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Unlike other areas of marketing that have been rationalized over time, there is no evergreen model for how to handle influencer marketing. Though it has been around for years, it is way too often approached in very tactical ways and limited to a single objective: awareness.

This whole marketing channel can lead to so many questions. What influencers should you reach out to? What for? How do you evaluate the effectiveness of your campaign? It can all be a little daunting to say the least.

It turns out, broadening your perspective of what can be achieved through influencer marketing (beyond awareness!) can yield some pretty effective results.

1. Take a step back and set your goals.

Giving exposure to your brand is key – especially when you start a business – which is why giving away products in the hope of getting free posts may be so tempting. Be cautious though as it can turn into a tedious process and receiving one post in exchange can only get you so far.

Instead, try to reverse the thinking and go from your consumers’ likes, purchase and consumption habits. Think of what content they are interested in as they intend to buy a new body cream for example, how your brand can bring new information to the table, such as the benefits of certain plants to help replenish your skin and how influencers can chime in along the way. Influencers can help you by creating aspirational content on these plants to educate consumers, by showing the result of your product on their skin to drive consideration, or by offering a sweepstakes to their audience in order to drive trial and so on.

Be cautious… [giving away samples]… can turn into a tedious process and receiving one post in exchange can only get you so far.

2. Think long term rather than short term

Now that you have set your goals, it is the right time to pause, plan and think long term before you pull the trigger and reach out to influencers.

To start, activating influencers one at a time may not be as impactful as shaping a program with a pool of influencers that will help you both deliver complementary messages about your brand and amplify the reach of these messages.Then, revisiting this group of influencers and choosing a few to nurture long term relationships with can give you the tools to optimize the content and effectiveness of your campaigns.

“Merely going after one-off initiatives with influencers means you are doing a lot of the initial hard work of recruitment and vetting, without leveraging for full value. Building out longer-term, more meaningful collaborations between brands and influencers means building a more impactful and authentic relationship with the audience.” says Kamiu Lee CEO of ACTIVATE.

…activating influencers one at a time may not be as impactful as shaping a program with a pool of influencers that will help you both deliver complementary messages about your brand and amplify the reach of these messages.

3. Know how to pick your influencers

A survey led by Points North Group in 2018 revealed that 78% of Ritz Carlton Instagram sponsored post followers were fake, 32% for Pampers and 19% for Olay, which is changing the way marketers approach partnerships with influencers. 

“As the fake followers issue grew bigger, we see marketers start to put more emphasis on engagements (real engagements) and audience data versus reach” says Rob Kelly, director of content strategy at HYFN.

So way beyond reach, engagement is a key metric to look at and more broadly, knowing the demographics of the influencer’s audience will guarantee you to target your consumers. For example, a Brooklyn-based influencer may have a California-based audience. Other key criteria are quite intuitively the influencer’s aesthetic and content for a good brand fit.

4. Influencer and media go hand in hand

Another layer to take into consideration when picking influencers is the platform on which you will primarily want to push your content. For example, if you are developing a food and travel video series, you may want to pick an influencer who has a strong YouTube fan base. That being said, you also want to make sure this influencer is present on other key platforms for your brand so you can distribute this content via your owned channels and maximize your impact.

Another way to do this is via paid media. Paid media help your influencers’ content gain visibility but it can also help you build more engagement than “staged” brand assets. Pushing the thinking even further, influencer content should be an integral part of your brand assets planning, beyond a traditional shoot.

Paid media help your influencers’ content gain visibility but it can also help you build more engagement than “staged” brand assets.

5. Be considerate of your partner

At this point, we are all aware that being an influencer is an actual job, not just a hobby. Though most influencers still do it on their spare time, it takes a lot of passion and efforts to sustain the quality and publishing pace of their content in order to keep their audience involved.

Therefore it is not surprising that influencers are most of all looking to work with brands that are respectful of their work and identity. As a matter of fact, brands are also becoming more and more aware of how critical this is to their campaign effectiveness.

According to an article from ACTIVATE, “59% of digitally savvy female consumers say they will not engage with an influencer’s sponsored post if it doesn’t feel genuine. Audiences feel this occurs when branded images are inconsistent with an influencer’s organic feed.”

6. Last but not least: test, measure, learn… repeat!

Influencer marketing evolves with technologies, media and the way consumers engage with content. Trying, testing and measuring each initiative you take will help you optimize your influencer strategy and adapt to these changes on the long run.

It all starts with establishing very concrete KPIs for each of your campaign goals. For example, how many followers are looking to acquire? What engagement rate are you targeting? How many page views to your “new collection page” do you want to secure? Then, make sure you have the tools to track these KPIs. Google analytics is obviously a key tool but you will need to make sure you use trackable links to accurately measure your results. When it comes to the progression of your follower count, isolating some of your marketing initiatives can help you track their impact. Then, your influencers should be able to give you access to some of their data.

With the above variables in mind and when approached at a more holistic level, influencer marketing can be very energizing for your brand and organization. One thing to always keep in mind as you deep dive into it, keep reading and shape your own learning curve!

Marie-Laure Davy is a French Brand & Communications Consultant who traveled the world and is now based in Brooklyn. To read more from Marie-Laure, click here.

Photo by Brandi Gard

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