Influencer Marketing Strategy:
A 10 Step Guide For Marketers
10 Step Guide To Influencer Marketing Strategy:
- Know your audience
- Set campaign objectives and KPIs
- Find the most appropriate influencer channel
- Determine your campaign budget
- Identify the right influencers
- Reach out to influencers
- Communicate goals and expectations
- Craft an influencer agreement
- Set up goal and metric tracking
- Track campaign performance
1. Know Your Audience And Their Interests
Know your audience and the social media channels where your consumer lives online.
Before you select influencers, you need to clearly define your target audience. Take some time to consider:
Who is your target market?
Determine demographics such as age, gender, education level, income, marital status, location and more.
What are their interests?
Are they interested in fashion and beauty, healthy eating, esports, gadgets, and tech?
What is their life stage?
What is their phase of life? Are they a high school student, graduating senior, college student, home buyer, new mom, etc.
What are their behaviors?
What kinds of products do they buy? What websites do they visit? How do they shop?
After mapping out your audience demographics and interests, it will be easier identify who influences their buying decisions.
2. Set Campaign Goals And KPIs
Define the campaign goals and your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs).
At a high level, most marketing teams have two types of key performance indicators: brand awareness or direct response.
In some cases, it’s a combination of both.
Brand Awareness KPIs
Branding campaigns focus on expanding awareness of a brand and generating buzz around their product or service. Brand awareness KPIs include:
- Website traffic (e.g. views, uniques, clicks)
- Search interest (e.g. searches of a brand name, paid or organic clicks from search)
- Social engagement and reach (e.g. likes, shares, followers, brand mentions, hashtag use)
- Media mentions (e.g. mentions, links from press)
Direct Response KPIs
Direct response campaigns aim to drive a specific, immediate user action. Conversion-based KPIs include:
- Email signups
- App downloads
- Account creation
- Social media followers
Influencer campaigns can drive both brand awareness and conversions, but it’s crucial that your brand sets very specific target KPIs from the outset. For direct response KPIs, it’s advisable to focus on a single conversion type. If an influencer encourages viewers to download your app, buy your product, and register for your newsletter in the same video, the lack of a clear call-to-action will likely lead them to do none of these things.
3. Find the Right Influencer And Social Media Channels
Review and evaluate the social media channels that can best achieve your objectives.
Most influencers are categorized by their most popular social platform, but today many of them diversify their presence across channels (for example, here are several YouTubers who started on Instagram). This diversity gives both the influencer and the brand sponsoring them a chance to promote across multiple channels.
That being said, each channel has its own set of unique influencers, users, and content format. Let’s discuss the benefits of each channel for your influencer marketing strategy:
Instagram has exploded in the last few years, and recently exceeded 1 billion users. This was announced in tandem with the launch of IGTV (Instagram TV), which along with Instagram Stories represents a concerted effort by Instagram to push into the video space.
Collaborating with top Instagram influencers is a great way to position your product or service in a visually striking and highly personalized way. It tends to have a high concentration of influencers in fashion and beauty, travel and hospitality, lifestyle, fitness, food and other verticals.
YouTube has many prominent influencers across entertainment, music, gaming, beauty, technology, and entertainment. It offers a unique channel for them to unbox physical products, or to enjoy an experience live in front of a large audience. That, coupled with the ability to easily embed links, makes YouTube influencer marketing campaigns effective for both branding and direct-response campaigns. Still, the video medium is no longer unique to YouTube, and can be explored through Twitch live streaming and Instagram Stories / IGTV as well.
With over 2.2 Billion users, Facebook has the largest global reach of any channel. Their audience generally tends to skew older on average than Instagram or Twitch. Traditionally, Facebook fell behind other social networks in fostering influencers, but more recently they doubled down with a proprietary Brand Collab Manager for companies who want to partner with creators.
Facebook Live videos, watched 3x longer than standard videos, are used by top influencers to reach Facebook’s global audience. While many influencers use Facebook as a secondary channel, a few have built their primary following on Facebook.
Live-streaming platform Twitch has gained rapid traction amongst gamers in recent years. Over 15 million viewers spend an average of 95 minutes per day on Twitch, which represents over double the time spent on any other social channel.
A slew of brands have stepped in to leverage this engagement — largely gaming companies, although brands like Coca-Cola, Old Spice, South Park Studios and KFC are experimenting with Twitch influencer sponsorship as well. Twitch is emerging very quickly, and represents a powerful new channel for brands looking to innovate and reach highly attentive audiences.
Blogs became the very first influencer marketing channel when food, lifestyle, and mommy bloggers began partnering with brands in the early 2000’s. Blogs generally provide access to an older demographic (25-49 year olds) and allow for more lengthy, narrative storytelling.
For brands, partnering with bloggers can also be a great way to drive brand awareness, sign-ups, website traffic, promotions, and other direct-response KPIs. Successful sponsored blogs also have the unique advantage of building organic search traffic over time, meaning a single blog post could lead to ongoing returns over several years as it appears in search engine results.
4. Allocate Your Campaign Budget
Investment usually correlates to reach. Influencers quote rates based on their total following, current market rates, and advertiser interest.
Sizing up your budget will help determine if you can achieve the wide reach of a macro-influencer or will be working with a smaller set of micro-influencers.
Prices will vary across industries, but macro-influencers can command thousands, tens of thousands, or even hundreds of thousands of dollars for a single sponsored post. This is because they can offer wide impact for a single post.
Micro-influencers may cost anywhere from twenty bucks to several hundred dollars per post, and can be useful for targeting more niche audiences. They also represent much smaller reach and more work for the brand to drive the same impact across multiple influencers.
While some marketers believe micro-influencers drive higher relative engagement, this micro vs macro analysis suggests the difference may be negligible. That said, for brands with a limited budget, working with micro-influencers can offer an affordable way to test a few smaller campaigns.
Pro Tip: Prices will vary greatly, depending on the social media channel. Click here for a more detailed pricing guide across various channels.
5. Research the Right Influencers for Your Brand
Identify the most relevant influencers to partner with using search, platforms, or agencies.
There are plenty of tools and resources to help you identify influencers within your industry, but during that process it’s important to remember what makes your audience and brand unique.
For example, not every fashion influencer will be well-aligned with every apparel brand. A clothing company might want to partner with influencers who connect with the same age groups, clothing styles, or perhaps even body types that the brand caters to.
There are many different ways to begin your search—below are a few different methods:
One of the simplest ways to start finding influencers is by conducting your own research online. This involves:
- Search Engines like Google. Begin by searching things like “top beauty instagrammers” or “most popular Twitch gamers” and collecting some top names to evaluate.
- Ranking Tools like Social Blade, Tubular Insights or GramAnalyzer. These can help you scan rankings by channel, subscriber count, or category, or to analyze the followers of specific influencers.
- Social Media Platforms themselves. Depending on the social media channel, you can research content creators by category, keyword, or hashtag.
Pro Tip: If you have already identified a couple Instagram influencers that reach your ideal audience, see who they are following (and who else their followers are following) to identify additional influencers with similar interests.
Influencer marketing platforms and databases provide a hub for brands to find and recruit social media influencers for a campaign.
- Platforms function as two-sided marketplaces that connect brands and influencers looking for particular requirements.
- Databases are directories that enable companies to search, filter, vet, and track influencers across social media platforms.
Without dedicated internal resources, the process of selecting from thousands of influencers, then building, executing, and managing several multi-channel campaigns can be overwhelming for brands.
After managing hundreds of campaigns, agencies offer proven track records of high performance. While agencies are more expensive than the alternatives, they will also be skilled in selecting the right influencer mix for your audience, KPIs, and industry.
Once you have identified a list of possible influencers, spend time looking through their social channels, content, engagement, and comments. What kind of language do they use? What values do they stand for? Are they controversial in any way? Ensure their image is not only aligned with your brand aesthetic, but your brand values.
Take time to look at their other sponsored content. Take note of how it performed, and whether there are elements of other campaigns you want to carry over to your own campaign.
Especially when working with smaller influencers, be sure to look out for fake followers or purchased engagement — this problem is still rampant, and can be especially tricky to spot for companies new to influencer marketing.
Pro Tip: Before you select an influencer, take the time to review this guide to detecting fake followers.
6. Reach Out to Influencers
Contact your top influencers and invite them to collaborate with your brand.
Most social media inﬂuencers are inundated with requests from brands. Crafting a concise outreach message that cuts through the noise is essential to get their attention.
While many inﬂuencers publish their contact information directly on their channel, a growing number of influencers have agents, managers, or are a part of a collective agency. These intermediaries often field brand inquiries and campaign requests.
Here are a few suggestions for direct influencer outreach:
Engage With The Influencer Socially
Before reaching out, follow them on their various social media channels, and like and comment on their posts.
Reach Out to The Influencer
Contact the influencer or their manager with specific and concise information about working together (a brief summary of the campaign, the budget, etc.). Ask influencers about their own goals, and what they are looking to achieve in their career. Do they want to partner with another popular influencer? Do they want to travel to Nepal? See if there are ways you can help them achieve their goals through this campaign.
Cultivate a Relationship
Build rapport with the influencer before the campaign begins. The more the influencer resonates with you and your brand, the smoother the creative process will be. This also might pave the way for a long-term relationship.
If you are struggling to get through with cold outreach, working with a reputable inﬂuencer marketing agency can facilitate this process as they cultivate relationships with top inﬂuencers.
7. Create a Campaign Brief to Communicate Brand Goals
Outline all of your campaign expectations and goals in a campaign brief.
Once you’ve heard back from an influencer, you should provide a detailed campaign brief that outlines your campaign expectations and goals.
Here are several essential elements of a successful campaign brief:
Which Social Media Account(s) The Influencer Will Publish On
Solely stating the social media platforms (YouTube, Instagram etc.) the influencer should post on leaves room for ambiguity. Many influencers hold more than one account or channel on a single social media platform, so it’s important to specify the exact handles you want them to post the sponsored content from.
Clear Campaign Goals and CTA
Whether you’re looking to raise brand awareness, sell a product, or increase app downloads, the influencer should be crystal clear on the primary goals of the campaign.
Messaging Points That The Influencer Should Include
While it is never recommended to script and influencer’s message, it is important to provide specific talking points. Keep the list concise and focused on helping the influencer be informative—not salesy.
Too many message points can result in a scattered or heavy-handed message. For Instagram, stick to one or two messaging points at most, for YouTube, limit yourself to three or four. Content that feels scripted or forced is almost never received well, and almost always leads to underwhelming results and audience distaste.
Pro Tip: Collaboration is key to successful influencer marketing. Allow influencers to have creative freedom and take the lead deciding what works best with their audience.
8. Craft a Rock-Solid Influencer Agreement
Develop an influencer contract to clarify the details of ownership, deadlines, deliverables, and more.
An influencer agreement should clearly define the terms and conditions of an influencer partnership. The more detailed the agreement, the lower your chance of FTC violations and influencer controversy.
Here are the essential clauses all influencer contracts should include:
Include the duration of the campaign, the deadlines the influencer must meet to submit content for review, and the dates and times the influencer must share sponsored content.
Document whether the influencer or the brand owns sponsored content after a campaign goes live, and who has usage rights.
Specific Campaign Deliverables
Spell out the specific talking points the influencer must meet, and the format of those talking points (verbally in a YouTube video, written in an Instagram post caption etc.).
Outline a time period for exclusivity and clearly list competitors the influencer is barred from working with in that time frame. Your sponsored post won’t have the same impact if the influencer partners with your direct competitor the week after your campaign.
FTC Disclosure Guidelines
Clearly outline the disclosure expectations in order to meet FTC guidelines. Include exact verbiage an influencer must include, such as “sponsored by” or “paid partnership with.”
Here are some key FTC requirements by channel, see a full list of FTC Disclosure Guidelines here.
9. Set Up Conversion Tracking for Your Influencer Campaign
Set up your tracking methods before your influencer campaign goes live.
Before your campaign launches, determine how you will track KPIs (such as traffic, downloads, signups, mentions, or transactions) that you assigned to your campaign.
Some methods for tracking measures include:
This analytics platform enables you to record traffic sources and custom UTM codes that measure specific conversions.
Discount or Redemption Promo Codes
Creating unique promo codes for every influencer you partner with enables your brand to track how many conversions each influencer is responsible for.
Dedicated Landing Pages
Building landing pages for a specific influencer offers insights into who visited and converted on that page (and also allows you to tailor unique messaging to their audience).
Shortened links, like bit.ly links, are cleaner links that can be strategically placed in sponsored content to track clickthrough rates (CTR).
Assigning unique hashtags for your campaign allow you to directly track the impact your brand has on digital and social media.
Pro Tip: Make sure you specify your brand’s social media handle (e.g. @mediakix for Instagram) or any hashtags you’d like the influencer to include within the campaign.
10. Measure and Optimize Campaign Performance
Use analytics to assess your campaign and optimize future ones.
Once your influencer marketing campaign has launched, begin measuring the metrics you previously outlined. There are various methods for tracking performance, including:
Review Google Analytics to measure traffic, behavioral, and conversion metrics. Important KPIs may include:
- Site visits
- Referral traffic
- New users
- Time spent on site
- Goal completions
- Conversion rate
- User demographics
Social Media Metrics
Review the social media platforms that your influencers used to promote the sponsored content to track social engagement numbers, including:
- Engagement rate
- Unlinked brand mentions
- Hashtag usage
Press Coverage And Off-Site Mentions
Scrape the corners of the internet to find mentions of your brand in relation to the campaign. By searching Google, you can locate related brand mentions on different sites, press outlets, or publications. Public relations and earned media software, such as Cision and Trendkite, can track press coverage of your campaign.
For a direct response campaign, the most basic way to calculate the ROI would be to divide the total cost of an influencer sponsorship by the revenue generated by the influencer. For branding KPIs, however, ROI may be calculated based on a variety of engagement metrics depending on your initial goals.
Another way to measure the impact of your campaign is to analyze brand sentiment on comments, brand mentions, and hashtags.
Pro Tip: Free tools like socialmention enable you to sort the number of positive, neutral, and negative mentions of your brand by date.
The data you gather will help decide which influencer channels, platforms, and content formats generated optimal results, ultimately allowing you to optimize your influencer marketing strategy for your next campaign.