the partnership will fall flat and ring as inauthentic.”
Compensate Your Influencers Well
Every type of influencer will differ when it comes to their compensation expectations for working with a brand. Some influencers (micro) may have a small enough following to be satisfied with:
- Free products – for reviews, giveaways, competitions, etc
- Promotions – drives more traffic to the influencer, incentivizes their audience
- Other incentives unique to your brand — gifts, traffic, blog features, fly them out to your office space, get creative)
- Monetary compensation:
- Pay per sponsored post
- CPC (cost-per-click)
- CPE (cost-per-engagement)
- Flat rate fee for a predetermined amount of content throughout a campaign
Rewarding your influencers is an important part of nurturing your working relationship. Take time to understand your influencer’s needs, and execute accordingly.
Step 4: Start Engaging With Your Branded Content
Now that you’ve started building a relationship, you’ll need to come up with your ideas for the influencer to use to engage their audience.
Establish Content Creation Responsibilities
Are you going to send free product and let the influencer review it on their terms? Will you send instructions? Are you going to team up the influencer with your in-house creatives?
You should establish how the content will be created, and how much responsibility lies with you and the influencer.
Exercise too much control over the influencer risks the content looking like an ad. Which defeats the purpose of influencer marketing.
“Give influencers a creative brief that stresses parameters rather than dictates specific content requests. If an influencer primarily posts in bright colors, and your brand is all about black and white minimalism, this influencer isn’t going to create content that you’ll want to repost on your own social channels.”
Strike a healthy balance between instruction and freedom. Allow the influencer enough creative space to make the content theirs.
Here are some general guidelines for instructing your influencer’s posts:
- What should the post include? Be explicit. Keep it to 2-3 key points.
- What should the post not include?
- What kind of feeling or vibe do you want your message to evoke?
- Keep it simple — you’re talking to a person, not a robot.
“Tell the influencer the goal of their content: for example ‘we really want to build excitement around our newest flagship store!’ Or ‘Our newest phone has these two features that we really want to highlight.’ and see what their feedback is to these notes.”
Remember: influencers are already masters at creating content for their audience. Don’t intrude or overly control your message. Allow the influencer to work their magic.
Create a Content Schedule
Most brands (and influencers) do not want a one-off post. Not only does it not look authentic, it doesn’t communicate a real long-term relationship with the target audience. Brands should have an idea of what their ideal posts will look like.
A content schedule should include:
- The number of posts your influencers will publish
- The type of each content (photo, video, blog, tweet, Instagram story, etc.)
- The date each post should be ready, reviewed, and published by
Your influencer should know the number of posts and the times that they should be distributed. Schedule posts for your audience’s peak engagement hours.
Use this schedule as a shared content pipeline between you and your influencer to coordinate around.
Step 5: Amplify Your Influencer Content
You’ve spent time and effort to create influencer content — now it’s time to leverage that content for maximum reach and engagement.
Amplification increases the longevity of your influencer-generated content.
Maximizing the potential of your content means using paid, owned, and earned media to boost and distribute that content.
Paid amplification is offered on all of today’s major social networks. Even a small investment on these channels will bring greater exposure to your brand-influencer content.
Consider putting ad dollars behind this content to highlight it wherever your target audiences reside — Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, etc.
Earned amplification can be achieved through word-of-mouth. Use press releases, reposts, blog articles and other third-party media that shine a spotlight on your content to increase its longevity.
Owned amplification is the easiest way to amplify your influencer content. Showcase your influencer partnership on your webpage, blogs, social accounts, email channels, newsletters and more.
- Amplify Your Best Performing Content
- Don’t waste precious ad dollars on something that isn’t converting. You should only pay to amplify or boost your very best content. This is more cost-effective
- Remarket your content to:
- Your most valuable audiences
- Lookalike audiences or another audience you haven’t yet reached
- Repurpose your influencer content for other channels
- Other social media platforms, webpages, and channels your audience frequents
Step 6: Measure Your Campaign Success
Now it’s time to use your KPIs to measure your campaign performance.
As mentioned earlier, there are many different KPIs. Which you use will depend on your main objective. Some objectives are easier to track than others.
Some example CPAs (costs-per-action) to determine the success of your campaign:
- Sales revenue
- Cost per 1000 impressions (CPM)
- Cost per engagement (CPE)
- Conversion rate (CR)
- Net new traffic to a webpage
Every social media channel has an average cost per action. Cost per like, share, retweet, follower, etc. Use these average costs to find the total value of your campaign’s net completed actions. Did your campaign result in a desirable ROI?
Concluding Your Influencer Campaigns
You’ll want to conclude your campaign when you’ve reached the end of your content calendar. This doesn’t mean ending your influencer relationship.
Keep in mind that engagement, traffic, and other forms of returns take time. Allow your influencers’ posts to live out their value.
When you have arrived at the end of your content calendar, calculate your returns against the dollar spend of your campaign.
Your post-campaign analysis should include answers to the following questions:
- Did I achieve my objective?
- What worked — and what didn’t?
- What can I adjust to improve future performance?
You will want to use your data to determine the next course of action.
Mae says that segmenting influencers based on their performance can help you optimize future campaigns.
“It’s all about optimization. Analyze the performance of a campaign and look at each influencer’s individual performance. Segment those influencers into tiers. The top tier are the ones you want to work with frequently. Organization of your influencer network is crucial. It will save you countless hours and you already know who will perform well for future campaigns.“
Do you want to expand the campaign into a model for larger influencer program? Or do you need to draw back and adjust your inputs?
Test your inputs, learn from your results, and optimize your influencer campaigns from there.
Your brand’s future network of loyal brand influencers may be closer than you think.
Want to know more about influencer marketing and see relevant case studies?