The Definitive Guide to Influencer Marketing is an in-depth tutorial to one of the most successful forms of marketing today. This guide covers the fundamentals of what influencer marketing is and provides you with strategies for ways to find influencers, work with them, run campaigns, and measure your results.
Summary: The Definitive Guide to Influencer Marketing
- Chapter 1: Getting Started with Influencer Marketing
- # 1.1: What is Influencer Marketing?
- # 1.2: Influencer Marketing vs. Content Marketing vs. Brand Ambassadors
- # 1.3: Why do You Need Influencer Marketing?
- # 1.4: How Can Influencers Help Your Business
- # 1.5: The future of influencer marketing
- # 1.6: How to get started
- Chapter 2: Define Your Goals and Find the Right Influencers
- # 2.1: Define Your Goals
- # 2.2: Define Your Target Audience
- # 2.3: Define the Best Type of Influencer for Your Brand
- The Different Types of Influencer
- # 2.4: Steps to Find the Right Influencers
- # 2.5: Tools to Find Influencers
- Chapter 3: Influencer Outreach
- # 3.1: How to Do Influencer Outreach
- # 3.2: Ingredients of a Successful Influencer Outreach
- # 3.3: Templates for Influencer Outreach
- Chapter 4: How to Work with Influencers
- # 4.1: How to Collaborate with Influencers
- #4.2: Influencer Relationship Management (Relationship Nurturing)
- # 4.3: How to Integrate Influencers into Your Campaign
- Chapter 5: How to Successfully Run Your Influencer Marketing Campaign and Measure ROI
- # 5.1: How to Manage Your Campaign
- # 5.2: A Checklist for a successful campaign
- # 5.3: Common Mistakes to Avoid in Your Campaigns
- # 5.4: How to Measure Reach, Engagement, Leads, and ROI
- # 5.5: Conclusion
Chapter 1: Getting Started with Influencer Marketing
If you haven’t heard of influencer marketing, you may think of it as merely another branch of marketing – perhaps even a short-term fad. But influencer marketing is more than that. It is becoming an essential way to publicize your goods and services online. Why? Because it is now the most genuine and authentic method of marketing.
Influencer marketing provides an excellent return for most of those who engage in it. A Tomoson survey showed that businesses made $6.50 on average for every dollar they spend on influencer marketing in 2016. We carried out our own research in 2017 and found that our survey respondents earned $7.65 for every $1 they spent on influencer marketing.
That figure is, of course just an average. The top 13% of businesses received a return of at least $20 per dollar spent. The bottom 18% didn’t generate any revenue. But these were possibly the firms who tried influencer marketing because they had heard it was trendy and didn’t know what they should be doing.
# 1.1: What is Influencer Marketing?
Influencer marketing is one of those terms where the name means what it says. It implies that businesses work with people of influence to help them with their online marketing.
Influencer Marketing aims to identify the main people who act as influencers in your niche so you can approach them to work with you to promote your brand.
So, what is an influencer?
An influencer is somebody who has the power to affect purchase decisions of others. An influencer can do this because he has authority, knowledge, position and/or a special relationship with his audience. He is usually someone who has a significant following in a particular niche, and he actively engages with them.
The size of an influencer’s following will depend on the size of the niche he or she chooses to operate in. There will be more followers of fashion than there are devotees of Greek Mythology.
Influencer marketing grew out of celebrity marketing. Celebrities have promoted products for years – for a hefty endorsement fee, of course. Online celebrity marketing is still an example of influencer marketing, but modern influencer marketing is so much more than a movie or sports star pushing some unconnected product to his fans.
As the internet has matured, certain individuals have established reputations as digital superstars. These are the people we consider to be influencers.
These influencers have built reputations for being experts in particular niches. They might have established a successful blog on the subject. Perhaps they’ve made videos and uploaded them to a relevant YouTube channel. Or more often, they have operated active and popular social media accounts, where they give opinions, ideas, tips, and advice relating to their specialist topic.
Influencers spend considerable time building their brand and cultivating their audience.
If the influencers understand how your product could benefit their followers, then they may be happy to work with you. They will be prepared to lend their name, expertise, and authority towards promoting your product to their followers.
There is one caveat to this, though. Influencer marketing will only work if you sell a quality product. If your product is shoddy, sub-standard or worse than your competitors, then no amount of bribing influencers will make you repeat sales. Indeed, no real influencer will want to work with you.
# 1.2: Influencer Marketing vs. Content Marketing vs. Brand Ambassadors
Some people struggle to distinguish influencer marketing from content marketing. They are similar and interrelated.
Content Marketing occurs when firms create and distribute relevant, valuable content. The content is produced to attract and engage an audience. Its ultimate aim, of course, is to lead the reader into taking some profitable action, perhaps buying a particular product. Content marketing covers the entire process of creating, distributing and using content to meet your business goals.
As we have established, influencer marketing involves working with a prominent person in a firm’s market segment to distribute content. Again, this material has the ultimate aim of encouraging an online consumer to take a particular course of action. Influencer marketing focuses on the distribution of content, rather than the creation of it.
Content marketing uses a variety of methods to share content and raise its visibility. One of the most effective ways is to use influencer marketing as part of the distribution process.
Online consumers often take the following sequence:
- A consumer sees a recommendation about some product or service in a social media post or status. This is usually made by some influencer who the consumer admires and follows. It piques his attention.
- She decides to learn more, so he goes to his favorite blog, YouTube channel, social media network, or podcast to search for more information about the product. She engages with content.
- She seeks clarification about features, pricing, availability and shipping details. She often completes this stage at a brand or retailer’s site.
- If she likes what she sees, she purchases the product or service, either online or by going into a physical store.
This entire process involves the consumer interconnecting with a mix of content and influencer marketing.
A variation on the formal influencer marketing process is where your business cultivates brand ambassadors. A brand ambassador is someone who represents and talks about your brand with passion. These could be your brand’s fans and customer advocates.
Brand ambassadors provide a form of crowd-sourced marketing that amplifies your brand awareness. And they do this because they love your products and services.
You want to cultivate and encourage your brand's ambassadors; to help them have conversations with their contacts, both online and offline.
Often brand ambassadors can perform your influencer marketing for you, with little if any effort on your part.
You have to accept in this social age that you have little control over brand ambassadors. They are the modern form of word-of-mouth. They use predominantly their own content, often a mix of photos, videos and customized tweets.
Of course, you can assist your brand ambassadors and provide them with content they can use. You can also create branded hashtags they can share and build up further support.
# 1.3: Why do You Need Influencer Marketing?
When did you last look at a banner ad on the internet? Most people don’t notice them now. Many of those who take note of them find them so annoying they install AdBlockers to remove them.
With a worldwide average click-through rate of 0.19%, you can hardly consider display advertising successful.
According to a poll from Infolinks, half of Internet users never click on online ads and 35% click on less than five ads per month.
Perhaps you have tried social media marketing. This has some potential. People spend a considerable time nowadays browsing through their various social media threads.
But there is a problem. Who is going to see your social media statuses? Unless you have built massive audiences, you are unlikely to have much reach.
The social media networks have made things more difficult for you. They want your advertising dollars, so they make it hard for you to reach people with organic posts. Recent changes to Facebook have compounded this further. They have adjusted news feeds to favor status updates from friends and family and reduced the visibility of business pages.
Most people on social media have a network of a few hundred “friends.” These people will have a wide range of interests and tastes. Often, their only common factor is that they are friends with the same person. They may be a family member of that person, a friend, a work colleague. Or they may just be somebody who plays the same game, or who has a single interest in common. It can be difficult to market on social media to Joe Average.
But influencers are different. They have cultivated audiences of like-minded people. In some cases, these support bases are gigantic – colossal even.
Imagine how many are relevant people you could target with a quality influencer, than if you try a marketing method with more random targeting?
The scattershot approach to marketing yields erratic results.
Some firms succeed in building successful online identities, to the point they become influencers themselves. Red Bull has managed to scale the pinnacle of social media success. But to most firms that it an elusive dream.
It is usually much easier to find influencers and work with them and their audiences to spread your message than it is to build a substantial engaged audience yourself.
Influencer marketing is different to traditional advertising. One significant difference is the type of relationship you need to establish with your influencers.
Many businesses, notably large corporate organizations, have traditionally kept tight control over their brand and marketing. That approach is not overly useful in influencer marketing.
Influencers established their prestige before you ever came on the scene. Even if you operate a well-known brand, you cannot expect to leverage much control over your influencers. You may pay them well, but you do not employ them. Their followers want to hear what the influencers wish to say – not your message. They are not searching for your “opportunity.”
This is one of the core differences between traditional outbound marketing and the new breed of inbound marketing. With inbound marketing (and that includes influencer marketing) the customer comes to you. You can’t dictate the terms as you could before.
It is the organizations who try to keep tight control on their influencers who generally face the most disappointing results.
The essence of successful influencer marketing is trust. And you can’t get away from the core fact - consumers trust influencers more than they do brands.
Successful influencer marketing creates a win/win/win situation. You (the brand) wins. The influencer wins. The followers of the influencer win. If you can achieve this triple strike, then your influencer marketing campaign will have been a success.
# 1.4: How Can Influencers Help Your Business
The level of help you can expect from an influencer depends on the type of working relationship you can establish with him or her. If you use influencer outreach and an organic approach, you will probably receive less help from an influencer than if you pay them for a distinct influencer marketing campaign. Of course, the cost will be very different too. Influencer outreach may result in an influencer helping you out for free (or at most the price of some free product). A formal paid influencer marketing campaign could cost you a great deal, depending on the influencer’s star power – but you will receive more in return.
Typical ways that an influencer with whom you have built an organic relationship could help you include:
- Creating an article/blog post, or video about your product or service
- Sharing information promoting you on their social media accounts. For instance, they might share a post publicising an article you have written for your own blog
- Giving you access to their site so you can write a guest post
Paid influencers will be more proactive in promoting your brand. They might write or film promotional items. They could post pictures on Instagram or videos on YouTube showing them using your product. In this situation, they are not merely helping you out because they built a relationship. They are earning the money you pay them.
Of course, you can’t expect influencers to provide you with unequivocal praise. They are only influencers because of their authentic relationship with their audience. Any real influencer is unlikely to want to deal with you at all if they don't like your product.
# 1.5: The future of influencer marketing
In 2018 the future of influencer marketing looks rosy. It solves many of the issues faced by traditional marketing, for instance, audience fragmentation on conventional media, and banner blindness with online marketing.
In many ways, influencer marketing is still rising – it is still new enough to be considered innovative. It is in the rising phase of the product life cycle and is not yet at its peak.
A decade ago influencer marketing didn’t exist. You had a few celebrities promoting products, mainly offline, and that was the nearest we had to what we think of as influencer marketing today.
People with popular websites had no idea of the real worth of their sites. Active Facebookers (the other social networks were not really widespread then) did not realize the power they had over an audience. Brands certainly didn’t know about these people.
People we now consider as influencers had no idea of the value of their online asset, and their audience.
In those days you still had people worrying that having your phone near your ear for too long would give you radiation poison. Parents discouraged their offspring from going near social media and didn’t consider using it themselves.
But all that has changed over the last few years. We have social media influencers with millions of followers. There are websites related to every niche imaginable, including parenting, and even some that focus on creating an online social environment for the elderly.
Even farmers spend time online now, comparing agricultural data, weather and researching the best products they could use.
The top social media influencers are looked upon in awe by their followers – in much the same way as elite musicians, actors, and sportspeople.
This is not going to change anytime soon. Look at how your kids spend their time. Take note of who their heroes are.
Generation Z is more interested in YouTubers than they are in Hollywood superstars. Television viewing is now the lowest it has been for years. Nielson reports that Americans aged 18-24 watch less than 2 hours per day of traditional TV. 12-17 year-olds watch even less (and their viewing dropped 45.5% between 2012 and 2017). Think back to how much TV you watched in your youth.
This change is unlikely to be fleeting. It is not just the latest fad. Thanks to the nature of social networking and the spread of the digital age, ordinary people have the opportunity to have one-on-one interactions with online influencers. That is not possible with old media.
Although influencer marketing is still in its early days, it has reached critical mass. As more firms engage in influencer marketing, there is sufficient incentive for businesses to create influencer marketing infrastructure. For instance, the growth in platforms has been phenomenal in the past few years.
There are also more educational sites now, like the Influencer Marketing Hub, which provide the knowledge for firms to feel encouraged to give influencer marketing a chance.
# 1.6: How to get started
There is no point engaging in influencer marketing just because you read somewhere that it was trendy. You have to have a purpose for your campaign.
This is probably no different from any other facet of business. Ask any successful business person for the secret to their success, and most will admit that it was down to goal-setting. We look at goal-setting in more detail in Chapter 2.
For influencer marketing to be successful, you must have quality content. A 500-word blog post, written to meet SEO criteria will struggle to attract an influencer’s attention.
For people to notice your content, it needs to be
- Visually appealing
You need to provide real value to the reader.
David Schneider discusses some of the ideal content you could create in How to Create Content that is Worth Promoting to Influencers.
His suggestions include:
- Expert roundups
- Ask your favorite influencers for a quote and use those in an infographic or create a SlideShare.
- Ask for experts’ tip and put them all in one blog post.
You need to determine where potential influencers relevant to your clientele have built their audience.
The most common places for influencers to make their name are:
- Blogs – blogging influencers have spent time (often years) building a successful, popular blog covering a niche that interests your target audience. While many of the best-known fashion influencers have gained influence over a wide range of platforms in recent year, many of them won their initial fame due to the quality of their blogs. You could choose to work with quality bloggers in a range of ways:
- Guest posting on their blog
- Trying to get them to mention your brand in a post
- Aiming for a product review
- Sponsoring a paid blog post
- Social media – quite a few influencers (even those who run quality blogs) have huge followings and engagement on their social media accounts. Your aims here could include:
- Receiving positive mentions in social posts
- Retweets or shares of your social media posts
- Posts showing the influencer using your product (for instance an “unboxing video” on an influencer’s YouTube channel
- Creative social posts promoting your products
A major decision you need to make before you start is which path you should follow to find your influencers. There are three options:
- Organic – you search for and build relationships with influencers in-house. This is the cheapest, but most time-consuming method
- Platforms – you pay to use one of the specialist online platforms to find your influencers. Many of the platforms provide systems, which make it simpler to manage your influencer campaigns
- Agencies – you pay a specialist influencer marketing agency to help you with influencer selection and management.
We look in more detail at these options in Chapter 2.
Chapter 2: Define Your Goals and Find the Right Influencers
The goal of any content marketing campaign is to demonstrate how you can provide value to the audience. In the case of influencer marketing, you need to prove you can provide value to the audiences of your influencers.
# 2.1: Define Your Goals
The common saying, “failing to plan is planning to fail” applies as much to influencer marketing as to other areas of your life. There is little point taking on influencer marketing without first setting goals. It would be interesting to know how many of the 18% of firms who failed to see a positive return from influencer marketing first set goals for their campaign.
You need to know WHY you are carrying out your influencer marketing campaign. This will affect how you measure the success of the campaign. It will probably even impact on your choice of influencers.
Your goals for an influencer campaign could be as simple as:
- Increasing the number of visitors that come to your site by a certain percentage
- Increasing the number of your brand’s social media followers
- Increasing your brand’s visibility before a particular audience (e.g., Grad DNA chose to use influencer marketing because they wanted to raise the awareness of their brand name and app using influencers. They set a target of achieving 2-3k app downloads by students as a result of their campaign).
- Increase product sales by a certain percentage or amount
Your goals will affect the type of influencer you choose to work with. If you want quick interaction with people, you are likely to work with influencers who are active on Twitter. If you desire to emphasize the look and image of your product you could put an emphasis on a visual channel like Instagram or Pinterest. If you aim to provide in-depth product awareness, particularly if you are in B-B, you may opt to post a technical article on an industry blog, and have suitable influencer share links to the article.
It is essential that each of your goals ties into a particular key performance indicator, though. Otherwise, how could you measure the success of your campaign? For instance, if you have a goal of increasing sales you will want to compare your sales figures before and after the campaign. Similarly, if you set your goal to growing sign-ups to your newsletter, you will have a definite KPI you can measure.
You need to create SMART goals. Each has to be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-based. A goal of “increasing product awareness” is too vague – you can’t possibly measure it. On the other hand, “increasing out following on Instagram by 20% during March” is SMART, and you can determine whether your influencer succeed or not.
# 2.2: Define Your Target Audience
It is impossible to find the right influencer if you don’t know who you want them to influence.
You may already know your ideal target customer. If so, then keep that persona in mind when your search for influencers.
Similarly, if you have undertaken successful PPC or paid Facebook advertising in the past, take a close look at how you targeted your campaigns there.
For influencer marketing to be successful, you need to work with influencers who influence your target audience.
For instance, assume you had a colossal marketing budget and could afford to work with Justin Bieber on an influencer marketing campaign. If your product is something that targets teenage girls, Justin would clearly do an excellent job of marketing it for you. He has a Klout score of 92 and over 100 million Twitter followers.
But if you sell varnish to restore antique furniture, Justin is unlikely to convince many of those 100 million Twitter followers to buy your varnish. In that case, your target audience would lack congruence with the influencer’s supporters.
The more you can narrow your target market down to a specific niche, the easier you will find it to select the right influencers.
# 2.3: Define the Best Type of Influencer for Your Brand
This is the biggest failing of influencer marketing campaigns. Too many firms fail to put effort into selecting the perfect influencers for their brand.
A Tapinfluence / Altimeter study found that 67.6% of marketers consider finding relevant influencers their most substantial influencer marketing challenge.
This was also probably the most significant weakness of traditional celebrity marketing. While there have been some definite successes, there is often a nagging question in the consumer's mind. “What does that celebrity know about my lifestyle? He (or she) lives in another world”.
The bottom line is simple and clear. You need to work with influencer whose audience matches your target market.
The Different Types of Influencer
Although the boundaries can be uncertain there are three types of influencer that you could consider working with for an influencer campaign:
- Celebrity Influencers
Celebrity influence is the oldest type of influencer marketing. Companies have hired celebrities to endorse their products for years. Some products, such as the George Forman Grill, have become synonymous with the celebrity who shared his name.
Some celebrity campaigns (both in the traditional way and the modern online type) can be highly successful. Paying George Foreman to provide his name and image for the grill was a highly successful marketing ploy by Spectrum Brands, to the point that few people know the company’s name.
But businesses have also found that working with celebrities can create its own problems. Firstly, celebrities are expensive. Kim Kardashian has reportedly charged $250,000 for posting a single Instagram picture on behalf of a brand.
Secondly, consumers in many niches are notoriously suspicious about people promoting anything they don’t personally use. Even if you had the budget to pay a celebrity to endorse your product online, it might not generate many more sales because of a discrepancy between the celebrity and your target market. Would home renovators, for instance, really believe that Kim Kardashian knows much about the best fence stain? Would they change their buying behavior as a result of her promoting one brand of stain?
One exception to consumer suspicion of celebrity endorsement is where celebrities act as genuine brand ambassadors. In some cases, superstars have cleared shop shelves of stock, just because of what they wore or did.
For instance, Emma Watson was photographed wearing a scarf from British knitwear company, Crumpet. It was clear that she liked what she was wearing. Crumpet benefited from an increase in their scarf sales of 62% in three weeks as a result.
Similarly, a particular maternity dress Kate Middleton was snapped in sold out within minutes of the photo being published.
Macro- influencers also have large-scale followings. People consider them to be the experts in their field. They often have millions of followers on their various social networks.
The difference between a macro-influencer and a celebrity is that the macro- influencer is known for being an expert on a particular topic.
For instance, Onalytica ranks the top three influencers in the world of content marketing to be Jeff Bullas, Joe Pulizzi, and Neil Patel. Onalytica calculates them as having influencer scores of 100.00, 96.83, and 83.79 respectively.
In Twitter, for instance, these three macro-influencers have huge followings. Jeff Bullas has 562K Twitter followers, Joe Pulizzi has 141K, and Neil Patel 284K. When you add their other channels in, along with their influential blogs, these are the superstars of their niche.
But they aren’t celebrities. Ask the average person in the street, and they probably have no idea who any of these macro- influencers are.
But if content marketing is your niche you would receive more “bang for your buck” working with one of these content marketing rock stars than a famous celebrity.
Many macro-influencers are industry experts and thought leaders. They include journalists, academics and professional advisors in their ranks.
But there is one problem working with macro-influencers. They have already made their name. They are at the top of their field, and in most cases will be receiving the income to reflect that.
They are probably only prepared to partner with a brand in two situations:
- You provide them with a massive incentive for them to work with you, or
- They genuinely love your product and/or service. You can still benefit from building relationships organically with a macro- influencer. They may be happy to share your posts if they like your product and/or your content
The bulk of influencers are micro-influencers. You could consider them scaled-down versions of macro-influencers. Unlike celebrities, they are unknown outside their niche. But in their niche people recognize them as experts.
Micro-influencers are often the top people in topics that are niche; topics that are not super-popular. Alternatively, they are experts in popular subjects, but not the ones at the top. They are often bubbling under macro-influencer level.
This means that micro- influencers are often your best bet for an influencer marketing campaign. They have a much more significant support base than the average person, but not so large that they are too busy (or wealthy) to turn down offers for influencer marketing.
Micro- influencers may not have the most extensive followings – often in the range of 500 to 10,000 followers, but they engender high-levels of engagement. Their followers recognize their knowledge on their specialist topic and become fervent supporters.
Micro-influencers are often seriously interested in buying products, too. They have 22.2 times more conversations weekly about recommendations on what to buy compared to the average consumer, according to The Keller Fay Group / Expercity research.
According to a Bloglovin’ survey, 53% of micro-influencers have received payment to promote a post. They don’t need to. They have built such strong relationships with their followers that they can rely on organic reach and word of mouth.
You need to work with influencers who attract the types of people who will allow you to meet your goals.
You should never choose to work with an influencer just because she is famous. Nor should you work with an influencer just because he is cheap.
When you search for influencers, you are merely looking for people with a strong support base who target the same type of people as your customers. Their fans should be your fans.
If you find these influencers, your campaign should succeed.
Don’t rely on raw follower numbers when searching for influencers, though. Some people undertake dishonest practices and buy their followers. Even when follower numbers are genuine, this is not a useful guide to the person’s level of influence. Often the best influencers have smaller audiences who are highly engaged.
Markerly discovered that engagement tends to decrease, as a percentage, as follower numbers rise.
You need to balance those people with huge followings and reasonable engagement, with influencers with moderate followings but active engagement. While it may seem logical to opt for somebody with the largest reach (cost permitting) the reality is that you might gain more conversions from a smaller more active influencesr.
Brand ambassadors can also be a form off micro- influencer. The only difference is that they are often self-appointed. They like your product and choose to promote it, regardless of whether you are involved.
Some of your most enthusiastic promotors will be your unofficial brand ambassadors. Much of what they upload will be visual. For instance, they may create a board on Pinterest where they pin images that relate to your products.
Some businesess value their brand ambassadors so much that they use them in an active role in campaigns. You could begin by providing free product to your most fervent supporters. You could create a competition where you encourage them to use a particular hashtag, providing them with some form of prize incentive or reward.
# 2.4: Steps to Find the Right Influencers
You can probably recite the names of any celebrities in your field.
In reality, most of the best known people are probably macro-influencers rather than celebrities. People outside your niche will probably never have heard of them.
The first step of carrying out an influencer campaign is to know which influential people you should target.
You could begin with a simple Google search for articles in your field. Look at sites that appear in the first few pages of Google’s rankings. Do you see particular author names appearing regularly? While you do this, take a look at any industry-specific blogsites that appear near the top of the rankings. Do they have a mix of authors? Can you see any reference on the site to anybody writing a Guest Post? You could look for any obvious Guest Post contributor guidelines.
You should probably ignore big sites like Wikipedia, or generic sites that cover a wide range of topics.
You could then use some of the tools I refer to below, like BuzzSumo, to help you discover important influencers and content authorities in your niche. These will help you discover who is most active at sharing other people's content via their social media channels.
You could also go to your preferred social media channels and do a search using relevant hashtags. Take note who appears who most frequently.
A recent trend has been for firms to operate campaigns across a range of social channels. Therefore unless you have a particular reason, don’t just restrict yourself to perusing just one network like Twitter, Facebook or Instagram. Ideally you want influencers across all of the networks where your target customers spend time.
Unlike traditional advertising, you can’t just go to the Yellow Pages and look up a list of influencers. Inexperienced businesses often consider influencer selection the hardest stage of influencer marketing. This is the main reason that we now have influencer platforms and specialist influencer marketing agencies. Platforms and agencies were both created to help businesses streamline their influencer selection process.
A. Using an Agency
If you opt to use an agency for your campaign, influencer selection is a simple process. The agency will do most of the legwork involved in finding suitable influencers for your brand.
Of course, you will still need to define your goals. Influencer marketing agencies may do an excellent job of organizing your campaign for you, but it is still your campaign. If you don’t decide on suitable goals for your campaign, even the most professional agency can’t work wonders.
An agency may have a roster of reliable influencers on their books. They will have discovered the people they believe make the best influencers over a series of campaigns for multiple clients across various industries.
Alternatively, the agency may work with one of the platforms, using their technology to find influencers who they believe will best meet your needs.
They will probably give you a shortlist of the influencers they feel suitable for your campaign.
B. Using a Platform
There are now many platforms, and they differ in the ways they operate. Some allow influencers to apply to join their roster. Others use a patented algorithm to discover the people they believe are the best influencers for any particular audience.
If you opt to use a platform, you will typically be asked to describe the types of influencers with whom you wish to work. The platform will then provide you with a list of potential influencers who meet your search query.
Some platforms work in reverse. You create a gig, describing what you want regarding an influencer marketing campaign. You advertise your gig on their platform, and their influencer members make offers to you. The platform provides you with crucial analytics about each influencer, and you can select the ones you believe make the best fit for your brand.
C. Carrying Out Your Campaign Organically
If you intend to carry out your campaign organically, you will find it a slower process than using a platform or agency. But you may build longer-lasting more genuine relationships with influencers, which could lead to regular endorsement at little, if any, cost.
You will need to spend time on social media each day, researching and studying who has made an impact on your target market. You will then need to get to know these people gradually.
It is not quite as daunting as that sounds. You won’t have to spend all day on social media. You just need to be smart with your time.
Assuming you have defined your goals, you should know the type of influencers you are searching for. You can ignore anybody who does not appeal to your target audience for a start.
75% of marketing and communications professionals say verified web traffic of an influencer is the most important criteria when selecting an influencer.
# 2.5: Tools to Find Influencers
The most straightforward tool to find influencers (if you don’t have an agency finding them for you) is to use a specialist platform. We have looked at many of your options in posts such as
- 25 Top Influencer Marketing Platforms to Boost your Campaigns
- 8 Influencer Marketing Platforms To Amplify Your Campaigns
- 5 Influencer Marketing Platforms for Instagram You Need to Try
If you prefer to find your influencers organically, and not pay for the services of an agency or platform, there are other tools to make your life easier. We have looked at these in more detail in our previous post, How To Identify Influencers in Social Media.
Some tools you could consider using to find influencers include:
LinkedIn has an excellent search engine to help you to find influencers in your industry.
You first type your industry into the LinkedIn search bar, and then select People. You can modify the other options to refine your selections.
You will need to ensure that you only select 1st and 2nd-degree relationships as you do not have direct access to people more distant.
You may find it worthwhile upgrading to a LinkedIn Premium account, as it gives you more options to help you refine your search.
Some people are suspicious of cold connections via LinkedIn so you should make yourself visible to them before contacting them. You could like and share their posts. Consider messaging them with an intelligent comment about their content.
One of the most powerful ways to make contact with people on LinkedIn is via LinkedIn Groups. If you find somebody on LinkedIn who interests you, consider joining any groups he is in.
Twitter also has a surprisingly capable search engine. You can search for people who have referred to your niche in their profile.
Twitter helps you by listing more influential people higher up the search results.
Of course, once you have found potential influencers on Twitter, you will still need to build a relationship with them. You can’t expect them to follow you back just because you follow them. Most Twitter influencers have far more followers than they have people they follow.
Twitter provides a souped-up social media dashboard in the form of Tweetdeck. You can use it to display any of your Twitter timeline items, mentions, direct messages, lists, trends, favorites, search results, or hashtags.
You can search for the relevant hashtags that influencers in your niche use. Tweetdeck tells you how many followers people have along with their engagement levels, which can be a starting indication to Twitter influence.
Hey Press is great for businesses in the technology sector, as it provides an excellent way to connect with tech journalists.
If you enter a particular area of technology, Hey Press will list journalists who have recently written about that subject.
Hey Press will provide you with two names on the free plan, and find a larger selection of journalists if you have the paid plan.
Buzzsumo provides a great deal of information about content sharing, including indicating thode influencers who have shared most content about a particular topic.
While Buzzsumo’s primary use is to spy on your competitors’ content marketing, it does have an Influencers and Outreach section. You can select a topic and Buzzsumo will give you with a list of people it considers influential on that topic. You can sort the information in many ways, including by level of engagement.
An important statistic is Retweet Ratio. There is little point building up an organic relationship (on Twitter at least) with somebody who has a low Retweet Ratio. Even if they do notice all of your activity, they are unlikely to share any of your content. Whereas somebody with a high retweet ratio is more likely to be interested in sharing what you tweet.
Klout gives everybody participating in social media a score, based on their level of social activity. The top celebrities have Klout scores in the 90s. The average person has a Klout score of 40. Anyone with a Klout score of 63 or higher is in the top 5% of social media users.
While you can find some influencers by doing a search on the Klout website, the most straightforward way to find someone’s Klout score is to download a Klout plug-in for Chrome. Once you have installed this you can see any user’s Klout score on Twitter itself.
Moz is a well-known SEO company. They offer the MozBar as a Chrome plugin.
While Moz restricts some of the data to their paid customers, their free subscribers can find useful information about any site they visit the MozBar. It will show you the site’s Domain Authority (DA) and Page Authority (PA), for example. These stats were invented by Moz, but are significant enough to be recognized by most people involved in SEO.
The Domain Authority, in particular, is useful for determining a website’s level of importance (and thus influence). While it doesn’t tell you too much about the site’s influence on social media sites, it can give you a good idea of the popularity of a blog.
Followerwonk, was until recently also a Moz app, although It has recently changed hands. You can use Followerwonk to take a close analysis of Twitter accounts. It has a high-quality search engine making it easy to search Twitter bios to find influencers in your particular niche. It is easier to use than Twitter itself.
It is a freemium product, and you will obtain greater value from taking out a subscription. You can still use the free version to find some influencers in your niche, though.
You can use Chrome plug-in, Discover.ly, to assist you with your networking. It provides LinkedIn and Facebook details for people who send you emails.
You can use it to find your connections’ social media accounts, and then search to see if they have connections with influencers that would be of value to you. If they do, you may be able to ask your contacts to introduce you the influencers they know.
Social Crawlytics helps you track metrics relating to requested websites. For instance, you can analyze your competitors’ sites and discover their most popular posts.
Social Crawlytics gives you 2,500 credits. You pay a certain number of credits for each URL you crawl. You regenerate some credits each week, and you can gain bonus credits each day by sending a tweet promoting Social Crawlytics.
Social Crawlytics provides you with a detailed report about the social performance of the crawled site. This includes information about the top authors who might make suitable influencers if they write in your niche.
You can use Ahrefs Content Explorer to find the most relevant and shared material created on a topic. It shows you the most popular content on a subject, based on social shares and the backlinks it generates.
You can use Buzzstream to build a list of influencers and nurture relationships. It helps you find contact details for the essential people in a field. It includes extensive information like email addresses, physical addresses, and phone numbers.
Chapter 3: Influencer Outreach
One of the advantages of working through an agency is that you do not have to do much influencer outreach. That is one of the tasks that you pay the agency to perform for you.
Some of the platforms also minimize the need for influencer outreach. This is particularly so in the case of platforms like Famebit, who shift the focus onto influencers finding brands, rather than vice versa. In this case, businesses create a proposal for an influence campaign they wish to operate. influencers then make proposals to Famebit. In many ways, this works in a similar way to freelance markets like Upwork.
However, if you do not wish to pay for an agency or platform, then influencer outreach is an essential step for any brand wishing to engage in influencer marketing.
# 3.1: How to Do Influencer Outreach
Once you have created a list of valuable influencers for your brand, you need to begin the influencer outreach process. You need to go through the slow and steady steps of building relationships with your potential influencers.
Although you will have minimal need to do this when working with an agency, you may still need to go through the process if you used a platform to extract your list of influential names.
It is important to remember that influencers are not there to serve you – no matter how big or well-known your company is. Just because you believe your offer is excellent and will give people incredible value, does not mean that an influencer, or his audience, will agree. The reality is that they probably don’t care less about your brand.
You are going to have to spend time building relationships with your potential influencers. This could be a time-consuming process, and you will need to resist any pushes from above for a quick fix. If senior management wants you to make a quick arrangement with an influencers then they will probably have to be prepared to pay agency fees to orchestrate the deal.
You would need to study your selected influencers. Try and determine what makes them so popular. Why do so many people choose to follow and engage with them?
You should start by following and/or friending them on the social channels where you will later want to work with them. You then need to start interacting with them. Share their material. Comment on their posts. Like their photos, videos, blog posts, and other content.
You need to build an online relationship with them in a similar way to how would establish a real friendship.
That means that you do not try to make any pitches, or talk any sales talk, in the early days of your relationship.
It might take some time before they follow or friend you in return. Many influencers have one-sided follower lists. But if you continually make yourself visible with your other social interactions, they should eventually choose to look upon you as an online friend.
A Possible Approach to Influencer Outreach
If you are engaging in organic influencer outreach, you have to us your time wisely. Otherwise, you can spend a great deal of time outreaching with little to show for it.
Obviously the process begins with building your list of potential influencers. You should try and place your potential influencers into bands of estimated influence.
You will want to spend more time engaging with them most influential people in the top tier, than those near the bottom of your list.
The tools I mentioned in Chapter 2 can help determine a person's relative level of influence.
You could rank people by their Klout score when determining relative influence. Be aware, though that a person’s Klout score gives a guide to their social importance across all of their social accounts. They will be more active on some networks than others. You may be more interested in working with them on the networks where your target audience most spend their time.
Followerwonk provides you with an estimated Social Authority for influencers. If you are considering working with a blogger, the Moz Bar will show you the Domain Authority for any website. You can determine the relative influence of blog sites using this. Moz’s paid Open Site Explorer can give you even more information about the importance of the blog sites that interest you.
1. Subscribe to Your Influencers’ Blogs and Social Media Channels
Once you have determined which influencers to focus on, you want to make yourself visible to them. This will be a gradual process. Begin my following them on the social channels that interest you and subscribing to their blogs, podcasts, and/or YouTube channels.
However, you can’t just remain a passive subscriber. Otherwise you will merely be another email address on their list. You have to interact and engage with their community. However, don’t make any attempts to sell or promote yourself, at least not in the early days of your relationship.
2. Reply to Introductory Emails They May Send
If you sign up to their blog, they will often send you an introductory email. Consider replying to this email, introducing yourself and asking a (legitimate) question. They may not notice you (it maybe an automated process), but there is a chance that somebody will notice what you have written. This would begin the process of making your name visible to the influencer – standing out from the crowd.
3. Share the Influencers’ Posts
For the next few months (it may take half a year or more) you want to share your influencers’ posts and like what they publish. If you share a post, make sure to @tag the influencer (so he knows that you have shared it).
4. Respond to Any Questions Your Influencers Ask Their Supporters
Sometimes an influencer will ask his fans questions. If you see one of these question, make sure that you promptly offer an answer.
5. Comment on Your Influencers’ Posts and Social Media Statuses
Although blog post comments are less frequent nowadays, they are still important on many blogs. You should make comments there on a regular basis. But make sure that you are making intelligent, thoughtful comments. Statements like, “Nice post” are of little value and do not help your reputation. Ideally, you want to add some insight on material covered in the post. You don’t have to agree with the influencer’s point of view, but you do need to intelligently argue a case.
Make sure that you share the influencer’s social media updates, again commenting and @mentioning. Every so often you could thank them for the valuable material they are sharing.
6. Link to Your influencers’ Posts
You will want to leave this one for a while (unless an influencer publishes something so valuable that you feel that your followers would benefit from having the post shared with them).
You will not want to do this for influencer outreach until you have built the relationship to the point where the influencer has started to acknowledge you.
You will need to create a natural link that will benefit your influencer. For instance, you could write a blog post on a similar topic to one the influencer has written, and include a link to his post at a relevant place in yours.
Once you have published your post which includes the link, write an email to the influencer telling him about the link (and how it fits into your article). Do not ask for anything in return.
Alternatively, you could @mention the influencer in social media posts you make promoting your post, telling him that you have linked to his article.
7. Write an Egobait Post Which Includes the Influencers Who You Are Focusing On
Again, don’t try this until you have already built a clear relationship with the influencers, to the point where they would recognize your name on an email in their inbox.
You would create a post where you ask a range of well-known bloggers or social identities a question related to their niche. For instance, you could write a post How 20 Financial Bloggers Help You Save Money on Your Utilities Bills.
You will want to send the question to at least twice as many people as you intend to include in your post. While these will include the influencers you’re focusing on, you should also ask other people who have a reputation in your niche.
8. Reach out to Your Potential Influencers
If you have managed to communicate successfully with your potential influencers, and succeeded in building a relationship with them, you will eventually arrive at the point where you can reach out to them. Remember, this could be many months after you started this process. If you try this too early, all of your hard work will have been for nothing.
You might, for instance, ask them if you can guest blog for them. If they accept guest posts, they probably have guidelines on their site about the type of pitch you should try.
You need to be polite, non-pushy, and to the point.
Don’t stop at this point. You need to keep working on the relationship. You might be able to build up to something more substantial over time, perhaps even create a formal working partnership.
Just, whatever you do, don’t rush things. Influencer outreach takes time.
# 3.2: Ingredients of a Successful Influencer Outreach
Suppose you have done all of the essential groundwork required for successful influencer outreach. You feel that you have established a good enough relationship to approach your preferred influencers and ask them for some form of help. What can you do to improve your chances of success at this point?
Jay Baer believes there are three key ingredients to a successful influencer pitch:
- Explain the benefits - Connecting with an influencer is not really different from any other marketing – you must explain the benefits to the person to whom you are pitching. What benefit can they enjoy from having a relationship with you and your brand? Instead of thinking about how an influencer can help you, you need to think about how your brand can help the influencer.
- Provide specifics – influencers don’t want more work. If you want their help, then you need to propose specifics. If you want them to publish a guest post, for instance, then you need to pitch what your guest post would cover, in detail
- Create deadlines – without a deadine, an influencer is likely to put your proposal aside and forget it. It is far better to create a sense of urgency. If an influencer thinks that the benefit you’ve outlined makes it worthwhile to contribute, then he will be happy to work within a realistic deadline
Although I have included some templates below, it is essential that you personalize them. There is nothing worse than sending out cookie-cutter emails. You need to tailor your pitch to each influencer. According to Statista data, the open rate for personalized emails is 17.6% greater than generic emails.
It is vital that you mention them by name – avoid any sentences like “Dear Sir,” which sounds cold and impersonal. Hubspot found that people have higher click through rates for emails if they include the recipient's first name in the subject line.
Depending on the purpose of a particular email you could consider using one of the following subject lines:
- I love your post on [TOPIC]
- I have a [PRODUCT SAMPLE] I want to send you
- I think we should collaborate on your [SOMETHING THE INFLUENCER CARES ABOUT] initiative
- I’m a [SOMETHING YOU HAVE IN COMMON] too
- I want to talk more about your [TOPIC] post
- I have free stuff I’d like to give to your audience
You want your subject line to be vague enough to pique interest, but with enough detail for any personalization to be distinct. Avoid using any overtly salesy words – you don’t want this email to be directed to the recipient’s Promotions, or worse Spam, folder.
Begin your email with a friendly greeting, but don’t go overboard. Keep it short.
Either write a brief paragraph introducing yourself, or just sign off at the end, with your name, role, and company name (if relevant).
Remember, keep your email short and to the point. Influencers are busy people and receive hundreds of emails every day. You have to compete for their attention. You will have an advantage, though, if you have already spent time on outreach, and the influencer will recognize your name.
If at all possible, offer the influencers something that you know will benefit them (even if it is just the chance to be included with their industry peers in a well-researched and promoted piece of content).
If you don’t hear anything for a few days, send a follow-up email. You could also use Twitter to remind an influencer that you sent him an email.
If you are successful in making contact, make certain that you do what you promised, for instance, writing a round-up post including the influencers.
In that case, you should contact the influencers you have incuded as soon as you publish your post (again using personalized emails). You are far more likely to have influencers share posts they participated in if you send them a personalized reminder. In the email, explain to them how they helped you, provide them with a link to your post, thank them for their assistance, and ask them to share the article.
# 3.3: Templates for Influencer Outreach
Email Template 1 (For a Round-up Interview):
Hi [INFLUENCER]. I love your blog, particularly your posts on [TOPIC].
I’ve got an opportunity for [GENRE] bloggers which I would love to run past you.
I’m [NAME], the [ROLE] for [BRAND], a [BRAND DESCRIPTION]. [BASIC DESCRIPTION OF WHAT YOUR BUSINESS DOES – IMPORTANT CLIENTS ETC].
Our team has selected our [NUMBER] favorite [GENRE] bloggers, and you are, of course, on the list. We’d like to send you [NUMBER OF SAMPLES] of [PRODUCT]. After you’ve had a chance to check them out, we’d like to interview you on Skype about which one you prefer and why. We would then include the video on our [SOCIAL MEDIA] page, where we have [NUMBER] fans. We think it's a brilliant way to introduce a new group of people to [GENRE].
We’d like to get the [PRODUCT] out to you tomorrow. We hope to schedule the video interview at a time that suits you between [DATE] and [DATE].
Which address would be the best for us to send you the [PRODUCT]?
Could you please let me know if you don’t want to be a part of this program? Thanks!
I look forward to working with you.
Email Template 2 (For Showing an Influencer Your Content):
Hi [FIRST NAME]. Knowing how much you love writing about [TOPIC], I thought I’d just show you an article I’ve also recently written on TOPIC.[POST URL ADDRESS]
Hope you find it of value.
I’ve been loving your work at [INFLUENCER’S BLOG] lately, and look forward to reading more great posts in the future.
Best regards[YOUR NAME]
Email Template 3 (For Pitching for a Guest Post):
Hi [FIRST NAME],
Mind taking a quick look at these post topic ideas?
For a while now, I've been digging through [INFLUENCER’S BLOG NAME], taking note of your style and audience. I would love to write some guest posts for you. I believe they would be of value to your audience.
Here are some possible headlines:[HEADLINE #1] [HEADLINE #2] [HEADLINE #3]
Do any of those sound like they would fit your blog? If not, no worries. I'll have another crack at writing some more.
If you’d like an idea of the sort of post I typically write, here are some samples I have recently published:[URL #1] [URL #2] [URL #3]
Best regards,[YOUR NAME]
Email Template 4 (For Giving an Influencer a Sneak peek):
Hi [FIRST NAME]
I’m just letting you know that I’m publishing a new [POST TITLE / CASE STUDY / WHITE PAPER ETC] [TIMEFRAME, E.G., NEXT WEEK].
As a fan of [THE TOPIC OF YOUR NEW POST ETC], I thought you would like to know.
I’m happy to give you a head’s up when it goes live.
Email Template 5 (For Giving an Influencer Notice That You Have Included Him in Something):
Hi [FIRST NAME]
I've been reading your posts on [INFLUENCER’S SITE] for ages and I think they are great. They provide lots of actionable tips and ideas that have helped me greatly.
I’d like to share with you this recent article I’ve written that includes a mention of how useful we find [INFLUENCER’S PRODUCT].
I’d love to hear your feedback.
Chapter 4: How to Work with Influencers
It is vital that you remember that genuine influencers will only be willing to work with you if they believe that your product provides value to their subscribers.
While the best influencers may be expensive, they are not engaging with their audience on their blog or social channels for the money. Influencers marketing is not just paying somebody to say nice things about you.
People only become accepted as influencers because they provide value. If they were to try and pitch irrelevant or shoddy products to their followers they would quickly lose credibility. They would lose their influential status.
Regardless of what you pay your influencers, your brand has to provide something of value to the influencer’s support base.
There is no point trying to work with influencers who have an audience that differs from your target market.
Assuming you have already decided goals for your campaign, you will should also think about what would be your dream post. You shouldn’t limit yourself to thinking about the words and images used. Think about sharing the post, and which social networks would be used.
This is another opportunity to check you have selected the right influencers for your brand. If your ideal post is an Instagram Story showing how your new product can be used, there is little point working with Twitter influencers, no matter how good they are.
If you have found your influencers through organic methods, and you haven’t signed any form of formal contract with them, it will be up to you to create your dream post, and then encourage your influencers to share it.
If, on the other hand, you have negotiated a formal contract to work with your influencers, you should communicate to them your vision of your dream post.
# 4.1: How to Collaborate with Influencers
There are many possible ways you could choose to work with your influencers.
1. Give Free Samples to Your Influencers
There are quite a few social network and blogging influencers who are happy to share their experience of a product in return for a free sample. The whole genre of Unboxing videos on YouTube is an example of this.
If an influencers likes your product there is a good chance that he will produce a positive review on it.
Of course, this assumes that you have correctly targeted your influencers. You need to select people who you expect to have a keen interest in your product.
Be aware though that you cannot expect automatic coverage if you gift product. This is particularly so with high-end macro- influencers and celebrities who have hundreds of thousands or millions of followers.
You will have a better chance of success if you make contact with an influencer first rather than by sending free goods on spec. This means that you are less likely to waste your merchandise. It also gives an influencer an opportunity to tell you if they charge additional money for making these types of posts.
2. Ask for Product Reviews
This is an extension of giving free samples. In this case, you deliberately ask influencers to review your product.
If an influencer gives your product a glowing review, this is likely to increase the chances of his audience opting to buy your product over that of a competitor.
In this case you will need to begin communication with the influencer first. You will want to make a proposal for a product review.
As with the rest of your influencer outreach, you should research any potential reviewer first. What are his other reviews like? Are they generally positive, or does he make scathing comments about products he doesn’t like? Obviously, you need to have faith that your product is good enough to meet with the influencer’s approval.
3. Provide Products for Influencers to Give Away to Their Followers
Another proposal you could make to potential influencers is to offer them products they can give away in a promotion to their followers.
It’s an excellent way to build up excitement about your brand, as long as you provide product which will be of real value to the influencers’ followers. This once again assumes that you align your influencers and their followers with your target audience.
You should consider offering to pay the influencers for the time they spend managing the giveaway.
4. Run a Competition for Your Influencers
Sometimes bands create competitions for influencers (rather than for their followers). You would need to decide on a prize that would interest and benefit the influencers.
You need to clearly define what is in it for the influencers – what makes it worth their while to get involved?
An influencer competition could be particularly useful if you have a high value product that you wouldn’t usually give away. It could be something left-field, like the right to be an official brand ambassador (if your brand’s name is prestigious enough).
You will need to convince the influencers that entry in your competition will be of benefit to them.
5. Pay for Sponsored Posts
Sponsored posts can work very well when working with willing bloggers.
A sponsored post is where you pay a blogger to write a post about your product. He will write it in his voice and normal style.
There are also quite a few opportunities for sponsored posts on the social media platforms – Instagram recently released a specific format for it.
The FTC has set guidelines for sponsored posts – the sponsorship has to be clearly identified and visible.
These posts can create excellent awareness for your brand, particularly if you have picked an influencer with a suitably-targeted audience.
6. Write Guest Posts
Having the opportunity to write a guest post on a popular blog is valuable when you have gone through the organic process of finding influencers.
Guest posts give you the opportunity to position yourself in front of the influencer’s audience.
It is important to remember, though, that a guest post is not an opportunity for free advertising. You will need to write about the same topics as the regular blog post writers. It needs to be as good a quality as their posts, and just as relevant to their audience.
A guest post gives you an opportunity to establish a reputation as an industry expert.
You will usually receive a byline for your post, where you will typically be able to insert a backlink to your site in your bio.
If you have this opportunity, it is marketing best practice to create a specific landing page for audiences who come to your site from this post. You will receive greater benefit from using a landing page customized to this audience, than you will from linking to your generic homepage.
#4.2: Influencer Relationship Management (Relationship Nurturing)
To some extent your influencer relationship management will depend on how you acquired your influencers. There is a big difference between an influencer who you have spent a long time wooing, trying to build an organic relationship, and an influencer who you have found in a platform or agency search. In that case you will have signed a formal contract to work together, and so will have higher expectations of success.
Cost comes into this. If you are trying to build organic relationships for little or no cost, your influencer expectations will be much lower than when you’re working with somebody you paid large sums of money to promote your products.
But the most important relationship is that between an influencer and their audience. Without an authentic relationship there, there is little reason for you to have a relationship with the influencer.
You need to understand the influencer-audience relationship. An influencer must engage in regular conversations with his audience to be of value to you. Also, the influencer's audience must match your target market. You want to be able to complement the existing conversations.
Don’t forget that the audience has built their relationship with the influencer, not you. The audience would not care if you disappeared from their online feeds. Yet, they would be upset if the influencer vanished from their daily routines.
This relates to content, too. An influencer will know what content works best with his audience. You will gain little by trying to foist your content onto them. You will achieve better results by giving the influencer some leeway with content, and collaborating with him to create it – possibly providing him with resources to assist him.
Even if you have built your relationships organically and don’t yet have any formal contract, you still need to ensure that you reward your influencers in some way. You wouldn’t expect to work for free, so why should you expect favors from them? This doesn't necessarily mean you need to pay them money, but there must be ways that you can ensure any relationship becomes a win-win one. This can be as simple as providing prizes for competitions run by the influencers for his audience.
Indeed Augure’s State of Influencer Engagement 2015 found that nearly 70% of brands didn’t pay their influencers. That figure has probably changed over the last few years, with the expansion of influencer platforms, many of which have clear payment systems.
Augere’s survey found that influencer were happy to work with brands because of:
- Increased reach, helping them grow their audience (55%)
- Increased opportunity to create quality content for their audience (45%)
- Extra help available to shape their image (29%)
- Perks (discounts, free samples) (25%)
- The opportunity to earn money (24%)
- New experiences - trips, events, etc. (22%)
You should not stop the nurturing, even when you have established a good working relationship with an influencer. You need to keep the communications channels open and operating at all times. Keep them in the loop with your plans and intentions, particularly in relation to your future marketing intentions.
While you are probably not working with celebrities, your influencers are often given that status by their followers. So you need to treat them well at all times. They have to feel that you value the relationships with them.
You should have a strategy in place so you can track your influencer relationships. This should help you determine which ones bring the best results for your brand. It also helps to ensure that you don't lose their messages and requests.
If you are a large business you may already use some form of customer relationship management (CRM) tool to manage your customers and leads. You could probably adapt this to help you keep track of your influencers.
If you are a smaller business, you might find it easier to consider using Streak. You can integrate Streak into Gmail to help you manage communication with your influencers. You can keep all detail relating to a particular influencer together, and you can also associate them with specific email threads. You can organize all of your email communications by influencer.
# 4.3: How to Integrate Influencers into Your Campaign
There are various levels of influencer involvement in a campaign. Some marketing campaigns are solely influencer-based. But, often influencers are just one part of an overall marketing campaign strategy.
You need to decide, as part of your overall planning, how you wish to use your influencers for a particular campaign.
You could choose to incorporate influencers into every part of your marketing – from market research through to marketing execution. This is an approach many firms take nowadays.
Some campaigns use a variety of channels to deliver the message – with social media working with influencers being just one.
One firm that used the latter approach is Debenhams in England. They work with an agency to create a large-scale integrated campaign each Christmas – for years they used the Found It theme. They connected with a range of celebrities, macro-influencers, and micro-influencers. Each year they employ a high-profile actor to create a series of Christmas-themed ads. Debenhams then uses these ads across multiple types of media, both traditional and online, including high-profile television ads. Influencers are just one of many groups to help spread the news about shopping at Debenhams for all your Christmas shopping needs.
You could consider influencers to be “super consumers”. They shop and buy products like normal consumers. If your influencer selection processes are on target, your influencers are probably similar to your consumers. The difference, though, is that they can provide you with feedback from thousands, possibly millions, of other consumers. It won’t take long for your influencers to give you honest feedback on whether an item in your product range works or not.
Influencers are also considered thought leaders in your area. They know more about your type of products than a typical consumer does. They may be sent products to regularly. Take a look at the YouTube and Instagram channels of any fashion and beauty influencer to see how much they know about their specialty subjects.
You should also let your influencers tell your brand’s story. They spend their time telling stories online, either in text, as a video, as a series of images or in some other ways. A good influencer will be able to tell your story to their followers better than you can.
Chapter 5: How to Successfully Run Your Influencer Marketing Campaign and Measure ROI
Influencer marketing is not a “Get Rich Quick” marketing scheme. It often requires a slow, steady build-up of networking, particularly if you choose to take the organic method of finding followers.
Signing up with a platform, or working with an agency, can speed up the process for you. The downside to this, though is the higher costs you will hve to pay.
Regardless of the influencer selection method you follow, you will in time, however, expect to see a return on your investment.
When influencer marketing was still new, this was difficult. There was little agreement on the preferred metrics to use.
With the maturing of influencer marketing, though, it is much easier to determine the ROI of any influencer marketing campaign.
Be wary of vanity metrics, though. Look back at the goals you set for your campaign. They may involve you increasing your sales, or perhaps awareness, of your product. Your goals will not be to work with the people on social media who have the highest followers.
Often the best influencers operate within a relatively small community. But it will be a vibrant, engaged community. These influencers may not be able to claim the highest number of followers or the most likes on a post. But they are the people who are most likely to generate genuine interest in your product leading to increased sales.
# 5.1: How to Manage Your Campaign
How you handle your campaign depends on the level of independence you give your influencers.
Also, you handle campaigns where you nurture influencers to do you a favor, in a very different way to campaigns where you pay influencers to share material on your behalf. If you are running an organic “free” campaign, you have to “go with the flow” and work in with your influencers. They can control the level of help they choose to give you.
When you pay influencers you have more control on the relationship. You need to make your expectations clear. This is especially so if you allow your influencers to use user-generated content for your campaign.
It is important that you make them aware of your goals so they can help you work towards attaining them.
One way you can monitor posts by your influencers is to take screenshots of what they share. You can also install an Instagram Chrome extension which will allow you to track and download Instagram Stories.
If you are working with a paid influencer, you will have to negotiate pricing with them. Often they will provide you with a fixed price, and you have to decide whether it is acceptable, or whether you need to negotiate further.
This will depend on how experienced an influencer is at working with brands. They may already have a history of influencer marketing, and have a good idea as to their worth.
Factors that affect how much you should have to pay an influencer include:
- The audience quality of the influencer – how well the influencer’s audience matches your target market
- The prestige of the influencer – has he already built a solid online reputation?
- The quality of the influencer’s content – does the influencer have a reputation for creating and sharing high-level content which has converted well in the past?
- How good a fit the influencer is for your brand
- Whether the influencer’s posts have a good media value – do you perceive that they will provide more value to you than if you advertised on the social network, yourself?
You will need to keep in mind the maximum fee you are prepared to pay during your negotiations.
If you agree on on a fee, then you should sign a contract with your influencer, outlining the expectations of both parties. Make sure that you include all essential details in the contract.
You can then begin to monitor the campaign’s progress, making sure you collect any relevant data is it proceeds.
Don’t forget to keep in contact with your influencers, and continue nurturing throughout this entire process.
# 5.2: A Checklist for a successful campaign
The exact list of steps you need to perform will depend on many factors, although the most important difference is the method you opt to follow for influencer selection. You could choose to search for influencers organically (and then connect with them on their terms, usually without having to pay them). Alternatively, you could pay to have more control of a campaign, either finding influencers on a platform or working closely with an agency.
- Define your goals
- Define your performance metrics
- Select your method for finding influencers – organically, using a platform, or working with an agency
- Determine your campaign manager, budget, resources needed, and potential influencer incentives
- Determine the processes to use for influencer research and outreach
- Search for your influencers by your chosen method
- Validate and vet potential influencers who make your short list
- Select the people you will approach about being an influencer
- Do necessary influencer outreach, depending on how you have found the people you are targeting
- Negotiate with influencers you intend to have a formal working relationship with and sign contracts
- Communicate with your influencers through the entire campaign process, and beyond
- Either create suitable content for your influencers or keep track of the content they produce and share
- Ensure there is transparency in your campaign, e.g., your influencer are using the Sponsored Post tag on Instagram, if necessary
- Monitor your influencers in action
- Keep track of your performance metrics for the campaign – comparing actual performance against your goals
# 5.3: Common Mistakes to Avoid in Your Campaigns
The most crucial mistake made by businesses is to pick influencers who don’t appeal to their target market. Where is the value in working with somebody who influences the wrong people? It helps if you can work with people who already have an affinity for your brand. If you are small and unknown, you should at least engage influencers who have followers who would potentially buy your product.
Another common mistake is trying to keep too much control over the content an influencer shares. As far as the audience is concerned, it is the influencer who is the vital person in the relationship – not your brand. They follower the influencer, not you, because they believe in his authenticity.
Some of the least successful influencer marketing campaigns were performed on behalf of firms determined to keep a tight leash on their influencers. Although you can help create content, you need to allow them to personalize it for their audience. Otherwise, it sounds like what it is – official advertising material. This will not fool the consumers for a second, and will not help you meet your influencer marketing goals.
If you are worried about an influencer damaging your brand’s reputation, then you have probably picked the wrong influencer for your target market. For instance, quite a few sponsors deserted PewDiePie after his 2017 controversies. But they were probably not suitable businesses to target his irreverent audience, anyway. Despite all of the non-PC accusations hurled at PewDiePie, he is as popular as ever with his core demographic. The people are far more likely to boycott brands who dropped him than the sponsors who remained with him.
# 5.4: How to Measure Reach, Engagement, Leads, and ROI
One of the greatest challenges faced by influencer marketing, indeed by content marketing in general, is that it can be hard to determine your return on investment (ROI).
With the increase in popularity of influencer marketing, though, there are more accepted ideas on how to measure the results of your campaign.
There is no specific ROI measure for every influencer campaign. It will vary from campaign to campaign, and you may use a wide range of analytical measures over a set time period.
You hopefully began your campaign by setting goals. You need to measure how your campaign succeeded in meeting those goals. You have to measure, and monitor relevant performance indicators that match each of your goals.
For instance, if you had set a goal to increase your Instagram following by a certain percentage over the period of your campaign, then you need to compare your Instagram follower numbers before and after the campaign. If your goal had been to increase sales of a particular product by a certain percentage over your campaign period, you would focus on the sales pattern for the product. You can make tracking easier by creating a dedicated sales page, with the link to it being included in your influencer’s messages.
There are some general statistics that most brands like to know about their influencer marketing:
- Reach and engagement with each post made by an influencer
- Additional website visitors received as the result of the influencer marketing campaign
- Any additional sales generated compared to the costs of working with your influencers
- The types of marketing messages that best resonate with your target audience
If you are aiming to increase awareness, you should have set a measurable goal based on number of impressions, i.e. how many people actually see an influencer’s message. If you want to build your branding, then you will be more interested in the engagement rate. You should compare the influencer’s engagement rate on your campaign with his engagement rate on his typical posts.
If you are more interested in conversion you need to keep a close eye on whether you have had increased sales following the campaign. If you sell online, you will want to see where these increased sales come from.
You should be able to gather many of these statistics from your website’s Google Analytics. One key statistic you can obtain here is the source of your website’s traffic. You will want to see any changes due to your influencer campaign. Most of the platforms and agencies provide dashboards which provide you with relevant analytics for campaigns they manage.
In situations where you work with paid influencers, you should be able to ask them for their post stats that relate to your campaign. Many of the platforms provide these statistics as part of your membership package, and most, if not all, agencies will provide you with relevant data.
One of your crucial jobs for any influencer campaign is to keep an eye on your important KPIs as your campaign develops. Ideally, you should begin your monitoring early in the piece, as this will make it easier for you to see changes caused by the work of your influencers.
# 5.5: Conclusion
It is important that you keep monitoring your campaign. Influence can be fickle. You don’t want to be tainted by working with an influencer who has lost his or her respect.
For influencer marketing to succeed, brands have to trust that influencers will represent them appropriately. The solution comes back to influencer selection. If you choose influencers who have followers with a close match to your target market, you have created odds of a successful campaign.
If businesses follow through the steps I’ve outlined here, and put the effort into suitable influencer identification, then influencer marketing should produce sound results.
influencer marketing works hand-in-hand with content marketing to be the most successful way to market your products this decade.